Dive in Mafia Island, Tanzania's Best Kept Secret!

Why we love it

Imagine a breath-taking island with a lush green interior, white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters filled with beautiful coral reefs: this is Mafia Island, also known for its whale sharks! Located 160 km south of Zanzibar, Mafia Island hosts some of the most diverse marine life of Eastern Africa, with over 50 types of corals and 400 species of fish. The island is also one of the planet’s growing hot spots for whale sharks sightings, with WWF registering not less than 180 individuals in December 2017!

Conservation

The dive center runs regular beach clean ups and Project AWARE Dive Against Debris events. They also run a patrol boat every day in conjunction with Mafia Island Marine Park.

Who is it for?

For divers who want to escape the crowds. A good destination for snorkellers too with shallow coral reefs and the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks. Non-diving partners can go on excursions to see some 10th and 12th century ruins, discover amazing sand banks, and witness turtle hatching in season.

Prices and Dates

What’s included?

  • 12 nights in a room (double occupancy basis) with private bathroom and hot water, locker, electric fan, outside seating area and air conditioning. If you’re on a budge and would rather stay in a safari tent, please let us know and we’ll send you the rates
  • Daily breakfast, three-course dinner and complimentary tea & coffee from the restaurant
  • Return transfer to and from Mafia Airport
  • 16 dives over the course of 8 days
  • Tank and weights, tea, coffee, water and biscuits on boat

What’s not included?

  • Mafia Island Marine Park Service Charge is US$ 23.6 per day for adults (US$ 11.8 for children), payable only by Credit card at Utende.
  • Government-imposed bed levy (tax) of US$ 1.50 per person per night. This will be added to your final bill in Mafia Island
  • Dive equipment rental
  • Night dives
  • Excursions to Chole Island, Kua Lagoon and Ruins, Mange, Fisherman Island Marimbani Sand Bank, Lighthouse, Kanga Beach and Hippos
  • Excursions in season only: Whale Shark Trip, Whale Watching, Turtle Hatching Watching Tour

Dive briefing!

Marine life

  • Mafia Island Marine Park was established in 1995 thanks to WWF who lobbied to protect the southern half of the island and its surrounding waters
  • More than 400 species of fish and 50 types of coral can be seen in Mafia Island waters
  • Resident whale sharks can be seen all-year round, with a peak between October through January
  • Endangered sea turtles come every year between June through September to hatch on the Island
  • Humpback whales migrate between August through October, with a peak in September
  • The marine park also comprises a critical habitat for the rare dugong, classified Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Inside Chole Bay, you’ll see - to name a few:
    • beautiful hard coral formations
    • lots of critters and nudibranches
    • ghost pipe fish
    • leaf fish
    • shrimps
    • crabs
    • moray eels
    • stingrays and eagle rays
    • barracudas
    • napoleon wrasse
  • Outside Chole Bay, you’ll get to see - among others:
    • walls with caves and overhangs
    • lobsters
    • giant groupers
    • napoleon wrasse
    • giant reef rays
    • barracudas
    • trevally
    • hawksbill turtles
    • guitar sharks
    • occasional white tip reef sharks

Dive conditions

  • Season: to dive in all sites (inside & outside Chole bay), go between October through March. If you want to snorkel with whale sharks, the best time to go is between November through January. From June through September, you’ll only be able to dive inside Chole Bay, due to local winds
  • Currents: can be strong in a few well-known sites
  • Visibility: 16 to 131 feet (5 to 40 meters)
  • Water temperature: 75-86°F (24-30°C)
  • Depth: shallow and deep dives

Dive sites

  • 23 dive sites of the Marine Park are regularly visited:
    • 2 sites with good macro life are accessible from the shore
    • 13 sites are inside Chole bay. They are mostly shallow, with sloping reefs, coral gardens, beautiful rock formations, some channels, some pinnacles and some sandbanks
    • 8 sites are outside Chole Bay, offering deeper diving opportunity. You’ll get to see beautiful walls with small caves, some archways and some sloping reefs
  • Dive trips are planned according to daily tides, with most times two boat dives a day. The surface interval is spent on the boat

The Team

  • Operation created in 2006
  • Number of boats: 3
  • PADI 5 stars dive resort
  • Courses up to divemaster, ask us
  • Language spoken: English
  • Maximum number of people per dive guide: 8

Safety information

  • Equipment needed: a 3mm wetsuit and the usual diving equipment
  • Insurance: both dive insurance and travel insurance are mandatory. We recommend Dive Assure that has plans to cover both - ask us for a quote
  • Hyperbaric Chamber: the nearest one is in Zanzibar

Visa, Flights & more!

Visa

  • To be able to enter Tanzania, your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival
  • Many nationalities are eligible to obtain a Visa on Arrival for US$100. It is however recommended to apply for a tourist visa in advance from your home country
  • Please check the current visa policy that applies for your country

How to get there?

  • Fly to Tanzania capital city Dar es Salaam. You’ll arrive at Terminal 2
  • Take another flight from the domestic terminal to Mafia Island. It’s a 20 minutes walk from one to another. There’s a free shuttle that can take you there in the day
  • Local airlines flying to and from Mafia Island are:
    • Coastal Aviation: two flights a day. Adult price net of taxes is US$130 one way
    • Auric Air: one flight a day. Adult price net of taxes is US$ 122 one way
    • Tropical Air: no more flights scheduled for now
  • Verify the airlines schedules before you book your international ticket, and always plan for delays

More…

  • Tanzania is subject to malaria, dengue and chikungunya. Take necessary precautions to avoid it (cover yourself, have mosquito repellent and take malarone tablets)
  • Bring reef-safe sunscreen, a hat, a rashguard, a sweater or a light weight jacket, some walking shoes, mask and snorkel


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