Love Is In The Air, Everywhere I Look Around

The Sun-Herald/The Age Traveller

2 August 2015


Tatyana Leonov discovers Mauritius is paradise for honeymooners.

The two young women frocked up in wispy white wedding dresses giggle as they skip across the volcanic rock, jumping puddles where necessary while looking for that postcard picture. Both have resorted to heels off and thongs on for the seaside photo shoot.

The two men also laugh, enjoying watching their new wives parade about in the same dresses they wore at their weddings a few weeks ago in Beijing. Donning casual attire and taking the photos, they know that today it’s about getting the perfect post-wedding shots . . . and that these same photographs will be plastered all over Weibo within a few hours.

Mauritius is considered one of the top destinations in the world for weddings and honeymoons (Mauritius won ‘‘World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination’’ in 2014 and ‘‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination’’ in 2015 at the World Travel Awards).

The idyllic island-country ranks high in the romance stakes for a number of reasons: year-round balmy weather, the hospitable nature of the Mauritian people, the plethora of hotels and resorts that specialise in romance packages, and plenty of picturesque sites, such as Cap Malheureux.

The sleepy fishing village is most famous for its red-roofed Roman Catholic Church. The charming building is surrounded by lush green grass and is situated just a few steps from the outrageously turquoise sea. Any tourist undertaking a tour of the north will stop at the church – I’m one of many here today.

In recent years China’s overseas honeymoon holiday sector has grown immensely. Mauritius is a popular destination not only because of the setting; it also offers Chinese visitors a free visa on arrival. Between 2012 and 2013, the influx of Chinese tourists doubled, and there was just over 50 per cent growth the following year – a substantial number of these honeymooners.

The loved-up foursome are not the only ones snapping away. By the church, groups of friends are jumping in unison with a photographer who is endeavouring to snap them mid-flight. A young father attempts to photograph his family using the self-timer, but trips as he runs into the shot.

His wife and toddler daughter collapse beside him in a laughing heap. A large group of tourists in a hotel minivan pull into the car park and join in, posing cheerfully in front of the church.

I mooch about, slyly snapping shots of the photo-takers. It’s as if I’m invisible. Everyone is in his or her little bubble and I’m the voyeur, gliding through, observing and chronicling the spectacle that is holiday life.

As I turn back to the water the newlyweds have changed locations and the women are again wearing their glittery high heels. They’ve changed positions, too, and are now concentrating on couple shots.

The husbands look a little underdressed in their casual attire compared to the women in their now-wet wedding dresses, but it doesn’t matter. A holiday here is about slowing down and enjoying the moment – and clearly everyone at Cap Malheureux is doing just that.

The writer was a guest of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Air Mauritius.