Mafia Island Marine Park

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. Also, several uninhabited islets and the 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 across some 822km2, 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 inter-tidal flats. In addition, a remnant block of threatened lowland coastal forest survives along the eastern seaboard of the island. 

Two species of sea turtle 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 (93mi) 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 of its own that it’s a miniature archipelago in its own right.

Rarely visited and much quieter even than Pemba, Mafia, and its surrounding islands are a diver’s paradise. Giant groupers, rays, turtles, and whale sharks all 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, then 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’s rarely below 15m (49ft) at any time of year.
  • For the best beach conditions, aim for late May to the start of the short rainy season in November.
  • September to early March is prime whale shark season, so it’s only mid-March to mid-May that should be avoided completely when the island receives most of its rain.