My wife and I wanted to go on a Northern Isle cruise (especially Gabriel Island) and were lucky enough to be recommended this company by the owner of our villa.
We dealt with Bruno, the owner of Passion Océane, who was very welcoming, informative, and quite frankly a very interesting person to meet! Even though it was more money than we intended to spend, we opted to hire the whole Wind Dancer II catamaran to ourselves (since it was our honeymoon) and in the end we were very happy that we did.
The crew were polite and informative, but also jolly amongst themselves - This never encroached on our feeling of private relaxed bliss and actually added a light-heartedness to proceedings that would have been missed if they never smiled or laughed amongst themselves. They always had answers to our questions about both the northern isles and Mauritius in general.
Food was good (both breakfast and lunch) and both food and drink were in plentiful supply.
The islands themselves were amazing. Picture postcard white sand and clear water. We had previously hunted around Mauritius to find our favourite beach, and had succeeded in finding some that matched the above description on paper, but these were something else and I'd very much recommend that anyone visiting Mauritius makes a trip to such islands because it is a different feeling to the mainland. We actually went to Flat Island first, which was a bit surprising because in our uneducated position, we thought that Gabriel Island would be the focal point. We are now glad that this was the other way around. Flat Island has a natural strong current near the beach that, unusually, takes you in a path parallel to the beach instead of towards it. This allows you to snorkel with no swimming effort at all, passing over sections of reef and fish as if you are on an underwater fairground ride. Just like with such rides, when we reached the logical end point, we were constantly left with that feeling of "Again! Again!" And would run back up the beach to have another pass over the coral. May I point out that neither my wife nor I had ever snorkelled before and we believe this was the perfect spot to begin.
After lunch we then went over to Gabriel Island. There was an opportunity to go for a walk around the island, which we decided to do as a contrast against the morning's beach antics. If you do decide to do this, ask one of the skippers to tag along as your guide since some of the pathways are overgrown. Also, make sure you have some form of footwear as you may have to go across slightly rougher ground to circumvent the overgrown foliage. This walk introduces you to the 'sticky plant' that covers the island, naturally warding off mosquitos. We also saw a couple of white-tailed tropicbirds up close, and there are nice views of the surrounding beaches and sea from inland.
Next we headed back towards the island closest to mainland Mauritius, Gunner's Coine (Coin de Mire). Mooring up near the cliff edge, there was an opportunity to snorkel in deeper water with incredible underwater landscape. Unfortunately there weren't many fish even though it is supposed to be an excellent spot for this - We understand that this was due to a number of factors such as tide, time of year, roughness of sea. To first-time snorkellers, it was still quite an experience to see the underwater world first-hand.
The actual journeys between islands were fantastic: Exciting and relaxed in equal measure, basking in the sun and appreciating the breeze. It felt like being explorers without the faff of having to actually be qualified in any way!! Having the entire catamaran to ourselves made it extra special.
Overall, the day was indeed one that we will never forget, as promised. It was one of the highlights of our holiday. The only downside is that it couldn't last longer! My recommendation would be firstly to go on this cruise, secondly if the beach and sea is really important to you then consider skipping the walk around the island (My wife disagrees with me on this!), and finally don't 100% expect fish at Gunners Coine but be pleased if they are there.
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