How to get to Mafia Island
From what I have read, some articles relate the fact that the journey to Mafia Island is a very complicated adventure or even an ordeal for others! For having done so, no it is not. However, if you tend to avoid local experiences, I will not recommend it but it is easily done with a minimum of patience.
Get out Dar Es Salaam by bus
You will need to go to a bus station to reach Nyamisati Port, which is about a 4-hour drive south of Dar Es Salaam. I recommend the one in Bagala. This is where there are the most departures to Nyamisati, the village you have to reach to go to Mafia Island.
📍 View on map
You can easily find a bus that will fill up quite quickly. The journey costs 5500 TSH.
Take a good look at how much the locals pay. Most of the travel guides I read before I left said 10,000 TSH ($4), which is not fair. This is the Mzungu (tourist) rate, although between us it remains very ridiculous. But hey. If you’re within $2, you know the rate now.
Where to stay in Nyamisati?
Nyamisati is a very small village. There really aren’t many options for accommodation. You can easily camp, or wait under the large shelter of the main square with all the locals and spend the night there.
In fact, the ferry to Mafia Island only leaves in the mornings so you will have to spend a night there unless you find a private boat, which is always possible.
The only place to sleep is right in front of the port, at Shabaan’s. He owns a house with a few rooms at 15,000 shillings a night. He will gladly help you if you have any questions, he is a very nice guy. Do not hesitate to ask me for his contact details to make sure he receives you when the bus arrives. (Use the site’s messaging or contact me by Instagram)
Take the ferry to Mafia Island
The old very rudimentary boat with wooden benches has been replaced. Today, it’s a brand new ferry with comfortable seating, air conditioning and even a place to eat. I advise you to take a place upstairs, this is the best place. You will find the ticket office in Nyamisati’s main square. The crossing now takes place every morning around 9am, it lasts 4h and costs 16,000 TSH.
Arrival at Mafia Island
There you go! You arrived in Mafia for the modest sum of $ 10 with a local experience, Tanzanian style. All you have to do is take a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) to get to your final destination. Count 1,000 TSH for 2 km.