Our web designer, Tiffany Stewart, recently took a five-day trip to southern Africa, where she spent four days at Azura Quilalea Private Island in Mozambique and one day at Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa in South Africa. While it took her two days to get there, she appreciated every minute of the solitude she found while relaxing on the private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago.
Overall impressions: Azura Quilalea is just as beautiful as all the images make it out to be. The ocean, as you fly over it in your private helicopter, is cerulean blue as far as the eye can see. The property has really thought of everything, from your greeting at the Pemba airport, to bringing you a cool cloth and water for your hike from the helicopter landing pad to the resort itself.
Favorite moment: The dinner provided under the giant baobab grove on one of our last nights on the property. The trees were lit with soft lamps, and the chef had prepared an elaborate three-course meal. We ate under the stars while the bats pollinated the giant baobab flowers overhead.
You can't stop thinking about: The amazing swimming pool that overlooked the ocean. We spent a majority of our time there, discussing politics and reading. So much so that they served our lunch poolside. I also enjoyed our sunset sail aboard a traditional 40-foot dhow (sailing vessel). It reminded me very much of my island home of Jamaica and my former life there.
Insider's tip(s): While staying at Fairlawns, don't miss out on the four-hour spa treatment plus lunch for $150. It is a deal not to be missed! Also, ask the Azura chef if you can take home a bottle of the famous piri-piri sauce, made from hot peppers. It tastes amazing and goes well with just about everything.
Favorite meal: The one served under the baobab trees. It was a dish for seafood and meat lovers alike, consisting of lobster tails, grilled prawns, lamb chops and stuffed crab.
Day-trip or activities: The hotel offers a plethora of activities for guests. While we spent most of our time in the pool, many guests take advantage of the archipelago's marine sanctuary, which has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. Azura also has a fully equipped fishing boat for those who want to fish for marlin, sailfish and tuna.
Surprising fact or tidbit: The island has a very low tide in the mornings, so if you are awake early enough, you can actually walk out into where the middle of the ocean used to be.
Brought back/souvenir: We were able to snag a bottle of the piri-piri sauce for each of us, and I still have some left over. Fortunately a little goes a long way!
What to pack: Bathing suits, cover-ups, caftans and sunglasses.