In the last issue, you had read about my first three days in Mauritius (You may read it here). This edition brings you my exploits from the rest of the trip – Mauritius – A 9-lettered word for FUN (Part II)
Mauritius – A 9-lettered word for FUN (Part II)
On our fourth morning in Mauritius, we were looking forward to a spectacular sunrise. The sun did appear, but only momentarily. It decided to peep out from the horizon and promptly hid behind the clouds.
Mauritius has its own microclimate. It ensures that high temperature and high humidity does not last for long. That morning, we went about checking out Radisson Blu Azuri Resort and Spa Hotel. Its classy décor was striking, yet subtle. The emerald blue pool of the spa and the deep blue of the sky were competing to out-sparkle each other! Suddenly, it started to drizzle. The ocean-side property looked gorgeous as it was washed clean by the mild rain.
After a hearty breakfast, we set out towards North of Mauritius. Today was ‘In-Water’ day. Our itinerary had mentioned about Sea Walk in Grand Baie area in the morning and a sub scooter ride in the afternoon. Grand Baie has a splendid marina and is one of the two party hubs for locals and tourists alike (the other being Flic en Flac).
A stroll on the sea bed!
Sea Walk had intrigued us. Some of us did not know how to swim and were naturally apprehensive about any scuba/snorkel gear and a swim in the ocean. With anxiety writ large on some faces, the group sped away in a nifty speedboat towards a platform secured to the ocean bed.
At the platform, we looked around for clues on how we were going to be walking around in the sea nonchalantly. Since the group before us had already plunged in for their walk, all we could see was an intricate network of yellow rubber tubes entwined and floating on the ocean’s glittery surface.
Soon, the earlier group emerged from the ocean. What we were not prepared for was that they were carrying a heavy, metallic mask with a helmet-like visor on their shoulders. It was connected with an air supply machine on the platform through those intriguing yellow rubber tubes. This was the air supply mechanism for the sea walkers!
With repeated assurances from the Sea Walk operators and the group that emerged, these scared group members also steeled themselves and decided to take the plunge. Once inside the sea, they felt further reassured as their feet touched the seabed that was only 8-10 feet under. We were breathing normally! And soon, we could hear their giggles – that is, if we could call a gargle like sound emerging from grinning faces as giggles. Water does some strange things to normal sounds!
Soon enough, we were surrounded by a myriad variety of colourful fish – largest numbers being Zebra Fish. Their inhibitions and worries long gone, the scared lot joined us in a tribal dance on the ocean bed. The experience of walking with fish was surreal!
A Tourism Board that means business
Chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, Mr. Arnaud Martin, CSK, graciously hosted us for lunch at Le Courtyard. Besides a delectable fare served by the top-notch fine dining restaurant, Mr. Martin’s insights into the Island and its history left us richer. He talked about MTPA’s continual attempts at adding exotic attractions for travellers to Mauritius.
That afternoon took us to Trou aux Biches in North-Northwest Mauritius – not too far from Grand Baie, but about 20 km from Le Courtyard. Here, at Blue Safari, we again took a speedboat ride to a mid-ocean platform. Soon enough, we changed into wetsuits and waited for our chance to experience another unique underwater adventure – the sub scooter!
A bit like a moped, a sub scooter also gets its air supply from the platform. The underwater speed is 3-4 kph. It feels as if you are sitting in a small underwater auto rickshaw that has a transparent bubble-like canopy covering you, allowing you a view of the ocean life as you glide about the blue waters. It seats two and trained divers escort you as you enjoy the ride.
The evening was a relaxed affair as we dined at the beach restaurant called Ocean One while it drizzled steadily outside. We stayed up late as we had a late check out next morning.
The French Connection
Chateau de Labourdonnais is a heritage mansion that is still owned by Wiehe family. This French colonial house has been in the family for 162 years. It has been superbly restored during the last decade. It gives an insight into the plantation living in Mauritius. Our forenoon visit here was rounded off by a rum-tasting session.
Sugar production is an integral part of Mauritius’ history. Our next stop was L’Aventure du Sucre – an erstwhile sugar factory, now turned into a sugar production process museum. Besides rum tasting, we also tasted various types of sugars here – from raw to refined.
The afternoon was spent souvenir-hunting in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. Besides scrounging the Waterfront markets and cafes, we also checked out the Blue Penny Museum that houses two of the rarest postage stamps in World Philately.
Old is gold
That evening, we checked into our third hotel of the trip – Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial Resort & Spa, Flic en Flac (West of the island). Despite being a twenty-five-year-old property, its charm is evident as soon as you swing into its driveway. Water bodies, fountains, native Mauritian thatched roofs, sprawling gardens, a turquoise pool overlooking the ocean – they collectively seduce your senses. The cherry topping that night was an exclusive Teppanyaki dinner created by a magician of a chef!
Our penultimate day in Mauritius took us to some different parts of the Chamarel Estate – seven-coloured earth and Curious Corner. Seven-coloured sands are a natural volcanic phenomenon that has multi-hued volcanic earth concentrated in a small area, while the Curious Corner boasts many masterful illusions.
Some of these illusions include gravity-defying photo opportunities, gaping down an elevator shaft as the elevator floor caves in and a Hall of Illusions (similar to a set from the 70s hit, Enter The Dragon, where Mr. Han and Bruce Lee engage in a climax scene fight).
Gliding on the ocean
The afternoon offered our most thrilling moments during our Mauritius stay. We went Sea-Karting near Le Morne and Crystal Rock – two of the most recognisable spots in Mauritius! Sea-Karting offered a-thrill-a-minute experience in a 2×2.8 metre speedboat we rode ourselves. Despite zipping around at speeds of over 60 kph in 15 feet waves, its safety record is unmatched – it does not overturn. This makes it any adrenaline junky’s favourite while offering ultimate safety!
Grinning ear-to-ear, we reached our hotel where another breath-taking visual delight waited for us – our dinner was in an exclusive setting by the beach. While we were enjoying delicious cocktails, a set of fire dancers arrived and gave a performance that enthralled!
Next day, we had an afternoon flight to catch. But, we were behaving like we hadn’t had enough of Mauritius just yet. We took a speedboat ride out into the ocean to spot and swim with dolphins! After ogling at these cute creatures, we also snorkeled and swam with fish.
As we left Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial, profusely thanking the hotel’s management team, the thought uppermost in my mind was – “While this island holiday offered a lot of action and adventure in the ocean, what it offered on land was equally astonishing.”
In case you find it difficult to believe my statement, I urge you to visit and experience for yourself the unlimited FUN Mauritius stands for!
You may check out more attractions in Mauritius here.
Here’s the published article titled Mauritius – A 9-lettered word for FUN (Part II):