Floating in the vast waters of Lake Malawi, accessible only by boat, this heart-shaped island hides a handful of barefoot-luxury, canopied safari-style tents and huts perched atop smooth-edged boulders. Smiling local staff greet, water and orientate you along rustic, stilted wooden walkways. Amidst the foliage, gnarled tree branches wend their way up through balconied private dwellings sitting in a semicircle, hammocks swing in a breath of breeze gazing out over unadulterated views of the lake, humped hills, rock crops and translucent emerald waters. Inside, vibrant kikoi throws drape the beds, dark wood and ornate matting complete the African vibe. En-suite bathrooms with matching views, stink-free compost toilet, ingenious bucket shower and filtered, drinkable water.
The reverberating echo of a wooden frog summons guests to mealtimes. Cunning canary-yellow birds hop optimistically down to the covered buffet in search of a cheeky morsel, a monitor lizard plods past to drink at the water’s edge. Meals are wholesome and delicious and honeymooners are treated to a private candlelit meal. In between eating you are left to your own devices. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a map and explore on foot as rainbow skinks dart through the undergrowth. Borrow a kayak and paddle a lap around the island, or stay close to shore and snorkel, marvelling at multi-coloured cichlids flitting past your mask.
Master the art of doing nothing on the beach, on your balcony, or settle in for a game of bao – staff are happy to teach you the rules. Romance is notched up further in this idyllic paradise, with sunset cruises leaving from the jetty late afternoon. Order your drinks in advance and admire fish eagles soaring above as the sky is set alight by the fading sun. It’s unapologetically romantic but more importantly, entirely unforced and unpretentious.
There is no electricity on the island, so paraffin lamps and solar-powered torches conjure light to stumble by come evening. Eco-chic tourism at its best.