Mafia Island

Mafia Island Marine Park

Mafia is renowned as an excellent world-class diving destination with some of the richest reefs in the world, The park covers the Southern part of Mafia Island and includes the inhabited islands of Chole, Juani Jibondo and Bwejuu and several uninhabited islets and the associated waters.

Mafia Island and its chain of small islets lie approximately 120 km south of Dar es Salaam and 20 km offshore from the eastern extent of the Rufiji is one of the largest delta systems in Africa. To the east of Mafia Island is the Indian Ocean. The main island of Mafia is about 48 km long and 17 km wide at its widest point. Several smaller islands and islets are scattered to the west and south.

Mafia Island marine Park (MIMP) consists of eight small reserves along the Tanzanian coast under the Fisheries (Marine Reserves) Regulations of 1975, two of these are in what is now the Mafia Island marine Park (MIMP), namely Chole Bay and Kitutia Reef.

The marine park area at Mafia Island extends across some 822km2, more than 75% of it below the high water mark. The area hosts an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats including coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves and inter-tidal flats. In addition a remnant block of threatened lowland coastal forest survives along the eastern seaboard of the island, roughly half of it within the marine park boundary. Two species of sea turtle use Mafia’s beaches as nesting grounds and the area has been recognized internationally as a critical site for biodiversity. Several sites of historic ruins lie within the marine park area, some dating back to the C 13th. Mafia Island’s separation from the mainland and its freedom from industrial development have ensured that its surrounding waters are some of the least contaminated in Tanzania. The marine park area has national importance as one of the few remaining reef complexes within Tanzania’s coastal waters in relatively intact condition.

Mafia Island ("Chole Shamba") is not part of the Tanzanian Zanzibar Archipelago, which is formed of Unguja, Pemba, Mnemba 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 politically.

According to the 2002 Tanzania census, the population of the Mafia District was 40,801.[1] 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 the smaller ones are inhabited, such as Chole Island (2 km²), with a population of 1415. 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.

 

Tanzania’s first Marine Park, gazetted in 1995 Deeper channels around the island are renowned for world class deep sea fishing. Unspoilt coral reefs gives it one of the best dive sites in the world.

Un-crowded beaches remain a popular breeding grounds for giant and green turtles. Very clear waters giving very good under water visibility for diving and snorkeling activities. Historical architecture-mosques, buildings dating back to the eighth century. Historically was a hub for ancient trade between the Far East and East Africa. Over 120 different species of birds.

 

WHEN TO GO

The climate is Coastal with temperatures ranging from 20C to 34C.

2 Main rainy seasons; short rains in November-December and longer rains from March-May

Best time is from June to October as these are the coolest months.

ACTIVITIES

  • World class scuba diving and snorkeling
  • Deep sea fishing, kayaking, kite surfing, wind surfing.
  • Boat excursions and picnics on sand bars, kayak to mangrove forests and visit lagoons.
  • Sail with local fisherman in their traditional dhows and experience traditional “Swahili” cuisine and lifestyle.
  • See traditional boat(dhows) building activities.
  • Tour the island on bicycles.
  • Birding and guided walks through traditional villages.
  • Visit historical ruins dating back to 15th and 8th century.

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