Top tips for Domwe Island

Top tips for Domwe Island


Domwe Island is my version of paradise in Africa!

With no electricity and one tap of running water, you are in for a rustic adventure on this lovely island; all the while being completely surrounded by the turquoise perfection of Lake Malawi’s waters. Only accommodating 12 guests at a time on the whole island, you almost feel like you have it to yourself!

The island is self catering (you can hire a chef if you like) which helps to keep the price of your stay down. You can take your own tent or stay in their furnished double tents which are perfectly comfortable, clean and spacious.

Here are my top tips for those planning a visit to Domwe Island:

How to book

Some people may choose to book directly through Kayak Africa, but we choose to book through The Funky Cichlid. It cost exactly the same amount and was just much easier for us as we had already booked to stay at Funky’s and they then handled our Domwe booking for us. Easy peasy.

(Have a look at this post if you’d like to know more about my Funky Cichlid Favourites.)

Things to do

1. Kayak to the island

You are given the option of catching a boat to the island from the Kayak Africa reception, or kayaking there yourself. We chose to kayak there are it was lovely! You get great views (and a great tan) and it just feels special to know you’re kayaking a good 5km stretch of Lake Malawi. Both double and single kayaks are available and all your belongings are still sent by boat so you don’t need to worry about them getting wet.

We choose to catch the boat back after our stay so we felt that we got the best of both.

2. Do the hike

There is a pretty cool hike up to the top of the island which I highly recommend doing. The views are incredible! Warning: its steep! It’s tough. You will need at least a bottle of water each. We took one to share and it wasn’t ideal.


Wear really good shoes and take a camera with. Also remember there is no race to the top. Take your time to enjoy it more.

The path starts just behind the kitchen and it is well marked. Just follow the white dots. When you think you’re at the top, keep going along the path to the right (it’s still maeked with dots). You have only reached the end when you see the big spray painted star and an unbelievably stunning view.

3. Choose a good sunset spot

We chose to climb a big bolder on the beach and witnessed a perfect sunset over Mumbo Island. It was truly magical. Armed with GnT’s, mozzie spray and cameras, we really had a lovely experience.


What we found out though (a little too late) was that there is an even better spot for sunset on the hiking route. About 250m in to the hike, there is a rope latter up a big bolder. Climb up there for an even better view for sunset! Fortunately it’s only a short way in so you won’t have too treacherous a decent in the dark.

4. Play bawo in the dining room

Firstly, the dining area is pretty stunning. The view is just incredible and it has a great sun deck next to it for the sun tanners.

There is a beautiful bawo board which can lead to hours of entertainment. I don’t know if anyone on the island will be able to teach you how to play so maybe try get that done on the mainland or do a bit of Google research beforehand.


5. Bush pigs and civets

Yes, there are bush pigs and civets on the island. It’s easiest to see them just after sunset when they come to the kitchen area looking for scraps. Ask the friendly guys in the kitchen if they will help you find them.

6. Snorkel

The water is a lovely temperature in the lake and is always so inviting. You will spend plenty of time swimming and snorkeling. You can see some beautiful cichlids right at the main beach and I believe you can see even more if you take a kayak a little further away from the the main beach.


In between your snorkeling its also lovely just to swim around and lie in the sun (or in your private hammock)

7. Enjoy a bucket shower

About 5 minutes before you shower you need to tell the men in the kitchen that you’d like to shower. They heat up water for you over a fire and fill a bucket that hangs from the branches of a baobab tree. There is a top and shower head under the bucket and it makes for a fabulous hot outdoor shower. The shower in surrounded by reed walls for privacy but you still get to enjoy the stars above you.


8. Stay for more than one night

As you can see above, there is quite a lot to do on the island!. We really wished we had stayed for an extra night. We would have loved the extra time to snorkel more and to chill out on our private deck more, possibly reading in our hammock.


Things to take:

1. Food 

This is fairly obvious given that its self catering. We went with very easy food:

Pasta, pasta sauce and veggies for dinner
Bread, cheese and tomatoes for luch
Bread and eggs for breakfast

I’m sure some of you would be far better at this than we were but we went for the easy option. Also keep in mind that there aren’t proper grocery stores in Cape Maclear so your options are limited unless you’ve come from a bigger town/city.

2. Drinks

So this one is up to you. We took along some water, cokes, gin and tonic water and we used them all. There was however a cooler box of drinks there with an honesty bar system. You then just pay for any drinks you had when you get back to reception on the mainland.

Keep in  mind that ice is not always easy to come by on the island due to there being so power. Ice arrives daily by boat.

3. Book to read

I loved reading my book in bed, listening to the waves crashing below – idyllic.

4. Underwater camera

I loved taking pictures during our snorkeling and was so grateful to have a waterproof camera for this.


5. Headlamp

This is was a huge asset! So handy for reading a book in bed and also for venturing out to the shower or toilets at night!

6. Snorkeling gear

You are possibly able to hire gear from Kayak Africa but we took along with us – also keeping costs down a touch.


— This list is by no means exhaustive but hopefully it will give you an idea of what to expect and what to take long with you. If I ever had the chance, I would go back to this slice of paradise in a heartbeat! —

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