Mafia Island Marine Park is a marine nature reserve surrounding Mafia Island in the Indian Ocean, southeast of Zanzibar. It is under the jurisdiction of Tanzania’s Pwani Region. The region is home to a diverse array of tropic marine habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, and intertidal flats. Furthermore, a remnant block of threatened lowland coastal forest survives along the island’s eastern seaboard, roughly half of which is within the marine park boundary.
The Park has pristine beaches with tourism development potential, particularly along the eastern shores of Mafia Island. Mafia has spectacular ruins that reveal ancient settlements and elevate them to the ranks of the ancient world, with cultural artefacts dating back to 600 B.C. The Park’s marine archaeological sites include the Kua and submerged Kisimani ruins.
Mafia Island Marine Park has pristine habitats, such as coral reefs, which are home to various marine organisms and have a higher species diversity. There are over 400 fish species in the park. Whale Sharks have long been a popular attraction for tourists visiting Mafia. Tourists can swim alongside the world's largest fish.
It is believed that dugong remains can still be found in the Mafia/Rufiji region. From August to November, migratory species such as humpback and sperm whales can be seen in the area. Some dolphin species are among the resident mammals. Green turtles and hawksbill turtles are the most common turtle species found here. The site is home to Tanzania's largest green turtle rookery and foraging and breeding habitat for critically endangered hawksbill turtles.
The best time to visit Zanzibar is during the archipelago's dry season, which runs from July to September and is extremely popular. However, most of the year is worth visiting, with temperatures ranging from 28°C to 34°C and plenty of sunshine.
The ocean is the main attraction in this area. The Mafia Island Marine Park was established in 1995 to protect the reefs of the archipelago. The shallow reefs in Chole Bay are ideal for snorkelling or learning to dive. A long coral wall guards the bay's entrance, attracting more experienced divers. There are over 50 different types of coral, including giant table corals and massive stands of blue-tipped staghorn corals, as well as over 400 different fish species.
This is one of Tanzania's best diving spots. There's always something exciting to see, from rainbow-coloured clownfish to octopus, rays, and the occasional massive grouper or large potato cod. Sharks and dolphins can be found in deeper waters, and turtles haul themselves onto remote beaches to nest at night. It is important to note that due to local winds and currents, dive sites outside the bay are frequently only accessible safely from about mid-September to the end of February.
There are some beach lodges around Mafia Island Marine Park, spread across two islands: Mafia Island and Chole Island.