JG Black Book’s very own Managing Director of Africa, Yvette De Vries, has recently returned from a fascinating visit to two of the Azura Retreats properties – Azura Benguerra Island and Azura Quilalea Private Island. Spending two nights and three days at each allowed Yvette to experience the charm of the hotels and their amenities as well as the uncommon, local activities. We asked Yvette about some of her favorite memories from the trip and she provided us with an interesting first-hand experience and some insider tips. Enjoy the interview below!
Private pool at Azura Benguerra
What were your favorite features of the Azura properties?
My favorite feature of Azura Benguerra was definitely its beautiful décor and pitch-perfect appointments of every room and public space. At Azura Quilalea, it was the accessibility to the fantastic snorkeling on the house reef – just a few steps and strokes from the main beach.
Insider Tip: Ask the staff at either property to leave your windows open and enjoy the ocean air and song through the night.
Dunes on Bazaruto Island
What was the highlight of your stay with Azura Retreats?
At Azura Quilalea, it would be a toss-up between the marine walk to the surreal grottoes and remnants of ancient coral reefs, and my visit to Ibo Island. It is a fascinating place with a tremendously rich, albeit dark, history… somehow forgotten by time, but on the verge of being rediscovered as a tourist destination.
At Azura Benguerra, it was the morning we went snorkeling in the “aquarium” off 2 mile reef, visited Pansy Island, climbed the dune on the southern tip of Bazaruto Island, followed by a private lunch on the beach at the northern tip of Benguerra Island.
Insider Tip: The coral on The Canyon Reef is incredible (think big bunches of bright blue & purple broccoli), but the snorkeling on the House Reef off the beach at Azura Quilalea is even better & more relaxing.
Beach at Azura Benguerra
What was the most significant thing you learned on your trip?
How much there was to do at both these islands, and that one would need to stay for at least 4 nights if you also planned on a day of total relaxation.
Dining area at Azura Quilalea
What was your favorite local activity?
I consider mealtimes my favorite activity anywhere I travel, so in this case it would be the abundance of fresh seafood and the consistently top-notch preparation and presentation.
Marine walk to the grottoes at low tide
What set this trip apart from your previous time spent in Africa?
The fact that I was on a “marine safari” rather than game drives in the bush, so there was no routine and no two days looked remotely the same. Daily activities were planned around the tides, not the temperature.
Helicopter view of Quilalea Island
What advice would you give to someone looking to book travel with Azura Retreats?
Bring an underwater camera – no matter how rudimentary. You’re likely to capture the most terrific images while snorkeling and diving off either island.