Visit Malawi: Monkey Bay Beach Lodge

Monkey Bay for sure lives up to its name: it's full of monkeys! And Monkey Bay Beach Lodge is no exception. You can watch the cheeky monkeys play in the trees while you have coffee by the shore of Lake Malawi or kayak around Monkey Bay in this cozy little gem of a lodge.
A man stands drinking coffee and a woman sits in a hanging egg chair at Monkey Bay Beach Lodge in Malawi on Lake Malawi enjoying the beach view

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Our family had the chance to spend two nights at Monkey Bay Beach Lodge, one each before and after our odyssey on the Ilala.

The owner, Warren, was a wonderful host and very nice to get to know. The property is beautiful, nestled in the serene Monkey Bay in the southern point of Lake Malawi.

We loved the eclectic, laid-back atmosphere of this lodge. It has an intimate, homey feel, but there are also a lot of different places to sit and enjoy the view and the beautiful surroundings.

We also loved that there were a fair number of locals around, but they all left us alone, unlike when we’ve been to Cape Maclear.

The family room of Monkey Bay Beach Lodge in Malawi on Lake Malawi shows five beds with mosquito nets and fans, simply decorated and clean


There are a handful of rooms, which were immaculately clean and simply decorated. For us, our girls stayed in a room with a double bed, and we stayed in the family room with the 3 boys. The family room was large, with plenty of room for all of our stuff and all 5 of us to be in there together without feeling at all crowded. There wasn’t a mosquito net over the fifth bed, so we just sprayed that kid up with bug spray really thoroughly before bed.

Our room had a nice en-suite bathroom with a generously sized shower, which had good water pressure and hot water (neither of which are ever to be assumed when traveling in Malawi).

The outdoor dining area of Monkey Bay Beach Lodge on Lake Malawi, a few families are eating dinner outside at night


Meals are served outside at one of a few tables on the verandah. There was a gentle lake breeze, a gorgeous sunrise view at breakfast, and it was all very pleasant.

Breakfast is a full English breakfast, and was included in our stay. It was probably the most delicious full English breakfast I’ve ever had (and we’ve had a lot of them as we’ve traveled around Malawi).

For supper on our first night there, we had lentil stew with rice, and “nice cream” for dessert, which was just frozen bananas and cocoa powder blended together to make a delicious dairy and sugar free chocolate ice cream. Unfortunately the Ilala got to port at 2am on the second night we spent there, so we didn’t get to enjoy another delicious supper.

They were very accommodating of our dairy and gluten allergies, and everything was carefully prepared accordingly.

We also appreciated that there is a water and ice bar set up in the lounge area where guests can get filtered water and ice whenever you need. 

a view of Monkey Bay from Monkey Bay Beach Lodge, there is a small beach with a kayak and boat next to a placid bay and a small island in the distance

Things to Do

There are a couple of kayaks on the beach for guests to use, so of course Josh and our oldest son had to almost immediately go out on one when we arrived. They never miss a chance to kayak, and it’s a beautiful bay to do it in, complete with a small island nearby to go to or around if you’re feeling adventurous.

In addition to kayaking, we were told that there is a nice hiking trail up the hill behind the lodge, but we didn’t get a chance to check it out ourselves. It also is very close to Lake Malawi National Park, which is beautiful and has other places to hike and things to see and do.

two boys and two girls play on the grassy lawn at Monkey Bay Beach Lodge on Lake Malawi

We have some friends who are staying in a cottage there as a long term rental, and it was so fun to get to spend some time with them while we were there as well! The kids loved playing with their girls, ducks, and homemade Moana inspired boat, and we moms enjoyed getting to visit with one another as well.

One of the khonde verandah porch seating areas at Monkey Bay Beach Lodge on Lake Malawi

Boarding the Ilala

A friend of Warren’s was “lodge-sitting” for a bit when we arrived, and she very helpfully took us to the nearby port to board the Ilala, and let us leave our vehicle at the lodge while we were gone. Then when we arrived back in Monkey Bay at the glorious hour of 2:00am, you’d never have known that we woke Warren up to come pick us up, because he was so friendly and kind about it, which we were very grateful for.

We wouldn’t take the Ilala from Monkey Bay again (read here to find out why), but if you do decide to, Monkey Bay Beach Lodge is the perfect place to stay before and after your trip.

It’s also an ideal place to visit to rest and relax on the lake, and to enjoy all the things that Lake Malawi National Park has to offer without the touristy hassle of staying in Cape Maclear (which we don’t love). We highly recommend checking it out!

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