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Mafia Island

Mafia Island is an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The island remains pristine and unspoiled, with few tourists and no paved roads. It reminds one of Zanzibar several decades ago. The locals are hospitable and friendly, creating a tranquil environment.

Mafia Island is part of the Zanzibar Archipelago and is surrounded by some of the world’s richest coral reefs. Almost half of Mafia’s coastline is inside the Mafia Island Marine Park, a protected area that is home to coral reefs, mangrove forests, and lagoons. It is the largest protected area in the Indian Ocean. The barrier reef is a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise, featuring 50 different types of coral and over 460 fish species. Mafia’s stunning dive sites are a well-kept secret. The island is surrounded by mangrove forests, causing the beaches to be narrower than those in Zanzibar. Nevertheless, they are still breathtaking. The island’s greatest attraction is its dazzling marine life, including humpback whales, turtles, and the world’s largest fish – the whale shark. Therefore, Mafia Island is an exceptional location for travelers and honeymooners to unwind after their Tanzania Safari.

Where to Stay In mafia

When visiting Mafia Island, you will find a variety of accommodations to choose from, much like Zanzibar and Pemba. To assist you in your search, we have compiled a list of our favorite lodges, categorized by Silver, Gold, and Platinum. For Silver, we recommend the charming and affordable Mafia Kivulini Lodge. With clean and tastefully decorated rooms, this rustic lodge offers all the necessary amenities for a dream beach vacation. Enjoy a stunning view of the garden from your veranda, surrounded by palm and coconut trees.

We suggest the Pole Pole Bungalows for both Gold and Platinum categories for a more exclusive and eco-friendly option. This unique eco-lodge utilizes a state-of-the-art purification system to prevent environmental pollution. Each bungalow and suite offers a unique and luxurious experience, complete with an ensuite bathroom, antique decor, and private veranda overlooking breathtaking scenery. Platinum guests even have the luxury of their own plunge pool on the veranda, with a view of the beachfront.

Contact us for personalized advice on how to incorporate Mafia Island into your safari itinerary. You may also choose to combine your stay on Mafia Island with a visit to Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island, or a dream safari on the mainland.

Excursions and activities on Mafia Island

Swim with Whale Sharks

When: October – April

Swimming with Whale Sharks is a popular activity on Mafia Island. It’s an unforgettable experience that every traveler should try. These gentle giants make swimming with them incredibly enjoyable and memorable.

 Snorkel in the Marine Park

A significant portion of Mafia Island is under marine protection, boasting some of the most stunning coral and thriving marine life, including turtles, eels, octopus, and rays that are easily spotted while snorkeling.

Wander Kilindoni market

The capital of Mafia Islands, Kilindoni, is a small and friendly town. It has a jetty, which is the arrival and departure point for fishermen and ferries, as well as a single runway airport. On the main street, there is a serene and spacious market where you can buy everything from fruit to football kits. In the evenings, women set up tables and chairs on the streets where you can enjoy local cuisine at incredibly affordable prices.

Take a tour of Chole Island

Just off Mafia Island, there is an even smaller island called Chole which is home to only 1000 residents. Time seems to have come to a standstill on this island where there are no cars. While walking through the maze of paths that are cut into the palm trees, you will come across the mud huts where people live, as well as the various crafts and trades they practice to make a living. The island is also home to a huge protected nesting site for the world’s largest bats, the Flying Fox.

BBQ lunch on Marimbani Sandbank

Just a short boat ride away from Mafia Island, lies a beautiful sandbank called Marimbani. The sandbank appears only for a few hours each day, but it’s worth the visit. The sandbank is known for its white sands, crystal clear waters, and lots of crabs. It’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. To make the most of your visit, it’s recommended to head there early or late, so that you can have the place to yourselves. Marimbani is one of the most popular attractions on Mafia Island and definitely worth a visit.

Dive in the protected Marine Park

Mafia is a top destination for diving due to its Marine Protected Area, which has resulted in a thriving ecosystem with healthy coral and a diverse array of marine life.

Stay in a treehouse at Chole Mnjini

Chole Mnjini is an exceptional lodge located on the small island of Chole, which is just a 20-minute boat ride away from Mafia Island. Guests can enjoy a private treehouse that is built around gigantic Bao trees. The rooms are open, allowing you to marvel at the beautiful view of the trees and the ocean from the treetops.

In 2019, Chole Island received very few visitors, not even reaching 500, which means that the island remains relatively untouched. This makes it a truly unique place to visit, and combining a stay at the one-of-a-kind Chole Mnjini will undoubtedly create an unforgettable experience worth sharing!

Swim in a hidden lagoon

Nestled away in Marine Park lies a stunning lagoon, which is considered to be Mafia Island’s best-kept secret. Immerse yourself in the picturesque blue waters while swimming in a pool filled with upside-down jellyfish. Keep an eye out for monkeys on the trees during the boat ride to and from the lagoon.

See humpback whales

When: August – September

From August to September, humpback whales migrate past Mafia Island. Daily tours are available to view these enormous creatures, often spotting mothers with their calves.

Afro sunset cruise & BBQ

(reservations made on request)

Every Saturday, there is a spectacular sunset and delicious BBQ food to enjoy on this private stretch of beach. Gather around the bonfire, have a drink with new friends and soak in the beautiful view. You can also request a sunset cruise on most weeks, where you can enjoy a few drinks and the stunning Mafia scenery while waiting for your food to cook..

Time to visit June to Nov & Jan to Mar


Travel time to Mafia Island

The airports from which flights to Mafia depart are listed below:

  • Arusha (+/- 3 hours), price indication: € 450,-
  • Zanzibar (50 min), price indication: € 185,-
  • Selous (< 2 hours), price indication: € 335,-
  • Dar es Salaam (30 min), price indication: € 139,

Note that the above may vary accordingly.


Expert Travel Advice for Exploring Mafia Island

If you’re planning to visit Mafia Island, our team of experts have some valuable travel tips to share with you. These tips can help you make the most out of your trip and ensure that you have a memorable experience.

Mafia is a stunningly beautiful and romantic island that offers a peaceful environment and friendly locals. If you are a newlywed couple on your honeymoon, we have a special offer that includes a complimentary bottle of prosecco, a relaxing massage, and a private dinner. Please contact us to learn more about all the available options.

Our Recomendation

How long you stay?
5 days (4 nights)

Which Hotel?
Pole Pole Bungalows is a great choice for those seeking delicious food, comfortable bungalows, and a peaceful beach location.



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