On the dramatic shoreline of Likoma Island, in the middle of the great Lake Malawi, lies a beach paradise like no other. We call it Kaya Mawa, meaning ‘maybe tomorrow’, which is what guests often say when it’s time to leave. Here in the Warm Heart of Africa, beach holidays meet African hospitality and ultimate indulgence. The Wall Street Journal once described Kaya Mawa as ‘the most relaxing beach holiday in the least likely destination.’
Kaya Mawa first opened her doors in 2004 and has done nothing but dazzle guests since. From being listed as one of the ‘Most Romantic Places in the World’ by Conde Nast to hand-written letters from happy children before they leave, being named the Leading Hotel in Malawi 2020 by the World Travel Awards, to the guests who return time and time again – every bit of recognition brings our team an immense amount of joy. Especially since almost all of them are hired from the tiny Likoma Island and these accolades make them hugely proud of their home.
We didn't get here on our own; far from it, in fact. At the beating heart of this barefoot luxury lodge lies the local people and culture. From laying bricks and mortar to build all the rooms entirely by local hands to creating chic interior fixtures and fittings through the Katundu Workshop, local people have steered the way and made Kaya Mawa what it is today.
Kaya blends into its natural surroundings and draws on Likoma's vibrant culture. The aquamarine, beachy colours drift their way from Lake Malawi and into rooms that are stylishly designed with upcycled interiors. Glass beads, chandeliers, photo frames and fabrics are all handmade from sustainable and recyclable materials mostly from the lodge and the lake itself.
Most of this work is thanks to the creativity artists at Katundu, which is found directly behind Ndomo Private House, our exclusive use house available for groups. Katundu was founded in 2006 around a passion for designing and creating luxury items in an ethical environment, empowering women and through them the local community. These jobs provide a sustainable income and instil pride, dignity and purpose, giving people the skills and knowledge to improve their circumstances.
Katundu has the privilege of working with artisans with inimitable skills. Each individual piece is crafted meticulously by hand, a process of creation where beauty and soul are connected through each item. Recycled and sustainable materials add another important dimension to Katundu – respecting the environment and utilising what it has to offer.
Katundu has grown from just a small workshop to a successful company with an extremely creative and diverse product range. Their signature range of hand-beaded textiles are complimented with statement chandeliers and interior pieces including wall art, rugs and baskets made from baobab and maize string, as well as frames and furniture made from old fishing boats.
Kaya Mawa supports the empowering work done by Katundu by buying their flawlessly crafted, awe-inspiring pieces and in return, Katundu designs have made Kaya Mawa a haven of design inspiration. Guests from all over the world love to take statement pieces home with them, and luckily Katundu designs can be bought in our onsite shop. Guests from Kaya Mawa are always very welcome to visit the workshop and see the artisans at work.