Butiama Beach Lodge, Mafia Island: The Lowdown

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One of the reasons Mafia’s remained so off the radar for so long is that visitors came for the diving, but in the marine park beaches are rather so-so. The arrival of ultra-rustic Butiama has changed all of this- it’s perched on a beautiful sweep of beach near the main village of Kilindoni, but is just a short drive from the excellent diving of the marine park.

What’s Butiama really like?

If Robinson and Mrs Crusoe had settled in for the long haul, Butiama’s probably where they’d be. This lodge is deliberately very simple: there is sand on the floor of the bar and this is the sort of place where you could easily throw your shoes away for the duration of your stay. Butiama is a very East African style of lodge where the individual bungalows all have polished cement floors, high thatched roofs, and simple wood-and-whitewash décor. Coconut palms rustle up above, plates are filled with local seafood, and staff will greet you with a beaming smile.

What can I do at Butiama Beach Lodge?

A beach holiday on Mafia Island is really a chance to relax and reconnect with nature, but for some gentle exploring on this rather gorgeous island, Butiama is ideal. It’s a short drive to the marine park, where there is excellent diving and snorkelling, particularly during whale shark season. Back at the ranch, Butiama has a pool, a lovely dhow, and there’s fishing tackle and kayaks you can borrow from the lodge. A gentle wander around Kilindoni, the nearby town, is fascinating, and further afield there are plenty of tranquil little villages, colonial ruins and beautiful beaches to explore. It’s probably best to view this as a safari type experience at the beach: there’re no clipboard-wielding activity organisers, it’s more a case of seeing what’s possible and fun and making a plan on the day.

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