Our Rating
7.9
Overall

Pole Pole

Zanzibar & Tanzania, Mafia Island
7 Nights from

R 55555 per person sharing

Our Rating
7.9
Overall

Pole Pole

Zanzibar & Tanzania, Mafia Island
7 Nights from

R 55555 per person sharing

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Our Verdict

With just 9 stylish bungalows this wonderfully intimate beach lodge on the charmingly time-warped island of Mafia is the perfect place to escape for a romantic break or for world class scuba diving!

Our Ratings

7.9
Overall
7.5
Luxury & Style
8.5
Setting
6.5
Activities
9.0
Chill-Out Factor

Our Ratings

7.9
Overall
7.5
Luxury & Style
8.5
Setting
6.5
Activities
9.0
Chill-Out Factor

What's Hot

  • Delightfully small & private and very stylish in an understated way - we particularly like the use of the natural dark wood finishes, both in the original Bungalow rooms but particularly in the lodge's public areas
  • Fantastic scuba-diving and snorkelling is available on the famous reefs of Chole Bay - reached Mafia Island-style by traditional dhow (which is somehow just way more special than a modern speed-boat!)
  • Gorgeous private balconies with day beds which just invite you to laze - or why not head for a relaxing massage at the duara just above the beach
  • Excellent Italian-accented food gets the consistent thumbs-up from guests - not to mention the friendly, personal service
  • Relax with the sundowner hand-delivered to your bungalow as you watch the nightly arrival of the giant fruit bats from nearby Chole Island as they fly overhead the lodge on their way to feed on the fruit plantations on Mafia!

What's Not

  • The beach in front of the lodge isn't the greatest swimming beach - but you can always take a dip in the lodge's swimming pool or better yet head off by dhow to one of the pristine sandbanks in the bay
  • Mafia isn't the easiest place to get to - then again that's half the fun!
  • Being located in the Marine Park you have to pay a daily park fee in Dollars to the authorities there on arrival
Pole Pole

Pole Polethe perfect place to retreat when you really want to get away from it all and relax in an atmosphere of blissful seclusion

Lodge Profile

With just 9 stylish bungalows this wonderfully intimate beach lodge on the charmingly time-warped island of Mafia is the perfect place to escape for a romantic break or for world class scuba diving!

Quick Overview

Rooms
9 bungalows
Distance to Beach
5-70m
Air Conditioning
No
Pool
Yes
Recommended Stay
3 - 7 nights

In an increasingly over-commercialized and exploited world, the rural backwater of Mafia Island is the perfect place to retreat when you really want to get away from it all and relax in an atmosphere of blissful seclusion – and if that’s your aim then it’s hard to imagine a better place than Pole Pole. This tiny little lodge consists of just 9 stylish bungalows overlooking a small beach area, a lovely little duara (a little thatched shelter just above the beach perfect for quietly contemplating the view), a small massage deck where we enjoyed a full body massage, an unobtrusive swimming pool located on top of the hill as well as a wonderfully intimate bar and lounge area.

And that’s it – no games room, TV room or even music in the bar! And funnily enough, after the very ornate furnishings and stylizing of many of the other lodges, it was this very simplicity - in a superbly stylish way mind you - that made Pole Pole so appealing to us.

The lodge caters for both couples and families, with the 5 original Bungalows (sleeping a couple) located at the top of the hills enjoying gorgeous views down over Chole Bay. They're all sumptuous dark wood floors and deck, with carved and antique furniture pieces and window shutters – offset beautifully by crisp whites and creams - and the overall effect is low-key yet classy. Then for families there are a couple of 2-bedroomed Asali Suites which have a double room and twin room separated by a corridor and so perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids. Finally the latest addition are the 2 Luxury Bungalows (named Alasiri and Alfajiri) which are located just above the beach and which also boast plunge pools - again one of them sleeps 4 whilst the other caters for a couple) Unlike the original bungalows, the floors here are of slate rather than the dark wood of the original rooms.

Whichever room you choose to stay in, you'll find the lodge staff are wonderfully friendly and the service outstanding. Before dinner have a chat at the bar with fellow guests or the friendly lodge management. It’s also the perfect opportunity to plan your next day’s scuba diving or snorkelling (Chole Bay is home to some of the finest unbleached coral reefs in the Indian Ocean!), an excursion to the ruins and fascinating village on Chole Island, or perhaps a picnic on a blindingly white sandbank perfect for sun tanning and swimming in the crystal clear and warm cobalt blue waters. And the good news is that a daily dhow cruise into Chole Bay to go swimming or snorkelling is included in the rates!

One of the things we loved about Pole Pole was the way a waiter arrived at 6PM every evening to take your drinks order – 5 minutes later you’re enjoying sundowners on your deck and watching the nightly arrival of the giant fruit bats from Chole Island across the bay as they come across to Mafia to feed.

After that it’s a short stroll down to the bar area for a companiable drink with your fellow guests before dinner. The bar itself is like the rest of the lodge – intimate and stylish, with dark wood floors and very interesting and attractive walls formed from rough wooden sticks placed in a pattern of contrasting squares.

Pole Pole means “slowly, slowly” in Swahili, and this really does capture the whole essence of the lodge perfectly. Take the diving or snorkelling for example – instead of zooming off in a speed boat to your dive spot (Mafia offers some of the best diving anywhere in the world by the way), you’ll venture out instead on a traditional dhow with at least one of the legs of your journey under sail power.

Pricing

per person sharing

More Information

Booking Notes

  • Please note that the package prices you see including return flights from Johannesburg, accommodation and transfers are INDICATIVE prices based on mid-season airfares and mid-season room rates - these fluctuate throughout the year as do exchange rates, so please enquire with us for an accurate price based on your specific dates of travel

Child Policy

  • No children under the age of 10 allowed