The Mafia Island is an archipelago made up of five islands clustered together in the Indian Ocean at the mouth of the Rufiji River. It is only about 20 minutes flight from Dar es Salaam. At present Mafia is a little unknown and receives few visitors. As you reach the coast, there are mangrove forests, sugar-white beaches and brilliant turquoise sea. Slow moving dhows float between the islands carrying people and children going to school.
All five islands Mafia, Jibondo, Juani, Chole and Bewjuu have rich vegetation and wildlife with coconut palms, baobabs, cashew, mango and papaya trees in the interior. These provide home to bushbabies, genets, wild pigs, blue duikers, velvet monkeys and fruit bats. On the coast the mangrove forests and tidal flats attract endless sea birds. The more remote sandy beaches are the domain of giant coconut crabs and nesting place for turtles.
The archipelagos' coral reefs some of the richest in the world. Many are less than 30m deep which makes diving easy and snorkeling enjoyable. There are 50 species of coral which includes the giant table corals, delicate sea fans, whip corals and huge stands of blue-tipped staghorn corals as well as over 400 species of fish. Turtles, sharks and dolphins are to be found in the clear blue sea and visitors have a chance of swimming with the whale sharks and snorkel alongside them.
Mafia Island is accessible all year round.
There are scheduled daily flights from Dar es Salaam to the Kilindoni airfield on the Mafia which take approximately 30 minutes. There are also frequent flights from Zanzibar airport, these take about 45 minutes. You can also get there by private air charter or by boat.
Pole Pole Lodge
Pole Pole Lodge is a small, peaceful and intimate lodge overlooking Chole Bay on the south east coast of Mafia Island. Pole pole is a Swahili word that translates "slowly, slowly" that is, take things slowly and relax. Here visitors can just relax, eat, snorkel and dive or bicycle through the village. It the perfect beach retreat combined with the personal attention and service provided by the friendly staff. The lodge is located about 20 minutes drive from Kilindoni which is the main village and air strip.
There are ten sleepy wooden bungalows located on a small hill with sea views and covered in palm fronds. They are built of local hardwood and raised on stilts thus blending in harmoniously with its environment. The rooms are spacious and stylish with polished floors, mahogany furniture and ceiling fans . Beds have mosquito nets and Italian linen. The bathrooms are splendid with double basins, shower and flush toilets. Each bungalow has a large veranda with comfortable chairs and a carved Zanzibari bed – for a relaxing afternoon sleep.