Diving at Mafia Island

Accommodation  There are three options for accommodation – PolePoleKinasi and Mafia Island Lodge, all located on the south coast Mafia on Chole bay. All have diving centers attached. 

  

Dive Center used  We stayed in and dived with Kinasi Lodge. 
Getting There  Flights from Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam by Precision Air – ‘Canadian Spirit’ ferry runs once per week and stops off at Mafia en route to Mtwara from Dar Es Salaam but is not recommended. 
Best time of year to dive  From October to February. March the long rains start but you’ll still find diving in Chole Bay relatively unaffected. July gets very windy and visibility will be affected. 
Visibility  October to February the vis averages between 20 – 25 metres obviously dependent on tides and winds. Algae Blooms are common and may last a week or so. 
Snorkeling  Good snorkeling also in front of Chole Island at low tide. No big fish but very pretty and very close to the hotel. 
Dive Conditions  Tides did pose a bit of an issue because the mouth to Chole bay gets very shallow – which for us meant we had to get up very early to get out over it ! 6am call ! 

As Chole Bay is protected from the wind, it is diveable in practically any weather. 

   

 Comments on the Dives: 

We did four dives – all of them outside Chole Bay to the east. Jino Pass & Dindini Wall are two sites to the north-east of Chole Bay. Both reefs have flat tops at 8m dropping vertically in a spectacular wall to 25m with sandy bottom. Lots of 2-3m long whip corals growing off walls. Several points on both sites offer interesting [ if tight ] swim through and there is a very long tunnel cave at 20m on Dindini wall – entrance 1-2m diameter penetrating +/- 50m horizontally. The most memorable thing about these sites were the numbers of large fish ! Lots of large Malabar, Potato & Honeycomb groupers, a group of 5 large Southern Stingrays playing together in the sand, several Green turtles, Great Barracuda, Kingfish, Bonito & +/- 50 hunting Bluefin trevalleys. There were also several large shoals of blueline snappers and one huge shoal of over 1000 red snappers. We were diving at low tide with viz around 25-30m ! [ 27-28*C too – lovely ! ] 

The other site we did was Kinasi Pass – on the eastern entrance to Chole Bay. This reef wasn’t as spectacular again 25m max, but did have some great fish life….. Of particular note was the huge Giant Grouper (Jewfish) about 2m long ! This was also where we were lucky enough to have a shoal of large indian Threadfins check us out – beautiful! Lots of Oriental sweetlips and several large Redlined sweetlips too. We dived it twice on the same day – first at slack low tide viz 20m, then on incoming drift about 1.5knots with 8m viz. 

Our log book says it all ” shallow pemba with fish “. Beautiful reefs with loads of very spectacular fish life. Much more memorable than anything we did on Zanzibar, and certainly as good as Pemba if not as deep! 

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