Mafia Island

Mafia Island Marine Park is an excellent, world-class diving destination with the richest reefs in the world. The Park covers the southern part of Mafia Island and includes the inhabited islands of Chole, Juani Jibondo, and Bwejuu, as well as several uninhabited islets and their associated waters.

Mafia Island Marine Park and its chain of small islets lie approximately 120 km south of Dar es Salaam. Also, 20 km offshore from the eastern extent of the Rufiji. Therefore, this is one of the largest delta systems in Africa. So, to the east of Mafia Island in the Indian Ocean. The main island of Mafia is about 48 km long and 17 km wide at its widest point. Several smaller islands and islets are scattered to the west and south.

The marine park area at Mafia Island extends over 822 km2, more than 75% of it below the high watermark. The area hosts an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats,

 including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, and intertidal flats. In addition, a remnant block of threatened lowland coastal forest survives along the island’s eastern seaboard. 

Two species of sea turtles use Mafia’s beaches as nesting grounds. Several sites of historic ruins lie within the marine park area, some dating back to the C 13th—Mafia Island’s separation from the mainland and its freedom from industrial development. 

Mafia Island

150km (93 mi) south of Zanzibar Island lies the third largest isle in the archipelago, Mafia. Mafia Island is so far removed and has so many smaller satellites that it’s a miniature archipelago in its own right.

Rarely visited and much quieter than Pemba, Mafia and its surrounding islands are a diver’s paradise. Giant groupers, rays, turtles, and whale sharks frequent its warm, clear waters.

Chole Bay is perhaps the best coral garden in East Africa, making it an ideal spot to add to your itinerary when visiting Zanzibar on your vacation.

Travel Tips for Mafia Island

  • Although local dhows run to the mainland, flying is the only practical way to get to Mafia. Scheduled and charter flights run regularly from Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Island, and you should expect to pay around $250 to $350 return.
  • If you’re going diving, pick your month carefully. Chole Bay can be dived year-round, but the deeper channels are only viable from August to November. October to February has the best visibility, although it rarely drops below 15m (49ft) at any time of year.
  • For the best beach conditions, aim for late May to November, the start of the short rainy season.
  • September to early March is prime whale shark season, so mid-March to mid-May should be avoided completely when the island receives the most rain.

Marine Park is located on the archipelago of Zanzibar, but it is not an administrative part. Unlike the semi-autonomous islands of Pemba and Unguja, it is attached to the Pwani region in mainland Tanzania.

Mafia Island is the largest of a small archipelago of islands and atolls and is truly a paradise in the Indian Ocean.

 

Mafia Island Marine Park
Mafia Island Marine Park

How to get here

  • TO REACH THE MAFIA, ONE NO LONGER SAILS BUT MUST FLY IN LIGHT AIRCRAFT FROM DAR ES SALAAM OR ZANZIBAR OR ONE OF THE GAME PARKS SUCH AS THE SELOUS. THE EXPERIENCE IS FANTASTIC, WITH GREAT VIEWS OF THE AFRICAN BUSH AND COASTLINE

 

Mafia Island Marine Park
Mafia Island Marine Park

Highlights to explore

Situated a short 30-minute flight from Dar es Salaam ‚ is the wonder of Mafia Island. Experience one of the most unforgettable underwater safaris the island offers. The water surrounding Mafia Island is home to one of the region’s largest protected marine nature reserves. Host to over 400 species of marine life‚ spend your days snorkeling with sea turtles‚ moray eels‚ octopuses, ‚ giant reef rays, and not forgetting the opportunity to dance around with the majestic Whale Sharks.

Best Things to Do in Mafia Island Marine Park

Between the wild countryside for hiking and animal watching, the vibrant marine fauna for diving and snorkeling, and the deserted beaches for relaxation, Mafia is an island where you can not get bored.

 

Mafia Island Marine Park
Mafia Island Marine Park

Discover the best things to do in Mafia Island.

Travel Information

1. The Island is a laid-back eco-alternative with one straight tarmac road‚ few hotels‚ no fancy shops‚ only 1 ATM (credit cards are accepted at the up-market lodges). But be warned‚ if you want fancy shops and a wild nightlife Mafia isn’t for you!

2. Like the mainland, the island has two rainy seasons: short rains in November and December and long rains from March to May, when tourism closes. The best time of the year for diving is from October to February when visibility is best—up to 25m (8 ft.)—and you can dive the walls outside the reef that protects Chole Bay.

3. Snorkeling And Scuba Diving

The Park and its reefs are well-known as world-class diving destinations. Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the world’s richest reefs, with an unrivaled variety of hard and soft corals and tropical fish.
The Mafia Marine Park offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving throughout the year,
Swimming alongside one of these giant creatures is an unforgettable experience while on a safari to Mafia Island. Whale sharks are present all year in the waters surrounding Mafia Island but only appear seasonally in the shallow waters off the island’s west coast when conditions are favorable.

Whale sharks are fascinating creatures that can live for more than 100 years, grow to be 20 meters long, and weigh 15 tons, but they are completely harmless and feed on massive amounts of plankton that they suck up while swimming. Swimming with whale sharks requires no prior experience. Swimming or diving is simple with snorkels.

 

Mafia Island Marine Park
Mafia Island Marine Park

Activities in Mafia Island Marine Park

  1. Diving at the Marine Park

  2. Visit the ruins of Kua on Juan Island

  3. Enjoy the beautiful deserted beaches

  4. Swim with whale sharks

  5. Humpback whale watching

  6. Observe pygmy hippos

  7. Observe flying foxes

  8. See the hatching of green turtles

  9. Discover the wildlife of Mafia Island

  10. Visit fish stalls in Kilindoni

  11. Visit the Maasai tribes

  12. Lounging on an ephemeral sandbank

  13. Discover Bweni, a peaceful Mafia village

  14. Taste the local cuisine

  15. Admire the sumptuous sunsets

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