My wife I took are honeymoon in Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, go on safari in the Serengeti and and at the end relax on the beach. Instead of going the usual Zanzibar route we decided to go Mafia island to swim the whale sharks, and we certainly not disappointed.
We hoped to see a few whale sharks and maybe get close to one of them, but on our first outing we saw dozens and actually managed to swim with one more-curious giant for a full five minutes. It was an amazing experience and would highly recommend it to anyone.
The resort itself was far above our expectations for the prices we paid. Our bungalow was beautiful and faced the beach and the ocean. The beach is every bit as beautiful as advertised.
Maura and Moez went well beyond the normal duties of hosts to make us feel at home. Everyday Moez asked us if there were any activities we would like to do the next day, but he never pushed us and in fact recommended we just relax on a few occasions. The activities we did pursue (sunset cruise on a dhow, snorkling, picnic in the marine park, whale sharks) were all superb. At the end we discovered Moez and Maura didn't even charge us for some of them. They even threw in some nice surprise touches. One night we were told we weren't dining in the main dining area, but would have a candlelight dinner on the beach.
The food was fantastic, and it featured freshly caught fish from the ocean and a wide array of local fruits every day. Butiami's chef isn't scared to expand beyond the usual resort fair: We had Octopus one night. Everything was not only delicious, but quite sophisticated. I'm a former line cook and a bit of food snob who eats out at some of Chicago's best restaurants. I looked forward to dinner at Butiama every night.
The lunch menu (which you pay for a la carte) was less adventurous, but if you're looking to try the local fare, talk to Maura. One day she asked the chef to prepare Pilau for us, a heavily spiced rice with bits of locally raised beef. There is no rating for food, but it would definitely get five stars from us.
The resort is outside of the Marine Park so you don't have to pay daily entrance fees, but you can go into the Marine Park anytime you like. It's also right next door to then main village Kilindoni if you want to do some exploring.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Come and experience true relaxation with us at Butiama Beach. Our unspoiled location in a tropical palm grove on the beach has everything you need to unwind, let go, and be yourself. Watch the whale sharks come to feed as the morning sun glints on the turquoise surface of the Indian Ocean. Sail to a pristine sandbank in a traditional dhow, snorkel and dive at some of the richest reefs in the world. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Butiama Beach Hotel Mafia Island