Golf blogger rates Legend and Links golf courses in Mauritius

Golf blogger and writer David Gilroy raves about the courses at Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius.

Luxury golf holidays at Constance Hotels & Resorts

Luxury golf holidays at Constance Hotels & Resorts

Gilroy, who is writing a book about the correlation between improving your game and improving your business, found the championship Links and Legend courses an enticing challenge.

He was particularly impressed with the knowledge shown by his caddie:

‘My caddie was called Miguel (8 handicapper)… Within five holes he was handing me clubs without any discussion and with only one exception he was right every time. He knew when to chat, when to keep quiet and got me round in 5 over par.’

Read more about David Gilroy’s visit to Belle Mare Plage:

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Sea creatures of the Maldives: the Pyramid Butterflyfish

Marine biologist Robin Aieilo shares her insight about the sea creatures of the Maldives and the beautiful Pyramid Butterflyfish found in the calm water around Constance Halaveli.

Butterflyfish in the Indian Ocean

The varied fish in the reefs around Halaveli

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I left Halaveli Resort – I had such a fantastic time and cannot wait until I return in the near future.

Arctic Adventure

But before I come back to the resort I have another exciting adventure – 3 months sailing above the Arctic Circle. I will be onboard a small Expedition Cruiseship working as a marine biologist lecturer and zodiac driver (you know those small black rubber boats). We are exploring around Svalbard, Norway for over amonth then making our way across the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and then into Hudson Bay.

This will be my fifth season up there – for me, it is a little like coming home for a visit every year. So stay tuned – I will be writing monthly blogs from the Arctic and sharing my experiences with polar bears, whales, walrus and the northern lights.

Ongoing Marine Life Blogs

But my heart remains in the Maldives… There are just so many fascinating animals to tell you about. This month, it’s the turn of the Pyramid Butterflyfish.

Pyramid Butterflyfish (Hemitaurichthys polylepis)

When you get into the waters on any of the reefs around Halaveli Island, the first thing that catches your eye is colour – splashes of blue, yellow, white, orange, black. Fish of every shape and size darting around you – sometimes so quickly that you only see a flash of colour, then the tail as it disappears into the reef.

Sometimes it is almost overwhelming – where should you look first?

Butterflyfish in the reefs around Halaveli

A Butterflyfish in the Indian Ocean

Beautiful Butterflyfish

One of my favourite fish of all is the butterflyfish. They are aptly named because they are small, colourful and ‘flit’ around the reef. There are 32 species in the Maldives and as a group, they are relatively easy to identify.

They are hand-sized, laterally compressed (discus-shaped), swim in pairs (they mate for life, which can be about 25 to 30 years), and generally cruise along close to the reef as they feed by nipping off coral polyps and grabbing tiny invertebrates.

Their shape is perfect for quick maneuvering – they can turn and dash off in milliseconds – and for tucking into little nooks and crannies in search of food.

Almost all butterflyfish (there are, of course, exceptions) are white and yellow with black stripes. They are certainly striking, and hard to miss. Most of them have two key deceptive features – black eye-stripes that hide their real eyes, and what we call ‘false eyespots’ near their tails. The theory behind these eyespots is that they confuse predators into thinking the fish is moving in the opposite direction, making it harder to attack.

The Black Sheep of the Family

But, as with all families, there is one that is the ‘black sheep’ – the one that behaves and looks a little bit different. In this case, it is the Pyramid Butterflyfish.

Instead of cruising near the reef in pairs, these colourful fish form massive groups, or schools, just off the edge of the reef. They can form groups of many hundreds of fish, forming a beautiful shifting curtain of black, yellow and white.

Butterflyfish

A school of Butterflyfish

Planktivores

This species does not feed on reef invertebrates like the other butterflyfish, but is a planktivore – eating zooplankton (small animals that float in the water). So, for them, it is better to hang out in the open water where there is more current and more plankton.

The other difference is that this species does not have the typical black stripes of other butterfly species. Instead, they have a large triangular shaped white patch on either side. Young fish have lighter coloured heads, and they darken as they mature.

At dusk, this large school of fish disperses – each individual fish wanders off over the reef looking for a small hole to use as a hiding place for the night while they sleep. Just before entering the hole they change colour – the bright white patch fades away and turns dark, making them less visible to nocturnal hunters such as sharks and moray eels.

How Pyramid Butterfly fish communicate

Scientists have only recently discovered that just before they head off to find their nighttime refuge, and only at this time, they communicate with one another. How? By sound! Yes…many fish are able to make sounds by using their air bladders and the muscles that surround it like a drum. So the next time you do a dusk dive or snorkel, listen carefully to these beautiful little Pyramid Butterflyfish.

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Learn more about other sea creatures you’ll see when diving at Halaveli:

Scuba diving in Madagascar: the undiscovered ocean

Join Nicolas Richer as he goes scuba diving to discover the secret underwater treasures that surround Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar.

Diving at Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Diving at Tsarabanjina

Diving in Tsarabanjina is, for me, an unforgettable experience. It is one of the last places on the planet which remains almost virgin territory for divers, where only a few have had the privilege of dropping their fins.

Each time I dive here I get the feeling that I am the discoverer of an unexplored paradise.

Diving at Tétons, Madagascar

This morning we start our dive at Tétons. Under a benevolent sun and after a jovial briefing with our instructor Riccardo, myself and three other divers embark on a comfortable 15-minute speedboat journey.

Here we are. No one is in site. The Tétons, two beautiful rocks looming off the coast of Tsarabanjina, are lined beneath the water with lush coral pinnacles and tunnels colonised by stunning marine life.

Diving Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Underwater at Tsarabanjina

After the usual checks and Riccardo’s okay, we make the big jump.

Crystal clear water welcomes us. Immediately I am struck by the abundance of life around me, a school of batfish approaches attracted by our bubble wall and a crowd of yellow snappers gently surrounds me.

We venture to explore the light and shade of the tunnels where we can admire vaults covered with colourful sponges and hundreds of sweetlips a little surprised by our presence.

At the end of the tunnel, my gaze is drawn towards a cloud of glass fish being chased by several kingfish and a spanish mackerel in the midst of a coral richness rarely equalled.

Wow, I’ve already been diving for 50 minutes, I do not want to go back but I have to.

On the boat back to Tsarabanjina

On the boat everyone is euphoric. After a nice iced tea the crew turn the boat back towards Tsarabanjina. The icing on the cake is a pod of bottlenose dolphins following us, playing at the bow of the boat, joining us in our celebration of this unforgettable dive.

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Mountain hiking in Mauritius

Explore a dramatic landscape hewn from volcanoes and softened by verdant nature with a trek through Mauritius’ mountainous interior.

Moka Range, Mauritius

Moka Range, Mauritius

Take a break from sun bathing and discover mountain hiking in Mauritius, exploring the stunning beauty of an island sculptured by nature into an array of mountainous peaks, waterfalls and tropical valleys, many of which are protected within national parks.

The three mountain ranges on Mauritius offer a variety of short and longer hikes, from easy to the more challenging.

These peaks aren’t high in comparison to major mountain ranges of the world but the views are breathtaking and the chance to see more of the island is one not to be missed.

Take your pick from the Moka range in the east near Port Louis, the Black River range in the south-west and the Grand Port in the south-east.

With peaks ranging from 480 to 828m many can be explored with a good map and some walking boots but some of the more challenging peaks will need a guide.

The very best mountain hikes include:

  • Le Pouce – Despite being one of the tallest peaks on the island at 811m the walk up Le Pouce is one of the easiest making it perfect for those looking for spectacular views without too much difficulty. Situated in the Moka range it overlooks the capital Port Louis with 360º views around the island.
Constance Le Prince Maurice

Constance Le Prince Maurice

  • Lion Mountain – For those looking for more of a challenge Lion Mountain in the south east, named because locals thought the mountain resembled the creature, is only 480m but is a longer, slightly more difficult hike. The half-day trek is well worth it for the stunning views of the lagoon when you reach the summit.
  • Black River Peak – Surprisingly the highest peak on the island at 828m is also considered one of the easiest hikes and one of the most scenic. Most of the walk is along a ridge through beautiful endemic trees and plants with a stunning view across the island and the west coast from the summit.
  • The Corps de Garde – For those looking for a serious challenge a hike up this 780m peak on the west of the island will get your pulse racing. A secluded, remote hike through basalt rock and tropical plant life gives stunning views over the ocean and the mountains of the Casela Nature Park in the south.

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Condé Nast Traveller names Constance Halaveli in The Spa Guide 2013

Condé Nast Traveller has named Constance Halaveli as one of the best spas in the world, in their latest Spa Guide 2013.

Spa at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Spa at Halaveli

Just published, The Spa Guide names the crème de la crème of spas around the world. Halaveli, with its Valmont and Ila Spa, is listed as one the most sought-after spas for anti-ageing set against an idyllic island backdrop. ‘It’s as decadent as you want it to be, but the real indulgence is just stopping and letting go.’

Of the spa, they write:

‘Thrillingly, through the face hole of the massage bed, you can watch violet, jade-green and sunshine-yellow reef fish swim below you until the Balinese therapist’s hands send you into shut-eyed oblivion.’

The latest June edition of Condé Nast Traveller is on sale now, and includes The Spa Guide 2013.

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19th Hole blog rates Belle Mare Plage as top honeymoon destination

When Oliver Gunning of Your Golf Travel chose Belle Mare Plage as his honeymoon destination, he was looking for a resort that ticked all the boxes for his non-golf playing wife, as well as offering the opportunity for him to indulge in his passion for the sport.

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Legend golf course

Legend golf course

Writing on the 19th Hole blog, Oliver writes of the 5* Mauritian resort:

‘… if you are looking to take your golf clubs on honeymoon, it is hard to find a better place to do so than Belle Mare Plage. The varied activities, stunning beach side location and exceptional golf on offer make it very clear why so many come here for their golf holidays in Mauritius.’

Read the full review on the 19th Hole blog:

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