Shore Sites

Just a minutes walk from the dive centre, one has the opportunity to explore a macro paradise. Sandy bottoms, a wide range of bommies and a soft coral reef, the shore has a variety of topographies which are home to several of the weirdest and rarest marine creatures in the Indian Ocean. Mafia Island Diving is the only dive centre whom offer these dive sites and boast the only divers who have spent their time exploring the different areas, looking under every rock and discovering the fantastic life to be shared.

Nudi City
Nudi City was our first discovery from the shore and named for its inundation of several different species, sizes and colours of nudibranches. The Reef is  300 metre swim off Utende beach. Swimming across the sand to get there is one of the highlights of the dive itself as one will have the opportunity to find sea horses, ghost pipe fish and leon, the resident barracuda. The reef itself is around 9 metres deep and is a relatively juvenile formation. Here there is an abundance of soft corals and fantastic anemones. We regularly spot helmut gurnards and spiny devil fish on this site as well as dwarf scorpion fish and lion fish. The reef offers us a fantastic amount of marco life in the form of flatworms, shrimps, flounders, dragon sea moth fish, sea hares and snake eels. You can also expect to see some of the usual suspects; blue spotted rays, octopus and cuttlefish. We also do our night dives here as it allows us to be in close proximity of the hotel giving our clients the luxury of being able to slip away for a dive and be back in time for dinner.


This dive site is open to all divers and Is particularly enjoyed by the more experienced  macro fiends and the photographers among us



Frogfish Town
Frogfish town was a Mafia Island Diving discovered site just 400 metres off Utende beach. The reef itself starts at around 9 metres deep and is algae and soft coral dominated with a large number of different colour anemones and sponges. Here, amongst the splashes of sponges one can spot the illusive frogish as well as harlequin shrimps and various other critters. The site can be explored further East where it develops into a more varied topography with small caverns and very small rock pinnacles. Here one can see an excellent variety of Nudibranches, shrimps  as well as small and medium sized fish.


This site is suitable for those keen muck divers amongst us and those photography fanatics



Chekechea
Chekehea is Mafia Island Diving's most recently discovered site, named after the Swahili word for Kindergarten,  a perfect fit keeping in mind that this site acts as a nursery for the fish. The reef is a mixture of sponges and soft corals, with small bommies and interesting, small rock formations. The dive site can be a maximum of 7 metres deep. Here one can expect to see seahorses, crocodile fish, huge schools of trevally, nudibranches and decorated crabs. The site also offers us the rare chance to spot fish in their 'transition phases', between their juvenile and adult colouring.  Chekechea is the perfect enviroment for first time divers who want to get a taste of the underwater world or for divers who want a bumble on an easy site, with good light for excellent photography opportunities.

 

This site is suitable for beginners, nervous divers and photographers. It is also the perfect environment for a short dive after a refresher





back to top

Inside the Chole Bay

Mafia’s most spectacular dive sites are situated within the sheltered cove of Chole Bay, at depths ranging from 5 to 30 meters, making it ideal for novices and experienced divers alike. The bay provides a natural shield from monsoon winds which, from June to September and in December and January, usually prevent divers from venturing past the reef in most Tanzanian and Zanzibari destinations – but the conveniently situated islets in the Mafia archipelago guarantee all-year-round diving. The bay is emptied out and refilled again on a six-hourly tidal basis, which enriches and refreshes the aquatic environment. All dives are planned as drift dives in accordance with the current, and all boat dives in the bay leave for 2 double tank trips. Because Mafia is such a well-kept secret, it is not uncommon to be the only boat on a particular site, and to truly experience the underwater beauty in peace and solitude. The marine life is similarly unperturbed and in abundance.



Kinasi Pass
Perhaps the most famous of all the dive sites in Chole Bay is the mighty Kinasi Pass and its 'chicken' pinnacle. The pinnacle is a 12 metre spire of ancient coral rock lying in he inner pass, close to the last rock island with a maximum depth of 24 metres at the base - all agree its resemblance to a chicken is uncanny. This is a spectacular dive for the unusual structure and the mixture of reef and pelagic fish. Home to two very large potato groupers called Jesus and Moses who have purposefully been left in the waters by local fisherman due to their sheer size. The dive heads South-West to the side of the channel and is planned as a drift dive. The diver floats along a wall with small caverns and overhangs, with great shoals of reef fish, barracuda and the occasional turtle and cobias. There are a decent number of dancing, giant reef rays below and if one takes the time there is also plenty of smaller marine life to be found too. A vast array of soft corals, parrotfish and pelagics coming and going with the tide.

 

This dive site is reserved for Advanced Open Water Divers only due to depth, strong currents and dive procedures



Milimani South
Milimani in Swahili means mountains or hills. This dive site is extremely picturesque with huge coral formation through which the diver navigates. Spectacular layered coral peaks which invite divers to swim amongst and behind them to explore the shallower jewels of the site to then re-emerge out of the coral mountains back to the deep. This is followed by vast porites formations that are dome-like with many lion fish, glass fish and moray eels. From here it slopes away to 18 metres with a wide variety of soft and hard corals. Here we expect to see our resident napoleon wrasse swimming by as well as big schools of big eyes, snappers and fusiliers. On this reef our knowledgeable guides will navigate to a hidden bommie off the reef where we can greet our resident obese moray and sting ray and have a look at the army of hinge-beak shrimps to be found underneath. Agreed by many to be their favourite dive site, Milimani is always beautiful and never ceases to amaze with its unusual yet perfected formations.



 Milimani North
This dive site is the opposite end of the previous and offers a drastically different type of dive. Here the beginning of the site starts with some beautiful bommies randomly placed across the white, sandy bottom. One can spot plenty of wonderful nudibranches as well as octopus, shrimps and the illusive frog fish if you look hard enough! The reef itself starts with plenty of hard corals starting around 5 metres and slowly continues to around 17 metres. In the blue it is not uncommon to see eagle rays or giant reef rays flapping past. This side of the reef is riddled with lobsters and it is quite common to spot leaf fish and scorpion fish. This dive is very easy, relaxing and has a lot to offer the divers whom descend upon it.

 

Milimani reef is suitable for all levels of divers and is an enjoyable experience for  anyone and everyone



Kinasi Wall
This is a sheltered bank reef, moderately deep and steeply sloping but not a sheer wall as its name would suggest. One can find beautiful coral formations on the top of the reef at just 5 metres and can find an absolute maximum depth of 21 metres when gliding just above the rubble bottom. The reef itself runs south-east:north-west for approximately 800 metres. It is in superb condition and composed of many species of hard and some soft corals. This complex coral reef supports a great variety of shoaling and solitary fish such as snappers, surgeon fish, wahoo and the odd barracuda. Giant clams, sea fans, large marble groupers and napoleon wrasse are common. Hawksbill turtles regularly make an appearance and from time to time one can spot solitary bull or reef sharks here. This dive is often highlighted with dancing sting rays and on occasion an eagle ray may pass by.

 

This dive site is open to all divers but can experience strong currents from time to time and is not recommended for those inexperienced or nervous divers



Coral Islands
This site comprises of three extensive and spectacular coral patches starting at around 9 metres down to 17 that are separated by sand channels. The many species of coral are packed around the ancient Porites formations, portraying not only Mafia's perfect beauty but also its natural history. There are a large number of dense shoals of fish, a peculiarity is the occurrence of large numbers of spotted garden eels, so named for their habit of living together in “gardens” in the sand around the coral. Here one can also find a vast variety of macro creatures such as nudibranches and crabs. An excellent dive site that offers a number of interesting fish species and on occasion honours us with passing eagle rays.

 

This site is suitable for all levels of divers and offers very easy and pretty diving conditions



Chole Wall
Chole wall is a bank reef but is found lying north-east:south-west and is around 800 metres long. The reef starts at around 5 metres and descends to 17 metres ending with sand and coral rubble where it is common to see scavenging titan trigger fish and scrounging goat fish. From time to time we also see giant reef rays just a couple of metres off the reef resting on the rubble. Chole wall is a startlingly rich tapestry of corals enveloped in clouds of colourful fish; damsels, fusiliers, butterfly, angel and parrot fish. Turtles are common in the shallows and there are a staggering number of lobsters, nudis and giant sea cucumbers to be found.

 

This dive site is perfect for all levels of diver but can experience strong currents



Msumbiji
Msumbiji in Swahili means Mozambique. This site consists of several rock formations decorated with soft corals, algae, sponges and anemones. The slopes and sheer walls start at around 3 metres and fall to a maximum of 17 metres. Away from the central formation are spires of coral that provide archways and overhangs for us to explore – a divers playground. One can see beautiful sting rays, reef fish, shrimps and crabs. It is famed for its huge variety and abundance of nudibranches and resident ribbon eel. This dive site offers immense scenery with fantastic topography as well as interesting and colourful marine life offer incredible photography opportunities.

 

This dive site is open to all levels of divers and will be particularly enjoyed by the photographers and macro fanatics amongst us



Pyramid
Pyramid is a Mafia Island Diving discovered dive site situated North of Milimani North. It has a maximum depth of 14 metres and offers an array of pretty scenery, beautiful fish and coral formations. The dive starts around some coral bommies and small rock formations and slowly ascends to a shallow bank reef after passing the distinct coral formation of a pyramid. Here one can see a resident honeycomb moray eel as well as a resident juvenile ribbon eel. There are small schools of reef fish and from time to time larger passing individuals. There are plenty of macro critters to be found in the form of nudis, shrimps and crabs. This site is also known to offer the occasional reef shark. This site has not been explored fully and is strongly believed to be shark territory.

 

This site is perfect for all levels of divers and is enjoyed by beginners and experts alike



Corinne's Reef
Corinne's Reef is a Mafia Island Diving discovered site named after the mother of the Manager whom accompanied her son into the blue on some exploration. This dive site has a maximum depth of 20 metres and has a wide variety of corals, sponges and interesting formations. The actual reef starts with 3 tongues of coral separated by pure white sandy patches. On the reefs themselves one can expect to see plenty different types of hard corals as well as small sponges and anemones. One can also venture off the reefs to explore the sea grass where you can spot snake eels, nudibranches and large rays resting on the sand. Here it is common to see green turtles, large schools of oriental sweetlips and big schools of surgeon fish as well as the occasional reef shark. There are still opportunities to explore this reef further and discover what other wonders there are on offer.

 

This dive site is perfect for all levels of divers



Coral Gardens
Every dive centre has their own 'coral garden' but none quite compare to this one. It starts with a very large area of beautiful coral outcrops or bommies in just 8 metres of water where one can spot a resident stingray, shrimps and leaf fish. The site then continues as densely packed coral, continuous in some parts and in others the coral is separated by sea grass or sandy patches; the perfect environments for foraging fish. The dive site then continues on and finishes as a steeply sloping bank reef with giant morays, big marble groupers and the occasional reef ray. The shallow water offers a lot of natural light making this site perfect for photographers. One can see turtles in the shallows, a wide variety of reef fish and Napoleon wrasse, electric rays and plenty of macro critters. From to time eagle rays have been spotted soaring past in the shallows.

 

This is a very relaxed and easy dive site suitable for all levels of divers





back to top

Outside the Bay Sites

Outside the safe confinements of Chole bay, the entrance is guarded by a long coral wall, attracting more experienced divers. One can find world-class dive sites among other attractions, deep walls in pristine condition and one of the most varied and vibrant sea-life gatherings in East Africa. All the sites outside are near to great drop offs allowing for gliding sharks, bouncing dolphins and large pelagics cruising by. Due to local winds and currents, dive sites outside the bay are often only accessible between the months of September and March. The diving outside the bay is subject to weather conditions and tides as it can be dangerous to negotiate the pass on an outgoing tide; however once outside the bay the dives are not tide dependent. 



Dindini Northern Wall
This is a rock wall from 8 metres down to 28 metres, with caves, caverns, overhangs and an archway; this is the only true rock wall so far discovered and it makes for a spectacular and exciting dive. Large groupers, sharks, guitar-fish, turtles and basket sponges are features. We have also seen many large pelagics here, including sailfish, very large tuna and dolphins, as the wall lies close to great drop offs. There is lush growth of sedentary filter feeders and algae on the upper part of the wall; seafans and whip corals lower down.

 

This dive site is reserved for advanced divers only due to currents, dive procedures and depth



Dindini Southern Wall
An extension of the same wall, from 9-26 metres, this dive is interesting for the many small walls interspersed with shelving reef, offering a great variety of soft and hard corals and more reef fish. There are very many Napoleon wrasse and potato bass here as well as huge variety of schooling fish. Here it is common to encounter huge rays and several species of pelagics.

 

This dive site is reserved for advanced divers only due to currents, dive procedures and depth.



Juani Reef
Juani reef Is one the only true fringing reef complexes found in Mafia, running the full length of Juani Island on the Seaward side. Here the reef slopes down to around 26 metres and is a favourite due to its pink/purple hue as a result of the corals found there. On this site it is common to see big green turtles whom feed in the waters just off the Island where they nest. There is also the opportunity to spot baby turtles in the sea grass, but one must keep their eyes peeled for such an honour! Also found here are the usual schools of fish, giant trevallys, large reef rays and the smaller creatures such as nudibranches, scorpion fish and several species of small reef fish.

 

This site is reserved for Advanced divers only due to depth and dive procedures



Jina Wall
This site is also an extension of the Dindini Wall lying at the northern tip of Jina Island, ranging in depth from 8 to 26 metres at the base of a small, vertical wall that has shallow caverns and overhangs and bottoms out in a gravel field. The site is one of our favourites for a rough-mannered, persistent, over friendly and very large potato bass who dominates every dive. Here it is also possible to spot pelagics, large schools of fish and massive rays. It is not uncommon to spot sharks and turtles here also.

 

This site is reserved for advanced divers only due to currents, dive procedures and depth.



Mikadini
A gently sloping fringing reef down to 26 metres with many brightly coloured soft corals. Home to many mid-size groupers  and inquisitive blue-spotted trevally, which are common on all Mafia dives. This site is close to and a continuation of the fringing reef complex near Kinasi Pass. One can expect to see large schools of fish, sharks, turtles and large reef rays. It is also possible to see passing pelagics as well as smaller, typical reef friends such as scorpion fish and crocodile fish.

 

This dive site is reserved for advanced divers only due to currents, dive procedures and depth.



Kinasi Pass Entrance
The north and south shoulders of the Pass are fringing reefs with dramatic landscapes; here there are excellent stands of pristine staghorn and large table corals. Shoals of juvenile reef and pelagic fish; the red lunar-tailed groupers are common; many parrotfish. Turtles, rays and small reef sharks are often seen, as well as many of the larger ocean-going fish – kingfish, caranx, barracuda, rainbow runner. Both dive sites – on either side of the Pass – slope to 25 metres, where the coral peters out to rubble and sand, about 500 m offshore.

 

This dive is reserved for advanced divers only due to currents, dive procedures and depth.





back to top

Southern Sandbanks

These are full day excursions offering a once in a lifetime adventure. These excursions are very tide and weather dependent but when conditions are perfect, have the potential to be an exceptional experience. Departure time is around 07:00 and involves a 2 hour sail South into open sea passing by Bwejuu and Jibondo. On the way It is common to pass by dolphins and depending on their species we can attempt to swim with them. Another natural marvel is the humpback whale migration which takes place across our route. One can see them breach magnificently, slap their fins and coo at their calf’s attempting the same. Once on either Mange or Kitutia we set up some mats and shaded areas for those less fond of the sun to lay, whilst others have the opportunity to sunbathe on pristine white sand In the middle of the ocean, fish is BBQ'd traditionally and served along with some light snacks and drinks provided by your respective hotels. The dives here offer gentle sloping reefs with plenty of hard and soft corals. Mange is known for its big schools of fish and Kitutia for its massive rays. Maximum depth is around 20 metres but we usually dive between 12 and 16 metres. There are plenty of macro critters as well as the usual scorpion fish and lion fish friends.

 

These dive sites are suitable for all levels of divers