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Mafia Island

Travel Guide Africa Tanzania Mafia Island

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Introduction

Mafia Island off the coast of Tanzania must be one of the Indian Ocean's best hidden gems. With white sandy beaches, dazzling aquamarine waters and refreshingly few tourists, Mafia is often described as Zanzibar 30 years ago. A laid-back eco-alternative with no tarmac roads, few hotels, no shops, no ATMs (credit cards are accepted at the up-market lodges) which is not geared for mainstream tourism. Be warned, if you want fancy shops and a wild night-life, Mafia isn’t for you!

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Sights and Activities

  • Ras Kisimani - The far western cape of the main island, facing the Rufiji Delta. Kisimani Mafia, just north-east of the Cape is KiSwahili for “the place of the well”. An old town dating to the 12th Century has been drowned by rising sea levels and a collapsing foreshore for over 100 years.
  • Bwejuu Island - Sits between Ras Kisimani and the Rufiji Delta and is a sand-fringed, palm-covered island surrounded by sand bars and snorkelling reefs. These are all-day excursions by boat from Kilindoni for beach-lovers and those looking for a castaway experience. Beautiful beaches and fabulous swimming along the edge of the Ras Kisimani point and off the reefs and sand bars of Bwejuu.
  • Jibondo - Mafia's best-known fishing village. The island is about 30 minutes away by boat. Over-fishing resulted in a decline in shark populations but the people still harvest a great deal of octopus.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are two airlines with regular service from Dar es Salaam to Mafia's Kilindoni airport and flights take about 30 minutes. Coastal Aviation operates two daily flights from Dar es Salaam and one "on-demand" from Kilwa. Tropical Air, based in Zanzibar, flights to Mafia originate in Dar es Salaam.

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Getting Around

There are only a few jeeps owned by the resorts or lodge. You can hire a rickety Land Rover with driver near the market in the center of Kilindoni. If you are more adventurous you can rent a bike from the place you are staying. The price should be anything from US$8-15/day.

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Eat

Almost all resorts and lodges have their own restaurant and usually the prices are full board, so tourists rarely go around to find different places.
Kinasi Lodge Restaurant in Utende has a cocktail bar offering a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and a wine cellar of specially selected wines. Good cuisine and each year they send their local chefs abroad for training. Lunch US$20/Dinner US$25.

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Sleep

There are six lodges on Mafia, five (Chole Mjini , Kinasi Lodge , Mafia , Pole Pole and Shamba Kilole) clustered closely together within Chole Bay and one, the Ras Mbisi Lodge, on the western side of the island . Additionally there are a handful of backpacker friendly ‘hotels’ in Kilindoni, the main town (the port and airstrip are here).

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This is version 1. Last edited at 11:01 on Mar 3, 15 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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