Mafia Island, Zanzibar and the coast, Tanzania
based on 7 nights
per person for 7 nights, based on two people sharing a beach bungalow on a bed and breakfast basis.
At a Glance
Butiama is the only lodge on the west coast, seven bungalows lead straight out onto the white sand
Surrounded by a barrier reef teeming with marine life, the snorkeling, fishing and diving is excellent
Accompany the chef on a wander up the beach to the little fishing village to select lunch
This is true barefoot beach-front living, a relaxed island paradise
Mafia is well known for its seasonal visitors, whale sharks cruise these waters from November to March
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Situated only 6° south of the equator, Mafia Island enjoys ideal vacation weather. Temperatures average between 24°C and 27°C throughout the year with 7-9 hours of sunshine per day.
There are 2 rainy seasons: Acute, brief showers, lasting about an hour in the morning occur for a couple of weeks during November. The rains last slightly longer in April and May, but even then it does not rain every day. These rains replenish the Island and are often referred to as the “Green Season”.
If you are traveling between November and February you may be lucky enough to snorkel with whalesharks which congregate in the waters off the Mafia islands during these months.
Call us on 858 345 1761 to start planning your vacation to Butiama Beach or take a look at our itineraries to Zanzibar and the coast
Butiama is a rustic and charming boutique hotel on the relatively unknown Mafia Island, south of Zanzibar. Possibly more beautiful than its neighbor Zanzibar, the island has a sense of peacefulness you won't find elsewhere, as well as superb diving.
Butiama is set in an idyllic location amongst a tropical palm grove on the beach. This beautiful property is set on the rarely visited Mafia Island, neighbor to the much more busy Zanzibar. Here you will find a sense of peace that the more touristy destinations on the African east coast lack.
Butiama beach lodge offers a sense of what Zanzibar was like 30 years ago. It is a place where time has stood still and you can stroll for miles along deserted sandy beaches without stumbling across another resort or tourist, with crabs, whale sharks and African fish eagles as your only company. However for those that wish to explore a bit further the market town of Kilindoni is only a 20 minute walk away.
Butiama Beach is the only hotel that sits on the west coast of the island. The tall palms provide shade and the gentle sea breeze gives relief from the sun. The long stretch of white beach here allows you to wander for miles along the shore, and the twelve rooms are in small bungalows found at the end of walkways lined with flowers. You can fall asleep with your doors open listening to the sound of the sea and in the mornings wake to breakfast while looking out at the ocean. The rooms are simply furnished with bright jewel colored kikoi pillows, crisp white linens and mosquito nets draped around the beds, each with their own veranda with hammocks facing the ocean. There is a lovely main restaurant and bar area set under a steep thatch roof, and a lounge with kikoi cushions where you can unwind with a good book. There is a lovely swimming pool set amongst the gardens, too, if you tire of swimming in the sea.
During your stay in this exquisite part of the world you must experience sailing in a tradition dhow boat, or snorkeling and diving at some of the liveliest reefs in the world, looking out for turtles, whale sharks and the huge variety of oceanic fish. Exploring on land you will see amazing native trees, animals and birdlife and can visit the local villages to get a real experience of island life. Sailing to the nearby islands and sandbanks you can explore the ruins of the ancient city of Kua on Juani Island, discover the history of Kisimani, or visit Chole Island where you will find the rare Comores fruit bat. Whatever you want to do Butiama can accommodate, with a wide variety of activities and a friendly attitude that says nothing is too much trouble.
There are 12 spacious bungalows (including two family rooms with two bedrooms each). Each bungalow faces the ocean and has a large veranda with a hammock and lounge area. The bungalows are beautifully furnished with unique furniture- hand crafted from the sun and sea-kissed hardwoods of retired sailing dhows, and decorated with kikois. All rooms are fully equipped with hot water, mosquito nets and fans.
Butiama Beach accepts children of all ages but do not provide baby sitting or a kids club.
Spa, Library with board games, pool table, darts board and local games of bao.
The activities are Butiama are endless - take your pick from sea kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, dhow sailing trips, diving and swimming with whale sharks (November to February). Trips to the other islands nearby to explore Swahili ruins can also be arranged, or accompany the chef to the Kilindoni market to buy produce for the evening's dinner.
The reefs of the Mafia Archipelago are full of life and offer some fantastic diving and snorkeling opportunities. Whether you are a novice or advanced diver, there is something here to suit all abilities, including challenging drift dives and underwater caves to explore.
Eliza Walker (Staff)
Without a doubt Butiama Beach was by far and away the highlight of my recent educational trip to Tanzania. I stayed at 18 places in 3 weeks but there was nowhere that I managed to relax quite so much and also enjoy such wonderful experiences as at Butiama. The owner and manager, Maura Cavallo, welcomed us on arrival and made us feel instantly at home, showing us to our beautiful whitewashed stone bungalow, with its own private porch and hammock and then spacious and comfortable bedroom with ensuite bathroom with an enormous walk-in shower. Some of the bungalows are beachfront and some are set slightly further back but they've all been arranged in such a way that every one enjoys beautiful views of the clear turquoise sea. Shades of turquoise, blues and greens are the recurring theme throughout the property which all adds to the brightness and cheerfulness of this beautiful spot.
The beach is a long stretch of white sand, and when the tide is out you can walk for miles and miles down it. To the right of the property is the fishing village of Kilindoni but it is quite a distance away so whilst you can see the fishing boats down the coast they don't detract from the beauty of the area at all, in fact when the dhows are out sailing past it is such a spectacular sight it only makes the view even better.
If you prefer to sunbathe without getting all sandy then there is also a large pool surrounded by sunbeds where you can relax and gaze out at the sea. This is by the restaurant and bar area where simple yet delicious food is served (seafood being an obvious specialty) as well as wonderfully imaginative cocktails. For those who enjoy some evening games there is even a dartboard and pool table.
Whilst you couldn't find a more idyllic place than this to relax on the beach and do nothing I would personally advise against it since the experiences on offer are such great fun it would be a real shame to miss them. Couples and families alike would enjoy going for a sunset sail in a traditional boat, heading back towards the beach as the orange glow of the sun disappears and the hotel reappears as a line of pretty lights surrounded by palm trees.
Of course one of the experiences Mafia Island is famous for is swimming with whale sharks and if this isn't on your bucket list then it certainly should be! Whilst it can take up to 4 hours sometimes to find these fantastic creatures, that are the largest fish in the sea, we were lucky enough to come across them just offshore and then pulled on our flippers and snorkels and prepared to drop into the water. Nothing quite prepares you for the size of them as they swim gently beneath you, its an incredibly surreal experience that I would recommend to anyone.
Another great way to spend the day is to head out on a boat to the reef and enjoy an hour or so of snorkeling and seeing all the incredible and colorful fish darting around beneath you. This can then be followed by a picnic lunch on a deserted sandbank in true Robinson Crusoe Style.
Although this was all I managed to fit in during my short stay it wasn't even the end of the list of excursions and Butiama Beach is now at the top of my list for a longer visit to experience all that it has to offer! It really is a magical place that I don't believe anyone could fail to love.
A dhow trip on the coast of Zanzibar
Sailing in a dhow, the traditional sailing boat used in Zanzibar, is the best way to view the island's coastline. Sailing in the late evening to watch the sun set is the best time of day and is wonderfully romantic.
With the Spice Islands named as they are you cannot visit this particular part of the world and not delve into its history by taking a Spice Tour on the island.
Swim with whale sharks in the Mafia Archipelago
Between November and February each year, migrating whale sharks make their way to the warm waters of the Mafia Archipelago.
Location & directions
Mafia Island, Zanzibar and the coast, Tanzania
Butiama beach is situated on the west coast of the island, off the main village of Kilindoni, outside the marine park boundaries.
How to get there
Dar es Salaam International Airport is served by a number of airlines. From here it is a short flight of about 30 minutes down to Mafia Island.