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From the moment you arrive on the airstrip at Kilindoni, the capital, you realise that the island can have changed little over the years. Tourism here is only on a very small scale and with very laid back and friendly locals – Mafia rightly deserves to be termed an unspoilt Indian Ocean holiday paradise.
Mafia lies south of Zanzibar and is the main island in a coral reef archipelago protecting the southern coast of Tanzania. It lies close to the vast Rufiji River Delta and is a 30 minute flight from Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar.Chole Bay on the east of the island forms the hub of Mafia’s limited tourism development. There are three upmarket lodges here and the whole area is protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park, part of a community tourism association formed in 1995 to try and preserve the island’s appeal and individuality.
The bay is studded with coral atolls and isolated sand bars, and is sheltered by a reef that runs unbroken for the length of the island, from Tutia in the South to Ras Mkumbi in the north. Chole Bay is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, sailing and of course diving.The nearby Rufiji River system makes the waters around Mafia particularly nutritional. As a result the reefs are especially brilliant with over 50 genera of coral, walls at various levels and many shelves and heads. As well as attracting over 400 fish species common to the Indian Ocean, they are a meeting place for 5 turtle species and many larger oceanic fish – placing Mafia amongst the finest diving areas in the Indian Ocean.
Other holiday activities on Mafia Island include bird-watching, fishing and visits to local villages, historic archaeological sites, coastal forests, coconut plantations and traditional boat-building yards.
Kinasi Lodge is a small luxury lodge for twenty guests. Its large rooms are decorated with handmade furniture and have impressive views of Chole Bay and the surrounding islands. The lodge, which is beautifully decorated with original works of east African art, serves some excellent Swahili cuisine and, for watersports enthusiasts, is without question the best choice on Mafia. More…