Many islands are boring - barren land, rock-filled beaches, and no access to the internet. However, its National Travel and Tourism Week, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint you with one of those. Welcome to Mafia Island, one of Tanzania's best tourist hotspots. Boasting a rich history and culture, excellent marine activities, and beautiful scenery, Mafia Island has something for everyone, from history buffs to daring divers. Despite its enticing atmosphere, Mafia Island remains rather unknown, making it the perfect place to get away from the crowds that flock to many other Tanzanian locations to enjoy some quality quiet time. Although the name may be off-putting, rest assured, as the name “mafia” comes from an Arabic word meaning archipelago. With an area of 152 square miles, it may not be the biggest island, but it certainly has a lot to offer.
Photo Credit: David Bacon
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when on an island, do as islanders do. As it turns out, Mafia Island earns most of its income through the sea, meaning that it is the perfect place for anyone wanting to get their feet wet. Instead of tagging along with a group of fisherman on a commercial fishing trip, plenty of opportunities exist for you to try your hand at deep sea sport fishing. Sailfish, marlin, barracuda, and yellowfin tuna, alongside many other large and powerful fish, lurk in the waters off the island, meaning that no matter what you catch, you will be sure to get your money’s worth. Fishing close to shore is forbidden, however, so be prepared to be out in international waters, away from any nearby shoreline. The best fishing season is from August to March, so plan accordingly.
For those not wishing to catch wildlife, charter boats around the island offer both whale and shark seeing charters, perfect for people wishing to stay dry. Coming up close to a whale shark is a humbling experience, for their size is unmatched by anything else on Earth. The captains of these boats are especially knowledgeable on these animals behaviors, an understanding that comes with years of practice. This skill makes for a high chance of finding these creatures, meaning your time won't be wasted. Shark-seeing cruises are also exciting; however, these are often accompanied by chum to draw them to the boat. If you are feeling adventurous that day, various businesses give you the chance to swim alongside whale sharks, providing a truly eye-opening experience. And, should that not be enough for you, time spent in a shark cage surrounded by feeding sharks is sure to get your heart racing.
Photo Credit: David Bacon
And finally, for those wishing to keep safe on land, Mafia Island offers plenty of attractions to keep you entertained. With a history dating back to the 8th century, Mafia Island contains plenty of centuries-old buildings and a culture to match, providing an exciting and hands-on history lesson. Its unique position as a trade outpost provided it with plenty of wealth which translated into infrastructure, some of which still stands to this day. Should history bore, you, the island's ecosystem is full of lush trees and exotic creatures, meaning that a day spent in the wild is sure to provide you with a fun-filled trip. While Mafia Island may be rather unknown to the global community, its charm, excitement, and relaxed atmosphere make it one of the best places to travel to while in Tanzania.
Photo 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/88657298@N00/
Photo 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/88657298@N00/