Sunday, 11 October 2015

Day 11: Benitier Island

One thing I wanted to experience in Mauritius was discovering one of the islets surrounding the island.

On my very first trip to Mauritius, we had been to "Ile aux Cerfs" on the east coast, but although the scenery was just magnificent, the island in itself had let me very disappointed. There were far too many souvenir shops, restaurants and bars, and it just fell soulless. I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to build a luxury hotel on it at some stage (there's a golf course already).

As we were in Flic-en-Flac on the south-west coast, we decided to go on the "Ile au benitier", which is located near the Morne.

Flic-en-Flac is full of many small tourist agencies that offer excursions to the neighbouring islets. Even if we weren't fond of an organized tour, we decided to give it a try because we didn't have a boat, so there was no way we could have gotten to the destination by ourselves. 
According to the agency,  tours are usually done with a dozen participants, but on that day, it was just us (5 people in total) so we embarked with Daraj and  his son on their boat "Le Benitier".

Leaving Flic-en-Flac
Near the reef barrier

We made a stop to see the dolphins in Tamarin Bay. We didn't really see any dolphins, but what we witnessed was very uncomfortable: tens of boats and catamarans that were ready to start when they saw a piece of fin. Some tourists started to jump every time they spotted a dolphin, and it looked like "hunting" more than anything else. Fortunately, our guide stayed back and looked just as shocked as us.

Many boats but no dolphins

That picture  was taken on another trip, when there were less "hunting" going on...

After an early aperitif on the boat with local beer, rum and fruit juice, we just enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and as we quietly approached the "Benitier", we admired the clarity of the lagoon.

Le Benitier
Our guide left us to discover this piece of coral while he went to get lunch ready. All I can say is that the "Benitier" is a geological mystery. After several unsuccessful attempts, we managed to climb on top of it. We learned afterwards we shouldn't have done that as it causes erosion.

We then decided to swim to shore as it was only a few hundred meters  away. It took us about 30 minutes and it was a good exercise before lunch!

On the menu: salad, grilled lobster, tuna steak, chicken, garlic bread, beer, rum, wine, coke and "flamed banana" for dessert. A delight !

The sea can be very warm on the shore as there is virtually no depth, so you can be in your own little jacuzzi (not that you need one considering the outside temperature!).

You can also try to go on the other side of the island. It's only a 10 minutes walk and the scenery is completely different.

The view is just amazing. It looks like a lake because the mountains are just in front of you and you can't see the extremities of the islet. The beach was empty at the time, and there were only a few fishermen cleaning their nets. There really is a contrast between the two shores... My only regret? I forgot to bring the camera!