Sunday 2 August 2015

A blissful getaway to Ile des Deux Cocos

It has been such a long while since I posted anything on my blog. Things are pretty busy for me and writing a post usually requires a couple of hours or more. I am quite slow and thorough with the process. However, because I have got a last minute cancellation for a shoot, and that this Sunday has got me procrastinating in bed, I decided it was just the right moment.

Last Saturday, I was so very lucky to be invited to the first ever Instameet in Mauritius that was to take place on the magnificent island of Ile Des Deux Cocos off the coast of Blue Bay. I did not know who was going to be there and I was anticipating the moment of the meetup. But it turns out a few of my friends had been invited as well and the team from Lux Resorts - Anatolie, Armand, Caroline, Ellis, Ornella and Thomas - was just friendly and lovely. I even got to meet some Instagrammers whose feed I like very much such as Sébastien's and Anatolie's.

We kicked off the jetty via a boat to get to the island. As tiny as it was (you can round the island in 15 minutes on foot), it is pleasantly surprising that in all it's simplicity, there is something quite grand about it. From what I gathered from Mario de L'Estrac, the director of the island resort, the heart of the island is the villa. The island first known as Ile aux Bigorneaux around 1890, can host up to 150 persons for a party, but its villa, can accommodate only 4 persons. A century old, it was erected during the course of the 19th century .The island had been deserted for a long time before Sir Hesketh Bell, the then-British Governor of Mauritius, decided to build that villa of 252 meter square. He built it because at the Château de Réduit, he could not organised the parties he craved for. You see, the man who was single at the time, loved to have good fun and that villa became his home for four years before he left it. No wonder it was nicknamed La Villa des Folies...

The villa is quite something. I have not seen any architecture in Mauritius that boast of Moorish influences with a slight bit of European touch. Being a big fan of the Moorish influence in the interiors, I was just bound to love that place. From the ceramic plates hanging on the wall to the floors covered in Moroccan tiles, "La Villa des Folies" just looks like the perfect getaway for a couple. Or just for you, if you want some time alone. And some good times are guaranteed seeing the villa's beautiful bath space... that hot tub was swamped in flowers and its edges all covered with stupendous blue and green tiles. It was just a tempting invitation. Having described some of the interiors of the rooms, let me tell you about the heart of the villa... In its midst, there lies a stunning fountain where bougainvilleas flowers float all day long. It is the loveliest of sights really upon setting foot in that residence.

Other than the villa, you can find near a the jetty, a nice bar lined up with many rhum arrangé of different flavours (from chili and achard-flavoured to the standard litchi or passion fruit-flavoured rhum). There is a lovely space for lunch where we ate at the buffet that day. It's not necessary for me to mention how good the food was, but I am compelled to mention the view to which we ate our food. It was just the perfect chilling place after we had played tug of war.

Talking about tug of war, we were lucky to have Ellis to entertain us with a few fun fitness activities during the day. Ellis is, if I recall well, the wellness specialist at Lux Le Morne and thanks to him, we enjoyed a great volleyball game and tug of war games on the beach. Anyone who had him on their rope's side, was just guaranteed victory.

We also took a boat ride through the Marine Park to see Ile aux Aigrettes island which I had some chance to visit quite a few years ago. And our boat driver also showed us the Dalblair, a Scottish ship that sank during a cyclone on the reefs of Pointe D'Esny in 1902. There is very little that remains of the vessel as time and corrosion consume it. After this, we headed back to the island, where those who wanted to go snorkeling took some equipment and went back for a dive.

However, the ultimate activity on Ile des Deux Cocos that day was organised by Mario de L'Estrac. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge and anecdotes about Mauritius and of course, about Ile des Deux Cocos. He is the nicest of men, and you definitely will warm up to his cheekiness. He organised the treasure hunt we had to carry across the island. Involving the friendly staff of the resort, we had to go look for the different endemic plants sheltered by the island, pluck a hair or two off the head of our Robinson Crusoé (Mario, who else!?), and dig up the treasure. Pirates never hid their treasure in plain sight obviously. The winning tea got themselves two bottles of that fabulous rhum arrangé they make on Ile des Deux Cocos!

Walking around the island was for me the second best thing after the villa. If the sea around the jetty is pretty calm and perfect for snorkeling, the other side of the island that draws us near to the tip of the Chaland, was a different sight. More wild, more colourful, it had a different feel. And I loved how the sun rays streamed through the filaos trees on my walk back to the bar. The path through the trees was just the kind of simple details I love photographing and seeing. I remember those more vividly. I hope the pictures below will convey my feelings somehow.

Our day ended with us eating some delicious foods - from samoussa to marshmallows which we dipped in the fountain of chocolate. A few rhums later, we said our goodbyes to Mario and we were off to the boat that would take us back to the jetty at Blue Bay.

And before doing any activities on the island, we obviously had to take group pictures !

Visit to the villa of Sir Hesketh Bell, or as he called it, La Villa des Folies:

Off to the games prepared by Ellis:

And here we go for a boat ride:

Anatolie & Mario de L'Estrac

Ile aux Aigrettes
Ile aux Aigrettes
Layers of Ile aux Aigrettes

Back for lunch...

On my next visit, you'll find me spending a couple of hours on this hammock after lunch.

And here are pictures I took during the treasure hunt, mostly if not entirely landscapes:

Mario de L'Estrac, director of Ile des Deux Cocos island resort

Last memorable moment on the island was when we decided to take a picture of Lux Resorts* written across the sand, but then I suggested we lie down and do it ourselves. And so we did and Willow and Harry below took this picture with their drone:

The bell is now ringing announcing our departure...

Thank you Lux Resorts* for this wonderful day!

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