If you’re looking at honeymoon destinations and can’t decide between beach paradise or adventure and activity, we may just have the perfect location for you. Mauritius ticks a lot of boxes, as we discovered on our recent 10-night holiday there.
Resort: Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort
Duration: 10 nights (plus 2 nights of flying)
Date: 8th - 20th October
Price range: £££
Working around wedding season, we were looking at a mid-October break. The biggest issue was quickly discovering that it's most of the world’s wet season in October! Not wanting to spend our hard earned break under an umbrella, I searched holidayweather.com (a super handy website which gives you the monthly averages for temperature, rainfall, number of days of rain and loads more helpful info) to narrow down our options to locations with a good amount of heat and low rainfall. Much to my dismay, the beautiful island in the Indian Ocean ticked every box (hehehe…)
Always wanting to pay the best price, I did a lot of searching around different travel operators and ended up on Emirates Holidays. Being a relatively small island, there’s not loads of flight options. TUI fly direct once a week, however our budget couldn’t stretch to two weeks and it felt like a long way to travel for just one week. BA also offer direct flights but prices weren’t too appealing. To save some pennies we flew with Emirates, via Dubai. Each flight was around 6-7 hours so if you’re not use to long-haul it could feel like quite the trek. We managed to get flights landing in Mauritius around 9am, so we got the entire first day which is always a nice extra! The check in time was normally 2pm but the reception staff were able to find a room ready for us on our arrival. And what an arrival! As your private transfer pulls up to the luscious, open-plan resort entrance you’re greeted by a guy banging a drum to signal your arrival (sounds weird but trust me it was awesome). The suitcases were whisked off before we had even realised (ready and waiting for us in our room when we got there - no one even waiting for a tip). As you walk through the low bridges above the fish and lily pad filled ponds, bi-fold doors open allowing the infinity pools and Indian Ocean to greet you as you take your first steps into the reception area. The friendly faces of the staff were another welcome site after such a long journey, as was the welcome drink which was waiting for us by comfy chairs looking at the glorious ocean view. The entire resort has an African safari themed decor but done in the most elegant way.
The resort’s all-inclusive is the best we’ve ever experienced, going well beyond the delicious food and drink (thank goodness calories don’t count on holidays right…) and extending to a whole range of water and land sports.
I was absolutely determined to stand up on a paddle board so wasted no time getting over to the boathouse at C Beachclub and was able to get on a paddle board within a few minutes. It’s really easy to book any of the included water activities, we always did this via going to the Boathouse, however I’m sure you could call directly from your room. Either way, there was never much of a wait even with just turning up. Anyway, back to the paddle board!
After booking at the Boathouse we walked down to the beach and was supported by the guys who look after all of the sea equipment. We didn’t use life vests but I’m sure they were available (I would definitely recommend this for children and anyone who isn’t a strong swimmer, I’ll revisit this point later). I tentatively crawled onto my paddle board with about as much grace as a university fresher at 4am on their third night out in a row. Shaking like a leaf I managed to get from all fours to just my knees and paddled away a few metres from the shore. By this time I plucked up the courage to look away from the board and saw that Tom was already smugly standing astride his board and confidently paddling away. The competitive side within me burst into life and one foot at a time (and by this I mean one foot per minute) I managed to stand up. After a minute of being stood I calmed down and realised that the more I relaxed the easier it was! And then you couldn’t stop me (partly because it’s quite a windy coastline so my body basically worked as a sail, pulling me in whatever direction the wind dictated). The second time we went out I got slightly cocky, didn’t pay attention to where I was going and crashed into boat, but not before Tom got the all-important insta pic - see insta vs. reality below!
C Beach Club
Another great activity freely available was there twice-daily boat trip out to the coral reef. If you want to make use of this I would recommend booking in as soon as possible as there are limited spaces for this popular trip. I had spent a long time searching for a resort with coral reef accessible from the beach and eventually gave up, accepting that we would get some snorkelling but probably only with excursions. Well, how wrong was I?! I had expected the boat to take us away from the resort somewhere so was incredibly surprised when it stopped maybe 40m off the shore from Awali. There’s a very strong current running east to west on the south coast of Mauritius so the captain told us to just float and allow the current to naturally drift us over to where they would move the boat to. Tom had his own snorkel and mask but I was able to borrow one (again, free!) And we both made use of their complimentary flippers. As we got in the water I was completely surrounded by a myriad of tropical looking fish all swimming haphazardly around me. It completely took my breath away. Once I got through this beautiful swarm I was faced with an abundance of coral and stunning fish of all shapes, colours and sizes. I honestly couldn’t decide where to look there was just so much beauty around me. After having such low expectations of the snorkelling close to the resort I was absolutely delighted! We managed to get a great tip from another guest and I would hugely recommend you do the same. Walk down to the jetty between Tamassa and Outrigger (a short and lovely walk along the beach) and get into the ocean at the end of this jetty (from where you’ll also have a beautiful view of the Heritage beaches) and allow the current take you along the coral reef. There is a lot of coral, we thoroughly enjoyed discovering much of it during our many swims, however most of it is colourless so don’t quite expect the scenes from Finding Nemo. Nonetheless it was beautiful and I would highly encourage anyone going to Mauritius to make the most of this stunning natural feature. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, there is an east to west current on this coast. Tom and I are both confident swimmers but we both got a bit of a scare when we had drifted along and out more than we had realised and getting back to shore was a struggle. To avoid this I would recommend heading back to shore for the Coco Shack (you’ll enjoy a safe swim and can end it with a cocktail in a coconut!)
Additional snorkelling tips:
If you don’t take your own snorkel, the Awali shop sell very reasonably priced and very good quality snorkels with masks.
The beaches are beautiful but quite stoney and painful to walk on barefoot. If you can, take some sea shoes out with you. Alternatively, again the Awali shop sell some great ones at around £10. This also allow you not to worry so much about where you put your feet when snorkelling (although always try to avoid disrupting any coral of course!)
Regularly pop your head up and check where you are while snorkelling. That current really is strong and once you get near GIN’JA it will start drifting you further out to sea which is why we recommend heading in around the Coco Shack.
We also made good use of their two tennis courts, regularly finishing off a lazy day around the pool with an hour of pretending to be the next Federer. Another nice touch was the complimentary half an hour lessons in a few things (including tennis and golf). We signed up for a tennis lesson which was great, picking up some professional guidance as well as a fun workout. Both courts are floodlit which made playing tennis as the sunset a beautiful end to the daytime. It also made me feel slightly less guilty while stuffing my face at one of the many restaurants included within the all-inclusive package….
Tennis Courts & Golf Club
So, the restaurants! I’ve already mentioned the exceptional food on offer at Awali several times in this blog, mainly because I can’t go long thinking about this holiday before my mind wonders back to the many delectable dishes and cocktails enjoyed during our 10 nights here. There’s too many to cover them all in detail (and as you have probably gathered by now, I can go on) so I’ll summarise below:
KUZINI (Italian) - We went to this restaurant twice, both times I scoffed down the risotto like I hadn’t eaten in weeks (the truth being quite the opposite). I wasn’t overly keen on the desert menu here and favoured saving myself for some sweet cocktails over at the
ZENZIBAR (bar lounge). - A lovely lounge/bar area filled with stylish African furniture and decor. Staff here are amazing and will remember your favourite drink by the second night! Snuggling next to one of the fire pits in here with a cocktail and card game was my favourite way to end an evening.
ZAFARANI (Indian) - Easily my favourite meal of the entire holiday was the Balti at
ZAFARANI. On our first visit to this restaurant I just couldn’t pick from all of the mouthwatering options so asked the waitress (I wish I knew her name!) for her recommendation. After telling her which dishes I was trying to pick between she ended up bringing me both! I’m slightly ashamed to say that I managed both…even after a generous starter. The starter and main were both incredible, so fresh and flavoursome and the perfect level of heat (they always ask). Again, I wasn’t too bothered by the deserts here but tried one on our second visit (when on an all-inclusive holiday…) and it was delicious! I loved this restaurant so much that we booked it for our last evening (oooops just realised how long this “summary” got, sorry!).
INFINITY BLUE - I possibly won’t do this restaurant justice as it wasn’t my favourite despite actually being great. We had lunch here on our first day and dinner once, both times the food was really good but just not quite up to the standard of the other restaurants. Saying that, both of our steaks were cooked to perfection and I was completely beat by a pizza the size of the island itself! My favourite thing about this restaurant was the cocktails, well, one in particular; Bacciata. I probably haven’t spelt that right but WOW it was amazing and way too easy to drink, I insist that you try one - you can thank me later.
AMAFROOTY - Easily the best spot for lunch. Grab a table outdoors, near the adults only pool or stay inside and treat yourself to one of the many snack or more indulgent options from their lunchtime menu. They also have a BBQ everyday next to the outside seating area which you can just go and help yourself to!
C BEACH CLUB - If you’re planning a day at C Beach Club you’ll be delighted to know the lunch and dinner are also included here! The dinner did surprise me, considering you have to book, this offering is an Italian buffet (lunch is a la carte which seems the wrong way round to me). Lunch was absolutely incredible although service was slightly slow. The dinner was OK but given the other options, we didn’t rush back here.
GOLF CLUB - Most guests probably don’t realise that food and drinks at the Golf Club are also included (which you could easily walk to or they run a regular mini bus service to - we decided to take two of the free bikes over there to explore on one of the cloudier days). The baguettes were OK but the star of the show for me was the spicy cheese bites (if you know me you’ll know this is totally up my street) as well as the cocktails.
SAVANA (main buffet restaurant) - SAVANA is where you’ll have breakfast every morning and dinner on the nights you haven’t booked one of the other restaurants. As with most all-inclusive buffets they have themed nights. They always offered pasta and pizza, I would highly recommend the pasta which is cooked fresh in front of you and you can pick every detail to your taste! Definitely the most fresh pasta I’ve ever had.
We only did one paid excursion during our stay, mainly because 1. We wanted to chill out and 2. There’s already so much on offer at the resort that it would be crazy not to make the most of that! However, we made sure this one excursion was one to never forget; swimming with wild dolphins in the Indian Ocean! I honestly still can’t quite believe that this happened, it was so surreal and a real once in a life time moment. We booked a few days in advance with Baboo (if you stay at Awali you’ll see his boat near INFINITY BLUE. It wasn’t the cheapest excursion but I would say fairly priced as you don’t share the boat with anyone else and Baboo is an excellent host/captain/wakeboarder/diver/etc… We booked the half-day excursion so we had time to swim with the dolphins, snorkel at an amazing coral reef and Tom even got a go at wakeboard (although the less said about that the better). I was so excited about this trip, however I’ve always been scared of the deep sea and didn’t realise until the morning that wild dolphins are obviously not going to be swimming in the shallows! All of this fear just melted away as soon as I saw the group of dolphins breaking the surface of the sea, I couldn’t get in there quick enough. Baboo’s assistant got in the sea with us to act as a guide following the fast-moving pack as well as taking some incredible videos with our camera (allowing us to completely take in what we were seeing without worrying about getting photos and videos). The water was deep but crystal clear so you could see all the dolphins around you, you could even hear them talking! They weren’t scared at all of their visitors and elegantly swam through the sea, occasionally catching fish! It surprised me how quickly they move but I managed to keep up with them for a good amount of time, you do eventually need a break back on the boat to catch your breath. We got in the sea three times in total which was perfect, although it would happily have got in 30 times! I will honestly never forget this experience, it was truly a highlight of the holiday and probably my life.
I could easily talk about this holiday for much longer but I’ll be surprised if there’s many of you still reading this essay so I’ll leave it there! For more information about the resort, check out this handy online document https://www.ibtmworld.com/__novadocuments/403605?v=636437330762100000
Ps. we totally thought the guy in the image below was going to propose!