Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dolphins And Schools of Fish

Catamaran Cruise in MauritiusIf you look up Mauritius on a world map, you will notice it is tiny and in the middle of the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar.  Being far away from the mainlands of Africa and Asia keeps the waters surrounding this beautiful island country unspoilt and beautiful.  Given the perfectly warm and sunny days with pleasantly cool winds, it was inevitable we would spend a good amount of time in (and on) the waters.

We kept alternating between lazing in the beach and swimming with our face in the water, watching schools of colored fish frolicking below on the coral reef.  There were large numbers of white and black striped fish, flat ones with deep yellow marks on their faces, others with red lines, and those that merged into the background almost completely.  The still waters of the lagoon afforded us a view we hadn't experienced ever before.

Catamaran Cruise in Mauritius

Catamaran Cruise in Mauritius

On one day we went out on a catamaran cruise in the early morning.  It was one of the best organized tours I have been in; I was expecting it to be the usual touristy thing that would underwhelm; however, I was very impressed by their service quality and attention to detail through the entire day.

We drove up to Black River Bay where the shining white catamaran awaited us.  For those who don't know, a catamaran is a boat with two hulls joined together in a single frame.  They have become popular lately because of their speed and stability.  Interestingly, the catamaran is an Indian invention and derives its name from the Tamil kuttumaram meaning 'tied wood'.  They have been used by Tamil fishermen for a long time.

Catamaran Cruise in Mauritius

The vessel we were on had a large net in the front between the two hulls. The kids on board quickly took up strategic positions on the netting, peering down into the ocean below. The water was so clear, you could see fish as they came close to the surface. As we reached the deeper waters, sails were unfurled and we rode the waves to Tamarin Bay, where we were hoping to watch dolphins in their natural habitat.

Catamaran Cruise in Mauritius

It was a brilliant morning, the blue skies interspersed with only a few wisps of white clouds.  The island and the hills within rose in the distance, coloured a deep green by its vegetation and ringed by a sliver of white sands.  The seas transformed quickly from a turquoise green to deep blue.  One of the sailors distributed bottles of the local Phoenix beer and cold drinks. It was quite magical!

'Dolphins!' Heads turned quickly as we strained to see where he was pointing.  And there they were!  The elegance and beauty of the lovely sea creatures as they wove in and out of the blue water was enchanting.  There were at least a dozen swimming in formation, popping in and out of the waters.  As we got closer, they disappeared...only to appear again in the distance.

Dolphins in Mauritius

The kids on board were running from one side of the boat to the other tracking the dolphins; the adults were only a little slower!  After a while, some decided to jump into the water and swim, while others went back to their beer.

Finally, we were on our way again - this time to a nearby reef to swim with the fish.  The sailors threw some bread which swiftly attracted fish to the boat.  They were larger than the ones in our lagoon and more varied too.

Catamaran Cruise in Mauritius

Catamaran Cruise in Mauritius

As we sailed on, the sailors began setting up a grill expertly.  In moments, the charcoal was red and they readied a batch of sausages.  By the time they set up two tables with some bread and green salad the smoky smells of the meat on the grill was driving me mad!  Skewers of the local Dorado fish quickly followed.

Dining onboard a catamaran in Mauritius

Dining on the seas in Mauritius

This was the best grilled fish I may have had. The fish itself, its marinade, the expert grilling and the location made for the best lunch I have had.  There were other meats after that:  legs of chicken, grilled veggies, and more beer.  However, it is the heady taste of the Dorado (also known as dolphinfish) that I will remember for a long time.

Next:  Restaurants of the St. Regis
Previous:  Arriving in Mauritius


Brijesh said...

You have given information which we can use when are going there. Beautiful images

Shantanu said...

@Brijesh: Good to know. Thanks for visiting.