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Mafia Island


The name Mafia is in all likelihood derived from the Arabic word “morfiyeh”, meaning “archipelago” or from the Swahili “mahali pa afya” meaning “a healthy dwelling place”. Its history progresses back to the 18th century where it played a key role in the East African trading routes between Kilwa and Zanzibar.

Mafia Island is a true residue of the old Swahili coast, a place unimpaired, unaltered by commercialism and timeless. Local people go about their traditional activities seemingly uncoupled from the outside world. Fishing is their main activity which is combined with cultivation of staple foods and weaving of mats and baskets.

Mafia lies 150 km from the south of Zanzibar Island. As a matter of fact, Mafia Island is rarely visited and much quieter than Pemba, Mafia Island is referred to as an aquanant paradise. Huge groupers, turtles, rays and whale sharks all perennial its warm, clear water and Chole bay conceivable may be the best coral garden in East Africa.

If you love diving then an excursion to Mafia must be on your bucket list. Spanning the deeper waters where rays and whale fish roam, to the Chole bays incredible coral and fabulously colorful schools of reef fish.

In Juani Island just off the coast of Mafia witness conniving turtles. It is a truly special place to see hawksbill turtles dash the see and tiny green.

If you’re going diving then pick your month carefully. Chole Bay can be divided year-round, but the deeper channels are only viable from August to November. The best visibility is from October to February, though it’s rarely below 15m at any time of year. During late May you’ll experience the best beach conditions. Never to forget the Whale shark season from September to early March. Never to forget Mid-March to Mid-May the Island receives heavy rain during these months.

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