Our hotel was set in the middle of a large bay and in a hop skip and a jump from the hotel reception we could be on the fine silky sand of a Mauritian beach. Well don't let me deceive you too much, because, although the sand was as just described in places near the hotel, in other parts it was somewhat harsh underfoot as it was littered with coral to various degrees. We saw large pieces of dead coral that had been washed in from the reef as well as small shards of the stuff which was well on the way to forming the white sand that we preferred underfoot. It was, therefore, advisable to wear a pair of decent waterproof shoes so you could enter the sea without any concerns about standing on a rough piece of disintegrating coral. Also ther were loads of bright blue material that had been weathered by the sea. A closer inspection identified this bright blue semi precious stone as weathered plastic!
Along this part of the coast are the Casuarina trees, a pine like tree with very small pine cones which litter the ground and prove a real hazard for bare-footed tourists. These trees date back to the 1770's wh en they were introduced onto Mauritius and planted along the cost to offer a windbreak for the nearby crops, some much needed shade. There most obvious quality being that they are not bothered about growing close to salt water. They are certainly an attractive addition yo the coastline and we read that the tree avenues in Belle Mare are often occupied by local Mauritians over the weekend as the travel to the coast to chill out.
Another coastal attraction on this stretch of coastline between Belle Mare and Longbeachs a small Hindu Temple (see separate review) and it seems somewhat incongruous that the peace and serenity of a temple should be only a few paces away from the water sports centre that is based around the corner on Longbeach. Here you can have a go at paragliding, water skiing, kite surfing, dinghy surfing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and of course the unique sea bed walking (see separate review)
Often as weas we walked the shoreline we'd see fish seemingly beached on the water's edge but I do, with hindsight, wonder if these were the unwanted spoils of the local fishermen. Regularly they'd be out line fishing from the rocks and not surprisingly, if you fancy going fishing they can arrange a fishing trip for you. We also heard, but never witnessed that locals can often been seen at low tide at night walking the coral for any fish that have been landed there as the tide went out or the waves beach them on the rocky crags of the coral reef. I did promise myself that I’d check this out but never quite made it as after eating and drinking in the hotel restaurant I was quite happy to sit and chat.
The whole lanscape in this bay has been influenced by the coral reef and it's fascinating to watch the waves breaking on the ocean' sedge, a kilometre away fom the beach. There's a constant boom as the water breaks on the coral - the sound of the sea at its best. Of course the lagoon isn't totally becalmed but it's almost free of waves although it still manages to produce some fairly stiff currents. We learnt that at high tide the water only covers the reef by 25 centimetres before a sheer drop of 50 metres . The profile of the land here is pretty extreme and once again we were told that the lagoon is shark free but in the murky depths of the Indian Ocean, the sea side of the reef they lurk hunting for their prey. I was happy to accept the word of the local for that!
Walking towards Belle Mare we saw, just off the beach, a memorial. We were intrigued and had to investigate further. It was a sad reminder of a plane crash that happened back in 1987s The basic sign close to the monument says "After the accident of ZS-SAS Helderberg, this monument has been erected in fond memory of passengers and crew who lost their lives". It’s seems to be that the cause of the tragedy is still not fully explained and this mysterious tragic crash may well remain unexplained forever.
There are long stretches of this beach that are almost deserted at certain parts of the day and the gentle thud of the waves on the coral reef make a walk along the beach at Belle Mare a very pleasurable event. Of course the Mauritian sun helps a bit!