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A Private Slice of Tropical Paradise

Tracey Campbell - October 27, 2014

We were asked whether we wanted to include one night on Denis Island, as part of our recent educational trip to the Seychelles in August. I think it took me less of a second to say yes please! Who would not say yes to the idea of spending one night on your very own private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean? It is not something I get to do every day, I will admit!

Our night to Denis Island was scheduled towards the end of our week in Seychelles, on the Thursday. We waited in anticipation at Mahe Airport for our flight to arrive, and I spent a pleasant 40 minutes trying to work out who, out of the assembly of passengers waiting there, looked as if they were off to the same idyllic Robinson Crusoe island as I was. When we eventually boarded the small light aircraft, there were just 7 of us on the flight. Already off to an exclusive start, I thought!

The flight takes a mere 30 minutes. The pilot approached the island, and you flies over it, before banking back and heading down towards the grassy runway and his landing. From the air, the runway stretches right across the island, and the closer you get, you find your feet starting work imaginary brake pedals as it looks just too short for the plane to be able to stop! But the pilot is a pro, he has obviously done this many times before, and after a very smooth landing, the plane turned around well before the end of the runway and coasted back towards the welcome committee of staff waiting for their new guests.

We were greeted and whisked off to the main lodge by golf buggy, where we were warmly welcomed with a cold drink, and the offer of a late breakfast if we wanted it, as we had arrived right at the tail end of the breakfast serving. We declined, as we were eager to just get to our room and relax a bit before lunch.

Back on the golf buggy again, and less than a minute later we were pulling up in the sand round the side of our cottage. We walked around the side, and you just felt any stress and strain immediately drain from you. The cottage was beautiful – a huge bedroom, and an en-suite bathroom completely open to a tiny garden area. A verandah with 2 chairs were just begging for us to sit in them, but we were too excited about running up the tiny sandy slope and onto ‘our’ beach. And what a beach it was. Whichever way you looked you just saw white sand, lapped by the blue Indian Ocean. It really was the stuff that dreams are made of. So the sun loungers under the shade of a palm tree won the battle for our attention, and for half an hour we stretched out there just listening… to nothing. Just the sound of the ocean.

Then there was a shout from the cottage, and our welcome ‘masseur’ had arrived to give us each our complimentary 30 minute massage. Thankfully, my husband didn’t want to leave the sun lounger, so I persuaded the masseur to give me a full hour instead, which she happily did. Lying on the verandah, I was treated to a head to toe full body massage. Never again will a massage at the gym spa be the same, listening to ocean music being piped through the speaker, when I have had ‘the real thing’. It was amazing.

It was then time to go up for lunch at the main lodge. We walked back, holding our sandals as this is what you do on your private island – walk around barefoot? I did put my sandals on when I went into the restaurant, but I probably didn’t need to be so formal – but I am British, after all.

Lunch was a buffet style affair – my husband opted for fresh sushi, I went for a healthy buffet salad plus grilled freshly caught fish. And then home-made ice cream for pudding. And this was a light lunch? I was starting to think that after more food like this, I may need to book an extra seat on the plane back for the extra weight I was undoubtedly about to pile on.

Our afternoon was spent in the company of Andre, the resident guide, who took us on a full tour of the island, about 2 hours. We saw the farm animals and where the furniture is made – this island is truly self-sufficient. We explored forests and beach coves and found wild bird nests. We learnt so much about the island and its wildlife in those 2 hours, my head was reeling with all the new knowledge it was trying to keep in!

Then it was back to our cottage to get changed into suitable attire for the obligatory dip in the ocean. Running again up and over the sandy slope, we just did not stop until we were in the ocean – ok, I admit, it was only about a 2 second run – we were on holiday, after all, you don’t want to exert yourself too much. I couldn’t have run further anyway if I had wanted to – the ocean literally is ‘just there’.

Then it was time to retire back to the sunloungers. Clutching our room delivery of 4 very cold beers, we settled in with our cameras for the next 90 minutes to watch the sun set. So peaceful. Just us and the setting sun and a few birds flying around. Not another person in sight. You really do start to believe that this is your very own private island, and you are the only people that exist on it.

Dinner was lovely, a 5 course affair which was delicious as to be expected. We laughed with the waiters, we said hi to other guests, and it was amazing to think that everything on our plates was from this very small island.

Then it was back to the cottage again, and this time, the verandah got our attention for about an hour, while we sat and just reflected on what it would be like to live here forever, and I even started working out the logistics of getting my cat flown out. I think Denis Island has that effect on you – after only a few short hours, you feel as if you have been there for ages, and you just do not want to leave.

The morning came too quickly, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, then it was back to the airstrip for our flight back to the main island of Mahe. To say I was sad to say goodbye was an understatement, and I had been on the island for less than 24 hours. If you stay there longer, it must feel as if you are leaving a part of yourself there. Probably a bit of your heart. It is an easy place to fall totally in love with.

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