Mafia Island

mafia island Tanzania

mafia island

From the South Zanzibar and opposite the river mouth of the mighty Rufiji, lies the small island of Mafia. Largely overlooked by the waves of tourism that now feature on Zanzibar, the island has a ramshackle feel to it, which only adds to its charm. Surrounded by a protected marine park, like Pemba, this is a good destination for those that are keen on spending a bit of time in the underwater world.

At around half the size of Pemba to the north, Mafiathe truly is a getaway from it all. Little has changed on the island for the last century or so and, while coconut exportation is no longer the lucrative enterprise it once was, its bi-products are to be seen all over the island from the roofs to the walls and even the local alcohol.

Life, on the whole, is centered on the small village of Kilindoni, and this dusty collection of huts, set amongst tall palms, is the first view that many see of the island. Like many of the bush strips of the interior, the runway moonlights as the village football pitch so it is not uncommon to see the game disperse only seconds before a plane comes in tointo land!

Elsewhere, the main income on the island is now fishing so some small huts and communities havesomehavehave some have some small huts and communities have popped up along the short, 50km coastline, making use of the island’s abundant marine life.

For the average tourist, the reason to head to the island is for the fantastic Mafia Island Marine Park which encompasses around 50% of the coastal waters of the island. On top of this, there are a few remnants of the Mafia’s more important past, as a trading post for the Omanis’ and also as a small colony for the Germans….a good example of their legacy is on Chole Island where it is possible to wander amongst the overgrown buildings and walls.

BEST ACTIVITIES IN MAFIA ISLAND;

Swim with Whale Sharks

When: October – April

One of the biggest things to do on Mafia Island is swimming with Whale Sharks. This experience sits right at the top of every traveler’s memories. These creatures are huge and their gentle manner makes them really fun to swim with.

Snorkel in the Marine Park

A large section of Mafia Island is a protected Marine Park.  Mafia has some of the best coral One could see with pockets of thriving marine life. While snorkeling one can see turtles, eels, octopuses, and rays.

Wander Kilindoni market

Mafia Islands capital, Kilindoni, is small and welcoming. In it lies the jetty, where the fisherman and ferries come and go, as well as the single runway airport. On the main street is a calm, spread out market which sells everything from fruit to football kits. In the evening, women set up tables and chairs in the streets where you can go to sample some local food at insanely cheap prices.

Take a tour of Chole Island

Just off Mafia is an even smaller Island, Chole, home to just 1000 residents. Time here seems to have stopped altogether on this island where there are no cars. Walking through the maze of paths cut into the palm trees, you will see the mud huts that the people live in and the various crafts and trades they carry out to make a living. Also on the island is a huge protected nesting site for the world’s largest bats, the Flying Fox

BBQ lunch on Marimbani Sandbank

A short boat ride from Mafia Island is a pristine sandbank that appears for just a few hours each day, called Marimbani. White sands, crystal clear waters and lots of crabs. This really is a slice of heaven and well worth heading to early or late so that you can have the place to yourselves. It is one of the favorite things one can do while on Mafia Island.

Dive in the protected Marine Park

Mafia is also a great place to go diving. The Marine Protected area has resulted in healthy corals and lots of variety of life.

Stay in a treehouse at Chole Mnjini

Chole Mnjini is a VERY special lodge on the tiny island of Chole (20-minute boat ride from Mafia Island). Guests get a private treehouse built around huge Bao trees. Your room is open so you can look at the view of the trees and ocean from the treetops.

Chole Island had just had a very few number of visitors in 2019 not even reaching 500 so remains very untouched. It’s quite a unique place and combining it with a stay at the unique Chole Mnjini really will be a very amazing experience to tell!

Swim in a hidden lagoon

Tucked out the way in the Marine Park is a beautiful lagoon, this really is Mafia Island’s best-kept secret. Swim in a pool full of upside-down jellyfish and take in the impossibly blue waters. On the boat ride to and from the lagoon, look out for monkeys in the trees!

See humpback whales

When: August – September

Between August – September, humpbacks migrate past Mafia Island. Daily tours leave to go view these huge creatures, often spotting mothers and their calves.

Afro sunset cruise & BBQ

(reservations made on request)

Time to visit June to Nov & January to Mar

Every week on Saturday, the sunset is spectacular and the BBQ food is delicious. Enjoy this private stretch of beach and the bonfire and have a drink with new friends. Most weeks (on request) they will also arrange a sunset cruise so you can have a few drinks and the best view of Mafia while you wait for your food to cook.

 

Erin Warren
Erin Warren
26/02/2024
We flew out of Zanzibar to do a 2 day safari. My parents and I spent a day in Tarangire National Park and our guide, Kaana got us up close to the animals so that we could get good shots of the animals. That evening we spent a night in Karatu. The accommodation, Pamoja, was very lovely and welcoming. The food was delicious and the rooms were spacious. The second day we spent in Ngorongoro Crater and saw a plethora of animals! The flights, meals, and accomadation were all planned and were well organized. Any hiccups that arose during our trip were resolved quickly and positively by Amani and Kaana! We would definitely recommend using Key2Africa Safaris and having Kaana as your guide, he was great and very knowledgeable!
Benard Yahya
Benard Yahya
28/11/2023
Me and my sister we decided to go for 5 day safari in Tanzania with Key2africa safaris. We were not sure about what time to travel to Tanzania. Amani was very helpful and good in communication. Everything was easy planning the trip with him. After trip he asked us if everything with the trip was good we really enjoyed from the start to the end. I highly recommended Key2Africa Safaris.
Syed Hamdan
Syed Hamdan
24/11/2023
They're highly professional.very prompt and their director AMANI KASASE was very professional.
Ally Ashour
Ally Ashour
27/10/2023
Best travel agency with expert guides
Remco Jorna
Remco Jorna
13/03/2023
We had an amazing experience with James. He was determined in Tarangire to find a group of elephants and he made it happen. We were up and close. On another day he navigated us towards a leopard sitting next to the road, something super rare to find. Besides his skills in finding the best and most beautiful places, James is also an amazing storyteller giving background information about Tanzania, the way of living together with nature and animals, and experiences from earlier trips. I definitely recommend this safari company, it’s all about the experience and forging long lasting friendships.
Lucas
Lucas
13/03/2023
I loved travelling with Key2Africa. I solo travelled with them for three weeks and, among other things, climbed the Kilimanjaro and did the walking safari and the Rhino sanctuary. They provide excellent service and the guides were always friendly, flexible and knowledgeable, making for a very wonderful, smooth and organic experience. Highly recommend this company and will definitely book with them again!
Melissa Pierre
Melissa Pierre
26/10/2022
Just traveled to Tanzania for 13 days. The group I traveled with used Key2Africa Tours & Safaris everyday. For land, water and air destinations/ excursions. All members of the company were professional, helpful, happy/pleasant/ cheerful, accommodating and full of energy. Mr. Amani the head of the company made sure everyone's needs were met and surpassed! Case in point, I had purchased some personalized items from a local vender in Bagamoya with the promise of delivery at a later date to complete the personalization. Amani was unaware of my business transactions. A couple of days had passed and now the group was in Arusha. I mentioned to Amani my Bagamoya transaction and within the hour he got back to me after speaking to the vender (who did a fantastic job) and a day or so later I had my purchases. Door to door service effortlessly!! I would recommend Key2Africa Tour & Safaris Ltd. Extremely happy customer!
Wendi Cherry
Wendi Cherry
26/10/2022
I had an amazing experience with Amani and his staff exploring Tanzania. From Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Der as Salaam, and Kilimanjaro each destination was logistically, well-planned out and executed. I appreciated his love for his country and his excitement in sharing it with us. Amani has a great sense of humor and an even bigger heart. I encourage anyone planning a trip to Tanzania to work with Amani and his team.
Goddess
Goddess
26/10/2022
The best to ever do it. He has been hosting my groups from the US for 4 years and I wouldn’t have it done any other way. Group sizes are 14-33 travelers at a time. A true honorable and professional tour service.
Laura Anderson
Laura Anderson
25/10/2022
I had an amazing trip. Aimani and his tour team was wonderful. They took the time helping us feel welcome. Helping us understand the Tanzania Africa language.