Lodges

Butiama Beach Lodge

A peaceful tropical island, with kaleidoscopic reefs and giant whale sharks

Butiama Beach Lodge

Time seems to have stood still on Mafia Island, part of a scattered archipelago 160 km south of busy Zanzibar . One of the safest places in the Indian Ocean, this is what Zanzibar was like 30 years ago. Butiama Beach Lodge lies on the island's unspoilt west coast, tucked in a tropical palm grove on a long sandy beach with not another resort, shouting vendor or tourist in sight. All you hear is the whoosh of the ocean and the calls of aquatic birds. Explore the coast in a dhow, see giant whale sharks and watch the scuttling crabs.

At the lodge

The hotel

The atmosphere is relaxed. Days start in the thatched, open-sided dining area with a full and fabulous breakfast. At lunch, choose something light at the wave-lapped Chiringuito beach bar and restaurant. Three-course dinners are served in the main dining area or by lamplight on the beach. There's a large communal seating area with deep-cushioned sofas; it's a lovely place to relax at night, when the stars and oil lamps provide the only lighting. The main area has wi-fi.

The rooms

Walkways link the 10 bungalows (including two family bungalows) that lie just 50 metres from the beach. Each is designed with nothing but your comfort in mind. The furniture is hand-crafted from retired dhows, the bed has crisp linen and mosquito nets, the cushions and throws are stitched from kikois – local hand-woven sarongs. The en-suite bathroom has a walk-in shower and colourful soaps handmade from coconut oil, and the veranda has a hammock and comfy seating. There's no aircon, but a yacht fan provides a breeze.

On safari

Experiences

Explore the beachfront and mangroves in a kayak; sail to nearby islands and sand banks in a dhow; snorkel the reef to see its multi-hued corals, 460-plus species of fish and various species of turtles; scuba dive, go fishing or swim with the world’s largest fish; or look for the resident animals and birdlife. Take a Land Rover excursion to explore Mafia’s kilometres of pristine beaches (watch out for sand flies). Return to a massage and a sunset view.

When to go

Mafia Island by month

January

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures are reasonably hot, with little rainfall at this time of year. New Year is crowded and the wind starts to become a problem that persists through January and Feb after the crowds have dissipated.
  • This is the best time to swim with the mighty whale shark, the largest fish in the world.
  • The ideal month for exploring the coral reefs and exotic fish with water clarity of 25 meters or more.

February

Season: Dry
  • This is the best time to swim with the mighty whale shark, the largest fish in the world.
  • The ideal month for exploring the coral reefs and exotic fish with water clarity of 25 meters or more.
  • Temperatures are reasonably hot, with little rainfall at this time of year.

March

Season: Wet
  • The weather is not good over this period with high temperatures and plenty of rain, often in the form of storms.
  • Scuba diving continues to be good in this month

April

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are high and windy, with rainfall continually falling over this period.
  • This is the end of the Scuba season (but still excellent), with water clarity dropping because of the weather.

May

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are high and windy, with rainfall continually falling over this period.
  • Diving is not ideal during this month, with water clarity dropping because of the weather.

June

Season: Dry
  • At the end of the wet season, temperatures are cooler, wind can still be strong with sporadic rainfall across the month.
  • Diving is restricted to inside Chole Bay because of strong winds and huge seas outside the bay.
  • Be aware that many local restaurants and stores close during the period of Ramadan.

July

Season: Dry
  • Turtle hatchings almost daily in July, August, September tailing off until Christmas
  • Diving is restricted to inside Chole Bay because of the potentially strong winds and huge seas outside the bay.
  • Be aware that many local restaurants and stores close during the period of Ramadan.

August

Season: Dry
  • Diving is restricted to inside Chole Bay because of potentially strong winds and huge seas outside the bay.
  • Weather can pick up over this period with the potential for strong winds and big seas
  • Turtle hatchings almost daily in July, August, September tailing off until Christmas
  • Fantastic potential to see humpback whales in August

September

Season: Dry
  • Weather is more consistent over this period with cooler temperatures, little wind and low rainfall.
  • There is the possibility of whale watching, as an added bonus during this time of year.
  • Turtle hatchings almost daily in July, August, September, tailing off until Christmas

October

Season: Dry
  • Weather is more consistent over this period with cooler temperatures, little wind and low rainfall.
  • Whale sharks best in late October, November and early December, just before Christmas
  • The ideal month for exploring the coral reefs and exotic fish with water clarity of 25 meters or more.

November

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are hot with the arrival of the summer rains and wind.
  • If you are a keen fisherman, billfish fishing season kicks off.
  • This is the best time to swim with the mighty whale shark, the largest fish in the world.
  • The ideal month for exploring the coral reefs and exotic fish with water clarity of 25 meters or more.

December

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures are hot with the arrival of the summer rains and wind.
  • This is the best time to swim with the mighty whale shark, the largest fish in the world.
  • Diving is not at its best but decent during this month, as long as weather doesn't pick-up.

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