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Reviewed November 26, 2009

My husband and I visited the Pole Pole lodge almost two years ago and loved it. It was the perfect end to our three week-long trip to Tanzania and Rwanda. We dove nearly every day, ate very well, and enjoyed the laid-back nature of the resort. The size is perfect- small and intimate and we got to know some of the other folks on holiday there. There isn't a lot happening so don't go expecting a huge party. But if you want something beautiful, relaxing, with friendly staff, this is your spot.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank ciaoamy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 11, 2009

First I have to say that Mafia is my favorite Tanzania destination! Last weekend, I went back to the island for the second time and loved it just as much as the first time.
First time I went, I stayed at Mafia Island Lodge. This time, at Pole Pole.

Pole Pole is much more luxurious than Mafia Island lodge and I really liked it. Staff are very friendly - though they are a bit to 'talkative' for my taste :-) When you go for a weekend-get-away from busy Dar, you really just want peace :-) Anyway, they are very friendly, attentive and have a very good sense for details which I love.

The food is ok and you can really tell that they are putting lots of energy into giving their guests a nice experience. Nice fresh seafood (lots of octopus, shrimps and tuna), but to me all meals were a bit bland lacked taste - a more liberal use of local spices could really make a difference.

The bungalows are beautiful. Clean and tastefully decorated with superb views. There was, however, a resident-mouse/rat... It didn't get inside the actual bungalow, but was playing around on the inside of the roof. Now, I have lived in Tanzania for two years and I am not sensitive, but maybe a fumigation would be a good idea :-) Even though it might be against their 'eco-policy' :-)

As Mafia is really a destination for snorkelers/divers, the quality of the excurtions is important. Diving was fantastic and very reasonalbly priced (40 USD single dive plus 20 USD equipment per day). Snorkelig was 15 USD. Diving was surperb and the dive master very good. The guide for the snorkeling did however seem a bit lazy and wanted to cut the trip short - not ok when you primarily go to enjoy the underwater world! The snorkeling instructor at Mafia Island Lodge seemed more more motivated and keen to do a good job!

Finally, we also went to snorkel with whale sharks - with no comparison one of the best experiences ever! This trip was arranged not only by Pole Pole but together with other lodges. It is a bit expensive (60 USD) but worth every dollar! It was however a bit annoying when some tourists on our boat had to shift to another boat in the middle of the trip because they had to catch a plane, and when we reached the shore again, Pole Pole's car was not there yet (it was transferring new guests to the lodge) and we had to wait for 35 minutes. I know this is what you can expect in Tanzania, but when you pay a 'European' price you should also expect 'European' service...

Anyway, all in all Pole Pole is a very pleasant place that I would warmly recommend!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank Dane-in-Tanzania
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 28, 2009

Pole pole is well named - it means slowly slowly in swahili and that is indeed its ambience. Its a small lodge - just 7 rooms - and thus peaceful. It has a small beach (note: noth facing so looses the sun before it goes down). Every day the lodge runs complimentary snorkelling trips to reefs in Chole bay - it takes less than 30 mins to get there and the reefs and fish are superb (better gthan Pemba where we went before). There is also complimentary lunches on a sandbank - they bbq the fish they caught that morning. The rooms a nice - not deluxe but large and comfortable. Each lodge has a large verhandah which has a large day bed and chairs - nice sea view through the trees - i like the sun so i was a bit disappointed that the rooms were north facing and thus lost the sun after 10am, but it did make them a nice cool shady place to relax to the sound of the sea and great views. The small beach in front of the lodge is nice and never busy - as the sea is tidal swimming is only possible for part of the day. Food was good - not deluxe but very tasty - mostly based around seafood and pasta, with salads. Dining was not communal and tables were well spaced for privacy. One night there was a swahili buffet when there was communal dining. The manager Lynne was very attentive and helpful. The staff were pleasant but their english was quite basic. We did the option trip to look around the local Chole Island village which was very nice - they all seemed very happy and no begging children or anyone trying to sell you anything (there was opportinity to buy local made products). At the end of this village there is a great bar to have a sunset cocktail before sailing back over to Pole Pole.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank gerbilsontour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 4, 2009

I am almost loath to write a review, as I want to keep Mafia Islands Pole Pole lodge a secret but I must not be so selfish! It is an adventure from the beginning to the end, from arriving at the tiny air strip of Mafia Island having crossed the cobalt seas from Dar and then to the Lodge in a jeep along a dusty road where one waves constantly to locals on their bicycles or just walking. One begins to get a feel of just how lush this tropical Island is and the unfamiliar sounds and sightings of sunset swooshing fruit bats. Maura runs the lodge and Moez the diving centre and they are a fantastic team who somehow never tire of all the guest’s repetitive questions. One can take off ones shoes and spend the whole holiday walking bare foot except of course when one has ones flippers on. Chungalulu’s (long black fat worms) were a great source of entertainment as they appeared and disappeared with the weather and a mysterious very shy velvet monkey who would peer in our window sometimes. Hermit crab races on the beach at dawn and dusk and making up calypso songs were how we spent ours days when not under water marveling at the rich marine life. Kwaza was my patient diving buddy and would show me the mysteries of the oceans corals and its inhabitants as well as sometimes beckoning me to follow him at great speed to then find ourselves in front of a huge Napoleon wrasse. Sailing out to dive on a beautiful dhow with batik sails and having a picnic lunch with whale sharks swimming nearby is pretty exceptional and highly memorable. Everyone at the resort without exception was so charming and discreet. Evening cocktails reading Joseph Conrad whom I had never managed to read before but he somehow fits very well into Mafia Island. The food was absolutely delicious and what a joy to be in a place with only a few other people since there are only 7 individual rooms. I highly recommend Pole Pole to anyone who wants to allow their imagination the time to breath freely.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank monkeyJungle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 4, 2009

Out of 12 different places we stayed in Tanzania, this was our favorite. We arrived to a tasty coconut beverage and a friendly intro/tour of the quiet resort. Our bungalow was beautiful! Lovely African decor, spacious bathroom with 2 sinks (the complimentary shower products were appreciated as I was all out of shampoo!), comfortable beds & insect protection, large veranda with nice chairs and even a daybed, & I must make a special mention of the ceiling fans which were a must when the breeze died down. We were surprised and delighted by the gourmet cuisine presented to us every meal. Juicy,fresh fruit at breakfast with whatever else you wanted (eggs, pancakes etc). When we wanted coffee we were asked what kind (French? Italian?). At dinner, home-made pasta was the best we've tasted anywhere. They also focus on seafood fresh out of the ocean - the interesting recipes prepared for us were perfectly delicious. The staff was very friendly, courteous, & respectful of your privacy if desired.
We chose Mafia Island after our safari for the diving and we weren't disappointed. Pole Pole works with Mafia Island Lodge Watersports Centre, just a 3 min beach-walk. The staff was great, and dive-groups were small, the most we had was 6 divers with 2 dive-masters. Our dive boat was a spacious, wooden dhow (actually very comfortable), and we were very well looked after - when we asked if we could help carry equipment- "No! You are on holidays!". The diving is ocean-tide dependent, and the days when we were out over lunch, we were packed a delightful cooler full of tasty sandwiches, fruit & beverages. We were very happy Pole Pole accepted Visa, and our diving was conveniently added to our bill.
If I had to make any suggestions, the only thing I could think of would be tucking in a small, eco-friendly swim-pool for when the tide is out and there's no breeze. But all in all, we were delighted with our stay at Pole Pole, and sad to leave!

  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank honey3Ontario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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