Mafia Island

Welcome to a diving experience like no other – home to some of the richest coral reefs and most diverse marine ecosystems in the world.

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Diving at Mafia Island

Mafia Island lies off the Rufiji Delta, only thirty minutes flying south-east of Dar Es Salaam. Still reassuringly sleepy with few roads and some good beaches, the big draw is undoubtedly the excellent diving.

Established as the first of Tanzania’s Marine Parks, the Mafia Island Marine Park presides over more than 800 square kilometres of some of the richest coral reefs and most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. 

With more than 400 species of fish, and having escaped the worst of the bleaching that has afflicted other reefs in this part of the world, the diving alone is reason enough to visit. You can swim with whale sharks and snorkel in the marine park with turtles, eels, octopus and stingrays.

Normally being the epicentre of the action, Chole Bay has several excellent places to stay. Our current favourites include Pole Pole, Kinasi and Chole Mjini, all of which are very different in character and very much worth a visit.

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Top Reasons To Visit Mafia Island

Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.

Best time to go visit Mafia Island

If you want to kick back, relax and soak up the sun on Mafia Island’s white beaches, then the dry season would be the ideal time to visit.

Generally, the best time to visit is between July and October when the weather is predictably sunny and less likely to rain. There are short rains in November (sometimes through to March) before the long rains arrive in April and May.

If you’re visiting to dive, then you don’t need to think too much about the rainfall. Many people visit Mafia Island to dive and experience swimming with whale sharks. Whale shark season falls from October until March, making the rainy season more appealing

If you are looking to combine Mafia with some time in Zanzibar, then February and October see less rainy days than in the other months.

Best time to go visit Mafia Island

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Mafia Island (FAQS) NEED TO KNOW

Can I combine a safari tour with a trip to Mafia Island?

Combining a safari and beach holiday is a great idea and one we highly recommend. As well as experiencing astonishing wildlife, you can relax and take some time to escape on an idyllic beach landscape. 

We recommend combining Selous and Mafia Island – best experienced between July and October, this safari and beach holiday combination offers the opportunity to get off the beaten track into remote, remarkable places. Selous is the largest game park in Tanzania and offers a stark contrast to all others in almost every way.

What animals can I see while diving at Mafia Island?

Marine life is abundant around Mafia Island. On a diving trip, you may encounter up to 400 different species of fish. The biggest lure to this area is the whale sharks which arrive between October and March. Snorkelling in the marine park, you’re also likely to spot turtles, eels, octopus and stingrays.

What is the accommodation like on Mafia Island?

Pole Pole is a little slice of Italy on the edge of Chole Bay on the eastern coast of Mafia Island. Chole Bay itself is the core of the Mafia Marine Park, so the diving and snorkelling is second to none. Just seven thatch bungalow suites are dotted around the tropical gardens of this often-overlooked eco-lodge. It’s simple but stylish and very well run.

Most of the rooms on Mafia Island are built up on stilts. All are very comfortable, well decorated with lots of floaty muslin drapes and local mahogany furniture, usually with decent sized bathrooms and their own verandah overlooking the bay.

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