Mafia Island



Located off of Tanzania's south coast, Mafia Island is a sleepy backwater that's rarely visited and in some ways is reminiscent of what Zanzibar looked like decades ago before the onset of mass tourism. Kilondoni is the main town and a refreshingly simple place. The only road is flanked by classic Swahili buildings with carved doors, and in the center of town there is a small traditional market and a dhow-building harbor.

There are some nice beaches, cashew and coconut plantations, and mangrove swamps, and deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and other watersports are available. (Don't worry: The island's name is derived from the Arabic word for group—as in group of islands, rather than a group of gangsters.)

Mafia will appeal to serious divers or anyone in need of relaxation. Part of the island is protected by the Mafia Island Marine Park, and the fish and coral life are spectacular. There are only a handful of lodges on the island, all at the top end of the scale, and they can organize all activities. Flights connecting Dar es Salaam and Mafia take 30-40 minutes. Mafia Island is 80 mi/130 km southeast of Dar es Salaam.

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