A short prop plane flight from either mainland Tanzania or Zanzibar, Mafia island is quickly becoming one of the better diving destinations along the Tanzanian coastline, with a selection of mostly boutique lodges scattered along the lagoon.
For those that don’t want to break the bank, the old government lodge now called Mafia Island Lodge can offer up more than just a tent on the beach. Dominated by a large main reception area with bar, pool table and generously sized lounge area, this is perfect for divers who plan on spending most of their time in the water, with direct access to a fantastic onsite partner dive center mere meters away from all the best dive sites in Chole Bay.
Mafia Island Marine park is home to a very wide variety of fish species for the budding ecologist. A highlight is taking part in a night dive when the water is calm and translucent, and returning to the lodge in the moonlight under sail. If you are in need of more land-based activities you can visit the ancient ruins of Kua, swim in Juani Blue Lagoon or take in a sunset cruise to spot the famous Comoros flying foxes as they make their way over the island each evening.
Unfortunately in the slightly-dated lodge, many of the rooms on the right wing are in desperate need of renovation, but the team is currently working their way through the building to bring the rooms up to the standard that comes with the price tag. If you are able, the best option is to go one of the 14 superior rooms along the left wing. Neat and basic, each room has a small balcony overlooking sprawling gardens that lead directly down to the sea and lagoon.
The food, along with the rooms, is also basic and at times can be hit or miss, but if you require variety opt for half board and try out some of nearby local restaurants that are within walking distance. With time this has the potential to become one of the go-to places for divers and families wanting to experience Mafia underwater in a fairly budget-friendly way.