Whale Sharks watching in Mafia Island


These beautiful giants are seasonally found just a few hundred metres offshore near Kilindoni Harbour. A short boat ride towards the west brings us to a feeding ground for the sharks and soon fins and dark shapes are apparent.

Up to 24 can be seen at any one time: males, females and juveniles, all beautifully marked with stripes and spots. The larger sharks are estimated at over 8 m long, so they are an impressive sight next to the boat, and quite stunning under the water.

The boat is able to move among them quietly and visitors can swim and snorkel to get a closer, underwater view of these gentle, wonderful animals. The sharks remain in a well-defined area and have a repetitive for them. And no crowds to compete with,as with the Kizimkazi dolphins in Zanzibar.

Please make this a must when you are in Mafia. The whale shark trip can be combined with a picnic on the beach, swimming, a trip to the Kilindoni Market or a full day to Ras Kisimani or Bwejuu Island.


One of the delights of staying in Mafia is to sail our local craft, which are jahazis (also   called dhows). And this is very special when we do this as a sunset cruise around Chole Bay. Audie and Jacques will arrange this when conditions are right complete with a coolbox full of cold white wine and other beverages, so please don’t miss it.


Our boats are available for private excursions and picnics so please arrange with the Activities Manager whenever you would like to take a boat out for snorkelling, a safari around the bay, a full day trip to another part of Mafia or simply for a swim and sunbake on your  own on one of the marvellous secluded beaches or islets.


There are many interesting places to see on Mafia, but the condition of the roads can make this rather tiring for those not initiated to bad African roads. On these excursions the visitor will see village life as it has always been, with almost none of the trappings of the modern day.


Kilindoni is the district centre and most populous settlement on Mafia, which is also Tanzania’s smallest electorate. The harbour is a bustling port and a great place to see how the coastal dhow trade works, as almost all Mafia’s needs and exports are still handled by these vessels. The fish and vegetable market is also interesting.


Ras Mbizi is one of the peninsulas on the northern side of Mafia, and was planted to coconuts before World War I by German settlers.

This and its sister plantation, Chunguruma, form a lovely area for a day’s outing, with your guide explaining how the coconut industry works and the products derived, as well as miles of beach to explore in total isolation.



Baleni is a village in the south-central area of Mafia, and lays enroute to the lovely Kifinge Bay (also known as Forbes Bay), the northern boundary of the Marine Park. There is a very interesting 45-minute walk through the Mlola Forest down to the beach for a picnic lunch on the sand.



These are the northern villages of Mafia before reaching Bweni and Ras Mkumbi. The north of Mafia is quite different to the south, as a result of lower rainfall and better soils. There are many baobabs and multi-headed doum palms, euphorbia and Acacia trees. The people live from a combination of farming and fishing, with most having additional skills such as sail-making, rope-making, weaving. Kanga and Jimbo are famous for the natural and colored mats made from Phoenix palm leaves.


  • Charles Maddmann

    Whale Sharks watching in Mafia Island is one of the main reason I will come back to this incredible island. We been there in the late 90’s and the island seems to be stepped in time. Whale Sharks in Mafia Island are spoted mainly in the south of the island and anput 20 minutes drive from the Marine Park . Great post! unfortunately I try to book Kinasi Lodge for this October but seems to be full =(
    Keep this posts coming and give my regards to Kirobo.

    • mafiaisland

      Thanks for your comment Charles.
      I´ll give Kirobo your regards, hope you can visit us again.

  • Federica Aquilani

    The beach between RAS MBIZI and Kanga is true paradise. I’m trying to find accommodation in this area but so far I could only get Ras Mbisi Lodge and Lua Cheia beach camp in the north (pass Kanga). Can you recommend me a place to stay between this 2 areas? thanks for all this info and hope to be there by novemeber to see the whale sharks in Mafia Island!

    • mafiaisland

      Federica, in the area you mentioned exists these two lodges, no more options….You can stay in the South of the island and pass some days in the North….Contact us for any doubt:

  • Nikita Gournicov

    Kilindoni is the capital of Mafia Island! missing Kosovo bar, really rough place but overall the best alternative for a cold beer under the burning sun of Mafia Island. Love to be back some day at Kilindoni and have a look a this amazing whale sharks . Nice posts. Please provide more information about Bweni, in the north of Mafia island. Nikk =)

    • mafiaisland

      Nikita, Thanks for your comment!! Kosovo Bar is a great spot on Mafia, making a stop for a kilimanjaro or a safari…we´ll upload more info of bweni and the north of Mafia very soon….:)

  • oz

    I need to have information about flights going to Mafia as I heard there will be an increase of the rate for december. When is the best period to gurantee snorkeling with whale sharks? Mafia Island is defintely a incredible place however is a little out of budget for me

  • Wijnand Peterse

    dear activities manager,

    I am coming to Mafia this weekend and I would like to know what the cost is for hiring a private boat to go see whale sharks and what the times will be for the excursion. I would highly appreciate it if you could get back to asap. Thanks

    Kind regards

  • Shelley

    hi, i’m planning on going to mafia island from may 24-27. will there be whale sharks then? also, since i’m there for such a short time, can you recommend any cheap/budget places- possibly not too far from the airport?


    In for the youth of mafia island to have the developmet,the government should consider mostl for native of the island i.e BEACH BOY in mafia

  • Carol

    What are odds for seeing whale sharks in January?

  • Cadia

    Ciao. Saremo a Mafia nel mese di dicembre. Vorremo sapere se in quel periodo dobbiamo portare repellenti per zanzare . Quali sono le migliori escursioni da non perdere? Grazie a chi può rispondermi

  • james mangion

    can you spot whale sharks in june? thanks

  • Brenda Staeb

    I will ne traveling to Africa in 2017.
    What is THE BEST TIME OF YEAR to see the whale sharks…when am I certain to swim with them?
    Cost for the excursion ?
    Can the fins and wetsuits be rented ?
    Where on the island do you recommend a nights stay ?
    Thank you so very kindly
    for your guidance.

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