For a long time Mikindani was the major town in the region, however in the 1940s nearby Mtwara was made the regional capital due to its larger natural harbour. Since then Mikindani has been left to pursue the quiet, slow-paced life of a fishing village, albeit a larger than average fishing village.
There are several buses daily from Dar es Salaam which you can get from Ubungo, Temeke or Mbagala bus stations (at least 8 hours). During the rainy season parts of the road can get flooded. It's usually still passable but this can add significantly to the journey time. The companies operating the route change regularly but when picking a bus go for one with four seats in a row, the ones with five can be pretty cramped. Sitting in the back half of the bus can be somewhat traumatic during the non-paved part of the journey.
From Lindi there are buses throughout the morning, in the afternoon you can make the journey by first getting a bus to Mnazi Mmoja (Mingoyo) then catching an onward bus from there (~2 hours).
From Mtwara there are daladalas (minibuses) throughout the day from around 6AM to around 7PM (about 30 minutes). Alternatively, you could get a taxi (around TSh 10,000), a tuktuk (bajaji) (around TSh 6,000) or a motorbike (pikipiki) (around TSh 4,000).
From Masasi there are buses throughout the day the last one leave around mid-afternoon (about 4 or 5 hours).
From Newala and Mozambique you'll have to go via Mtwara.
Precision Air also fly from Dar to Mtwara, the timetable is highly erratic.
Mikindani is sufficiently small that you shouldn't need anything other than your legs to get you around. Cycling around the town can be quite pleasant: depending on the current management the Old Boma may or may not rent you a bike to explore it with.
There is little in the way of actual 'sights' in Mikindani (and those that are there are often mislabeled, the old slave market isn't that old and Livingston House has very little to do with David Livingston), however it's a very atmospheric town and a nice place to stroll around and soak in the culture. If you prefer your strolls more structured, the Old Boma has a book of walks around town. It is equally interesting to just wander and get lost. There will be no shortage of people to point you in the right direction when you want to get back.
- Eco2 diving, marine research and education centre, Mtwara (on Mnaida Street as you enter Mikindani from Mtwara), ☏ . 8AM-5PM. Eco2 is the first diving and marine research centre in south-east Tanzania. They provide low-impact, eco-aware scuba diving and dive safaris and promote marine environmental education through applied research. Mikindani and Mnazi Bays are the locations for some of the most spectacular, undiscovered diving in East Africa. Here the Southern Equatorial Current meets the African coast creating a unique ecosystem with a wealth of marine life from across the Indian Ocean. This phenomenon means the area is now recognized as the centre of biological diversity for the East African Coast and over 258 species of coral have been identified - more than anywhere else on the East African Coast. US$125 for two dives.
For general supplies you're better off going to Mtwara but basics can be purchased in Mikindani. There are general shops (duka) all over town, the best of the bunch are probably the ones at the daladala stand.
Kuchele is the towns resident artist and has shop next to the old slave market. If you're in town more than a day he will probably find you to show you his work. He's a nice chap and won't switch on the 'hard-sell' if you look through his work.
The Old Boma has a selection handicrafts produced locally, but a better selection can be found at ADEA in Mtwara.
For Tanzanian fare, Subira's restaurant at the long distance bus stand is the best bet for cheap, tasty food. The only other option is Samaki's in the old slave market. There's a chap at the daladala stand that does chipsi mayai (chip omelette - it sounds odd but it's a Tanzanian classic) or chipsi kuku (chicken and chips).
Muku's bar at the daladala stand sits somewhere between Tanzanian food and western food.
Ten Degrees and the Boma cater to the ex-pat crowd. The quality and popularity of them ebbs and flows between the two due to high staff turnover.
Muku's bar next to the daladala stand is the liveliest of the bars in town offering all you would expect from a Tanzanian bar.
Hiphop beach next to the long distance bus stand will be a cracking place for a drink overlooking the bay if they ever get round to getting a beer fridge. They have cold soda and warm beer.
Ten Degrees and the Boma (listed in the sleeping section) are fairly standard ex-pat bars.
A wider range of accommodation can be found in nearby Mtwara which can be used as a base for visiting Mikindani.
- The Old Boma Hotel, ☏ . The old German fort has been renovated into a boutique hotel.
- Ten Degrees South, PO Box 784, Mtwara (On Mnaida Street as you enter Mikindani from Mtwara), ☏ . Ten Degrees South is a small guesthouse, bar and restaurant with accommodation. It's a travellers' hang-out with a pleasant bar and a nice atmosphere. US$20-60.
All buses going north from Mtwara (those going to Dar, Kilwa, Lindi, Newala and Masasi) stop at Mikindani en route, although the Dar buses (which also stop at Nangurukuru for Kilwa) will only stop if you have brought your ticket in advance.
Going south (to Mozambique, Tandahimba or Newala) you will have to make your way to Mtwara first.