Makokola Retreat

Makokola Retreat: Our full report

48 rooms
Traveller's rating
Excellent (95%) From 4 reviews
Fine for all ages
All year

Close to the town of Mangochi, Makokola Retreat, previously known as Club Makokola or 'Club Mak' is a large thatched family-owned and run resort built beside a 750m-long golden palm-lined beach, on the southern shore of Lake Malawi.

The main areas of Makokola Retreat are accessed via a long, thatch-covered walkway. About halfway along this walkway is the reception desk where guests are treated to a friendly welcome. There is also a comfortable seating area here as well.

At the far end of this walkway is a large swimming pool, built around the bar. To one side of the pool is the recently renovated dining area. This is a thatched open sided structure, with direct access onto the beach. The furniture is locally made from rubberwood and the brick pillars are decorated by local artwork from Mua Mission. Hanging from the wooden rafters are carved wooden fish, swaying in the breeze and giving the impression of swimming in water. Outside this covered area are more tables and chairs under the trees. The lodge has a pizza oven offering pizza’s for lunch or dinner, and they also make their own ice-cream served in home-made cones – a big hit with the children.

The tropical gardens at Makokola Retreat are beautifully maintained with mature indigenous trees and shrubs. Pathways wind through the gardens leading to the 48 comfortable rooms, including some suites and family rooms. Most of the rooms are round and thatched in the style of traditional rondavels, with some facing the lake and others facing the gardens.

  • The suites have a separate lounge area, with two day beds and an armchair covered in locally made fabrics. There are tea and coffee making facilities, a minibar (stocked on request) and a television. In the bedroom is a double bed with a hand carved wooden headboard, surrounded by a mosquito net. Each room has a ceiling fan. The bathrooms each have a bath as well as a shower, two basins and a toilet in a separate cubicle.
  • The family rooms are similar but have two bedrooms, one double and one twin, and share a bathroom.
  • The standard rooms do not have the separate lounge area but are otherwise very similar in design.
The furnishings are all locally made, the pottery is from Dedza Pottery and the carvings come from Mua Mission.

The beach at Makokola Retreat is 750 metres of golden sand with sunrise at the one end and sunset at the other. Thatched sunshades and sunloungers are dotted along the sand with views out to a nearby island.

The Makokola Retreat is a lively place, offering activities that include snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, canoeing and boating on Lake Malawi. It also has tennis and squash courts, and a nine-hole golf course scattered with baobabs. There is also a spa for guests who enjoy a bit of pampering. The lodge also has its own airstrip, which makes it easy to access from anyway in Malawi.

Our view

Makokola Retreat is a large resort, which can become quite lively, especially over weekends. However it has a lovely location, with a fantastic beach and well-kept gardens and it is very popular with families.


Location: Shore of Lake Malawi, Malawi

Ideal length of stay: 3 to 4 nights here will allow you to relax as well as enjoy the facilities on offer.

Directions: The lodge is 4 hours drive from both Liliongwe and Blantyre. It also has its own air strip so is accessible by charter flight from anywhere in Malawi.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: On a recent visit to Makokola Retreat we did not stay long enough to enjoy a meal, however the owner explained what we might experience. Lunch and dinner are usually a la carte, however if the lodge is full this may be a buffet.

  • Breakfast is usually a buffet with a selection of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts fruit juice and fresh bread. A cooked breakfast is also available to order.
  • Lunch is a la carte with a selection of fresh salads, pasta, quiches and fish, followed by a light dessert.
  • Dinner is usually three courses, with a choice of two starters, five mains (usually red or white meat, fish and a vegetarian option) and three deserts. Often a local dish is served such as chambo (a local lake fish) served with Nsima (the local maize dish).

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Local beers, house wines by the glass, spirits as well as soft drinks are included. All other drinks are extra.

Special interests

Beach holidays: Makokola Retreat is a great holiday-spot for water-lovers. It offers many water-based activities, from diving and waterskiing, to parasailing and further extraordinary sports. Discover the underwater world of the fresh water lake on a snorkeling trip straight from the beach.

See more ideas for Beach holidays in Malawi

Diving & snorkelling: Excellent freshwater snorkelling

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Malawi


Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome at Makokola Retreat.

Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction.

Special activities & services: Child minders are available however parents must be aware that this is a member of staff and are not qualified child minders. Special children’s menus are available.

Equipment: Cots and highchairs are available, and for older children there is the swimming pool, tennis and squash.

Notes: Young children need to be supervised by their parents as the swimming pool and beach is not fenced.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator.

Communications: WiFi is available throughout the lodge and there is also good cell phone reception.

TV & radio: There are TVs in all the rooms.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: The borehole water is filtered and is safe for drinking. Hot and cold water is available 24 hours.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Mangochi which is 15 minutes drive away. The lodge has its own airstrip so any serious medical cases can be airlifted to hospital in Lilongwe or Blantyre.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: There are security guards on duty day and night.

Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher in each room as well as in the main areas.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is available at an additional cost.

Money: There are safes in all the rooms.

Accepted payment on location: Visa and Mastercard are accepted but not Amex. There is a 6.5% service charge levied for the use of card. Cash is acceptable in US dollars, SA rands, euros and Malawi kwacha.