With white sandy beaches, dazzling aquamarine waters and refreshingly few tourists, Mafia is the way Zanzibar was 30 years ago, the laid-back eco-alternative. The five islands and series of coral atolls that make up the Mafia Archipelago lie to the south of Zanizibar, just 45 km from the Tanzanian mainland, opposite the delta of the Rufiji River. This rich marine eco-system was proclaimed a national park in 1995. The waters contain a highly bio-diverse marine life, with over 400 species of fish and more than 50 genera of coral. Barracuda, tuna and other large pelagics are found in the deeper open waters and turtles still come ashore to nest on the beaches.
Within the marine park, the warm safe waters of the inland bays and lagoons are a paradise for both expert and novice scuba divers and very rewarding for snorkelling. The main islands’ rich vegetation - large palm groves, an abundance of baobab trees, tidal flats and mangroves – provides a complex ecosystem supporting small wildlife such as blue duiker, Sykes monkeys, bushbabies, nesting falcons and fish eagles, and even a small colony of dwarf hippos.