Mafia is salvaged by misunderstanding. Once the droll references to Sicily are finished and the misguided references to Hemingway are corrected, Mafia Island is then dismissed as the Zanzibar for those trying to be different.
And different it is. Admittedly lacking in the historical charms of Stone Town, there is still an equally-charming ruined town of creeper-choked temples straight out of Indiana Jones. The beaches, it must be said, are not quite the white, picture-postcard swathes of Zanzibar, but then Mafia makes up for it's (merely excellent) coastline with its sandbanks, glaring apostrophes of pure sand that punctuate the horizon a mere half-hours boat ride from shore.
Above water and below, Mafia balances its attractions with a gentle grace - no one feature outstandingly dominant, but each one important in defining the whole composite charm of the island. Beaches, mangroves, historical sites, marine parks sit together within a thriving, effectively self-sufficient, community of fisherman and farmers, continuing with life whether people bother to visit or not. Free of the touts and hassles, the commerce and the kitsch, where the only thing you are asked for is the news of your day, the only thing that you are sold is fresh seafood and the closest you get to high-rise is a ruined jail strangled with foliage, Mafia continues with its differences.
Mafia's hotels are all located in one bay on the eastern side of the island, close to Chole island and the Marine Park, but as they are only three and all are very friendly, their proximity has never really mattered.
- Mafia Island Lodge
- PolePole Lodge
- Chole Mjini
- Butiama Beach
- Shamba Kilole