With white sandy beaches, dazzling aquamarine waters and refreshingly few tourists, Mafia is often described as Zanzibar 30 years ago. A laid-back eco-alternative with no tarmac roads, few hotels, no shops, no ATMs (credit cards are accepted at the up-market lodges) which is not geared for mainstream tourism.
There are six lodges on Mafia, five (Chole Mjini , Kinasi Lodge , Mafia , Pole Pole and Shamba Kilole) clustered closely together within Chole Bay and one, the Ras Mbisi Lodge, on the western side of the island . Additionally there are a handful of backpacker friendly ‘hotelis’ in Kilindoni, the main town (the port and airstrip are here).
Hopefully Mafia Island will not becomes the ‘next destination’ but remain an eco-friendly niche. Currently there are about 3000 to 4000 over-night stays annually on the island.
Whale sharks and Humpback Whales can be found in the waters surrounding Mafia Island, as can turtles and so rumor has it so can dugongs.