Mauritius 2014, part 4

When we transferred by boat to the small islet called Île aux Cerfs which is located beside the east coast of Mauritius, my friend Sneža and I came across relatively a lot of people. This is not surprising for, as I’ve already mentioned in the previous part of my travel story, this islet is very popular because of its stunning white sand beaches and turquoise, relatively shallow water which is separated by a coral reef on the east side from the dark blue depths of the Indian Ocean.

Taking into account that we had lost a lot of time transporting from the west coast of Mauritius, it was clear to us that we did not have the whole day at our disposal, so we did not even plan to start roaming around the islet that is just slightly longer than 1 km in order to visit other beaches, but rather we decided to stay in the vicinity of the, so to say, main beach that was also the closest to the boat dock that was on the west side of this islet.

Water at the “main” beach on Île aux Cerfs

Sneža put her things on the first available spot and decided right away she would stay on the main beach and swim and sunbathe there, while I wanted first to walk around a little and I did that in a relatively unusual way.

Namely, right next to Île aux Cerfs there is another small islet and it is called Ilot Mangenie. When I say “right next to” I’m thinking this in the most literal sense. The two islets are so close to each other that when there is a big low tide and the waters recede, they practically become one single island. But, when the level of the water is normal and certainly during the high tide, there is, I must call it, a strait between them and on this day when we were there on Île aux Cerfs one had to walk through the strait in order to get to the nearby island neighbour. Ilot Mangenie can practically be seen already in the photo above (the beach with vegetation belongs to it), while the strait, i.e., the passage between the small islets starts from the area that is on the left side of the photo. Still, the next photo may perhaps offer a better idea of the strait.

I am on Île aux Cerfs, the strait is in front of me, while Ilot Mangenie is on the other side

So, in order to visit the surroundings of the main beach on Île aux Cerfs, I practically first had to walk through the ocean, i.e., one of its straits in order to get to the other island. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

My goal was to get to the beach over there on Ilot Mangenie

While I was still standing on the shore, it was clear to me that it was the time of the high tide and the water quite visibly moved from the east to the west, that is, it was coming from the direction of the open seas and was passing through here towards the littoral sections with mangroves through which we had navigated by boat when coming to Île aux Cerfs. It was almost as if it were a small river. I decided to cross over to the other shore in the section where it seemed to me that most of the people crossed and that should mean that it was shallowest there. The depth was not uniformed and on this occasion the strait sporadically reached the depth of around one metre. Still, I crossed to the other side very carefully. Namely, on account of that river effect, the water current was actually quite evidently strong, not so much that it could carry me away, but it could certainly move me and help toppling me if I were to lose my balance because of some sudden change in the depth or an uneven floor. This would constitute no problem whatsoever for me in my bathing suit, but I had to carry my small backpack and my photo- and video-cameras (that were in it) in my arms, for if the backpack had been on my back, it was highly likely that it would get wet. That would not be nice and neither would my falling into the water with all of these cameras.

In the end I crossed quite successfully to the other side of the strait and once there I turned towards Île aux Cerfs. It seemed to me that the view at the strait was better from there.

I’m on Ilot Mangenie now, Île aux Cerfs is a couple of dozen metres farther, while in-between there is the strait-river that makes a sharp curve

The clouds that could be seen in the distance in the photo above should not confuse anybody. The temperature was great for being on a beach and in fact the sunlight was very strong, particularly since in the area where we were there were practically no clouds.

Thanks to that, as well as to the white sand that was on the bottom, the colour of the water on the east side of these two small islets was spectacular! For instance, when I crossed to Ilot Mangenie, I first looked some more towards Île aux Cerfs, including also the continuation of the “main beach” that we never got to.

View towards some sections of Île aux Cerfs with beach

View towards some sections of Île aux Cerfs, while the beach I’m standing on belongs to Ilot Mangenie

In the direction of the coral reef which almost 1 km farther separates this turquoise shallow section from the dark blue deep sections of the Indian Ocean, I could see a platform that was used as a launching pad for parasailing and there were also numerous speedboats that dashed left and right, most often taking tourists on excursions or for different types of rides on the water.

There is no platform in view here, but there are different activities with speedboats in the leading role

Although there were not too many people as soon as I crossed over to Ilot Mangenie, I still continued walking along the beach with a desire to go to the end of the cove and the “promontory” that could be seen in the following photos.

Beach on Ilot Mangenie

Beach on Ilot Mangenie

But, when I got to the end of this section of the beach, I realised that it extended farther without interruptions, but more like the shore of another cove. Apart from me, there were almost no other people there.

Beach on Ilot Mangenie

Beach on Ilot Mangenie

I was absolutely flabbergasted by the beauty of this place, so I took a lot of photos of the area, as well as of me, but since these are practically all very similar photos, here is only one.

On the beach on Ilot Mangenie

As I was practically playing there for a while making different “self-portraits,” a French couple came by, so they offered themselves to take a few photos of me in order for me not to keep running to and fro over the hot sand between my camera and the place where I would pose. In other words, they were very kind, forthcoming and patient.

I was so delighted by this place that I went back to the main beach on Île aux Cerfs in order to convince Sneža to come here as well and see this beauty. This meant I had to walk again through that tricky strait, but by this time I was a woman with experience.

Although the main beach on Île aux Cerfs is absolutely not bad at all, because of the bigger number of bathers there, in comparison to the two beaches on Ilot Mangenie that were only a few hundred metres away it looked like the Ganges at Varanasi.

It did not take me long to convince Sneža, so now we crossed over to Ilot Mangenie together (yes, yes, by this time I had perfected my walking through the strait) and there we went to the second cove and swam there.

Unfortunately, we could not stay there for too long, since we had to leave the islands soon. Bearing in mind that we had to face the return, where after the transfer to the mainland by boat we were to change three buses in order to get back to Trou-aux-Biches, we stayed on the beach significantly less time than what it deserved.

When we got back to Île aux Cerfs we changed into dry clothes and then waited a little in order to catch the boat to the mainland. From this spot there was a fine view at the place where the strait “ended,” while the space between the islets widened.

While standing on Île aux Cerfs looking wistfully towards Ilot Mangenie

By the way, the boat service works here until 5 in the afternoon, so those who stay at a hotel or a villa on the nearby coast can certainly spend an entire day on the islet. However, we could not wait until 5 pm, for we had to transfer by those buses. While we were waiting for the boat to come (4 pm), it seemed to me that the whole place was getting even more beautiful or perhaps this was only due to the fact that there were fewer and fewer people on it. Sometimes I think I’m turning into a proper misanthrope. Hmm?!

In any case, we soon headed for the mainland by boat.

Île aux Cerfs is staying behind us

We transported from Centre de Flacq quite nicely and then we caught a bus there that we were told was an “express” one, so we hoped to get to Port Louis on time. Namely, since there is no public transportation after the night falls and our last bus from Port Louis was leaving at 6.40 pm, it was important to get to the capital of Mauritius on time in order not to have to pay for a taxi.

Eventually, we got back to Trou-aux-Biches successfully. We were quite tired, but there was a nice dinner at the hotel and that only complemented a very nice and interesting day.

The next morning I woke up early again. In fact, I woke up at 6.20 am, got my hair together and fastened it by hair claws, put on my glasses and looked over the balcony. Then I saw it was gray outside and it drizzled, so I put all the accessories back to their place and returned to bed where I snoozed a little more. One should be active and seize the day, but everything has its limits and it is important for one to strike the right balance.

When I woke up for the second time and finally I got up, I went to have breakfast. For some reason, they rarely offered mango, which I love very much (especially when I can eat it where it ripens naturally), but there was mango on offer this morning, so along with pineapple and bananas, I practically had fruits for breakfast.

Since the weather had significantly improved in the meantime, it was sunny and there was almost not a single cloud in the sky, I decided to be active on the beach this morning, so I took my snorkelling gear which I had brought from home. My plan was to go to the coral reef. Still, when I got to the beach, I decided to go swimming first, since the water was calm, with dazzling colour and there were only a few people inside. From the experience I also knew that if felt a little fresh when first getting into the water, which actually felt good. It warmed up later on. Bearing in mind that I planned to go snorkelling this day, in addition to the snorkelling equipment I also brought an underwater photo-camera, but I also used it to take photos of the beach and what it looked like when I first got there after breakfast.

Trou-aux-Biches earlier in the morning

Then at some point I put flippers onto my feet and took my mask and the photo-camera, so I entered the water. At first I swam a little and then I put the mask on and started to look at the underwater world that hides underneath that beautiful turquoise colour that dazzled on the surface. One should bear in mind that the coral reef that protects this shallower and calmer section against bigger waves coming from the open seas and breaking at the reef is some 300-400 metres away from the beach. But, there are corals and different colourful fish in this shallow section as well, so I thought it made sense to put the mask on as soon as possible. However, when I finally did that and started to see clearly under the water, I almost gulped in the water and drowned with shock. I had imagined those great colours of corals and fish and crystal water that I had had an opportunity to see in some other places, but nothing here was like that.

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Although some corals seemed as if they were “blossoming,” essentially almost all of it looked like a coral graveyard, as if a tsunami had passed or an atom bomb had been thrown, leaving annihilation behind.

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

I was very disappointed. According to what I had read, this was supposed to be one of the most beautiful parts for snorkelling on Mauritius. What?! A Frenchman I saw regularly on the beach and with whom I spoke later told me that he believed that tourism was to blame for this and the speedboats that kept taking tourists within different “sport” activities up and down along the beach the entire day. This made the whole situation even sadder. Humans are definitely the ultimate pests.

I decided not to go all the way to the coral reef, trying instead to spot some fish there. Well, I did succeed in that despite the mostly very murky water.

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

Underwater world in the shallow waters beside the Trou-aux-Biches beach

After a while I got back to the shore firmly set on not going for snorkelling again, opting only to swim. Everything seemed significantly more beautiful on the surface, but that did not prevent me from lamenting deeply over the lost underwater paradise.

Lamenting on the beach

When the noon passed, the shadow of the palm trees underneath which I usually sat started to disappear slowly, which meant that the sunlight was getting too strong on the beach, so I retired to my hotel room for the afternoon rest. The sunlight was dazzling there as well, while the shadows were almost directly under the palm trees and parasols. Mauritius is located some 3-4 degrees of latitude north of the Tropic of Capricorn and at the beginning of January, at noon, the Sun is seemingly directly above objects.

Hotel’s courtyard around noon

Verica Ristic

Born and lives in Serbia. Free-lance interpreter/translator for English, but also speaks other languages (this helps a LOT when travelling). Grateful to the Universe for everything.

Belgrade, Serbia

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