Mafia Island is a relatively unknown island 160km south of Zanzibar Island, just off the coast of the Rufiji River Delta. It boasts truly superb white sandy beaches and is home to Tanzania's first marine park. Mafia Island is one of the world's best dive locations; diving and snorkelling in the Mafia Island Marine Park is utterly amazing and you can be almost guaranteed of a good dive experience with amazing coral and abundant sea life!
Other activities include deep sea fishing or just relaxing and watching the sun sink slowly into the warm Indian Ocean. Whale watching is a popular pastime too, as the nutrient-rich water flowing from the Rufiji river creates the perfect feeding ground for humpback whales and the gentle giants of the deep, whale sharks. Swimming with the whale sharks is a unique experience and Mafia Island remains one of the few places you can have a good chance of seeing and snorkelling alongside these amazing 8-20 metre long fish.
The island has a population of only 14,000 with a small capital town, Kilindoni. Much of the island is covered with coconut plantation.
Most of the lodges on Mafia are on the south east side around Mafia's famous Chole Bay Marine Park where most of the diving is to be found. There are a couple of lodges on the western side, giving easy access to the areas preferred by the whale sharks.
A visit to Mafia Island works well when combined with the Selous Game Reserve - this creates a superb Tanzania Safari featuring both bush and beach.
If you are keen to dive on Mafia Island, then staying around the marine park is best, as you can just walk to the boat from your lodge. Some new dive sites have however been discovered on the south west side of Mafia, outside the marine park.
If you are just there to relax on the beach, or snorkel with the whale sharks, then the west side (at Ras Mbisi Lodge) is better.
Mafia Island Locations view all
Chole Bay, on Mafia Island is Tanzania's first marine park. This is an ideal location for diving, snorkelling, fishing or just to relax and watch the sun sink into the blood warm Indian Ocean. Whale watching and swimming with whale sharks is also a popular activity!
The West coast of Mafia Island has fantastic squeaky white sand beaches - the perfect place to relax and read or sunbathe.