Southeastern Tanzania

Sparsely vegetated Jibondo is less aesthetically appealing than Mafia's other islands, and its inhabitants are traditionally unwelcoming towards visitors. However, it is intriguing in that it supports a population of about 3000 people despite having no natural water sources. Jibondo is renowned as a boat-building centre, with much of the wood coming from forests around mainland Kilwa. In Jibondo’s village centre, look for the carved door frame on the mosque, said to come from the old settlement at Kua on Juani.

Except during the peak rainy season (when rainwater is collected on the island from run-off), boats ply daily between Jibondo and Mafia island, transporting large yellow containers filled with water. The best time to watch all the activity is just after sunrise, at the Chole Bay beach near Kinasi Lodge.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southeastern Tanzania attractions

1. Juani


The large and heavily vegetated island of Juani, southeast of Mafia, has overgrown but evocative ruins at Kua. This includes the remains of several…

2. Chole


A good place to start exploring in the Mafia archipelago, especially around the crumbling but atmospheric ruins, dating from the 19th century. Also on…

3. Mafia Island Marine Park

7.28 MILES

At around 822 sq km, Mafia Island Marine Park is the largest marine protected area in the Indian Ocean, sheltering a unique complex of estuarine, mangrove…