Quieter and less visited than neighbouring Zanzibar, but also a "spice island" on the historic trade routes, Mafia Island is the largest of a small archipelago of unspoilt islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean off the coast of mainland Tanzania, south of Dar es Salaam.
Mafia Island Lodges
Mafia Island is the largest of a small archipelago of unspoilt islands off the coast of Tanzania. It lies south of Dar es Salaam. And like its famous neighbour, Zanzibar, Mafia Island was a Spice island. It offered a safe harbour for the ships and dhows plying the historic trade routes from the Gulf. So you will see atmospheric ruins from early trading settlements on Mafia which date back to the 12th century.
But Mafia Island is far quieter and more peaceful than Zanzibar. With only a few small beach hotels and lodges. So it caters to people who value coral reefs, lagoons and beaches more than large beach resorts with loads of facilities. Check out our suggestions below - Pole Pole Lodge, Kinasi Lodge and Butiama Beach.
Mafia Island Diving
Mafia forms part of the Mafia Island Marine Park - Tanzania’s first marine national park. This spectacular, pristine area offers coral gardens of hard and soft corals. And diverse marine life, making it an excellent area for divers. You may choose to fly to Mafia after being on safari in the Selous Game Reserve, Or after the classic northern Tanzania game reserves. But Mafia has dive sites which lure keen divers who feel no desire to step into a safari vehicle.
Check out Mafia island diving for more info...
But even if you only like to snorkel and swim, Mafia Island has beautiful sandy beaches. And most beach resorts also have a pool. Some even have spas. But all offer excellent cuisine making use of fresh, local produce.
There are attractions for nature lovers on land as well. Mafia Island's coastal thickets and mangroves are host to many bird species. Which you won't have already seen on safari in Tanzania.
Mafia is easily accessed by light aircraft in 35 minutes from Dar es Salaam. Or 45 minutes from Zanzibar and the Selous Game Reserve.
Need a little help? View our Safari Guide to help you get started