Image to display sunrise at Mafia Island


Overview and historical background.

7 Best activities make Mafia Island the African Secret Paradise. Mafia Island is a part of an archipelago, off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean, Mafia Island was an important port on the trade route in the 8th century. Merchants traveling to Madagascar and Mozambique would use the island as a stopover and called it “Morfiyeh” while the island natives called it “mahali pa afya” meaning “a healthy abode”. The locals appreciate their unpretentious life of fishing, farming and weaving baskets and mats, and actually make efforts to keep the outside capitalist world at a distance. The Island is covered with lush tropical vegetation and abounds with fruit trees, baobabs, palms and mangroves. 


Mafia Island Weather

Mafia Island has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons. The dry season and the wet season. The dry season runs from May to October, with warm and sunny days and cooler nights. The wet season runs from November to April, with higher temperatures and more rainfall, but still with plenty of sunshine and clear skies between showers.

Overall, the weather in Mafia Island is warm and pleasant year-round, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 32°C.


Mafia Cultural and People

The Island has an extraordinary history described partly in its remnant archaeology and Iron Age sites, annals of the many seafaring nations that came for trade or conquest to Azania, as the East Coast of Africa was known originally, and in the effects of the two great wars and German, then British, colonial governments.

Mafia Island was once owned by the Sultan of Oman, also the power in Zanzibar, and was sold to Germany in 1890 along with a section of the Tanganyika coast from the Rufiji Delta to Kilwa. After World War I the island was ceded to Britain and became part of the Coast Province. Chole Island and a site near Kanga have German buildings from the early 1900s.

Image to show scuba diving in Mafia Island.

Mafia has remained a very local island in the Indian Ocean. The local residents of Mafia Island are mostly fishermen and farmers. Farmers generally grow tropical fruits and rice, while some cultivate trees for cashews or coconuts. People of Mafia are extremely friendly, self- confident but humble, and always ready for a laugh. 

Mafia Island Marine Park is the first site to be designated a marine park in all of Tanzania and is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of this incredible marine area.

 Image to display Marine Park in Mafia Island


5 reasons Why you Should Visit Mafia Island


Here is where you will see mostly why visiting Mafia Island is unique way of exploring and discover Tanzania. Mafia Island is most culturally in original and environmentally natural of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean islands, it is visited by the few who know the charms and desire for special adventure.


2. mafia ISLAND Cultural Experiences 

There is no other destination like Mafia with so much to see, do and experience. And most of all welcoming and friendly people are one of the greatest experiences while visiting Mafia Island and you will soon realize that, as for all of East Africa, the people of Mafia are extremely friendly, self- confident and humble, always ready for a laugh.



The key aspect of being a tourist in Mafia is that everything is so accessible and at reasonable cost. It offers the complete island experience from intense activity to complete laid-back, feet-up bliss. 



A lasting memory you will take away is how cheerful and playful people are. A friendly culture comes naturally. Here nature, unaffected by modern life, pollution and settlement is the setting for a traditional way of life for the local people, for whom fishing, and smallholder agriculture underpin their livelihood.

Mafia island

5.Mafia Island is a true diver paradise

offering superb diving and ocean experiences. Travelers looking for get away from crowded tourist hubs and overdone resort and accommodations can saturate themselves in Mafia’s pristine waters, white sand beaches and coral reefs. And we certainly think spending time on this island can improve someone’s health.


Anyone visiting Mafia Island Tanzania will fall in love with the place. Tanzanian culture and Island life is at a good combination here. 

Here are the best things to do while in Mafia Island.


1. Swimming with whale sharks

One of the biggest things to do on Mafia Island is swimming with Whale Sharks. These creatures are huge, and their gentle manner makes them really fun to swim with.

They are the largest fish in the oceans of the world and can reach lengths of 12 meters. These spectacular creatures with their distinctive spots and stripes markings seem to favor the areas around the island and are known to be present almost all the year round; though best time to visit is October to March when they are spotted feeding on the higher surface.

Snorkeling with whale shark

A large section of Mafia Island is a protected Marine Park.  Mafia has the best coral with pockets of thriving marine life. While snorkeling you will see turtles, octopus and rays. At the marine park where a stunning diversity of coral shelters more than 460 species of fish and other marine creatures visible in the gentle rays of the sun filtering through crystal clear waters.


3. Take Tour to Kilindini Market.

Kilindini, is small and a very welcoming place in Mafia. It is the place where the fisherman and ferries come and go, as well as the single-runway airport. Streets are calm, in the market local people spread and sells everything. In the evening, women set up tables and chairs in the streets where you can go to sample some local food at very cheap prices.

Mafia Kilindini Markert


4. Tour to Chole Island.

The place is Just off Mafia and even a smaller Island, Chole, home to just 1000 residents. Time here seems to have stopped altogether on this island where there are no cars. Walking through the maze of paths cut into the palm trees, you will see the mud huts that the people live in and the various crafts and trades they carry out to make a living. Also on the island is a huge, protected nesting site for the world’s largest bats.

Image to display Chole Island in Mafia Island
Chole Island in Mafia


5. Visit the Lighthouse.

On the Northern point of the Island there are preserved lighthouse. Everyone we spoke to give a different date for when it was built so who knows what is right, but it is old. This is an area of the Island most visitors don’t normally visit so it’s nice to see. You can get there by taxi or you can even hire your own piki-piki (motorbike) for the day. There are also some untouched beaches on the North of the island where you can stop for a swim.

6. See the Island Hippos.

I didn’t believe the locals when they said that there are hippos on the Island but it’s true. I saw them with my own eyes! The lake where they stay is about a half-hour drive from Kilindini. The best time to see them is before sunset, although I wouldn’t recommend staying out too long. Although the man who lives next to them (aka: hippo man) says they are tame and he touched one, I really wouldn’t trust his advice. Hippos are the one of the most dangerous animals in wilderness.


7. visiting Cultural heritage HOUSE

On the coastal islands of Tanzania, and Kua civilization at Juani Island alongside other kinds of edifices echoing the past such as the lighthouse at Ras Mkumbi in northern Mafia. The sandy beaches of Juani are also the favorite nesting site of green turtles. 

The best of all these excursions and experiences are all right on your doorstep no extra travel time or complex arrangements and cost. Mafia Island offers so much so easily. That is why we say Visiting Mafia is a unique way of exploring Tanzania.


Zanzibar spiced ISLAND VS Mafia Island 

Zanzibar and Mafia are both popular destinations for visitors to Tanzania, but they offer different experiences.

Mafia Island is a more secluded and off-the-beaten-track destination, known for its unspoiled natural beauty, pristine beaches, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. It is a quieter and less touristy island, with a more laid-back and relaxed atmosphere.

Image to Display Zanzibar island

Zanzibar, on the other hand, is a more well-known and developed destination, with a rich history and cultural heritage, a bustling capital city, and a wide range of tourist facilities and activities. It is a popular destination for beach holidays, cultural tours, walking safari, wildlife tour and food and spice tours, and offers a vibrant nightlife and shopping scene.

There is no hotel or lodge in Zanzibar that can match with Mafia for which everything in Mafia is available right on the doorsteps and so easy to access so please do your sums carefully before you make the choice based on cost.


How to get to mafia ISLAND

Firstly, you will first need to get an international flight into Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam. From there, you have 2 options for getting to Mafia Island: either flight or ferry. Flying is definitely the easiest (less scary/stressful) way to get to the island.

Or if you are planning for safari you will start with Safari to the Northern Tanzania Circuit then later, we will book for you a local flight to Dar es Salaam or Arusha straight to Mafia Island depending on the time of the year you will be travelling.


Our super package charges based on per person sharing which will give you the benefits of:

  • Accommodation according to your package length
  • All transfers according to your Package Length
  • Great services from our hotel partner in Mafia Island.
  • All meals as stipulated on your package.
  • Local Guide while in Mafia Island



For more articles related to East Africa, Wildlife Safari, and proper travel tips Click here or if you’re interested to watch the video of this destination Click here

frequency asked question about mafia.

How to get to Mafia Island?

You can go to mafia Island by plane or ferry.

Is it possible to extend to Mafia Island after my Wildlife Safari?

Yes, it’s very possible to extend to mafia Island after your wildlife safari or Mt Hiking.

What is the best time to see Whale Sharks Mafia Island?

The best time to see whale sharks in Mafia Island is between October and March, which is the main whale shark season in the area.

How can I travel from Mafia Island to Zanzibar Island?

You can get to mafia island by plane or ferry.

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We are tour operator East Africa-Tanzania (DMC) based in Arusha, our top destinations are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zanzibar and Mafia. Our personalized package focus to the most exotic destination giving you a chance to thoroughly explore and learn about this beautiful country’s nature, scene and melodramatic cultural experiences

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