Flights & getting there
Most transport leaves from the bus stop in the market area. AXA runs to Karonga via Mzuzu, leaving around 5.30am, and down the lake to Blantyre via Salima, departing around 6.30pm. Minibuses run to Nkhotakota (MK1500, five hours), Chintheche (MK950, one hour) and Mzuzu (MK1000, 1½ hours). There are also regularly departing and less cramped shared taxis (MK1500 to Mzuzu) and a daily bus to Salima (MK8000, nine hours, 5am), which respectively leave from the main bus stop and from outside the Admarc maize store.
To reach Lilongwe the quickest option is to head down the lake to Salima and change; alternatively, travel inland to Mzuzu and pick up a service going south.
Another option is to privately hire a taxi; you can likely share with someone from your accommodation heading in the same direction. Mzuzu costs MK12,000 (MK20,000 return) and Lilongwe MK100,000. Noba Taxi is a trustworthy and well-priced operation.
The Ilala ferry leaves from the harbour and heads north up the lakeshore to Chilumba on Sunday morning. Returning south, it departs Nkhata Bay for Chizumulu and Likoma Islands on Monday evening. Tanzania's Songea ferry crosses from Mbamba Bay (Tanzania) and the MV Chambo ferry sails from Metangula (Mozambique) via Likoma and Chizumulu on Wednesday, returning from Nkhata Bay on Thursday morning. This should mean you can catch the Chambo to the islands on Thursday and return to Nkhata Bay on the Ilala on Saturday…but there are no guarantees.
Drivers can fill up at the petrol station on the main road.