Welcome to Mafia Island | Best Diving In Tanzania
Welcome to Mafia Island, Tanzania! Here, time stands still, the turquoise Indian Ocean offers the best diving and snorkeling in Eastern Africa, and palm-fringed beaches remain deserted. Mafia is a well-kept secret, a classic paradise island, where very few tourists are lucky to experience the life on the Swahili Coast like it used to be hundreds of years ago. Still, Mafia Island offers unique boutique hotels, diving and snorkeling tours, delicious food and tropical cocktails fulfilling the promises of a relaxing island getaway after East African safari. Read on to catch the best things to do and see in Mafia Archipelago together with further tips for finding the best hotel and tours to match your preferences!
DATES & PRICES
The average price of a 7-day trip to Mafia Island is $1,730 for a solo traveler, $3,107 for a couple, and $5,825 for a family of 4. Mafia Island hotels range from $38 to $174 per night with an average of $67.
If you would like to enjoy all the aquatic activities and inland excursions, we recommend you to stay between 5 and 10 days. If you intend to do a scuba
NO AVAILABLE DEPARTURES
All trip prices are per person based on double occupancy or single occupancy unless otherwise noted, are subject to change without notice, and do not include airfare. Optional activities are at an additional cost. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars.
FIRST-CLASS | TAILOR-MADE
After a safari in Tanzania, why not spend time relaxing on the island of Pemba off the coast of this country. Pemba Island is a very attractive and scenic island known for its outstanding coral reefs and diving.
There are two villages and thus areas where to stay in Mafia Island: the capital Kilindoni and Utende.
The Best Luxury Hotels in Mafia Island
As praised above, our personal hotel pick from Mafia Island is Butiama Beach, a luxurious yet affordable boutique hotel with private villas. Butiama Beach is very near Kilindoni, meaning that you can even walk to the village to visit the market and maybe grab something to eat. Their Italian restaurant is the best restaurant in Mafia Island, which is convenient as prices are all-inclusive. Rates for 2019-2020 are $160 per person per night (including private villa with patio, breakfast and a 3-course dinner, airport transfers, and free use of kayaks).
Butiama also organizes snorkeling and diving tours at several locations inside Mafia Island Marine Park, together with picnic cruises, whale watching and whale shark snorkeling trips.
Please note that when you stay in Kilindoni area (like in Butiama Beach), you don’t have to pay daily Marine Park fees. When you stay in hotels located in Utende, you have to pay daily $20 per person as Marine Park fee. So, choosing a hotel in Kilindoni means saving money!
If you still want to stay in Utende, we recommend luxurious Kinasi lodge (from $300 per room per night, all-inclusive).
Best Budget Hotels in Mafia Island
For divers, we recommend Big Blu Mafia Island Diving Resort in Utende: It’s also an excellent diving school. Rooms are $50 per night plus Marine Park fees.
For non-divers, our budget bungalow pick is Juani Beach Bungalows in Kilindoni ($50 per bungalow per night, no Marine Park fees).
Flights to Mafia Island from Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, Tanzania
Getting to Mafia Island requires a scenic, short flight from either the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, or Zanzibar.
Most tourists grab the cheapest 30-minute flights between Dar es Salaam and Mafia. The local flight price is around $100 one-way. You can usually book the flights at local prices at the airport within 2 weeks of your travel dates. We booked our return flights online a month before our trip and still managed to get the same price.
When you step out of a 9-seat plane on the tiny runway on Mafia Island, you’ve already left the mundane behind. The flight itself is an exciting experience that takes you to a relaxed vacation mode. On the way, you’ll across uninhabited slices of sand amidst all the shades of turquoise and blue.
Tips for Flying to Mafia Island (And Taking Internal Flights in Tanzania)
Ferry to Mafia Island, Tanzania
We don’t recommend the ferry service to Mafia Island. Ferries in Tanzania are unreliable and slow. But they are also cheaper than internal flights: The ferry trip to Mafia Island costs under $10. Please note that ferries are frequently canceled and the small boats replacing the ferries are not safe. Also, taking the ferry requires getting to Nyasamati, which is a 4-hour bus trip away from Dar es Salaam.
Mafia island Best Island in Tanzania
We’re not hiding our opinion: Mafia Island is among the best tropical islands that we’ve ever visited – and it’s certainly the best island in Tanzania. When compared to Zanzibar and Pemba, Mafia remains off the beaten path. It’s an authentic and serene island paradise.
When hopping on our return plane, I felt like a Robinson Crusoe who was forced to leave his newly found home. But somehow I felt that we would return Mafia Island someday – too many stories were left unfolded.