Mafia Island is a true remnant of the old Swahili coast, a place unspoiled, unaffected by commercialism and timeless.
Mafia is the largest of a small archipelago of islands with a population of about 40,000. It is approximately 20 miles off the Tanzanian coast, about 35 minutes by air from Dar es Salaam. Across from island lies the Great Rufiji River delta and the world famous Selous Game Reserve. The name Mafia is probably derived from the Arabic “morfiyeh”, meaning “group” or “archipelago”, or from the Swahili “mahali pa afya” meaning “a healthy dwelling place”. Its history goes back to the 8th century where it played a key role in the East African trading routes between Kilwa and Zanzibar.
Mafia has mostly escaped the invasion of mass tourism, with only a handful of lodges on the island, The lodges are like “bush resorts” in that everything is quiet, thus offering the perfect alternative safari experience. Major tourist activities are scuba diving, snorkeling, beach and offshore island excursions.
The places to visit are:
Chole Bay, Kinasi Pass Islets, Mange reef, Kitutia, and Jibondo Pass. Diving safaris around Chole Bay, within Mafia Island’s Marine Park are outstanding. This is one of the highest bio-diversity marine sites in East Africa!
There are over 400 species of fish, 48 genera of soft and hard coral, the endangered marine turtle, dolphins and the rare dugong
Attractions for Mafia Island
We’ve selected a range of attractions & accomodations options for when you visit Pemba Island. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences
Destinations near Mafia Island
Pemba island 189 miles away
Mnemba Private Island 114 miles away
Diving and snorkeling in Mafia
Because Mafia is such a well-kept secret, it is not uncommon to be the only boat on a particular site experience the underwater beauty in peace and solitude