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YD's Caribbean Outpost
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<font color='#000080'>First the important stuff.  We travelled Air Mauritius, and after a quick phone call to the airline Head Office, they granted an extra 10Kgs of luggage for dive kit free of charge.  Now, the normal baggage allowance ranges from 23 – 30Kgs per person as well, so I was well in with my bag of tricks!  An early check in at Heathrow secured me good seats and more importantly, dive kit on board with no questions asked!  However, on the way back, watch out for the Air Mauritius staff at the SSR Airport.  My extra bag caused questions, and even though I explained I had cleared my dive kit with Air Mauritius UK, they wanted to look inside the bag to prove it was indeed dive kit…  Once proved, I was allowed to continue.

The diving.

We were staying in Grand Bay in the north west of the island.  The local dive centre, Diving World, operates a few franchises out of various hotels – Scubapro kit and steel cylinders available in abundance.  Our first dive was out to a purposely-sunken Japanese trawler called Stella Maru, which had formed an artificial reef.  In a depth of 25m, it was a wonderful feeling on the descent.  Viz of 30m+ and an abundance of colour and sea life.  This included Surgeonfish, Electric Rays, Stonefish and a cacophony of Sgt Majors!  The wreck itself is intact and sits upright next to a few banks of coral.  A wonderful start!

We did 2 more dives called “The Crater” and “Coral Garden” where I was absolutely bowled over by the colours and overall visibility.  This was only the second warm water trip I had done, and loved every minute of the experience.  An octopus gave us a demonstration of how to avoid divers and guides in a cloud of ink, and I even found Nemo!!  The Coral Garden was exceptional.  We were adopted by a Titan Trigger fish who followed us around for the entire dive, and even saw a couple of Leaf Fish – both purple and gold varieties.  Stonefish and Lionfish were also in large numbers.

We dived off 2 wrecks in close proximity, “Emily” and “Water Lily”, but were not allowed to go into the hold of the more intact ship.  The guide was polite but forceful on this point.  On looking inside, it was easy to see why – 3 different types of Moray Eel had taken up residence in the different corners.  The day was finished off at Holt’s Rock, another scenic area.  Plenty of Parrotfish, the odd Blue Triggerfish and again Butterfly fish, Clownfish, Bigeyes and Morays underneath the coral beds.

Down to La Morne in the southwest for a few days, and a visit to Aquarius Diving provided our next experience.  The weather had changed slightly, and even though it was 30 deg plus, the wind had really clouded viz.  “Le Gorgonia” was a dive down to 33m to see a giant coral on the edge of the reef.  Viz was down to about 8-10m and so we ended up multi-levelling the side of the reef up to about 16m.  Not much sea life, and the colours were disappointing compared to the last couple of days.  The next dive to “Anthony’s Place” made up for it though.  Three coral banks enclosing a gulley made for an interesting dive, especially as we had to deal with surge as well.  A large Blue Jack took centre stage for a while, and we saw our first Lobsters hiding away.

The following day was off to “Rempart Serpent” which is described as a must see.  The weather was still a little variable, and after our descent down to 27m, the bottom viz was only about 6-8m.  The dive centred on 3 long thin coral slips, but what made this dive memorable was the sheer number of Lionfish swaying on the surge – we counted about 9 or 10 in close proximity.  It is a feeding and cleaning station, and so the little yellow crays were busy.  I also saw the biggest Scorpion fish… Left it well alone as well!!  More Electric Rays spotted trying to hide below the surface.  Next dive of the day was to the “Aquarium”.  This I would describe as a must do dive.  As the name suggests, full of different types of fish including Idols, Butterfly fish, Clownfish, Snappers, Bigeyes, Sgt Majors, Greasy Rock Cod and Mimics – the list is endless.  Final dive was to the “Castle”, which was a shallow coral outcrop buzzing with life, especially yellow Trumpet fish.

Our final dive destination was to the north of the island.  Again, using Diving World, we went out to Coin de Mire, or Gunners Coin.  The dive of the holiday was without doubt another old Japanese trawler called “Azumamaru” in 35m.  Descending down to it on a sand bank was a serene experience.  You could see it from the surface!!  Our guide let us go into the hold in this wreck, and it is a safe environment.  All doors have been either removed or welded open.  The life was again spectacular, including Leaf fish and Lionfish.  But, the highlight was spotting 2 Sting Rays about a metre across doing a fly-by of the wreck.  It was breathtaking!  The next dive was “Confetti Bay” which was in 16m and had many different corals and fish life.  A black Sting Ray was spotted having a nap in a small cave.  Another Nemo spotted, this time, he decided my fingers were lunch when I was looking at something else.  Final dive of the holiday was “The Wall” which is adjacent to Confetti Bay.  A multi level dive, but what made this memorable was that we could see the clouds from the base of the wall.  Stunning or what!!  Following the feature along was interesting and there were pockets of life that came out to have a look at us before moving on.  Finishing off in Confetti Bay was a fitting end to some tremendous diving.  

We were lucky to see 3 different diving areas in a short space of time.  I found out about the shark dive too late into the holiday, but don’t believe the books that they are in great abundance.  Likewise for turtles.  The guides said that they are a rare site these days, but they do pop up from time to time.  Would I go back again?  Yes – but only after visiting other places that are on the Must do list.  I have contact details for Aquarius Divers and also Diving World if people would like.  

Safe diving all!!

Steve

 
 

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steve,

was the massive moray not at home on the Stella Maru? He used to be in one of the stern funnels, but seems to be away from home more and more these days. You can see the grisly remains of fish vertebrae (at least I hope they are fish) at the bottom of the funnel.

Rempart Serpent is particularly notable for the sheer quantity and variety of poisonous things, so much so that it also has the name Poison Reef. You were unlucky not to see more lion-fish, the most that we have seen clustered around the coral-tree is 21. In addition to the scorpion fish, there should also have been stone-fish, and some biggies too.

The sharks are in short supply. However, very recently, perhaps while you were here, the word went out that a Great White had been spotted off the north coast, near Coin De Mire in fact: the Mauritius Underwater Group (MUG) duly despatched its maddest people to see if they could find it!!

I've only done 43 dives here so far and have seen turtles twice. Once was when snorkelling so it "doesn't count", the other was just in the last minute of our dive, as we were ascending the unmistakeable silhouette of a large turtle flew past about 25m away. It gave me hope that I might see one close up some day.

It's great to hear someone so enthusiastic about Mauritius. Since I learned to dive here I don't know any better and I sometimes wonder whether how badly the coral is damaged compared to elsewhere.

If anyone else should be coming to visit Mauritius, let me know 'cos I may be able to give you a few tips on places to go, things to see...we might even sort out a dive in a few places that only the MUG knows about....

tas

PS No word about the night-life? Banana Cafe?
 

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YD's Caribbean Outpost
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<font color='#000080'>Well, I did venture to the banana cafe on a couple of occasions, but thought I would concentrate on the diving
  A most entertaining place.........

Regards all

Steve
 

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Hi Steve.
My good lady and I were in Mauritius in September,we too stayed in the grand bay area it was(is) a fantastic country to visit indeed we would love to return.
As for the diving i can recommened it to anyone you may not see as much soft coral as the red sea but the hard stuff makes up for that.As a couple can I also suggest getting in touch with tas as we did he put us onto the Mug group and the Tuesday night there turned into one of the highlights of our trip ,Hell beer was 20 ruppees a pint.It also got me contacts with some other diving locals who were only to pleased to show me the less well known sites from a small fishermens boat for the grand total of 5 quid for a superb dive with a pod of twenty dolphins thrown in...rip off or what.
We were also lucky enough to visit the Banana cafe with tas and his good lady after a fine night on the red vino and as far as I recall it was a fine place.
Another important point that I feel must be made is about the local people they must be amongst the most helpfull and polite of all.
           nikk
 
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