Butiama Beach

Butiama Beach: Our full report

15 bungalows
Traveller's rating
Excellent (95%) From 8 reviews
Best for 10+

Butiama Beach sits on the west coast of Mafia Island, outside the Rufiji Mafia Kilwa Marine Reserve boundaries, just south of the main village of Kilindoni. It's a simple beach lodge, aiming to provide a relaxing spot on this quiet island.

Butiama has 15 bungalows, including two family rooms with two bedrooms; two triple rooms and the rest are either twin or doubles. All face the ocean, although some have clearer views than others. The spacious bungalows have large verandas on the front of each room, and the baraza-style sofas and hammocks here are a lovely spot to catch the breeze and enjoy the sea views. Inside, reclaimed wood from old dhows has been used to create the wooden beds and luggage racks. The white mosquito nets and bedspreads, combined with colourful kikoi-woven cushions and bedspreads give a really light and airy feel to the rooms. The colour scheme throughout Butiama Beach is that of light blues with dappled polka dot white, resembling the beautiful patterns of whale sharks. There is some space to hang your clothes, as well as an en-suite bathroom with hot-and-cold running water.

Sheltered under makuti thatch, the main areas houses the sand-floor Chiringuito bar, which is set on the edge of the beach overlooking the sea. There is also a small library with board games, pool table and local games of bao. Dining takes place in an open-sided area to one side of the bar, although we ate a relaxed lunch sat on one of the comfortable sofas arranged around the bar. There's also a shop called the 'Green Room' that sells a good selection of souvenirs, many of which are locally made.

In keeping with the rest of the lodge, the swimming pool is also pale blue and provides dappled shade. It’s a decent size and there are sun loungers and a few tables set up around the circumference. It’s a lovely place to relax during the day, as is the stunning beach beyond. Butiama is the only lodge with access to more than a kilometer of white sandy beach. Aside from a few fisherman there are very few people here and being westerly facing, guests can enjoy some magnificent sunsets.

Butiama Beach offers a number of activities. Sea kayaks, snorkelling gear, motorboats and fishing tackle are available, as well as traditional dhows. They also have their own PADI-certified dive centre that takes guests scuba diving inside the marine park. It's worth noting that diving is done on the eastern side of the island, so guests need to drive over there to dive each day and this takes about 30 minutes. Butiama Beach is also perfectly situated for guests who hope to see, and snorkel with, whale sharks (from December to March). You can walk along the white sandy beach: 10–15-minutes walk in one direction leads to Kilindoni village and the markets, while the other direction leads to a creek populated with a variety of birds and small monkeys.

Our view

Butiama Beach caters for couples, friends or families and has a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Travellers who want somewhere simple and laid back to relax after a safari will enjoy its unpretentious nature, and active travellers will appreciate the range of activities (particularly during the whale shark season) and first-class diving on offer.


Location: Mafia Island, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: Stay here for 3–4 nights to relax and perhaps do some diving.

Directions: Butiama Beach is about a ten-minute drive from Mafia airport.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Half Board

Food quality: Breakfast is usually served in the main restaurant and is a selection of fruits and cereals, followed by a cooked breakfast made to order.

Lunch is a varied à la carte menu, including pizzas, salads and sandwiches. We were impressed with the variety of choice, and thought the food was fresh and tasty. It was refreshing to have such a wide selection to choose from, as most beach lodges have a limited set menu.

Dinner was a set three-course menu. On our last visit, we enjoyed a tomato soup to start, followed by grilled fish with roasted vegetables and rice, and a chocolate mousse for dessert. The food was simple, but it was clear some thought had gone into the menu. As is to be expected, seafood features frequently on the menu.

Lunch and dinner can be served in a variety of locations, including the beach bar, private verandah or beach. The managers are incredibly helpful, and are more than willing to help cater for any special dietary requirements, or to help you make the most of a special occasion.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: £5-10

Drinks included: Tea, coffee and water are complimentary, but other drinks cost extra.

Special interests

Diving & snorkelling: From December to March Butiama offers good opportunities to swim with whale sharks. It is also a short drive from the protected reefs of the Mafia Marine Park on the other side of the island.

See more ideas for Diving & snorkelling in Tanzania


Attitude towards children: Butiama Beach welcomes children.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.

Special activities & services: None.

Equipment: They have cots and highchairs.

Notes: Recommended for age 10+.


Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator.

Communications: There is good cellphone signal and free WiFi is available in the reception area.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: Bottled water is supplied.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a first-aid kit at the lodge for basic injuries and there’s a hospital a ten-minute drive away in Kilindoni.

Dangerous animals: Low Risk

Security measures: The lodge has three guards on duty during the night and two during the day.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the main areas and in each bungalow.


Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included in the price.

Money: There are electronic safes in all of the rooms and they can exchange small amounts of money.

Accepted payment on location: Butiama are currently trying to get a card machine – but at present they are asking that payment for any extras is made in cash. US dollars, euros, Tanzanian shillings and British pounds are all normally accepted using the exchange rate of the day.

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