It was my first time with Emirates and flying on an A 380 - impressive to see that huge bird on the ground. Internet online check in got me a good seat. Luggage drop was fast without long queues or waiting. Leg room inside the plane was marvelous, the service great, inflight entertainment program a huge choice of movies. Most of all I enjoyed the good aircon with medium low temperatures throughout the flight. I hate to feel hot on a 6 to 10 hour ride when I know for sure they save on fuel this way. I just can´t sleep being sweaty all the time. I nearly fell asleep even before the start and did not notice our take off, due to really quiet engines; even so these are 4 humongous jets. It was one of the calmest and less noisy flights so far. Compared to the roaring engines of the B 777 on my way home. Had a 3,5 h lay over in Dubai around midnight. This can be frustrating, you are dead tired but just don´t dare to sleep at the gate in case you might miss the final call. The area of Grand Baie and Perybere looked promising, so I picked the Hibiscus Hotel Resort for my two week stay. It´s a calm medium sized hotel with pool and a sandy recreation area among palm trees and Kasuarina plus jetty. A public beach is right next to it. Had a lovely room with sea view on the second floor. Half board served buffet like breakfast with a good choice of fresh fruit, yoghurt, pancakes, crepes, eggs, beans etcetera. Dinner was a choice between two main courses, mostly fish or meat, with a starter and dessert. Meals were delicious and a beautiful creation on your plate, when the waiter lifted the cover. However for hungry divers it sometimes just was not enough fuel. Hibiscus has it´s own dive center, which I didn´t know of. I had pre booked all my diving on the internet with Orca Divers at Merville Hotel, which got me good rates. They promised to dive every day. I did a 10 day package for 522 € which got me one free day of two tank diving. Nitrox is for free, they offer 12 and 15 liter steel tanks, which I prefer to Aluminum, I don´t need any additional weights with the 12 liter. I did not expect Mauritius to offer spectacular or even challenging dives; my idea was lazy frolicking in warm water (28 C) with no currents. First day and dive brought us to the Silver Star, a boat sunken on purpose for the diving centers, sitting upright in 40 m at the propeller. We dropped in, looked around, saw some black shadows underneath which did not look like a ships body. The dive guide looked around, seemed to be lost and aborted the dive. With a second try few minutes away we hit right on target. You can do a bit of penetration, see the engine, swim inside the left structure, there is some fish life around. Vis was around 20 m plus. Orca has one dive in the morning, mostly to deeper places for experienced guys, a shallower one in the afternoon for beginner’s starters and all. You reach the sites in about 5 to 25 minutes. Most areas are longish patches of not densely covered coral garden with sand in between. Some dives there were really boring, you spent one hour looking around. At others you had so many creatures, you found some interesting animal after each third kick and filled your camera. These patches seem to be the Kindergarten for all the fish life at the outer reef. We found juvenile sweet lips, small yellow snappers, blue ribbon eel, I counted more than 5 different species of moray eels, we spotted octopus, a bunch of squids, some jacks, 3 barracuda, 4 turtles, small flounder and guitar ray, 1 eagle ray, 3 bigger sting rays, batfish, lots of Nemo and the Caribbean nightmare lionfish, clown triggerfish and the real aggressive trigger, trumpet fish, cat razor scorpion stone leaf fish and plenty of colorful others. Once we had 2 dolphins on the surface. Big stuff and pelagic were rare or none at all. Each of us was looking forward to the chance to dive the 25 minutes away island of Coin de Mire, were they told us we would go deep on some volcanic rock formation. Two times we went and it was a deep dive but nothing much else there. Orca Divers often mixed groups in the morning, which sometimes is not quite fair for the experienced guys, cause then they would chose sites not too deep. Once we were looking forward to the island dive. Then a lady with PFO joined the morning dive and the supposed and planned deeper diver turned into a 1 hour in around 10 meter thing. She later joined deeper dives, just took care to dive a moderate level to be on the save side. We had a discussion with Bernhard, Orca manager, on that, accused him to only see his business not the interests of divers. This nearly turned ugly, when on consecutive days he always found some weird reason not to go to Coin de Mire. On some dives we found fish traps on the reef with some colorful poor creature in. The guide told us, it´s allowed as it is not a protected area. What I thought would be for aquarium purpose was in fact for cooking, sad to hear that. The last two days of my stay a cyclone was running around the island. Vis got worse, sometimes less than 10 m and often we surfaced in rather choppy seas. Orca guides give a good briefing, allow for buddy teams to go their own way and even stay down more than 1 hour.
We were cruising in along a shallow reef for the last 15 minutes of our dive. My Uwatec computer was all green lights to surface right away. Nevertheless the guide gave us the 3 min safety stop sign. I often wonder who introduced that – was it PADI? Modern dive computers nowadays calculate the shallow stay and count this as some sort of prolonged safety stop. So why still insist on another stop?!? I had chosen Mauritius with the idea of a relaxing slow and tub like diving holiday. One of these days I guess, my body will tell or urge me to slow down – so far it does not – but I´m turning 64 soon, ups. So undercurrent gave me some good piece of advice concerning old divers. Thank you for that article:-). I remember a saying out of Skin-diver Magazine: „There are old divers and bold divers but no old and …. „. So I imagine myself to belong to the first group, even so I would not describe my type of diving as slow, modest, lazy or shallow. Often I just love to push the limits especially going deep, where I feel comfortable and euphoric right after. Staying in shape for me is one of the most important rules for dive safety, if not No. 1. I do some long distance swimming and hard biking to reach this aim. You will notice the difference looking at your gauges after some 30 minutes strenuous fining and then compare it with the air consumption of the not that well trained buddies.
The island is beautiful and you should definitely go on some sightseeing trip. I did this with public transport and chose the bus running around all over the island. It´s cheap and adventurous. I wonder if there are still springs attached to the wheels, often the ride was like sitting on a rodeo horse. Shifting gears is no secret it seems, everybody can hear the gears grinding horribly inside the engine. I sometimes looked into the back and expected parts of it being spit out of the exhaust. My car would suffer with this kind of driving.