My wife and I stayed 3 nights on Ras Mbisi lodge – what a cool place, this really is a ‘no shoes’, Robinson Crusoe location. After a bumpy but fun drive to the Lodge (exactly 36 mins as our driver was at pains to point out) we were shown to our ‘Banda’. We stayed in number 8, the last in the row of banda’s. The rooms are excellently designed although a little hot as there’s no air-conditioning or fans and the generator / electricity is only switched on during certain times of the day.
The beach is literally a stone’s throw away, maybe 20 metres and it’s beautiful white sand all the way. You can look for miles straight down the beach and not see another person.
During our evening meal, we met Gabriel, the resort manager, who was incredibly attentive to all of the guests needs. He really is a perfectionist, which, as he explained, is somewhat challenging in a place as remote and underdeveloped as Mafia! The food was stunning – 4 courses freshly prepared every lunch and night, just delightful. The staff were wonderful, super friendly and very helpful.
Later on our first evening we met Laura and Nico, a lovely italian couple who run the activity centre. The main reason we were in Mafia was for snorkeling with whale sharks and diving at the Marine Park. We were a little disappointed when we found out that the Marine Park was an hour’s taxi drive away at a $100 cost! Ouch. However, we didn’t realize that whale shark snorkeling can only be done from the west coast where Ras Mbisi is located – it’s actually the best, if not only resort from which to encounter the whale sharks. So our disappointment was rapidly quelled.
The Whale Shark excursions are not run every day so we signed up to do a day’s diving at the Marine Park on the next day. The taxi picked us up at our hotel and we headed across the island to the Marine Park. We dived with the Big Blu dive centre which is run by 2 cool italian guys who owned a dog that had just given birth to 7 puppies a few hours earlier! Cue ooh’s and aah’s and we had to be literally dragged away from Mum and pups to get on the boat for the dive site. Our first dive just outside of Chole Bay was not as good as we had hoped for but the 2nd dive within the bay was fantastic. We headed back to the beach on our beautiful Dhow under sail which was so tranquil and idyllic after a full day’s activity.
The following day was Whale Shark day (or at least we hoped)! After approx 1 hour on a dhow heading out from the lodge to Whale Shark territory the most almighty storm broke out – the sky turned dark, the thunder rumbled and the constant lightening had us worried. Game over, too dangerous, so we headed back to shore thinking we had missed our opportunity (as we were leaving for Zanzibar the following day). Luck was on our side though as the skies cleared and Laura hastily organized the boat to take us back out for attempt number 2! After an hour or so we caught our 1st sighting, a fin some way in the distance, but a fin nonetheless. So we kept forging ahead hoping to get a little closer to our big friend before, all of a sudden, one there, one over there, another one there, all within spitting distance of the boat. Fins on, masks on, get wet. Within seconds one swam 1 metre away from me and allowed me to snorkel directly alongside it for a while until I ran out of kicking steam. Our shark ‘spotter’ did an excellent job in deciding the best spot to jump in the water to get up close and personal based on the shark’s turning movements as they search for plankton. I think we spotted and snorkeled with 12 sharks in total. At the end a couple of sharks were literally cruising around and underneath our boat but we were too exhausted to swim after them. All sharked out! Amazing.
Do be prepared for the sandflies on Mafia, they are a real pain. I had 50 bites on my neck alone! Although apparently we were unlucky as they are not usually as prevalent as they were during our stay.
So, an amazing few days in Mafia, great staff, great location, great accommodation, great activities. Thanks to Gabriel, Laura, NIco and all the staff for a making our stay a fab one!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.