In January a small group of UBUCers headed to Mauritius to see their diving dad – Chris. How did they get on? See below!


Sunday 14th (and the beginning of Monday 15th – days all merge into one when you’re traveling!) by Georgia

On Sunday the 14th, all five of us keen travellers packed our suitcases, grabbed our passports and suncream, ready to head to Heathrow Airport. Rami and I drove to Harry’s parents house to meet with them and Eden, on the way we saw loads of red kites and jammed to Green Day. We met up with everyone and breezed through boarding, security was no sweat unless you were Rami, who almost got probed. After being declared a non-threat we shopped duty free and waited till we could get on the plane. When the gate opened and we were allowed on the flight everyone got excited, the plan was massive and we had TV, blankets and pillows – some of us hadn’t traveled long haul before and were amazed! We all settled in…selecting our movies and cracking open the snacks and before we knew it the first leg of our 16hr journey began.

Most people slept on the flight and were awoken mid journey to our in-flight dinners. Don’t believe the horror stories you hear about airplane food…everyone had a tasty dinner, even the ones who accidentally ordered a “bland meal”. We also got free beer to wash down our scran – Max had told us of this luxury but we were too scared to believe him, it was such a pleasant surprise when the air hostesses handed out the beer to us all…delicious!

Eventually we arrived in Nairobi where we had a 4 hour layover…some went shopping – buying Kenyan souvenirs, and others played top trumps whilst waiting for the next leg of the journey to begin.

The gate opened again and we boarded a smaller plane which would take us to Mauritius. We had breakfast which for myself under the “bland” diet, consisted of a nuclear egg, beans and cabbage. Others had a sausage beans and fruit variation, nonetheless we wolfed down our food and tried to sleep despite our building excitement. As we got closer to the island, turbulence began to pick up and made for a pretty hairy ride towards the end of the flight. So much so that a passenger next to Harry and Eden had begun to pray. We were heading to Mauritius during the onset of a cyclone and so a bumpy ride was to be expected. The pilot was a champ though, and despite the bad conditions landed the plane so smoothly. I’d argue it was the best plane landing I’ve ever experienced – the clapping afterwards definitely added to it. And that was that, we’d arrived in paradise, though the weather suggested otherwise…


Monday 15th by Harry

We kicked off Monday with an early morning flight to Mauritius from Nairobi which luckily wasn’t cancelled despite the category 3 cyclone raging on near Mauritius at the time. The flight was also surprisingly smooth with only minor turbulence once we descended below the clouds. The same couldn’t be said for the ground team however, made up of Chris and his friend Denny from MUG, who came to pick us up from the airport.

After meeting in arrivals, Chris regaled tales of battling with torrential rain, gale-force winds, and having to drive up a mountain in a 1.0 litre Datsun. Fearing for our lives on the drive back however wasn’t necessary, as the weather had cleared up just enough to get us to Chris’ without needing to change our pants afterwards.

Arrival at Casa del Bainbridge felt like a dream, partly due to the picture-perfect tropical setting but also because we’d been traveling for 20 hours at that point and were somewhat delirious. To make matters more interesting, the power had gone out due to the storm, however we still had the gas cooker so Chris made us dinner under candlelight (how romantic). At that point we’d been battling with jet lag for long enough so we all decided to get an early night ready for some hardcore shenanigans the next day.


Tuesday 16th by Rami

Having survived our first cyclone of the holiday, we woke up slowly, grateful for the lie-in granted to us by Chris. Jethro, eager to be useful, volunteered to help fish the cyclonic debris out of the swimming pool. However, in his enthusiasm, Jethro forgot to put on sunscreen. Or perhaps, he simply underestimated the power of the Mauritian sun which, despite the cloudy sky, made poor Jethro the holiday’s first sunburn casualty.

A little after lunchtime, we ventured to Intermart to purchase some alcohol and then Chris drove us to a beach. While we observed a bunch of reckless kitesurfers making the most of the post-cyclone wind, we decided against swimming and instead made the most of the beer we had recently acquired. After several of us started to desperately need a wee, we decided to travel to another nearby beach, where we hoped the wind and waves would permit us to enter the water. Fortunately for our bladders, the waves at the next beach were far more subdued so we swam out and relieved ourselves. Suddenly, we realized someone was not among us; Jethro was missing. Unsure whether he was guarding the bags, or had decided to join the kitesurfers at the previous beach, we searched desperately for our friend. Just as we were about to accept that he’d been taken by the cyclone, someone spotted something scarlet emerge from behind a nearby palm tree. Jethro’s sunburned back was just the signal we needed to be sure that he was safe. (Jethro here – I did tell them I was going to find a toilet!)

After the drama at the beach, we returned to Chris’ house. Fortunately, the water and electricity had returned, so Chris set about making a copious amount of Pizza. Meanwhile, the rest of us played Monopoly Deal (in the dark, once again). After a ruthless game, in which Georgia revealed herself as a shrewd and effective capitalist, we devoured the delicious pizzas which Chris had blessed us with. Tired and full of cheese, we retired to our beds, ready for an early start the next morning.


Wednesday 17th by Eden

By Wednesday there were fewer and fewer signs that a cyclone had passed through just days earlier so, despite still not being able to dive, we headed for more exploration of the island. We started by heading some magma tubes that had been formed when the island was a volcano and now acted as cool caves to walk through (both figuratively and literally as it was boiling hot outside). While walking through we saw some animals nesting in the ceiling which prompted a half-day discussion by all the biologists/ecologists over if they were birds or bats. They were swifts in the end, crazy I know.

Following the bird spotting session, we headed to a sugar factory that had been turned into a museum to eat sugar and drink rum. The museum-y part was somewhat lost on us as it was too hot to think for the most part, so when tested on our sugar knowledge by women leading the sugar tasting, we fell flat on our faces. The rum was nice though.

After a day packed full of Mauritian culture we headed for a nice curry and went to bed.


Thursday 18th by Jethro

On Thursday the group rose early ready for a day of hiking, waterfalls and (luckily for Jethro and Rami) endangered bird spotting. The group split between cars and headed up to Maccabee trail in the hopes of spotting a Pink Pigeon – a rare species endemic to Madagascar, which nearly went extinct in the 1990s.

After initially being denied entry to the park due to the cylcone, and some dodgy haggling by Harry to buy some Mangos from a roadside salesman, the group headed on the trail over the top of the mountains, which gave them incredible views of distant waterfalls cascading into the valleys below. It was hot and there was little shade, but the group pressed on until they reached Maccabee point viewpoint, which gave the best viewpoint of all. With no sign of pink pigeon, the group headed back to try another place Chris reckoned we could see them.

After a short look around the visitor center and museum, they packed up into the cars ready to leave. However,just as they set off, one of the group spotted what they had been looking for – a Pink Pigeon! In the car park! The group quickly got out and had a look, only to find dozens dotted all over the place! The group also came across a family of macaques, which were messing around in the trees above.

Next stop was the sacred lake of Ganga Talao, which nearby had the world’s largest statue of Maa Durga, a hindu goddess. The statue was enormous, an a tremendous sight to behold. As the group arrived at the sacred lake it became very apparent something was off – the cyclone had caused it to burst its banks and flood the nearby temple. Locals who were visiting to get blesseds and pray had to walk through shin high water to reach the statues they hope to give offerings to. Large koi that were once housed in a small pond were swimming around the temple, which was quite a sight to behold. Here the group were blessed by the local spiritual leaders (or in the case of Harry – endless compliments about his blue eyes). Now blessed, the group headed on to find a waterfall.

Next stop was the beginning of the seven waterfalls trail – a long trail down a valley which followed the course or a large river, and the seven waterfalls it made as it went. After an initial downward climb among thick undergrowth the group came across the river. The only issue – they had to cross it to continue the trail. The recent cyclone meant the river was significantly stronger than usual. Chris and Jethro managed to cross across a less rapid section, but it was soon decided it was too risky for the whole group to do so, so they headed back to the cars to find another location.

The next stop was the eau Blue waterfall, which similarly required a steep downward climb to access. However, after Jethro, Max and Rami reached the bottom, it was made very clear to them by some locals it was too dangerous to enter, so up they headed again to find yet another location!

The final stop was Edwards Waterfall. This was the group’s last chance to swim under a waterfall, and I (Jethro) made it my mission to make sure we did. This waterfall was much further off the beaten track than the others, and after a small jungle explorer moment by myself we managed to find the small trail that led to it. This waterfall seemed perfect – and the group quickly jumped into the lake at its base (to avoid the mosquitos that swarmed the area). After about an hour of swimming, climbing and snorkeling around the base of the waterfall, the group raced out of the lake, quickly got clothed and out of the area to avoid the mosquitos once again.

After a long day of walking, the group headed home for a dinner of tacos and early bedtime, hoping today’s blessings meant they could dive in the morning.


Friday 19th by Georgia

Today we did two dives. The first was an amazing reef called the aquarium. We hopped into the boat, suited and booted in our gear and smothered ourselves in suncream, ready to take on the sea!

True to its name the aquarium was bursting with life, it was like being in Finding Nemo. Mine and Rami’s top finds were a natal toby puffer and a boxfish.

The second dive was a wreck called Stella Maru. We couldn’t penetrae the ship as the cyclone has thrashed it about and done some damage to it, so we admired it from the outside. There was a massive sheet of metal gouged loose and flapping in the current, which looked a bit trippy but very cool. Swimming around the ship were large schoals of fry being hunted by Jacks and we also saw large and goofy dogfish and porcupine puffers chilling around the remainder of the mast. Towards the lower depths of the wreck, Rami spotted a ray and a lionfish and we also spotted a turkey moray and crown of thorns living the good life in the warm Mauritian waters.

After the dives we headed back to base camp for a quick pool swim and clean up, ready to hit the town. Tonight’s dinner was koren BBQ with a side of murder and frustration… whilst waiting for our dinner we played a murder mystery game, were the guys cracked the motive for a Mr. Smith murding a poor, unsuspecting diner. We also played the spoon game which really wound Chris up. Luckily dinner came to the rescue and we tucked into our delicious and well deserved scran.

As a post dinner treat we then headed to n’joy a weird, worlds collide, pub/bar/club and danced the night away. Initially the local tunes weren’t hitting us right, and there was a peculiar song about China (?) – we have no clue to this day what it was about. But then, amongst the mire of French pop song, the DJ – God bless him – dropped out the Macarena and immediately we leapt to action.

After dominating the dance floor, we wearily retired back to our respective houses and hit the hay – ready for tomorrows adventure!


Saturday 20th by Max Dupé

We headed over to Trou aux Biches again for another day of diving. Some of us were a bit worse for wear following the night out at N’Joy, however it was nothing an early start and a few dives down to 25 m couldn’t sort out.

The first of the day was the KT Mawar wreck, which was purposely sunk in 2018 and lies on its starboard side. Chris and Musa were keen to see the condition of the wreck following the cyclone. The visibility was unfortunately only about 10 m, probably the worst of any dive on the trip. However, the dive was still very memorable. Myself, Musa, and Georgia descended on the hull side and then made our way around the stern. As we made our way around the stern onto the deck side of the wreck we noticed that the entire wreck was swaying a meter or so with the ground swell. My immediate thought was that I was tripping, and those who had drunk too much the night before thought they were entering the latest stage of their hangover. We then discovered a very large laced moray eel sticking its head out of the wreck. Musa, confusing the huge eel with a pet dog or cat, started to tickle underneath the eel’s chin. I was expecting the eel to try to bite Musa’s fingers off however it appeared to enjoy it!

For the second dive site of the day was Jenny’s Spot, a reef with some current.  I dived with Musa, who led the dive, and we saw two large giant moray eel’s swimming out in the open. Georgia and Chris saw a green turtle and an eagle ray, among the hundreds of beautiful reef fishes that lived among the giant boulders.

After a great morning of diving we headed back to shore on the boat and dreamed of drinking a few cold beers and having a chilled afternoon…

After unloading the boat I went back into the sea to take a leak. Unfortunately during the process I dropped my dive torch and due to the small waves the visibility was non-existent. We all then spent a good 15 minutes blindly looking for my dive torch, which luckily Chris found. Phew! Happy days… beer time! Not so fast… Chris’ car key was no longer in his pocket and he realized it had fallen out in the sea whilst searching for my torch. We headed back into the water to find the keys but were not optimistic. We realized to have any chance we needed to put our scuba kit back on, sink to the bottom, crawl along the floor, and look/feel in the keys in the 10cm vis. We all now had an idea of what it is like to be a police diver (well… sort of). Amazingly Rami found the keys within 5 minutes whilst breathing off Georgia’s octopus. We had well and truly earned our afternoon beers!

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, and in the evening had a BBQ near the pool.


Sunday 21st by Chris

On Sunday I woke everyone up again, thankfully not as early as it could have been as the boat down at Flic en Flac had another group of divers from MUG going out first, so we didn’t need to be there until 9am. We left at about 7:30am from the house with all three cars.

Upon arrival, we sorted out the gear and talked to some of the MUG divers who had finished their dive; they informed us that they had attempted a 70m dive but missed the site entirely! Oh well. We loaded up and boarded the boat, which is much lower in the water than the other boats and thus easier to get in and out of.

The first dive was Rempart Serpent. This is a small reef patch out in the middle of nowhere. We were told by Musa to make sure we were careful because it is home to many scorpion fish and stonefish. As we descended we had some beautiful visibility (20m+) and a gentle current, heading in a westerly direction. Eden and I first looked at the west part of the reef before heading towards the east part. We saw many scorpion fish, including some big ones, plus moray eels, catfish and plenty of small reef fish. There was a large purple parrot fish hanging around too.

As the dive is 25m we had planned for up to 5 minutes of deco. As I was unfurling my DSMB, however, I couldn’t believe my eyes and had to shout at Eden so she would turn around. A shoal of hundreds of great barracuda had appeared out of nowhere and were slowly swimming past us! As we ascended slowly, they followed us up and eventually formed a large circle beneath us. It was a really special moment and I was glad that the other divers who were doing their deco stops too had drifted over us and got to see them too.

After the deco and safety stops we headed back to Flic en Flac where Max had to have a break to get some breakfast (at 11am). We then loaded back up and went to a much closer site called Cathedral. The visibility wasn’t so good this time but it was still good enough to see what we wanted! We descended in the perfect place on the dive site and went through a big swim through, exploring a cave on the left hand side, of which inside there were some lobsters although not as many as had been promised. Presumably someone had been in there and taken them. We carried on around the wall enjoying life on the sides, and another swim through, before heading up to the top before our no deco time got too low. We were surrounded by thousands of blue fish which were swimming out of all the swim throughs, and even saw a turtle on our safety stop!

I had to go back to MUG to fill the cylinders as it was quite late, and none of the usual filling stations were open. I was hoping everyone else was going to explore the south west but they ended up having lunch and then just heading back as they were quite tired.

We had leftover food for dinner including two types of scrambled egg, and I attempted to make some cheesy bread with leftover dough. An early night for all because we had to get up early for yet another day’s (and sadly, the last days) diving!


Monday 22nd by Rami

We arrived at Mont Choisy beach and quickly kitted up, our eagerness nor remotely tempered by the reports of yet another cyclone headed our way. However, after a thorough search through the cars, Harry realized he was missing his wetsuit boots. But, being the adaptive individual that he is, he decided to press on and wear flip-flops instead.

On the boat, Musa told us all about our first dive site: Twin Peaks and Whale Rock. After he described the convoluted route we were to take, I volunteered to dive with Musa, believing that he – if anyone – would be successful in reaching the illustrious Whale Rock (which, despite the name, apparently did not have any resident cetaceans). After a negative entry, we quickly spotted the Twin Peaks through the crystalline water. These giant rocks were dotted with cracks and caves, many of which were populated by enormous fan corals. After a while being manhandled by the swell, Musa spotted a big moray sticking out of a crack. Aware of his reputation for tickling eels, I reached for my Go-Pro and observed him attempt to make contact. Unfortunately, this moray was feeling grumpy, so Musa decided against performing his signature move. After a little while, it became obvious that the swell was conspiring against our attempt to reach Whale Rock, so we decided to finish our dive around the Peaks.  Shortly after returning to the boat, we were greeted by an exuberant Chris, who we learned had frog-marched Harry – flip-flops and all – against the current to Whale Rock, where they had seen hundreds of large Jacks.

Our second dive of the day was at Cratère. While the vis was poor, this reef was teeming with life and proved to be a particularly satisfying hour long dive. After observing a stunning juvenile emperor angelfish and some foursaddle groupers, we spotted a shadow appearing out of the gloomy water. A hawksbill turtle, grazing on the seafloor, appeared in front of us. After following her for a while, she took a massive shit – which of course Musa had to pick up – and then swam away into the blue. Meanwhile Jethro and Max saw Peacock Mantis shrimp among the rocks, and an eel they could only describe as ’the devil’. After finishing our second dive, we headed back to the beach, concerned at the greying sky above us. We soon learned that a class 1 cyclone had been declared, which unfortunately meant this day of diving was our last of the holiday.

Later that evening, we headed to a bar, overlooking the sea, where we watched the sunset. After finishing a few cocktails and fending off a few swarms of mosquitoes, we went to a Chinese restaurant before returning to Chris’ house.


Tuesday 23rd by Eden

The day of the second cyclone was somewhat disappointing if you love cyclones, as there wasn’t much of the huge storm we had been promised. Instead, a light drizzle greeted us as we made the most of the day and went out to see what was still open. First we headed to the garden centre to pick up some new plants with Musa. Then we went snorkelling at a nearby beach, because apparently we couldn’t go a day without being in the water. Snorkelling was generally nice as we saw all of the animals we’d been diving with but with an added surface current to swim against.

We then headed for some retail therapy and managed to find a shopping centre that was still open, although most of the shops inside weren’t. We managed to find some lovely food in the form of lots of little stalls in the food hall and Chris decided to buy a new TV.

The final stop of the day was going to the MUG clubhouse (which ironically is in the centre of the island, the furthest inland you can be in Mauritius) for the social. We met lots of Chris’ diving friends and had a look at all the memorabilia in the clubhouse. Notable objects included a two metre stuffed moray eel above the bar and a giant anchor just outside. Musa also made a lovely dinner of veggie lasagna for us which we ate at the social.


Wednesday 24th by Harry

On the morning of the penultimate day, we opted for a little scientific excursion, as there’s an old radio telescope on the island used to look at stars ‘n’ stuff. It’s not a classic Mauritian tourist attraction so the people working there were a little confused that we just rocked up, but once we’d explained ourselves they let us look around.

After that we moved onto the next stop of the day, a brackish lake set within mangroves. This was more beautiful than it sounds as it really was paradise in the middle of nowhere. However, after swimming to the centre of the lake, I realised my Apple Watch was no longer on my wrist and, after a montage of all the good times we had together played in my head to the tune of don’t want to miss a thing by Aerosmith, I went to look for it in the shallows where we entered. I was about to use Find my iPhone to find it when Chris popped his head up with the watch, having found it on a rock underwater. Following that amazing bit of fortune, I went to buy a lottery ticket and we moved onto the next activity, which was visiting St Louis, the capital of Mauritius. Sadly due to the cyclone most of the shops were closed and it was a bit of a shithole so, after a brief look at the market, we left.

Evening was now approaching, so we went back to Chris’ for a final meal, to play Werewolves and finish all the alcohol before we left. After completing the latter task, we found ourselves in need of a late-night swim in the pool and promptly walked/stumbled over. The pool was great fun and I enjoyed climbing a nearby tree to pick some mangos to take back to the UK. Other activities included gathering and racing all of the giant African land snails that had accumulated by the pool. Once a snail champion was crowned, we went to bed ready for our final day in Mauritius.


Thursday 24th by Jethro

The day we were all dreading had finally come – it was time to go home. We started off the day visiting a friend of Musa’s who was running a marine themed exhibit in a local hotel. It also gave us all the chance to ask an actual marine biologist all of the questions we had thought of while diving – its fair to say she was overloaded. We then, after quickly overloading the hotels bins with all our recycling from the trip, headed to a local temple which was celebrating Thaipusam. We didn’t spend much time watching the celebrations as we were all very hungry, so decided to head to the nearby McDoanld’s to see what was on the menu in Mauritious (much to Chris’ objection).

It was then time to head home and pack. Or in my case, watch everyone else pack as I had done it the night before! After a final goodbye to the legend that is Musa (and his dogs!), we headed back to the airport to fly home.

I dont have much recollection of the flights back as I slept through most of it, but the food was just as ‘good’ as it was the first time around. We then disembarked in cold UK, some still wearing shorts and tshirts, and headed home.


A massive thank you to Chris and Musa for having us, and showing us the beautiful island that is Mauritius. Also thank you to all the boat drivers, local divers and Mauritian friends we met along the way; and the lovely group of UBUCer’s who I went with. Hopefully we will be back soon!

Categories: Trip Reports


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