Mafia Island is part of an archipelago formed by a number of larger Islands and smaller uninhabited atolls. It lies off the mouth of the Rufiji River in Southern Tanzania and has been an important part of the historical process. The spectacular marine life caused the formation of The Mafia Island Marine Park (1975).
The marine park is a real paradise with over 400 species of fish, amazing coral, endangered marine turtles, dolphins and the rare dugong. Mafia’s opulent landscape combines bush with baobabs, mangrove, palms, fruit trees and stunning sandbanks. The diverse wildlife boasts: monkeys, wild pigs, small antelopes, dwarf hippo, bush babies, fruit bats and a variety of birds. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the main activities to be enjoyed here as you explore the Mafia Island Marine Park. Saved from its destructive dynamite fishing past, the coral gardens are pristine and unspoiled. An entrance fee is required for entering Marine Park area.
The long and interesting shared history of the east coast of Africa, Mafia and the other islands, forms an intricate part of the Indian Ocean history: the people who have been traders and sea-farers for centuries. There are many written accounts which go back as far as two thousand years that make Mafia part of an exceptional history of Africa.
Infrastructure is poor on Mafia. There is power in Kilindoni (the district capital) and in Utende which is the main tourist area. Running water is scarce. To get to Mafia you would need to fly or take a ferry. Coconuts are the major cash crop of Mafia, while fishing has also become important in the last few decades, although it is restricted within the marine park.
In Kisimani (Mafia) near Kilindoni stand the oldest ruins. Many of the ruins have been washed into the sea over the years. The archaeologist Neville Chittick through his excavations stated that the earliest strata of mosques dates back to the tenth and eleventh centuries, whilst a British archaeologist also on expedition in the 1950’s discovered coins that dated between the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.