Mafia Island

Mafia Island                   
The name Mafia derives from the Ma-afir, a tribe from ancient Yemen who dominated the coast around 1000 BC, Mafia is the largest of an island archepelago, off the beaten track anf known to only the most discerning of travellers. The island is surrounded by a barrier reef so rich in marine life it has been designated  a Marine Park by the World Wildlife Fund ofr Nature. A tiny population of pygmy hippo live in the remains of an old lagoon, cut off from the mainland centuries ago. Mafia's interesting history and stunning beaches, combined with several luxurious  and discerning hotels, make it one of Tanzania's hidden gems. Not only is Tanzania the number one destination for safaris, its endless coral reefs in the crystalline water of the Indian Ocean offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. The archipelago of islands off the coast of Tanznia and Zanzibar are surrounded by coral reefs and are home to an amazing array of wildlife and unique ecosystems as well as providing shelter, sustenance and employment for local people. From Mafia Marine Park, an unspoiled, uncommercial, timeless island, where local people go about their traditional businesses as they have done for centuries, to Mazwe Island Marine Reserve, which only appears during low tide. Tanzania's marine parks and reserves are exceptionally rich in their diversity of cultural, coral, fish, bird and plant life. In order to protect and manage these areas from over fishing, mangrove deforestation, coral mining and more and in cooperation with local people living and working in the areas, the following marine parks and reserves have been established which can be visited for day trips and longer stay.

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Mafia Marin Park                              
Mafia, located 120 km south of Dar es Salaam, is surounded by some of the richesst reefs in the world, with over 50 types of corals and 400 species of fish identified so far. Mafia's best diving is at depth less than 30 meters where you can see most kinds of tropical marine habitats, including exposed fringing reefs, rock walls, soft coral and algae dominated reefs. Large predatory fish and turtlesare common and mostly unaffected by approachingdivers. Chole bay, Mafia's protected  deep-water anchorage,is part of the protected marine park. The diving here is amongst the most spectacular in the world and includes colourful coral gardens, walls at various levels and many shelves and coral heads.

Mnazi Bay Marine Park
The Mnazi Bay - Ruvuma Estary Marine Park, located in southern Tanzania , on the Mozambique border, is home to important populations of whales, dolphins, four species of turtle and numerous birds. The area is recognised as being internationally important for its biodiversity, with mangrowes, sea grass beds and coralreefs. There are 12 villages in the area and it is hoped that visitors to the marine park will help the local economy of this area, one of the poorest and least developed  in Tanzania.

Dar Marine Reserves  ( Fungu Yasini, Mbudya, Bongoyo and Pangavini Islands )
The Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve are unique due to their proximity to Dar es Salaam city, potential biodiversity and richness , good scenic diving and snorkelling sites, marine birds and dolphin viewing. Occasionally hunchbank whales are spotted in the deep water around the reserves from May to August. The islands are open to visitors during the day and have shades ( bandas ), information boards and nature trails. Drinks and freshly cooked fish can be purchased from local community members, who also serve as tour guides and rangers.

Maziwe Island Marine Reserve
Maziwe Island Marine Reserve situated 15 nautical miles  east of Pangani, has over 350 fish species, 35genera of coral and an abundance of shore line birds. Maziwe Island was designated  a reserve in the 1970s as a way to lessen the erosion caused  from the cutting of trees for firewood. The island now only emerges from the sea at low tide and is an ideal place for swimming, snorkelling, diving andsunbathing.