How Much Does It Cost to Visit Mafia Island, Tanzania?

by | Last modified on Jan 25, 2024 | Tanzania, Travel

Mafia Island is more expensive compared to its neighbouring island, Zanzibar. This is mostly due to it being so cut off and also having a protected Marine Park (you have to pay a daily fee to enter the park). However, because of this, the island offers a quieter and less touristy experience and also has some thriving corals to enjoy. Here’s a Mafia Island budget to help you work out how much to bring for a visit.

For full details on visiting the island, check out my Mafia Island guide.

Marine Park Fees

You need to pay $23.50 a day to be in the Marine Park. Note that you have to pay this even if you are only staying in the Marine Park and not doing any activities. To avoid the fees you can stay in Killindoni.

If you are heading to Mafia Island to swim with whale sharks and choose to stay in Kilindoni, then you won’t need to budget for fees. I would recommend having at least 1 day in the Marine Park, though (doing the snorkelling, Chole Island and BBQ sandbank combined tour) and more if you want to dive.

Travel to Mafia

There are 2 options for getting to Mafia Island: flight or ferry.

Return flights from Dar es Salaam: $280
Return ferry from Dar es Salaam (including bus): $24

Tuk-tuks are the most common form of transport on the island. Most activities include transport, though, and your hotel will pick you up and drop you off from the airport for free. A return tuk-tuk to the market is $5 from Kilindoni and $20 from Utende.

Accommodation

Example accommodation options based on 1 person in a room per night:

Extreme budget – camping at Afro Beach Bungalows: $10
Budget – Ibizza Inn: $30
Comfortable – Bustani: $60
Luxury – Chole Mnjini: $160 plus daily Marine Park fees

Restaurants

Local meal from the market – $2
Lunch in a lodge – $8
3-course dinner in a lodge – $15
Soda (market – lodge) – $0.5 – $1.5
Beer (market – lodge) – $1 – $2.5

Activities

Whale Shark Tour – $60
Marine Park Tour (Snorkelling, Chole Island, Blue Lagoon and Sandbank lunch) – $60
Afro Beach sunset and BBQ – $20

For a full list of activities and prices, check out my things to do on Mafia Island.

1 week budget: backpacker

Flight: $240
Accommodation for 6 nights: $180
2 x Whale Shark tour: $110 ($10 discount if you do additional tours)
Marine Park tour (with Marine Park fees): $83.50
Sunset cruise & BBQ at Afro Beach Bungalow: $20
Food (mix of lodge and market – $12 a day): $72
Drink: $20
Tuk-tuks: $20

Total: $745.50 (this would be considerably less if you were happy to take the ferry instead of the plane. 2 people sharing a room would also reduce the price

1 week budget: ‘comfortable’ traveller

Flight: $240
Accommodation on Mafia for 5 nights: $360
Accommodation at Chole Mnjini treehouse for 1 night: $160
3 x Whale Shark tour: $160 ($10 discount if you do additional tours)
2 x Marine Park tours (with Marine Park fees): $167
Sunset cruise & BBQ at Afro Beach Bungalow: $20
Food (eating at lodges – $25 a day): $150
Drinks: $50
Taxis: $40

Total: $1,297 (this would be considerably less if you were happy to take the ferry instead of the plane. 2 people sharing a room would also reduce the price

Visiting Tanzania?

You might also find my other blogs on Tanzania helpful:

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11 Comments

  1. Janie

    Hello, I am traveling to Zanzibar at the end of next month (January 2020) and desperately want to swim with whale sharks. From what I’ve found Mafia Island is the only place to do this. What is the cheapest way to get to Mafia Island from Zanzibar and back? I assume a ferry would be cheapest but am looking for more information and wanted to know if you might be able to help. Thank you so much in advance!
    Janie

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      If you take a ferry you’ll need to catch one from Zanzibar to Dar. Then from Dar to Mafia as there isn’t one that goes directly between the two islands. This will take a long time and the Dar to Mafia island isn’t very safe (I personally wouldn’t take it). This is the cheapest option though by a lot.
      The fastest and easiest way is to catch a flight. You will need to change in Dar but can book the flights together from Zanzibar to Mafia island.

      Reply
  2. Ana Lucia Salgado

    Hi, Bex, I’m just like Janie. I’ll be in Zanzibar going to Mafia: how do I get a air ticket to Mafia? Can’t find proper info or booking site. Air Tropical has a funny web where you can’t actually put “Mafia” as destination…Please point me in the right direction! Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      Take a look at Coastal Aviation. Often the websites are very basic and don’t work properly….I’ve booked with Air Tropical over the phone before and they sent me email confirmation. Might be easier than trying to navigate their site!

      Reply
  3. Dii

    Hi. Tropical Air doesnt fly to Mafia any more. There is Coastal flying twice a day, morning and Afternoon. I flew Coastal the last time i went and my friend flew Auric though she was abit scared. I would prefer flying Coastal, they have increased their safety standards and they have 2 crews flying the plane. Booking can be via their website or visit their offices. Goodluck 🙂

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      Thanks for the update Dii 🙂

      Reply
  4. Ana Lucia Salgado

    Thank, Dii, thanks, Bex! <3

    Reply
  5. Jérôme

    Hi, I would like to come with a group of divers. Which is the best diving club?

    Reply
  6. John Vadeboncoeur

    Thank you so much for all of you amazing Mafia Island information and Tanzania tips. My wife and I are planning a month long trip including several weeks in Arusha with a safari and then hoping to spend a week on Mafia Island. Your posts have been invaluable in our planning.

    One quick question is if hotel rack rate prices are what they are, or if they are negotiable. I
    We are looking at bustami beach cottages and pole pole, which look fantastic, but can get pricey with double occupancy. In fact, I can’t find pole pole pricing anywhere. Can you shed any light on that as well as if those hotels take credit cards or if you need to do wires? Thanks you!

    Reply
    • Bex Band

      I’m so pleased my posts have helped. I hope you have an amazing time on your travels.

      Everything in Tanzania is negotiable so it’s worth asking. A lot of the hotels on Mafia are Western run so are more likely to say no but there’s no harm in trying. I think if you asked for a package that includes accommodation, food and activities then you are more likely to get a discount.

      I don’t know the price of Pole Pole but all the hotels are set up to take credit cards 🙂

      Reply

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