Mafia Island is the most culturally original and environmentally natural of Tanzania’s Indian Ocean islands, known by few, visited by even fewer….. And those that have been are forever charmed by its serene untouched beauty and friendly people.
Mafia is not a “tourist hotspot, the island receives fewer than seven thousand people per year. The island attracts those who have a wish to get away from the crowds and explore something new and experience nature and local culture. Local that has not been disturbed by urban or industrial development and mass tourism. The treasures of Mafia compared to other islands, no hustle, no hassle, just old-fashioned Island Life.
Diving In Mafia
Much of Mafia Island is a protected Marine Park. The diversity of marine life is excellent from invertebrates and celaphods to large fish. As well as a good healthy spread of coral, turtles and rays are a regular feature on dives. Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the World. Offering an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish. On any dive, you might expect to see nudibranchs, seahorses, leaf fish, groupers, Napoleons, frogfish and guitarfish.
If you are lucky you might also spot a pod of dolphins on the surface on your way to a dive site! There are over 20 dive sites available.
Even better, is that you can hang on the reefs without seeing any other tourists. It really feels like you have all these views to just yourself. The diving boat that takes you to all the dive sites is a traditional dhow, an Arabic sailing boat.
Chole Bay is blessed with a number of excellent dives within the Bay. Thus ensuring diving in almost any weather, as well as easy access. Visibility varies with the wind and tides and is generally poor on outgoing tides as there is the normal accumulation of organic and granular matter in the water. The diving is tide-dependent.
And more diving
Almost all Mafia’s best diving is at depths of less than 30m so it is a sport diver’s paradise. The reefs of the archipelago offer a staggeringly beautiful and varied display of marine life. The excellent condition and high diversity of the reefs stimulated the creation of Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania’s first marine park. Examples of most kinds of tropical marine habitat occur here, including exposed fringing reefs, rock walls, soft coral and algae-dominated reefs. The diversity of animal and plant life is hard to match, with over 50 genera of corals and 400 species of fish so far identified; many more still await determination. There are excellent examples of giant table corals, delicate sea fans, whip corals, and huge stands of blue-tipped staghorn corals. Large predatory fish and turtles are common and surprisingly unaffected by approaching divers.
While diving was the highlight of my trip to Mafia, there is so many more other attractions and interests: the people and their lives, history and archaeology (there are a thousand years of history here), unique marine and birdlife, plants, and all the many beaches and sandbanks, mangrove forest inlets, coral islets that make it so beautiful. The perfect spot for a Yoga Holiday…