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Pole Pole, the Mafia Archipelago

Pole Pole

The Mafia Archipelago, Zanzibar Archipelago

The name Pole Pole means ‘slowly-slowly’ in Swahili, which is reflected in the laid-back pace of life you’ll experience while staying at this beachside ecolodge.

Designed to blend in with its natural surroundings of palm trees, lush forest and soft sands, the lodge’s accommodation is in stilted wooden bungalows hidden in the foliage and looking out to sea, while the thatched, open-sided dining area refrains from playing music so you can simply enjoy the sound of the waves and the sea breeze.

At dusk you can witness the mass exodus of fruit bats from Chole Island as they depart in search of food.

OUR RATING: First Class

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Audley Travel specialist Hannah

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Pole Pole is friendly, relaxed and has a superb location. We find that the food and service is excellent, and its uncommercialised atmosphere, along with excellent snorkelling, makes it one of our favourite properties.


The lodge offers just a small number of thatched bungalows, set on stilts on a small hill overlooking the turquoise sea. Offering peace and privacy, each of them is spacious and stylish, featuring large double or twin beds with muslin nets, antique furniture, ceiling fans and en suite bathrooms with brass fittings. Extra beds can be provided, and there are several family bungalows with two bedrooms. Each bungalow also boasts a large, private veranda furnished with comfortable chairs and a carved Zanzibari bed, making a peaceful place to relax in the afternoon sun.


Pole Pole is situated on a white sand beach on Mafia’ Island’s Chole Bay. It’s located within the island’s marine park, which offers excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities. The island’s main village, Kilindoni, and its airstrip are a 20 minute drive away. By air it’s 45 minutes from the Selous Game Reserve and Zanzibar, or 30 minutes from Dar es Salaam.

Food and drink

The dining area is situated just above the beach, serving a variety of cuisines. Swahili dinners are offered once a week, and dietary requirements can be catered for. Most ingredients are organic and locally sourced to support the island’s fishermen and farmers. For breakfast, guests can enjoy pancakes with honey and fresh fruits, such as mangoes; seafood salads are served at lunch, while dinner is four courses.


Families can be accommodated in the two bedroom bungalows, depending on availability, and extra beds can be added to the bungalows.

Facilities and activities

There’s a spa by the swimming pool offering massages, while the library provides books, magazines and games. You can easily swim from Pole Pole’s beach when the tide is in, or a five minute walk around the bay at low tide will lead you to another beach where you can swim at any time. There’s also a dhow, Kimulimuli, which takes guests to reefs and sandbanks for snorkelling.

Environmental and social responsibility

Pole Pole is a low-impact property when it comes to the environment, featuring a phyto-purification plant to treat waste water that would otherwise pollute the environment.

Local excursions

You could choose to explore other nearby islands in the Mafia archipelago, including Chole Island where you can visit the fruit bat colony and Juani Island where you can discover the archaeological site of Kua, which contains the remains of an 11th century Arab settlement believed to have been destroyed by Madagascan pirates. The lodge can also organise excursions by car to visit local villages and markets or to explore more of the island’s beaches.


Pole Pole is affiliated with a nearby fully-equipped dive centre, Mafia Island Diving, which offers a range of PADI-certified courses for all levels. Diving safaris are offered around Chole Bay, and the 821 square kilometre marine park is home to diverse marine life in its reefs, including 48 genera of coral and 400 fish species. Almost all of the best diving can be enjoyed at depths of less than 30 metres, with the warm waters of the inland bays and lagoons suitable for those new to diving. You can also go swimming with whale sharks, which are harmless to humans.

Tour ideas in The Mafia Archipelago

Our itineraries are there to spark ideas for how you could include a stay at Pole Pole as part of your trip. Treat them simply as suggestions, because every aspect of the trip we create for you will be yours to define.

Location & places nearby

Places & hotels on the map

    Alternative places to stay nearby

    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favourite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.

    • Butiama, Mafia Archipelago


      Zanzibar Archipelago

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