Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Pole Pole Review
We were greeted by Robyn on arrival at Pole Pole and shown to our bungalow which was very comfortable with a lovely sea view.
This once again was a very relaxing resort with excellent facilities, attentive staff and a lovely quiet location. We spent some time chilling by the pool which was very quiet and welcomed at times when the tide was out. A very good addition to this resort.
It was nice to have fresh fish at meal times and once again all the meals here were fantastic although we struggled a little with the portion sizes.
Nothing was too much trouble to organise and we thoroughly enjoyed the sunset cruise and snorkelling trips that were included in the room rates. The local diving centre was very well organised with good equipment and experienced staff and the reefs within the bay area were lovely with a huge variety of fish. Nice to see hardly any dive boats in the bay.
The highlight for us (and reason for choosing Mafia over Zanzibar) was having the chance to swim up close with 5 whale sharks. Absolutely wonderful!
The restaurant area was very pretty and relaxing for a drink before dinner and the romantic dinner for two was very much appreciated!
The only small improvements to be made would be to the service, as there were a couple of times that morning wake up and tea didn't arrive and an evening where balcony drinks orders weren't taken.
Overall a first class resort with friendly staff.
Pole Pole review
We really enjoyed our stay at Pole Pole after staying in safari camps. It was very relaxed and designed to allow visitors to chill out. Excellent room with a terrace and day bed. With the package comes a free activity each day - we chose a snorkeling trip in a dhow followed by lunch on a deserted island and a trip to Chole island where we saw the remains of the old slave market, a modern dhow building and hundreds of fruit bats.
A trip to swim with the whale sharks (not free) was a wonderful experience.
The down side of Pole Pole as mentioned elswhere is the tidal nature of the site. Activity timings depend on the tide and swimming from the beach is not easy. We were disappointed that the new swimming pool was not available - we understood it was to be finished in January.
Expert Africa comments
“We sent through this feedback to Pole Pole, who were delighted to hear these travellers had a great stay. They wanted to pass on their apologies that the pool wasn’t finished when these travellers stayed. A number of complications meant the opening date had to be delayed, hwoever they’re pleased to announce that the pool is now officially open, and getting great feedback. They invited these travellers back to see it at some point in the future!”
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole was an amazing place, and just the thing for our last week on holiday. After a busy week on safari it was the perfect antidote and helped to send us back home fully relaxed.
We particularly liked:
- The massage (Robyn the manager gave us both free massages as it was our honeymoon)
- The staff were really friendly and approachable
- Our room was of a really high standard
- The food was really well prepared, fresh, and had lots of really nice fish!
- The diving (and dive guide Tiego) were excellent.
Although it was brilliant, on the whole, there are a couple of things that could be improved. The room service was slightly random: sometimes it came late, sometimes it didn't arrive (morning coffee, for example). We weren't too fussed by this, and just took it as part of the 'relaxed' approach.
Most of the diving was done within the Mafia bay. We were lucky to get a couple of dives outside the bay which were absolutely stunning. It would be nice if guests going there specifically to dive could get a little bit more information here - will it be possible to go out of the bay, are the tides OK, etc.
Pole Pole review
Lovely location on a good beach.However a pool would have made a difference especially as the high tides meant the beach was inaccessible on most days.
Very spacious rooms and wonderful terrace with day bed.
Lots of activities on offer including a range included in the price
polepole in mafia is a fantastic place
We thought PolePole was excellant starting from the warm welcome from Robyn and Zenny. The room was fantastic,the food excellant and plentiful. All the staff were very friendly. The location made it very special.
We are not peole who are happy to spend the day sitting on the beach so we appreciated the trips to the sanbank, the excellant snorkelling and trips to villages. All were great fun The weather was not perfect and we had a low tide at lunch time.This meant that sea swimming was not really on and highlighted the need for a pool which is being built.
The only confusing issue was to do with the availability and pricing of excursions. The clarification on what was included, which I had asked for from Expert Africa, differed from what was detailed in the room brochure and this differed from the information given by the person from the Diving Center Tiago, who took the bookings. his rules were not consistent either.
Magical place to relax and enjoy tranquility
Pole Pole was everything that we wanted, it was relaxing, quiet and interesting. The accommodation was extreemly comfortable and the location of the bungalows was exceptional with views of the bay from the varanda.
The staff were all very attentive without being intrusive and the food exceptional although we found the portions a bit too much at times.
Pole Pole review
Mafia Island is probably the way that Zanzibar was years ago. The airport is tiny with a bougainvillea draped “waving bay” and the 20 minute drive to Pole Pole on a rutted unmettalled road was hair-raising (well, it was my first rural African driving experience) but Pole Pole was an oasis of pleasure when I reached it.
The food was (IMHO) terrific and the manager, Robyn, couldn't have been more charming and helpful.
The individual houses are arranged do that the back porch faces a fantastic view of the sea. On the porch there is a day bed as well as a couple of tables and chairs. At 6 pm, the barman comes around taking orders for cocktails, which are then delivered to allow an uninterrupted enjoyment of the sunset.
As well as three wonderful meals each day, a daily excursion is included. This included a morning snorkelling followed by a picnic on a sandbar (including a fresh caught fish roasted over an open fire), a visit to Chole Island, a whale watching trip and more great things to do than I had days for. I would return in a heartbeat.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole is a wonderfully relaxing place to stay after the early mornings of safari drives. It is small and intimate, very quiet and the guests are very well looked after.
The rooms, reached by a lovely thatched-over sand path, are spacious with verandahs overlooking the palm trees and the sea beyond. The staff, including the manager, Robyn, are attentive and helpful and relaxed. The mealtimes are as flexible as the guests want them to be and the food plentiful.
We were lucky with the tide during our 6 nights, so that we had the beach uncovered during the majority of the day (the high tide comes right up to the sea wall). This will be less of a problem when the almost-complete swimming pool is finished. It is interesting to walk along the beach at low tide, as there is all manner of life in the pools (starfish, cowries etc).
The free excursions arranged for Pole Pole guests each day were much appreciated. It was unfortunately quite windy during our stay, which made the sea choppy for snorkelling and the underwater currents very strong for diving, with unclear visibility at a lower level. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed all these excursions, especially the snorkelling and barbeque-on-the-sandbar trip, with white snapper cooked over coconut husks on the sandbar.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole was an ideal ending to our trip.
A small lodge with a lot of character, great location and wonderful people working there. Robyn and her team really looked after us and nothing was too much trouble. The food is exceptionally good and the italian bread which they serve each day delicious. The rooms were beautifully furnished.
We spent most of our time just lazing around although we took a trip to see the whale sharks and also some diving / snorkelling (found the accessibility of the boat a bit tricky due to it being a dhow and when we were there the water was quite choppy). If travelling here remember to pack some waterproof shoes - if you are there when the tides are changing they are a must for walking out into the bay (Tania from the dive centre did kindly lend us some).
Kicking back in a truly exotic location
It's only a short hop from the mainland but Mafia island is a wonderfully unspoilt place. Pole Pole lived up to its name as a small informal hotel where you can enjoy quiet and relaxation.
The staff were excellent and a real pleasure to have around with their regular big smiles and greetings and Gabrielle an excellent manager during our stay. The bunglalows were very nice and clean if showing the odd sign of wear and tear. Food is very fish/seafood orientated unsurprisingly with a set menu which changes each lunch/dinner and all cooked very fresh. Breakfast was the same options each day though and could do with a bit more variety.
The small beach does front a very tidal bay so at times the water is way out and you can only really take a dip at high tide - not a problem for us and there is a cold shower to cool you down anyway. The inclusive excursions were good - particularly the sundown sail on a dhow whilst the fruit-bats flood across the sky. Diving is the big attraction and the reefs are stunningly beautiful.
We tried the whale shark trip but no joy - an expensive $60 pp whether you see them or not. We were thinking about trying again on our last morning but decided not to which is just as well as there was another no-show. One other point to note is that with the daily marine park entry fees, additional excursions, diving and equipment hire plus drinks is that, whilst these are all clearly dispayed, the additional costs do mount up.