Mafia IslandTanzania, Africa
Mafia Island is part of Tanzania’s Mafia Archipelago. Having escaped the invasion of mass tourism, Mafia Island remains unspoiled and is often described as Zanzibar 30 years ago. In 1995, the Mafia Island Marine Park was formed to protect the archipelago’s reefs and forms one of the finest complexes of estuarine, mangrove, coral reef and marine ecosystems in the world, home to giant table corals, huge staghorn corals, more than 400 species of fish, rays, gigantic grouper, sharks, dolphins, dugong and giant turtles, and, on land, stunning plant life, overgrown mangroves and thick forests of palm and baobab.
The waters around Mafia are rich in plankton which draw in a resident population of whale sharks, with 100 plus spotted five months of the year from September to February. Mafia also lies along the migratory route of humpback whales as they head for warmer waters with their calfs during August and September.
How to get there
The gateway to Mafia Island is Dar Es Salaam, with daily flights on Oman Air, Emirates, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and KLM/Air France taking approximately 15 hours with a brief stop-over on route. From Dar es Salaam, the onward flight to Kilondoni takes 35 minutes.
Stay a bit a longer
If you are looking to extend your trip, you can choose to dive with manta rays in Mozambique which is easily accessible from Dar Es Salaam.
Mafia Island Lodge
Overlooking Chole Bay, Mafia Island Lodge is situated on a sandy beach amongst tall palm trees.
With 34 simple yet comfortable air-conditioned rooms, Mafia Island Lodge has a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. The main lodge has a large open restaurant with a pool table and bar area which overlook the bay.
The lodge also features a fully equipped dive PADI centre, snorkelling, sailing, nature trails, table tennis, volleyball, board games and small gift shop.
The on-site dive centre is located on the beachfront outside the lodge and offers shore and boat diving as well as a wide range of courses. Daily boat dives are from a traditional Swahili Dhow, which travel to the numerous nearby dive sites where you can spot seahorses, ghost pipefish, octopus and other critters hiding in the sheltered, shallow reefs to large marine life such as turtles, sharks and rays outside the bay.
Visibility ranges from 25 to 30 metres on dive sites around the island, with perhaps the best being on the sheltered sites inside Chole Bay. The marine park is located between the Rufiji River delta to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east. These both combine to create unique landscapes and an incredible biodiversity of marine life.
Pole Pole Bungalows
Located in the Chole Bay area of Mafia Island, on the southeast coast of the Mafia Island Marine Park, Pole Pole is one of the best eco-lodges in the region combining sustainability with luxury.
Meaning ‘slowly slowly’ in Swahili, Pole Pole has a very laid-back atmosphere and, with only seven stilted thatched bungalows, the tiny resort is intimate, quiet and very welcoming.
Facilities at the hotel include a swimming pool and massage centre. Meal times at Pole Pole combine local flavours with an Italian touch using food primarily bought on the island in order to help the local fishermen and farmers.
Diving takes place from the sister property Mafia Island Lodge. Located on the beachfront, the PADI 5-star dive centre offers daily shore and boat diving. Boat dives are from the traditional Swahili Dhow and diving is in small groups with a ratio of 4 divers to 1 guide.
Ready for your next adventure?
Great Escapes Diving Holidays Ltd
Office hours: Mondays to Fridays 09.00am - 5.00pm
Tel: +44 (0)1473 921888
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