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!
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.
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.
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.
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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