Another gorgeous day in a tropical paradise: this time Mauritius. Another place I’ve always been meaning to have a holiday in, but somehow never have. Another mistake…..
Mauritius is an interesting island with quite a history. It was certainly known to the Arabs a thousand years ago but it was not inhabited until the late 16th Century when the Dutch tried to establish a colony here. They gave up in the end but left behind two legacies: sugar cane and the demise of the dodo bird which was certainly here when the arrived and certainly not when they left. The French had it for a while until the British tired of them using it as a base for pirates to harass British shipping and came and took it. Mauritius became independent in 1968 and a republic in 1992. English is the official language with French and Creole very common.
We arrived in Port Louis at about 730 and we could see green volcanic peaks and the town. Not as dramatically coned as Reunion, there were large flat areas stretching away, but the interior of the island definitely looked worth exploring.
We’d booked two dives with Eurodivers originally but when our arrival time changed to 8am, they told us we would only be able to go on the single dive at 1030. They were supposed to send a taxi for us but although we searched we couldn’t find the right one. Anyway, a very nice taxi driver offered to take us to the dive centre for the same price, so we went with him.
The dive centre was part of Club Med La Pointe aux Canonniers so we hoped that we would be able to stay there for the rest of the day. This worked well. It was about a 25 minute drive along the northern coast, through dense sugar cane fields and small hamlets. There were also large banana plantations. The island is clearly very fertile.
Weather today was sunny and hot (30C) with scattered little clouds. It felt less humid than Reunion yesterday but still very hot. When we got to Club Med, the dive boat was out on the early dive so we lazed out on a couple of their beachfront loungers. Strictly speaking we were not meant to do this but they didn’t seem overly busy so we thought it would be ok. We didn’t take advantage and go and eat and drink at their bars and restaurants. Met a few of the ship’s crew and they had bought day passes which gave them access to all of that for $92 each. We didn’t think it was worth us doing that as we would be out in the dive boat for a good while.
The water was idyllic. Like a warm bath, and so clear. Much nicer than the beach at Reunion and I don’t think the Club Med beach is outstanding by Mauritian standards, not from the pictures I’ve seen of some of the other beaches. It was very nice though. We were really impressed with Club Med. I’d seen a few of them back in the late 70s/early 80s and to be honest had forgotten all about them since. Seems a very good deal though, especially as they include unlimited diving which many all inclusives do not. Shall have to investigate that when I get home.
The dive boat returned at about 10 and the crew started turning around all the equipment. We dived in a 5 with the dive guide. He was a good diver and knew his way around. Slightly offputting in that he had one of those massive “Stretched” ear lobe things. Really really big. And just before diving he took the stretcher out which then left him with an enormous ear lobe with a hole in it you could have fitted a golf ball through. It was all floppy and revolting.
The trip in the dive boat lasted about 10 minutes and it was flat calm. The boat was a very powerful dory with an ok side ladder. Not my favourite but its only a bit awkward in rough weather which today was not at all. We backward rolled into the water and descended freely. Visibility was good but not glassy by any means. I would say it was 30m. There was a lot of life: hard and soft corals, many fish. We saw so many huge turtles – loggerhead I would guess. They were all just nestling on top of the reef, just sitting there not bothered at all. I’ve never seen so many on a single dive before. We were followed for a long time by a very large trigger fish who clearly was used to interacting with the dive guide. He kept coming in really close to us and Bob said he nipped his ankle at one point. We also saw a huge scorpion fish, red. Dive depth was to about 24m and we were down for 45 minutes. We could easily have stayed longer, I still had 150 bar, but one of our number, a large man, got low on air, so we all had to go up. It was really really enjoyable. The reef ran in fingers separated by quite deep gullies and we swam up and down them. There was a massive Admiralty anchor at one point, heavily covered in coral now.
Spent the rest of the day lazing on the beach and reading, sometimes on the lounger, sometimes sitting in the water. There was free wifi so caught up on some emails too. Our taxi came back for us at 4pm and we were genuinely sorry to leave. Would certainly hope to come back to Mauritius again for a holiday. It would be easy to pair with South Africa.
We were starving by the time we got to the ship, so we had some tea. Nice sandwiches of different types. Then we showered off the salt, sand and sea and prepared for sailaway at 630pm.
We drifted out as the sun set, the sea still like a millpond. Costa Riviera had come in near us and she looked so small. On the way out, we passed a massive fleet of Chinese fishing boats. Big industrial ones. All the sailors came on deck and shouted and waved at us. Interesting story about that. Apparently, the Mauritian government wanted lots of infrastructure projects done and the Chinese came in and did them all for them in exchange for access to all the waters around Mauritius.
Bob and I sat on deck in steamer chairs with a glass of red wine each and watched the darkness fall. It was still so warm. Could have sat there all night but felt we had to go to dinner as we didn’t last night. Could easily have just climbed into bed to be honest 😊 It must be the heat that’s tiring us out so much. Can’t be old age can it??????
Anyway, a very convivial dinner with lots of chat around our two island visits. I had salad to start and then prime rib with vegetables, then some cheese…. No more wine as were already sleepy. Turned in at 1030!