My Tropical Freshwater Island Paradise

I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Am I truly this blessed? Have I ever in my single adult travelers life felt so at peace with the world?”…

This moment, gazing out into the crystal waters of Lake Malawi was the most spoiled and personally fulfilled I have ever felt. Normally a family and honeymooners paradise, the Kaya Mawa resort on Likoma Island is a luxury destination unlike anything I had ever experienced. Nuanced and gentle, calm and attentive… I was remote in location but never truly alone. Instead, I was in the company of baobab trees, perfectly ripe mangos and cheery cichlids (small tropical fish). I relished in the world-class candle lit beach dinners and the divine tropical waters. As a solo traveler, I paddle boarded and explored the island in complete safety and independence. Barefoot and carefree, I used my short days on the island to reflect on my travels and process how the beauty of Africa had impacted me so deeply, in such a short time.

Situated in the middle of Lake Malawi and not far from many world-famous wildlife reserves and safari destinations – Likoma Island is only a quick private plane flight (via Ulendo Airlink) from any city in Malawi. In fact, Lake Malawi is nearly the size of Belgium and my short flight from the capital of Lilongwe was an adventure and inspiration in itself. As our six-seat plane flew above the freshwater tides, I couldn’t see land in any direction. The size of the lake is immense and difficult to comprehend… I never could have imagined the intentional and magical escape that waited for me upon arrival.


Lake Malawi shares a border with Mozambique and the island locals are a unique mix of African cultures. The villagers welcome all foreign visitors with large smiles and shockingly good English. Every morning, as I drank my coffee from the balcony carefully crafted into the island rocks, I would imagine what it was like in those Mozambican mountains in the distance. I would pick up my chosen book and wonder how this place came to be… when could I come back here and how would I ever squeeze in all the relaxing I wanted to accomplish in my short days!?


An entrance to one of thoughtfully detailed rooms carved into the natural rock.


Having spent four months in Malawi during my travels in southern Africa, I left Kaya Mawa with an immense appreciation for the insane logistics it takes to provide such quality of service on such a remote island. The media often tells stories of Malawi for its failing economy, its extreme poverty, and rife corruption. It’s true, this all exists and cannot be ignored. However, ending my travels on Likoma Island rooted me to the resilient spirit and inherent beauty that is this small, warm nation. I returned home understanding that natural peace exists in places where you don’t expect it and that depth of spirit must be felt, sung and tasted – not only read in the pages of a glossy, distant magazine.


The statueque island Baobab trees



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