Malaria is a major public health problem in sub-Saharan African countries including Ethiopia. Early and accurate diagnosis followed by prompt and effective treatment is among the various tools available for prevention, control and elimination of malaria. This study aimed to evaluate the performance of non-instrumented nucleic acid amplification loop-mediated isothermal amplification (NINA-LAMP) compared to standard thick and thin film microscopy and nested PCR as gold standard for the sensitive diagnosis of malaria in Northwest Ethiopia. A cross-sectional study was conducted in North Gondar, Ethiopia from March to July 2014. Eighty-two blood samples were collected from malaria suspected patients visiting Kola Diba Health Centre and analysed for Plasmodium parasites by microscopy, NINA-LAMP and nested PCR. The NINA-LAMP method was performed using the Loopamp™ Malaria Pan/Pf detection kits for detecting DNA of the genus Plasmodium and more specifically Plasmodium falciparum using an electricity-free heater. Diagnostic accuracy outcome measures (analytical sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, and Kappa scores) of NINA-LAMP and microscopy were compared to nested PCR. A total of 82 samples were tested in the primary analysis. Using nested PCR as reference, the sensitivity and specificity of the primary NINA-LAMP assay were 96.8% (95% confidence interval (CI), 83.2% - 99.5%) and 84.3% (95% CI, 71.4% - 92.9%), respectively for detection of Plasmodium genus, and 100% (95% CI, 75.1% - 100%) and 81.2% (95% CI, 69.9% - 89.6%), respectively for detection of P. falciparum parasite. Microscopy demonstrated sensitivity and specificity of 93.6% (95% CI, 78.5% - 99.0%) and 98.0% (95% CI, 89.5% - 99.7%), respectively for the detection of Plasmodium parasites. Post-hoc repeat NINA-LAMP analysis showed improvement in diagnostic accuracy, which was comparable to nested PCR performance and superior to microscopy for detection at both the Plasmodium genus level and P. falciparum parasites. NINA-LAMP is highly sensitive for the diagnosis of malaria and detection of Plasmodium parasite infection at both the genus and species level when compared to nested PCR. NINA-LAMP is more sensitive than microscopy for the detection of P. falciparum and differentiation from non-falciparum species and may be a critical diagnostic modality in efforts to eradicate malaria from areas of low endemicity.