Mafia Island

Mafia is an unspoiled and little-know alternative to other Indian Ocean destinations. This often overlooked tranquil and secluded island lets visitors avoid the crowds found at Zanzibar’s tourist-filled beaches. Yet this remote and charming island – with its surrounding archipelago encompassing the smaller islands of Jibondo, Juani, Bwejuu & Chole, has lots to offer.

It is a water enthusiasts’ paradise and a-well-kept secret among snorkelers and divers. The surrounding waters are crystal clear and permit amazing views to the pristine coral reefs and an unimaginable number of colorful, tropical fish. Some of the most exciting diving spots of the world are found here! Mafia’s main attraction are however the majestic whale sharks!

Main Facts

offshore island in Southern Tanzania
reachable by small aircraft plane
size: 435 km²
capital: Kilindoni

Best Time

all year around – except April and May
whale sharks seasons: September to March
humpback whales pass by: August and September


Snorkeling & Diving
Boat trips to sandbanks in traditional dhows
Cultural tours to ancient ruins and fishing villages

Perfect for travelers...

who are looking for a quiet & authentic beach vacation away from hustle
who are looking for accommodations with character and Swahili charm
who love to snorkel or dive (beginner to well-experienced)
who are adventurous to swimm with the mighty whale sharks

Further Details – Mafia Island

Where is Mafia Island and how is it reached?

Mafia Island is located 20 km offshore from Tanzania’s mainland and roughly 120 km south of Dar es Salaam. Domestic flights operate twice a day from/to Dar es Salaam with the domestic airlines Auric Air, Coastal Aviation and Safari Airlink. It is also possible to connect from Arusha, or other airstrips within the national parks, to Dar es Salaam and then onwards to Mafia Island.

Flora, Fauna & Wildlife above water

The islands of the Mafia archipelago all feature lush vegetation with coconut palms, cashews and mango and papaya trees as far as the eye can see. A few animals such as bush babies, duikers, flying foxes, genets, velvet monkeys, squirrels and wild pigs call the archipelago their home. The coast with its tidal mangrove thickets and scrubby coastal moorlands attracts a large variety of sea birds.

Mafia’s claim-to-fame is its underwater glory…

The Mafia Archipelago forms one of the most complex marine ecosystems of the world. The government took first steps in 1975 to protect this area by declaring it a marine reserve. Today this marine reserve covers an area of 822 km² and encompasses both inhabited and desert islands, inter-tidal flats, mangrove forests, seagrass beds and various coral reefs.

A glorious underwater paradise awaits travelers here with more than 50 species of corals and sponges and more than 460 documented fish species. The special characteristics of this amazing underwater world arise from Mafia’s unique location in the estuarine delta system of the Rufiji River on Tanzania’s south coast – a melting pot of oceanic and reef fishes.

The further you venture into the deep, the better are your chances of coming across dolphins, sharks and occasionally manta rays. Mafia is also home to five different turtle species that come to nest on the remote beaches. You might even witness humpback whales that pass the islands between August and September.

Mafia’s main attraction: Majestic whale sharks…

From September to March, the north monsoon winds (called Kaskazi) push a plankton-rich surface layer of the nutrient-rich Rufiji River towards the island. Whale sharks will gather in areas with the densest plankton occurrences and filter-feed with their wide mouths. According to the WWF, the population of whale sharks around Mafia has increased to 180 individuals as of December 2017.

Interested? Talk to an expert!


As an adventurous European travel is in my blood! Tanzania is a fascinating country with so much to explore! It’s a pleasure to share my insider knowledge and offer first-hand advise. I take the time to listen to your ideas and create a unique safari adventure out of these – tailored to your indivudal requirements and designed just for you!

Not sure if this itinerary is suitable for you? You have questions or missing a particular activity? Don’t worry we are here to assist!

Reach out

Phone/Whats App +255 788 391 600

Not sure – Talk to an expert


Let me show you my stunning home country and discover the true Tanzania – authentic and first-hand with a native at your side! As a Tanzanian myself, I am intimately familiar with the local conditions. With my experience in the bush and my passioan for wildlife, I will happily design an itinerary based on your travel interests.

You have any questions or are unsure if Tanzania is the right travel destination for you? Get in touch for a first chat to discuss your requirements!

Reach out
Phone/Whats App +255 787 298 159

You want to explore more about Mafia Island?

Overnight Options

Scroll through our selection of beach resorts on Mafia Island – each personally visited and reviewed! Depending on your travel preferences and budget, we will recommend the perfect accommodation stay for you!

Activities & Daytrips

Maybe relaxing and sunbathing at the beach sounds a bit boring? Mafia Island has lots of activities to offer: for water enthusiasts and travelers interested in ancient ruins. Check out our favorite ones here!