Marine life and communities.

Thanda Island is part of research and conservation projects as well as the preservation and rehabilitation of the Shungimbili coral reef. The island provides a basis for its neighbouring Mafia Island’s Marine Park Rangers to patrol the western side of Mafia and several other islands to stop illegal fishing in the area. Thanda Island is deeply committed to the Mafia’s young people education and wellbeing, including programmes on sustainable fishing and marine conservation and the development of healthy sporting activities. We employ members from the community on the Island and offer high-end hospitality skills development and employment advancement.


Uniquely situated in Tanzania’s Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve, Thanda Island is surrounded by vulnerable coral reefs. Its seas are home to the gentle whale shark categorised by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction. It is also home to five species of sea turtles and dolphins, all of which need concerted conservation programmes to ensure their survival. Thanda Island’s marine biologist is monitoring the condition of the surrounding Shungimbili reefs and a reef restoration project is helping to stimulate the recovery of the reefs and the marine species that depend on them.

A commitment to conservation.

Thanda Island partners with the Tanzanian Marine Parks and Reserves Unit on a range of marine conservation and educational programmes including the Ropes of Hope restoration of the coral reef project. These include research conservation initiatives associated with the marine reserve and Mafia Island Marine Park, of which our flagship conservation project is the restoration of the Shungimbili Island coral reef in collaboration with local conservation partners. Five species of marine turtles occur in Tanzania’s waters. The largest fish in the world – the gentle, human-friendly whale shark – feeds just south of the Island.
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Five species of marine turtles occur in Tanzania’s waters: Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles. All are categorised by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as endangered or critically endangered species. We often have sightings around Thanda Island and know that you will be utterly amazed by these creatures. Our focus on sea turtles conservation has led to recreating a conservation haven for them, which has proven successful; the first Green turtle hatchlings were born at the end of May 2017. We hope that increasing numbers of turtles will return to nest on the Island. It is still a rare occurrence and only seasonal, yet if you are lucky, you may witness this unique event during your stay.
We invite you to participate in our citizen science programme where photos you take of the whale sharks near Thanda Island can be uploaded to and Photo identification of the whale sharks, each with a unique pattern of ‘fingerprint’, is used to study their little known feeding, migratory and breeding habits. Our marine guides are equipped with GoPro cameras to record your time with the whale sharks.


Community empowerment is part of Thanda Tanzania’s DNA. We are as engaged with the Tanzanian people as we are with the Zulu people in the communities neighbouring our other property, Thanda Safari, in Northern Zululand, South Africa. The Thanda Island team participates in a range of social, educational and economic upliftment programmes, as well as sporting activities on Mafia Island, including the much-loved game of football, to contribute to a brighter future for its young people.

Our community engagement.

The Thanda Island team participates in a range of social upliftment programs on Mafia Island, which has approximately 60 000 people. The closest community village on Mafia Island is Ras Mbisi, eight nautical miles from Thanda Island. We are committed to the education of young people concerning sustainable resource utilization and fish harvesting, and education in marine conservation and the development of healthy sporting activities, such as football.
Thanda participates in a range of social upliftment programmes on neighbouring Mafia Island, which has approximately 60 000 inhabitants. We are committed to the education of young people in sustainable fish harvesting, marine conservation, and the development of sporting activities, such as football.
Thanda Island seeks to mirror the conservation and community upliftment successes that Thanda Safari has achieved in South Africa by partnering with the Tanzanian Marine Parks on a range of marine conservation and education programmes in the region. In addition, guests are able to make a difference by getting involved, with contributions from one of our guests resulting in two primary schools on Mafia Island being upgraded. These guest contributions make a significant impact on the lives of students on Mafia Island, with approximately 70% of Thanda Island’s staff being employed from Mafia Island.

The Star for Life programme seeks to empower young people with the attitudes and emotional skills they need to focus on their school education and to make wise choices outside of school in order to stay healthy, positive and make positive contributions to their families and communities. This programme, founded by the Olofsson Family in South Africa in 2005, has supported over 500,000 school learners over the years to reach for their dreams and live healthy lives. It has since expanded to Tanzania where the Star for Life programme is being taught on Mafia Island in 6 primary schools and 2 secondary schools.

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DEVENT (Developing young entrepreneurs of Mafia) is an enterprise development project whereby youth are provided with training and guidance on business skills and knowledge of how to create and run businesses on Mafia Island. The project started in September 2021, with 30 enterprises, 105 youth trained and 86 jobs having been created over the past two years. The success of this project has resulted in the project being extended for another 3 years from October 2023.

“Amazing food, staff, activities, sights, a dream come true literally paradise.”