The Mafia Island is a small piece of land off the coast of Tanzania. It belongs to the semi independent Zanzibar Archipelago and shares the same beauty as the main island. White sandy coasts, light turquoise sea, wild vegetation and especially wonderful seabeds make this island a brand new destination for great tourism. People come to Mafia to enjoy the same beautiful sea as Zanzibar, but with cheaper services and activities. Those who love marine nature appreciate this islans in a special way. In fact, Mafia Island is famous for its protected Marine Park.
How Mafia Island Marine Park was born
Mafia Island has always been a fishermen’s place. Local fishermen started to lose their job when industrial fishing started to use dynamite to catch marine animals! In the 1960s already, a serious decline of sea life had started. In the 1980s corals, whales and fish were in danger so the local government and Tanzania itself decided to do their best to save them. The Mafia Island Marine Park was established in 1995. It arrived just on time, though the largest part of corals had been destroyed and only 14% survived. In the following ten years, the fish population had grown again so much that it left the Park’s areas and went to colonize other parts of the African east coast!
What to see at the Marine Park
Mafia Island Marine Park covers a 822 sq km surface, a large part of which (75%) is underwater. So, diving and snorkeling are the main tourist activities though you can also go swimming and walking. Along the beautiful shores, particular species of plants also live. The most interesting part of the reserve is its seabed, of course.
There you will admire: coral reefs, bright-coloured tropical fish, marine turtles, sharks – mainly the incredible whale-shark – and small whales too. Many species of algae and indigenous marine flora complete the beauty of this place! Outside water, the itinerary of the Marine Park continues. Mangroves bush and parts of ancient coastal forests decorate the wonderful beaches. Among the vegetation, here and there, you also find old human evidences in the historical ruins of the 13th century.
Mafia Island Marine Park how to get there
You can get to Mafia Island and its protected marine park by boat or by airplane. Both are nice ways to reach the island while admiring beautiful landscape, though the boat trip is longer and a little bit tiring.
We suggest to take one of the many local flights leaving from Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar’s airport or Selous National Park’s airstrip. They shall reach the island after flying over the wonderful coast of Tanzania and its stunning blue sea. You shall admire the Zanzibar Archipelago from above before … exploring the world underwater!
On the island, you will be welcomed to nice accomodations and guides and tour operators will decide with you the “marine safari” to do, in the next days. Your adventure into the blue will be ready to start!