6th July 2017
Paradise Found - Bernadette & Andrew
Unspoilt beaches, tea and rum plantations and friendly wildcats – Andrew and Bernadette Tonna share their blissful honeymoon in Mauritius.
When choosing a destination for their honeymoon, Andrew and Bernadette Tonna’s wish list included a mix of lounging on the beach, enjoying nature and sightseeing. “We were also on a budget, so going somewhere that had a touch of luxury but didn’t break the bank was important. We also wanted somewhere that we could explore on our own, somewhere ‘safe’ that didn’t need a tour guide,” says Ben. One country in particular seemed to tick all the boxes – Mauritius. “It looked stunning and we agreed it was the right fit for all the things we wanted to do.”
The pair booked the holiday through a travel agency, which helped them pick the activities that piqued their interest the most. They flew into Mauritius from Dubai, and spent the first part of their honeymoon in the west part of the island. “We stayed at a great resort in the Flic en Flac area called The Sands Resort & Spa. It was our base for 10 days. From there, we could easily drive around most of the south and south-west of the island,” Ben recalls.
“We spent a few days driving around the island and pit-stopping at different beaches. Each one of them was amazing and had crystal-clear water! What really impressed us was how gorgeous and untouched the beaches were. Even though most of them were public beaches, there were no umbrella or sun bed vendors taking up space on the sand – which is different to what we’re used to in Malta. It was a breath of fresh air just having clear beaches that were well taken care of. Our favourite random beach stop was Le Morne Bay. There were only a few scattered tourists around so it was quiet and the water was perfect. Another day was spent at Blue Bay, which is home to a marine park that is a short boat ride away. You basically hop on a boat to get there, jump in and snorkel around, looking at rare coral and fish. The botanical gardens also made for a nice afternoon out, discovering unique plants, giant water lilies and massive trees. On the same day, we visited a beautifully restored colonial house, Chateau De Labourdonnais, which is now a museum on massive grounds which you can explore too.”
Although the weather in Mauritius was very hot, it was the island’s winter season, so a few days were windy and rainy. “We avoided the beach on those days and opted for sightseeing. On one such day, we went to the Rhumerie de Chamarel for a short tour of the distillery. There are sugar cane fields everywhere you look in Mauritius, so it makes sense that they have loads of rum distilleries. We had a lovely lunch at their restaurant and then went rum tasting. It rained most of the day but it was still gorgeous. In Chamarel, there is also the site of the Seven Coloured Earths, a natural geological formation that’s very pretty to look at.”
“We also visited a local tea plantation, Bois Cheri. We’re big tea lovers so this was something we definitely had on our to-do list. The plantation itself is gorgeous to drive through, with deer running free next to a huge lake. You can view the lake from the café, while you’re sipping on a selection of different teas. We drove around to some other sites like Rochester Falls, which was quite hard to get to since it’s off the beaten track and is basically at the bottom of a massive potato plantation. It was worth the muddy walk down to the falls though!”
The newlyweds also spent a day out at sea, whale-watching. “We booked a boat trip on a private boat that does trips for small groups. We saw loads of sperm whales, dolphins and even turtles – seeing such majestic creatures swimming right next to the boat was amazing. We spent a whole day on a luxury boat with only a handful of other tourists. Lunch and drinks were included – lobster and champagne. It was pretty great!”
The two spent the last four days in the north part of the island at an aptly named hotel called Paradise Cove. “We used it as a hub to get around the area. It was pretty close to the main city, Port Louis, so we went shopping there on one of the days. We also spent a full day at Gabriel Island, which is one of the smaller islands. It’s a gorgeous island which is mostly a nature reserve, so you can’t explore too much of it – but you can enjoy the beach and snorkel in the surrounding sea. It was great to relax and soak in the beautiful view.”
Out of such a fun-filled trip, it’s hard to pick a highlight, but Ben singles out the day that they spent at Casela Nature Park, a nature reserve where visitors can walk with lions. “This was pretty much a dream come true for me since I love cats! The lions are treated very well there, and are taken on walks along the grounds often to keep them active rather than just in enclosures,” she says.
“Mauritius really was a paradise and it would be great to go back some day. They really do give special treatment to honeymooners and make sure you’re relaxed and happy. The weather is usually warm and sunny, and the locals are all very friendly and speak English and French, and it’s easy to get around with a car. Just make sure to pack some rain-proof shoes, a rain jacket and a sweater for the cool evenings if you visit during their winter!”