Mafia is the southern most and smallest of a group of East African off-shore islands that once comprised the great Omani sultan empire that ruled all off East Africa. From Lamu in the north to its nearby neighbor, Zanzibar, all have beautiful beaches and relatively undisturbed interiors, providing a natural habitat for a number of endemic birds and a few monkeys.

Mafia, like Lamu and unlike Zanzibar and the bigger islands, is a brown sand beach, not having the great coral reefs near the shore creating white sand. Standing furthest out to the open sea, however, it provides probably some of the best big game fishing of any in the collection of larger islands. Tourist development as a result has not matched its neighbor, Zanzibar, providing an opportunity for those wanting to get off-the-beaten path or find a good beach value.