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Mafia Map

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Indian Ocean Islands - Mafia

Turtle and Whale Shark Sanctuary

Mafia is an archipelago of islands at the mouth of the Rufiji river delta, composed of Mafia Island, Jibondo, Juani and Chole. Visitors today find essentially rural farming and fishing communities whose day to day lives continue in much the same pattern as has been traditional for centuries.

Mafia Island and the surrounding archipelago have a great deal to offer. The archipelago provides excellent opportunities for snorkeling, and for discovering deserted beaches and offshore islands filled with rich natural and historic interest.

The deeper channels around the islands are also renowned for world-class deep sea fishing, and home to at least two greatly endangered species; the docile dugong (manatee or sea cow) is still thought to find refuge cruising the sea grass between Mafia and the Rufiji River Delta, and the small islands around the archipelago remain a popular breeding ground for giant and green turtles.

These islands are an idyllic natural haven for birds and wildlife, with over 120 different species of birds sighted and recorded, (including five types of sunbird), and the whole area is best explored from the comfort of a yacht.

Mafia Island Marine Park - Chole Bay

Chole Bay, Mafia's protected deep-water anchorage, is part of a protected marine park. Its natural horseshoe shape is studded with lovely beaches. Outside the bay an unbroken reef runs the length of the island. The snorkeling here is excellent and includes colorful coral gardens, walls at various levels and many shelves and coral heads.

The waters around Mafia Island host an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats with 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.

The area has been recognized internationally as a critical site for biodiversity. It has national importance as one of the few remaining reef complexes within Tanzania's coastal waters, relatively intact and the productive fisheries and other marine resources provide food and income for the local community. It is East Africa's largest Marine Park.

Mafia Marine Park's homepage


Fact File

Location Off Coast of East Africa Between 39°35'E and 39°55'E, 8 °05'S and 7 °35'S
Principal Towns Kilindoni, Utende, Kilwa Kivinje.
Shopping Utende, Kilindoni
Languages English, Swahili
Mafia Islands North Fanjove, Kwale, Koma, Niororo, Shungu Mbili, Boydu, Chole, Jibondo, Juani, Jina, Okuza, Simaya, Nyuni, Pumbavu, Songa Songa, South Fanjove + 4 pristine Sandbanks


Diving in Mafia

Visibility and Temperatures

Good visibility most diving is at less than 30 meters. Year-round average water temperatures of 27'C

Reef Structure

Huge variety of hard and soft corals and fabulous shallow reefs, bommies, channels, walls and caves, for drift and night dives. Over 400 species of marine life

Best Dive Spots

Chole Bay Marine Park and Kitutia reef

Expect to see

large oceanic fish, as well as those common to coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. You may find the amazing mermaid-like Dugong. Giant Sea Turtles lay eggs on the beaches of small islands and Whale Sharks are spotted to the North of the Island in season.


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