Mafia Island is part of Tanzania’s Mafia Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Although it officially forms part of mainland Tanzania and not Zanzibar, it’s near to Zanzibar and classifies as an Island in the Sun!
Large swaths of the island’s southern coastline and surrounding waters are protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park.
Within the park are many coral reefs which offers a great range of corals and fish, excellent for diving and snorkeling, home to wildlife such as whale sharks and sea turtles. The clear, protected waters offer wonderful snorkeling, sailing and swimming.
Outside the Bay unbroken reef runs the length of the island, from Tutia in the south to Ras Mkumbi at the northern tip. In the south the beaches includes secluded Ras Kisimani, just across from Bwejuu Island. Popular Utende Beach edges onto Chole Bay.
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.