Malawi Magic: Nkhata Bay

If you’re looking for tranquil waters, isolated beaches, and unrivaled diving options, then look no further than Malawi’s Nkhata Bay. Just over an hour outside of Mzuzu, Nkhata Bay is a premier spot for Southern Africa travelers to relax and recuperate before their next adventure.

malawi map

Get There

Bus services link Nkhata Bay with Lilongwe and Blantyre. Head North along the lake and you’ll find Nkhata Bay 90 minutes West of Mzuzu. A unique experience is the Ilala Ferry which ambles it’s way North along the lake arriving to Nkhata Bay on a Sunday and heading off again on the Monday morning.

Where to Stay

No matter your budget, Nkhata Bay has accommodation to suit your needs. Big Blue Backpackers provides dorm rooms, private straw huts, a large bar, and it’s own private beach. Mayoka Village is a backpackers haven etched into the cliffside with it’s famous BBQ’s and pumping nightlife. Nkhukuti Beach Resort is a slightly more upmarket option providing renovated facilities and removed from the Backpacker scene.

What to Eat

Based in the middle of town, a Thai restaurant (that also does Pizza) is not something you expect to stumble upon in rural Malawi but Kaya Papaya is a brilliant setting for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. Safari Africa is one of the quality no frills options for those on a budget. Mayoka Village is the most popular spot amongst tourist with themed nights. Look out for Pizza night or the ever-popular buffet BBQ.

nkhata bay

What to Do

Diving is a major drawcard with Lake Malawi offering plenty of unique fish. Aqua Africa is a reputable operator offering a range of dive options for people of all experience levels. 40km out of town, Kande Beach offers horse riding among other activities. Local touts will be sure to offer you boat trips or fishing experiences. One of the highlights is watching the Fish Eagle diving from height for fish. Of all the activities to do in Nkhata Bay, relaxing with a Carlsberg in hand while watching the local fisherman takes the case.

Bonus Time

  • Everywhere in town is walkable and provides the opportunity to mix with the friendly locals. Take care walking at night (especially along the cliff top after a few beers at Mayoka Village).
  • Although there are claims Nkhata Bay is a Bilharzia-free zone, there is evidence of cases. Pay a visit to a GP within a month of first contact with the Lake to receive the right medication.
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