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Mafia Island Trip Package: A Complete Guide

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Mafia Island is a small tropical paradise located off the coast of Tanzania. With its white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life, it's no wonder that Mafia Island is becoming an increasingly popular destination for travelers looking for a relaxing beach vacation. In this post, we'll take a closer look at what Mafia Island has to offer and why it should be on your list of must-visit destinations.

About Mafia Island

Mafia Island has a rich history and a unique culture that is still alive today. The island has been inhabited for over 2,000 years and has been influenced by a variety of different cultures over time. Here's a brief overview of the island's history and culture:

Mafia Island was first settled by the Bantu people over 2,000 years ago. In the 8th century, the island became a hub for trade between the African mainland and the Arab world. The island was later colonized by the Portuguese in the late 15th century, followed by the Omanis in the 16th century. In the 19th century, the island was ruled by the Germans and later by the British. Today, Mafia Island is part of Tanzania.

The culture of Mafia Island is a blend of African, Arab, and European influences. The island has a rich tradition of fishing, which is still a way of life for many locals. The Chole people, who are the indigenous people of Mafia Island, have their own unique culture, including traditional dances, music, and dress.

Religion is an important part of the culture on Mafia Island, with a majority of the population being Muslim. There are several mosques on the island, including the Kiegeani Mosque, which is over 200 years old.

Mafia Island is also known for its traditional boat-building techniques. The island's craftsmen use locally sourced materials to build boats using techniques that have been passed down through generations.

Visitors to Mafia Island can experience the local culture through traditional dance performances, visits to local markets, and by participating in local festivals, such as the Mwaka Kogwa festival, which is celebrated in July.

In conclusion, Mafia Island has a rich history and culture that is still alive today. The island's unique blend of African, Arab, and European influences can be seen in its food, music, and traditions. Visitors to the island can experience the local culture through a variety of activities and events, and gain a deeper appreciation for this special place.

Getting to Mafia Island

Mafia Island is located approximately 120 kilometers south of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. The island is relatively isolated, which is part of its charm, but it also means that getting there can be a bit of a challenge.

The most popular way to get to Mafia Island is by flight. There are several airlines that operate flights from Dar es Salaam to Mafia Island, including Auric Air, Coastal Aviation, and Flightlink. The flight takes approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the airline, and offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding islands. The flight schedules are subject to change, so it’s best to check with the airlines for the latest information.

If you prefer a more scenic route, you can take the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Mafia Island. The ferry is operated by the Azam Marine and Coastal Fast Ferries companies, and the journey takes around 6-7 hours. The ferry is a popular option for backpackers and budget travelers as it is considerably cheaper than flying. However, the journey can be bumpy and uncomfortable, so it’s not recommended for those who get seasick easily.

Another option is to take a private speedboat from Dar es Salaam to Mafia Island. This is a more expensive option but offers a more comfortable and faster journey, taking around 3-4 hours. There are several companies that offer private speedboat transfers, including Mafia Island Diving and Chole Mjini Lodge. It’s best to book in advance as availability can be limited during peak season.

Once you arrive on Mafia Island, you can arrange transportation to your accommodation with your hotel or guesthouse. Taxis and tuk-tuks are available, but it’s recommended to negotiate the price beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings.

When to Visit Mafia Island

Mafia Island is a year-round destination that offers a wide range of activities and experiences. However, like any other destination, the island has its high and low seasons, and the timing of your visit can impact the quality of your experience. Here's what you need to know about when to visit Mafia Island.


The climate on Mafia Island is tropical, which means that it's generally hot and humid all year round. The island experiences two rainy seasons; the short rainy season from November to December and the long rainy season from March to May. The best time to visit is during the dry season, which runs from June to October. During this period, the island is dry and sunny, making it perfect for water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing.

Water Clarity:

Mafia Island's water is known for its crystal-clear quality, making it an ideal destination for snorkelers and divers. The water clarity is best from June to October, and visibility can reach up to 30 meters. During the rainy season, the water can become slightly murky due to run-off from the land.

Diving is one of the most popular activities on Mafia Island, and the best time to go diving is during the dry season. During this time, the water is calm and clear, and you can expect to see a variety of marine life, including whale sharks, manta rays, turtles, and dolphins. If you're interested in seeing whale sharks, plan your visit between October and February, when they are most commonly spotted.

High Season

The high season on Mafia Island runs from June to October, coinciding with the dry season. During this time, the weather is perfect, and the island is bustling with tourists. However, this is also the most expensive time to visit, with prices for accommodation and activities often double or triple the off-season rates.

Low Season

The low season on Mafia Island runs from November to May, coinciding with the rainy season. During this time, the island is much quieter, with fewer tourists, and prices are much lower than during the high season. The rain can be a bit of a nuisance, but it usually comes in short bursts and doesn't last all day.

Things to Do on Mafia Island

Once you've arrived on Mafia Island, you'll find that there's plenty to see and do. Of course, the main attraction is the island's beaches. With its white sand and clear waters, Utende Beach is the most popular beach on the island. However, there are several other beaches worth checking out, including Ras Kisimani and Chole Bay.

After a day spent exploring the island, you'll want to enjoy the clear, turquoise waters surrounding it. The best way to do that is to take a boat out for some snorkeling. Mafia Island has several excellent snorkeling spots, including the famous Chole Bay. This protected bay is home to a vast array of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins.

Another popular activity on Mafia Island is scuba diving. The island is surrounded by coral reefs that are teeming with life. Divers can explore colorful coral gardens, swim with schools of fish, and even come face-to-face with whale sharks and manta rays. There are several dive centers on the island that offer a range of courses and excursions for both beginners and experienced divers.

  • Big Blu Mafia Island Diving Resort - This diving school is located in Utende and offers a range of courses, from beginner to advanced. With experienced instructors and small group sizes, you'll receive personalized attention and have the opportunity to explore some of the best dive sites around the island.

  • Mafia Island Diving - This company offers both diving and snorkeling trips around Mafia Island. With over 25 dive sites to choose from, you'll have the opportunity to see a range of marine life, including turtles, dolphins, and whale sharks.

  • Mafia Island Lodge Dive Center - This diving school is located at the Mafia Island Lodge and offers a range of courses, including PADI certification. With over 30 years of experience, the instructors here are some of the most knowledgeable on the island.

  • Island Divers - This diving school is located in Kilindoni and offers a range of courses, including night dives and wreck dives. With experienced instructors and well-maintained equipment, you'll be in good hands here.

  • Mafia Island Whale Shark Conservation Society - This organization offers whale shark research and conservation dives. Not only will you have the opportunity to swim with these gentle giants, but you'll also be contributing to their protection.

Kayaking is also a popular activity, and you can rent kayaks to explore the mangrove-lined waterways around the island.

For those who prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Take a hike through the lush mangrove forests or visit one of the many traditional villages on the island to learn about local life and culture. The ruins of an ancient Arab trading settlement can also be found on the island, offering a glimpse into the island's rich history.

Where to Stay on Mafia Island

When it comes to accommodations, Mafia Island offers a range of options to suit different budgets and preferences. There are several high-end resorts on the island that offer luxury accommodations, spa treatments, and gourmet dining. For those on a budget, there are also guesthouses and lodges that provide basic but comfortable accommodations.

  • Kinasi Lodge: This is a luxurious eco-lodge located on the southern tip of Mafia Island. The lodge is surrounded by lush gardens and offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean. The lodge has a private beach, a swimming pool, and a spa.

  • Mafia Island Lodge: This is a mid-range resort located on the west coast of Mafia Island. The resort has 34 rooms, each with a private veranda overlooking the ocean. The resort has a restaurant, a bar, and a swimming pool.

  • Big Blu Mafia Island Diving Resort: This is a budget-friendly resort located on the east coast of Mafia Island. The resort has 15 rooms, each with a private veranda overlooking the ocean. The resort has a restaurant, a bar, and a diving center.

  • Pole Pole Resort: This eco-resort offers bungalows that are nestled in the forest and have ocean views. The resort also has a restaurant, bar, and pool.

  • Butiama Beach: This budget-friendly guesthouse is located on a secluded beach and offers simple rooms with ocean views.

Best Places to Eat on Mafia Island

Mafia Island is a culinary melting pot with a variety of restaurants and local eateries serving up delicious dishes. Here are some of the best places to eat on the island:

  • Big Blu Mafia Island Diving Resort Restaurant - This beachfront restaurant is famous for its seafood, particularly the grilled octopus and lobster. With a relaxed atmosphere and stunning views, it's a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.

  • Kitutia Reef Restaurant - This restaurant is located in the Kitutia Resort and serves up a fusion of local and international cuisine. The seafood dishes here are particularly popular, with freshly caught fish and lobster being the standout options.

  • Pole Pole Beach Restaurant - Situated at the Pole Pole Beach Bungalow Resort, this restaurant is perfect for those looking for a romantic evening out. The menu is a mix of Swahili and Italian cuisine, with the seafood risotto being a standout dish.

  • Bustani Restaurant - Located in the Mafia Island Lodge, this restaurant is known for its stunning views of the ocean and its extensive menu featuring a range of international and local dishes. The seafood platter is a must-try for any seafood lover.

  • Ali Baba Restaurant - This local eatery is a popular spot for both tourists and locals, serving up fresh seafood and Swahili cuisine. The grilled fish and shrimp skewers are particularly tasty.

No matter where you choose to dine, you're sure to enjoy the fresh seafood and local flavors that the island has to offer. To find out more about the top restaurants on the island, be sure to check out reviews on Tripadvisor.

Overall, a trip to Mafia Island is an excellent choice for those looking for a relaxing beach vacation with plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, it's the perfect destination for those seeking adventure and relaxation. Whether you're an avid diver or just looking for a peaceful getaway, Mafia Island has something to offer for everyone. So why not plan your Mafia Island trip package today and discover Tanzania's best-kept secret?

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