Mafia Island is an ideal getaway for your next romantic African adventure.

A picturesque archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, Mafia Island will take your breath away from the moment you catch a glimpse of its crystal-clear waters out the window of your private chartered plane.

Unlike it’s much busier neighbour, Zanzibar, Mafia is off-the-beaten-track. Its secluded location, year-around average temperature of 25 – 30 degrees Celsius and low volume of tourists make Mafia the perfect place to unwind on your next romantic getaway.

Why you MUST visit Mafia Island!!

Most people visit Mafia Island to swim with GIANT whale sharks.

Mafia is much more than a fantastic scuba and snorkeling destination though; it has a rustic charm and a sense of adventure that only exists because it is so remote and relatively untouched. Mafia is also home to some of the most luxurious eco-lodges in the world, allowing you to adventure hard all morning and pamper, wine and dine all afternoon and evening. 

How to get to Mafia Island?

Mafia is only accessible by air and is much harder to get to than Zanzibar. This is a good thing because fewer flights mean fewer tourists, allowing you to thoroughly enjoy your romantic getaway.

Small commercial or chartered flights (usually in 9-seater Cessna’s) are available from Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar, but don’t stress about the logistical details, our team of African experts will take care of all of your flights and transfers. Giving you more time to unwind and reconnect. 

Where to stay on Mafia Island?

Mafia has a range of luxury eco-lodges. Our two favourites are:

Pole Pole Bungalows: one of the most exclusive eco-lodges in the world and renowned for their delicious cuisine, unpretentious and laid-back atmosphere, and warm but discrete hospitality, Pole Pole is the perfect place to unwind on your next romantic African adventure. There are only a handful of bungalows to ensure

Chole Mjini Treehouses: these rustic, private treehouses are perfectly designed to immerse you in to the wild. Nestled high off the ground, with panoramic 360-degree views, candle lit dinners amongst ancient ruins, steaming hot, eco-friendly outdoor showers and large comfy beds, Chole Mjini is ideal for your next romantic getaway.

Need budget accommodation on Mafia Island?

Try Kitu Kiblu. Nestled amongst old cashew and coconut trees these beach-front, safari style tents are an affordable option without skimping on the necessities. The food is basic but delicious and the bar is one of the best in the world.

What to do on Mafia Island?

If you visit Mafia Island, you definitely want to swim with the whale sharks. The best time to swim with whale sharks on Mafia Island is between October – March each year. If you’re taking a tour we highly recommend Kitu Kiblu.

Kitu Kiblu are an experienced responsible tourism provider who will ensure you have a safe and memorable experience without negatively impacting on the whale sharks. This is incredibly important because whale sharks do not appreciate 50 tourists jumping from boats around them – neither would I to be honest! Kitu Kiblu provide a full safety briefing before your tour, have experienced staff in the water with you at all times and actively avoid having too many tourists in the water at one time. They also do a great job teaching you about the whale shark’s biology and ongoing conservation issues and efforts.

Mafia is also home to humpback whales, turtle hatchings, ancient ruins and many other adventures. You can see a full list of activities here.

Mafia’s real charm however is the silence and seclusion. One of our favourite Mafia adventures is to take a private boat to a secluded white beached island and have a romantic picnic. Just imagine a nice bottle of wine, a few freshly caught fish grilling on the BBQ and an entire, secluded island for you to explore and relax. If this sounds like your kind of heaven, contact our team of African experts today so we can lock in your post COVID getaway.

What is Mafia Island’s history?

Mafia Island once played a major role in ancient trade between East Asia and East Africa. It was a regular stop for Arab boats, was once ruled by the Portuguese and the Omanis and is home to a number of ancient ruins.

The original name is thought to originate from the Arabic word “morfiyeh”, meaning group of islands. It is unclear how long Mafia Island has been inhabited for, but Mafia Island is mentioned at least as early as the 8th century and Kua (on Juani Island) was believed to be the capital until it was attached by Sakalava cannibals arriving from Madagascar in the 1820’s.

In 1890, Germany took control of Mafia Island and set up their headquarters on the tiny island of Chole Mjini. During WWI, British troops took control of Mafia and ruled until Tanzania gained independence in the 1960’s.

In 1995, the WWF provided financial support to establish the first Marine Park in Tanzania to protect this valuable ecosystem.

Today, Mafia is home an abundance of wildlife, an intriguing history, beautiful white sandy beaches and romantic luxury eco-lodges.

Mafia Island is undoubtedly one of Africa’s best off-the-beaten-track, romantic destinations. Now all it needs is you!

Want to find out more about Mafia Island?

Check out our live travel show on YouTube.

About the author

Nate is an adventurer, keynote speaker and responsible tourism expert with a serious case of 'Locational A.D.D'. With experience, travelling, living & volunteering around the world, including in developing countries such as Cambodia, Tanzania and Kenya, Nate is determined to do whatever it takes to make education accessible to every child in Africa.

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