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The Mafia Islands lie quietly in the Indian Ocean, just forty minutes' flight from Dar es Salaam.

Virtually unknown, the names of Bwejuu, Mbarakum, Juani, Jibondo and Mafia mean little to most people. Yet these islands make up the most beautiful archipelago in the Indian Ocean, tiny jewels resting in an azure sea.

Fauna and flora of the Mafia Islands

Covered in rich rainforest, thick grasslands and giant baobab trees, the islands are dotted with tiny villages. Here passion-fruit, paw-paw and mango trees are tended by women in brightly colored kangas. Sunbirds flit through the trees, five species of endemic butterflies can be found and bushbabies call at night. On the coast, sandy beaches are flanked by mangroves. Whimbrels and curlews step in the water, whilst fishermen sit on the white sand, mending nets or making coconut coir rope. Strings of drying octopus blow in the breeze and dhows sail from island to island, carrying children to school at sunrise and back home at sunset.

All that said, it is in the turquoise waters that you’ll find the islands’ biggest attractions. Unspoiled barrier reefs surround the islands, rich in soft corals, sea anemones and sponges, and attracting a dazzling array of fish. Potato groupers, hump-headed parrotfish and giant batfish are just some of those you might see while snorkeling, while turtles, rays and dolphins are never far away. At dusk, the flying foxes take off from the trees. Dipping quickly to the water, they make for the cashew and mango trees, where they rustle and crunch their way through the night. From sunrise to sunset Mafia is magical and as yet little visited.

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who's been there

Audley Travel Specialist Tom

Start planning your tailor-made trip to the Mafia Archipelago by contacting one of our Zanzibar Archipelago specialists

Suggested itinerary featuring the Mafia Archipelago

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in the Mafia Archipelago, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of the Mafia Archipelago

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near the Mafia Archipelago

    Accommodation choices for the Mafia Archipelago

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit the Mafia Archipelago. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Pole Pole pool

      Pole Pole

      First Class

      Pole Pole enjoys a relaxed atmosphere and an idyllic beachside setting. Tastefully blending into its natural landscape, it offers comfortable accommodation in thatched bungalows and makes an excellent base for exploring the clear waters of Mafia Island Marine Park; home to a diverse range of marine life.

    • Butiama, Mafia Archipelago



      Butiama is a new hotel recently opened up on the west coast of Mafia, under ten minutes transfer from the airstrip. The rooms are bright and crisp, each beautifully decorated with fresh colors and tasteful design.