Mafia Island (Kisiwa cha Mafia) is an island and district of Pwani Region, Tanzania. The island is the third largest in Tanzanian ocean territory, but is not administratively included within the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, which has been politically separate since 1890. Mafia Island forms the major part of Mafia District, one of the six administrative districts in the Pwani coastal region. The local archipelago and the main island are sometimes called Chole shamba in Swahili, hinterlands of the former main town of Chole on Mafia Bay.
The island’s population is over 40,000. The economy is based on fishing, subsistence agriculture and the market in Kilindoni. The island attracts some tourists, mainly scuba divers, birdwatchers, game fishermen, and people wanting relaxation.
Mafia Island lies off the east coast of Tanzania opposite the delta of the Rufiji River. The 20 kilometers (12 mi) wide stretch of water between the delta and the island is called the Mafia Channel. Mafia Island is part of a small archipelago with several much smaller islands, some of which are inhabited. The main town on Mafia is Kilindoni on the west coast. On the east coast is Chole Bay, Mafia’s protected deep-water anchorage and original harbor. The bay is studded with islets, sandbanks and beaches, and is protected from the east by reefs and Juani Island.
The northernmost point on the island is a coral cliff rising approximately 4.5 meters above the sea called Ras Mkumbi, beyond the cliff the land gradually rises to 24 metres There is a lighthouse at Ras Mkumbi.
Mafia Island is home to fruit bats (flying foxes) of the genus Pteropus.
Mafia Island has a tropical climate. This climate is classified as “Aw” by the Köppen-Geiger system. The average temperature in town of Kilindoni is 26.7 °C (80.1 °F). The average annual rainfall is 1,705 mm. The monthly average temperatures are usually between 24.8–28.3 °C (76.6–82.9 °F). There is one major rain season, with most rainfall coming between March and May. Dry season spans between July to October.
The island’s Mafia Airport can be reached from Dar es Salaam by flights operated by Auric Air and Coastal Aviation
Port of Mafia Island
Boats depart depending on the presence of the boat from the village of Nyamisati on the mainland to Kilindoni on Mafia Island. As of 2021 the departure from Nyamisati is 16:00 p.m. with a roll call between 15:00-16:00p.m. The journey takes approximately 4.5 hours.