Never had such a deep sense of calm filled my entire body than when I spent three days (note, this is not long enough) at Azura Quilalea. Flying onto the island by helicopter from a property I’d stayed at and not enjoyed (this shall remain nameless, don’t worry we won’t send you there!) it piqued my interest before I’d even set foot on land – here below us were vast baobabs dotting the tiny island, tropical jungle within it, coral reefs and beaches surrounding every corner and the wildest most dramatic coral heads I’ve seen. I frog marched Leon the manager at great pace down the shady coral path towards the lodge in anticipation of the joys that were about to be unfolded. I was not disappointed.
In fact Azura Quilalea surpassed every expectation I ever had – and I had many. We have been working for many years with Azura Benguerra, their Southern Mozambique property (Quilalea is in the North) and thought it couldn’t be surpassed in terms of African beach luxury. Azura Quilalea is so different to Azura Benguerra that the two cannot be compared, apart from in the seamless quality of the service, the smiling friendly faces of all the staff no matter where you turn, and the gourmet food. However Azura Quilalea has the edge when it comes to exclusivity, this tiny island is not visited by fishermen, locals or other tourists – it is just you on this tropical island, surrounded by never ending marine life on the outside, and tropical birds, monitor lizards and tortoises on the inside. What a paradise.
By day three we had slowed down and matched the pace of the island, I found I felt happier, clearer, more alive, but at the same time so relaxed. Every worry or trouble that has ever plagued you will be relieved by the placid simplicity of this island. The villas themselves are natural and flowing, with several sitting areas outside for you to dream away the hours – day beds over looking the sea provide shade, while hammocks and sunbeds are there for the sun worshippers. The beds are exceptionally comfortable, enormous and covered with Egyptian Cotton sheets with a 400 thread count – dreamy.
If you are the paradox person we know and love, and find the only way to relax and enjoy yourself is by being busy with exciting activities not available at home then this is your place – snorkelling off the beaches at Azura Quilalea is the best in Mozambique. Paddle boarding and kayaking sit alongside diving and fishing as the main activities – but we also found the baobab walk round the island a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. If you get really lucky you may even see a turtle laying it’s eggs on the deserted turtle beach. The spa was full of natural oils and treats, with the therapists being experts in several different massage methods and other treatments.
The warmth and atmosphere on the island isn’t just due to being so totally connected to nature here, but also due to the people who run it, live here, work here, sleep here – they are the heart and soul and add that finishing touch to make every guest feel as if it’s home. Leon and Claudia are warm and generous hosts who went out of their way to ensure everything was perfect, but who also sat with us as friends for sun-downers, entertaining us with tales of their amazing lives spent working in magical places such as this. Our last evening spent having dinner on the beach cemented our own feelings towards the island. The milky way glistened above us, as phosphorescent algae lit up the beach and waves – it was a night that set about a deep sense of happiness within us both.