We’ve all seen the screensavers. Crystal blue beaches, crisp white sand, snorkeling with tropical fish. It’s what Microsoft deems we need whenever we log in for the day. Once you see it in real life, you’ll realise they’re right! Soft, powdery beachy truly are paradise.

We got a taster of this beautiful life when hosted hosted on a 5 island tour with iLe Aux Cerfs Watersports, while visiting Mauritius last summer – courtesy of the LUX Grand Gaube.

Unfortunately, there had been a miscommunication as the hotel as were were informed we were going on a catamaran cruise so we dressed for a hard deck, garden party type even where we expected to cruise and drink bubbly.

When we arrived, we waited in (what seemed a very informal office for a catamaran company) beach office, until we would board the catamaran.

Twenty minutes later we were chaperoned through the water and onto a speed boat by tour guides, David and Jarryd. Oh boy! Garden party outfits, no towels, no sunblock…clearly we were in for a ride.

Never people to miss an unexpected opportunity, we took off our shoes (actually they asked for them and we had to put them in a laundry basket) and geared up for the day.

As it turned out, we were taken on a 5 island tour of Mauritius, which turned out to be spectacular. Here’s what it included:

Prefer Video? Watch here:

5 Island Tour of Mauritius with Snorkeling

Island 1 – iLot Marianne Nature Reserve

Our first port of call was a whistle tour stop of Marianne Nature Reserve, filled with dark volcanic rock and a shallow beach for easy access. The shallow water allows you to see fish darting by as the boat floats past. (Enjoy me, bottom left, making my way through the water in expense sandals and a nude dress to the island!)

Island 2 – Ile Aux Fouquest, Ile Phare

The Flouquest islands or Ile Phare (Lighthouse Island) is the first, large island we visited on our excursion. The island is parked between a large lagoon and the big, Indian ocean. Entry point is on the lagoon edge and is totally safe to visit.

A lighthouse built in 1864, which operated for 200 years, is the main feature and presents a glimpse into the past with views towards the mainland.

It was the first island that the Dutch discovered in 1598. Now in ruins, it offers some beautiful views back towards mainland Mauritius and across the ocean.

Wondering what to pack for your catamaran cruise? Here’s our packing list for our Mauritius boat cruise:

Island 3 – Pit Stop at the Ship Wreck of Pointe D’Esny

At the edge of the calm waters is the Dalblair shipwreck at Pointe D’Esny, laying just off the reef. The ship sailed from Scotland in 1895, en route to Mauritius, and got stuck in bad weather (same ship, different day!). The old rusty bow protrudes from the calm waters as tide crashes beyond, a reminder of treacherous waves of years gone by.

Island 4 – Île Aux Aigrettes

The iLe Aux Aigrettes is an exquisite speck of land. Guests are not allowed to explore the island, without permission from the government, as it is a precious nature reserve used for scientific research.

Visitors are, however, able to alight here for a lovely swim. Our hosts were also gracious enough to offer soft drinks or Mauritian rum. Again, when in Rome! I gladly accepted a plastic cup of rum and had a good float around.

The hosts had a good time dancing around and enticing European visitors to indulge in the island lifestyle, while floating in their water wings – hilarious! These colours are vibrant and magnificent.

Island 5 – Snorkeling

After relaxing in the lush waters of iLe Aux Aigrettes we moved onto our next stop, which focused on snorkeling – and where I began to roast like a lobster! Hint: the back of the legs were blood red!

I was told that Mauritius was no longer amazing when it came to sea life due to coral disintegration, but that is really saying something because I saw SO much and it was all incredible! It was so much fun swimming around in the shallow bay and seeing so many beautiful fish. It really made me respect the sea so much more.

Island 6 – Sega Dancing

Our final island stop treated us to some traditional sega dancing by young, Mauritian women and a casual meal of braai’d (BBQ) chicken, garlic bread and heart of palm salad. This was extremely rustic, but coming from South Africa – I was happy. Dessert was a bruleed green banana, which was delicious.

At the End of the Day

At this stage, we were so incredibly sunburnt that we were happy to make our way home. The last trip back was about 40 minutes and it was welcomed after all the sun, sea and sand.

Naturally, we hadn’t anticipated having to get off the boat (one doesn’t usually get off a catamaran!) and had no sunblock (luckily another couple did share some with us, but it wasn’t NEARLY enough). I was sunburnt for a week afterwards, which was really unpleasant.

In saying that, it was a phenomenal day out and we would highly recommend this adventure to anyone visiting the island.

Enjoy a full day Ile Aux Cerfs Watersport cruise from RS2000 | ZAR810.00 | $58 | £43 | EU52 and onwards, depending on the distance and time. Full rates are available on their site.