Encompassing the southern part of the Mafia island and an archipelago of several small islands and islets.
The park is sandwiched between the Rufiji delta to the west and the open Indian Ocean to the east.
The twin influences of river and sea have combined over thousands years to create an undersea landscape of unique variety: underwater cliffs, tidal channels, coral reefs and sea-grass meadows. This allows extraordinary verity of marine life and is the basis of mafia’s exceptional biodiversity.
It’s one of the most exciting diving and fishing area in the world. It’s home for more than 460 species of fish and 5 species of turtle. Sports fisherman flock here for superb catches, many of them are great fighters, which include barracuda, marlin, sailfish and tuna.
The main season is from September to March. Although fishing is possible all year around within the reef and the channel.
Divers will also see a variable kaleidoscope of reef dwellers among 50 types of coral.
These include butterfly fish, clown fish, lion fish, and rainbow fish, while in deeper water will come across shark, rays and groupers.
Also bottle nose and spinner dolphins are often seen leaping the waves.
Over 160 species of birds plus endemic amphibians and reptiles and rare fruit bat also occur.
Six species of plant are probably found only on Mafia and further 8 are restricted to few other coastal forest sites in East Africa.
Other island fauna includes a colony of flying foxes, several species of bush babies, a type of pygmy shrew and a monitor lizard, monkey and squirrels.
Mafia Island also has social important and cultural dimensions. Several sites of historic ruins lie within the marine park, back dating to the 12th Century, where a major Arab town on the monsoon trade routes from Arabia to Sofala.
Mafia Island is-in the true sense-an island paradise for the active beachcomber who is serious about enjoying the sea and islands, adventure divers, game fishermen, bird-watchers or just for simple feet-up relaxation. Be as active as you wish…or simply relax and do nothing and let the island take care of you.
Activities organized are: Diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing and kayaks, boat excursions, cultural experience, road and bicycle excursions and Nature and bird-watching walks.
Getting to Mafia:
Flight: 0.30 hour flight from Dar es salaam
Sites in Mafia
Whale Sharks : One of the most exciting encounters sea lovers can dream off. A short trip by car will take you to Kilindoni harbour, buzzing with daily activities in a kaleidoscope of colours. In support of local fishermen, involved in a project for protection of whale sharks, guests will use their local boats and skills to spot the gentle giants quietly feeding on plankton a few hundred meters from the shore. In spite nobody can assure that they will be seen, in the period between October and March the chances are extremely high and the hotel gets in touch early in the morning with local guides that spot them and signal their position. Swimming with whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet, requires no special skills but even looking at these beautiful creatures from the boat is an unforgettable experience.
Maweni Snorkeling : Coral rocks emerging from the bay surrounded by an extremely interesting reef which can be reached even byless expert swimmers.
Marimbani Sandbank: strip of dazzling white sand which appears during low tide, surrounded by crystal-clear water.
Chole island: The oldest, still inhabited settlement in the archipelago, with the ruins of old Arab buildings used by the Germans during the World War I.The island is covered by extremely varied lush vegetation.
Juani Island – Kua Ruins: one of the largest and most characteristic islands in the archipelago, are the ruins of the ancient city of Kua, whose decline, as yet unexplained by archaeological and historical, is the object of many legends. The island’s fauna is quite unusual and includes wild pigs, monkeys and small antelopes (blue duiker).
Juani Island- Blue Lagoon: The southern point of Juani Island is divided in two by a long channel linking the big inland bay with the open sea. At the end of the channel is an enormous natural swimming pool whose water level varies according to the tide. After a short walk you can enjoy its clear waters.
Jibondo Island: is about an hour boat trip from Utende village and is characterized by the unique conformation of the western tip and the surrounding emerald green waters. The village is mainly inhabited by fishermen whose fish and octopus drying and net mending activities are of great interest to tourists together with the traditional shipyard, one of the most famous in Tanzania.
Kitutia Reef : is one of the archipelago’s most beautiful coral reefs with two strips of fine white sand which stay above the water during the low tide. The trip includes snorkeling and diving activities and allows time for walking along the reef, sunbathing or swimming in the natural pools formed around the sandbanks. Depending on the tides, lunch is served on Kitutia Reef or on another beach en route to the reef.
Bwejuu Island : Considered by many to be the most beautiful island in the archipelago thanks to its position and its sandy banks, Bwejuu Island is less than 2 kms long and no more than 200 meters wide at its widest point. Its position, halfway between the main island of Mafia and the delta of the Rufiji river, makes it a handy base for diving and snorkeling on the nearby Mange Reef as well as for trips along the Rufiji River.
Chuwia Beach :An hour by 4×4 car along a track passing through one of the most characteristic landscapes of the island and an easy trek though a stretch of virgin forest take you to one of Chole Bay’s most inaccessible beaches. You will be able to admire wildlife and vegetation untouched by human settlement and cultivation. Those taking part in the trip may decide to eat lunch on the beach or in one of the cool clearings along the route.
Ras Mkumbi : The Lighthouse: Situated on the northernmost point of the island of Mafia, the lighthouse can be reached by car. It is an exciting journey that takes you right across the island and its changing landscapes. Wide stretches of savannah studded by baobab trees, small seaside villages, bush populated by monkeys and birds climax in a unique view of the open sea.
Suggested Itineraries for Mafia : Minimum 4 Days/ 3 Night Safari: Mafia can be combined with other parks: Option to go to Mafia is flying from Dar es salaam and can be arranged from Zanzibar, Selous but via Dar es salaam