Mafia Island is little changed from ancient times and retains a traditional, friendly culture; and the community tourism association works hard to preserve this individuality.
Mafia Island is a paradise for fishermen, divers and water sport lovers.
Mafia Island (“Chole Shamba”) is part of the Tanzanian Zanzibar Archipelago, together with Unguja, Pemba and Latham Island.
As one of the six districts of the Pwani Region, Mafia Island is governed from the mainland, not from the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, of which it has never been considered to be a part.
According to the 2002 Tanzania census, the population of the Mafia District was 40,801.
The economy is based on fishing, subsistence agriculture and the market in Kilindoni.
The island attracts some tourists, mainly adventure scuba divers, game fishermen, and people wanting relaxation.
The Mafia archipelago consists of one large island (394 km²) and several smaller ones.
Some of these are inhabited, such as Chole Island (2 km²), with a population of 800.
Chole Bay, Mafia’s protected deep-water anchorage and original harbour, is studded with islands, sandbanks and beaches.
The main town is Kilindoni.
The stretch of water between the deltas of the Rufiji River and the island is called Mafia Channel.
There are popular rumours of pygmy hippo on the island but there are no confirmed sightings.
Bird-watching on Mafia is excellent and very different to the mainland parks that guests may have visited.
The tidal flats and mangroves are always alive with coastal and sea birds and there are many colorful woodland and forest species.
Mafia Island with its idyllic setting and tranquil milieu, the island of Mafia, once an important trading center between the 11th and 13th centuries, now draws tourists to its extraordinary coral formations and marine park.
The waters of the island are splendid for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing and sport fishing.
Mafia is the ideal spot to relax and unwind after a great African safari.
Chole Bay and its surrounding forests and islands are now within the protected
Mafia Island Marine Park, supported with assistance from the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Mafia reefs offer a range of corals and fish like no other in the Indian Ocean, and diving and snorkeling sites are just a short boat ride away.
Isolated islets and beaches, lagoons, coves and channels provide many private swimming and picnicking hideaways.
Chole Bay is perfect for windsurfing and laser sailing.
There are also roosts of the unusual and fascinating giant Madagascan fruit bat to see on nearby Chole Island.
For the fisherman there is big-game fishing, light inshore sport fishing and bottom fishing from fully equipped boats.
Hotels and Resorts on Mafia Island
Resorts, Camps and Lodges on Mafia Island include:
What to see and do:
Ras Kilimani Ruins
Local shell crafts are attractive and reasonably priced
Superbly cooked seafood delicacies are a must