Although as intimidating as it may sound, Mafia Island is one of East Africa’s most beautiful, serene, and secluded islands. Mafia Island is one of the many scenic islands that Tanzania has to offer, and it is located in the beautiful Indian Ocean, 130 kilometres southeast of Dar es Salaam. Apart from being secluded, Mafia Island offers many attractions, picturesque beaches, lush forests, and endless waves of breathtaking beauty.
About the Island
Mafia Island is a small island spanning 50 kilometres in length, while its widest point is 15 kilometres. It has three main towns, Kilindoni, Utende, and Bweni. Mafia Island is well-known for its beautiful turquoise waters, rich history, and colourful culture, making it a unique paradise. Utende is the most visited town by tourists and has the best diving points, and it is also close to Chole and Juani islands.
Reaching the Island
Take a ferry from Dar es Salaam or catch a Coastal Aviation or Auric Air flight. The flight will take you 30 minutes, while the ferry will take four hours. However, only one ferry goes to the island from Nyamisati village and departs at 4 am. It only costs $7/perso and is the perfect option for budget travellers. However, if you have the budget, it is better to travel by air because the ferry isn’t maintained and is overcrowded.
Travelling Around the Island
Mafia Island has a good transportation network of local taxis called dalla-dallas. You can also take a tuk-tuk or rent a bicycle to travel around the island. Most of the hotels offer complimentary airport transfers as well.
The majority of the hotels and lodges are in Kilindoni and Utende. Kilindoni is much cheaper and budget-friendly, perfect for backpackers, while Utende is expensive and offers luxurious accommodations. Many of the prime diving centres are also situated in Utende. However, you will need to pay a daily $20 fee to stay in Utende because it is part of the Mafia Island Marine Park.
Things to do
One of the best things to do on Mafia Island is diving. The coral reefs are breathtaking, and the underwater life is magical. The beautiful and mesmerizing colours will stun you, and the calmness and clear waters of the Indian Ocean are perfect for diving. You will encounter over 460 tropical fish species and the dugong, and five different turtle species.
In addition to diving, you can participate in various watersports activities or go fishing. Apart from this, you can also go on dhow cruises and discover the many islands in the vicinity. Mafia Island also boasts a beautiful range of exotic wildlife and over 120 bird species. There are many sites and spots to explore for those who love culture and history.
Many tourists do not visit Mafia Island, making it the perfect destination for a secluded getaway. It is an exotic destination that will engulf all your senses. If you are visiting East Africa on your next vacation and want to learn more about other cities in the region, read our Five Must Do’s in Kenya.