Mafia Island

Willing to discover a tropical island, but not with mass tourism?

The island of Mafia (the name has nothing to do with Italy, even if most of the owners of the lodges here are Italian!) is a real tropical paradise.

It is known for its tranquility and the richness of its sea-beds.

A paradise for divers, it is also the ideal alternative to Zanzibar for a seaside holiday away from tourism. However, it does not offer as beautiful beaches as its neighbor.

The small villages of fishermen of the island are picturesque and the small island of Jibondo shelters one of the last factory of dhows.

Size and situation: The island of Mafia is located approximately 150 km south of Dar es Salaam and 10 km from the delta of Rufiji River. With 394km², this ideal of an Indian Ocean tropical paradise is the largest of a small archipelago of islands. Mafia Island is the site of Tanzania's first Marine Park which covers the southern half of the island and part of the north-east.

Landscapes: It has mangroves, sea-grass beds, coral reefs, inter-tidal reef flats, lagoons and coastal forest. Chole Bay, Mafia's protected deep-water anchorage, is part of the protected marine park.

Wildlife: The strait of Mafia between the island and the continent still remains one of the last sanctuaries of the dugong. This famous marine mammal and its cousin, the manatee is at origin of many legends of the sirens which frightened the sailors of yesteryear.

From March to December, turtles come out to lay their eggs in the sand of the small islands in the east of Mafia.

From October up to April, whale sharks can more and more often easily been observed.

Activities: The diving here is amongst the most spectacular in the world and includes colorful coral gardens, walls at various levels and many shelves and coral heads. There are six major dive sites, and innumerable lesser sites that offer some of the best diving on the coast of East Africa.

 Many various excursions on the island or on the ocean are organized by the lodges.

Climate: October to the end of March are the best months for diving.

But for non-divers the months between May and October offer the best weather, as January to March are hot and humid. The heavy rains are in April and May.

June and July are the best months for turtle hatching while the best chances to observz whale sharks are between October and March.

Mafia Island Accommodations