Reviews of Azura at Quilalea
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Quilalea Island - Paradise found!
WOW - what can we say. Truly paradise. We were met at Pemba airport by Meila who looked after us very well. Helicopter trip was amazing - would recommend this mode of transfer - views over the coast and other islands fantastic. From the time we arrived we felt totally relaxed and the staff really did make you feel extremely special, nothing was too much trouble, it truly felt like your own little tropical island.
Fantastic rooms with your very own private beach view. Loved the shower with its doors opening to the outside. Opened window shutter every night and woke up with the sunrise every morning. Food was fantastic and plentiful, at times is was almost an effort to eat everything on offer!!
We went scuba diving, snorkelling - one of our party used to be a dive master in the Caribbean but reckons the marine life was better than anything she's ever seen! Sunset dhow trip was lovely, very relaxing and the kayaking in the mangroves was great fun. We also did the trip to Ibo island which was really good. What a fascinating place and history, it would be really interesting to return in a few years time and see how it has developed.
All praise to Nathan and his wonderful staff - one of our party was a novice scuba diver and Brendan really looked after him. Couldn't really single out anyone, they were all so friendly and attentive pandering to all our needs without being intrusive. On our last day and night we were the only guests which made it even more special. The staff even baked us a huge chocolate birthday cake and presented it to us after dinner along with a fantastic song and dance display - music provided by any kitchen instrument they could lay their hands on - great fun!!!
Really sad to leave but our return helicopter flight was even better with yet more stunning views and we were met once again by Meila who again looked after us extremely well.
Truly, truly memorable.
We had a gorgeous time arriving by boat across that turquiose sea! About 5 staff met us on the beach - Inez then took us on a guide of the resort. To be honest, we were quite exhausted by the time we arrived and would have loved to have flopped with a cold drink for an hour and then to have had the guide. However, we were thrilled with all we saw and adored our rooms.
We thought Janine was quite the most professional diving guide - Juliet did her first dive with her and was so impressed. The rest of the young loved all the dives and snorkelling. We were led to believe by the list of boats sent to me that there would be waterskiing - I misunderstood the description of skiboat - a great shame but understandable considering the currents there.
I also expected the fishing to be better - a leaflet I was sent talked about the wonderful flyfishing off the beach at Quilalea - that was a particular disappointment as the plan for the last week of the holiday was to be really active - particularly for the boys in the party who were mad keen flyfishermen. Also, the deepsea fishing boat was out of order - they might have resorted to that even if the boat had been working. Nathan did his best on our last afternoon - thank you Nathan - to get the boys into a fish - but no luck.
Other activities were great - kayaking in the mangroves, the trip to Ibo, snorkelling etc. etc.
Inez was a very caring and helpful person. Laundry was pretty non-existant - especially as we had arrived from safari with many dirty clothes - we had to chase them up a bit. The staff in the diningroom were gorgeous - again, we loved eating out under the stars - all lots of work for the staff but much appreciated.
Our general impression of Quilalea is gorgeous. We all had a wonderful time and left it with very heavy hearts.
Expert Africa comments
We now understand that there was one deep-sea fishing boat out of commission during this family’s trip to the island.
A point of confusion here was the description, on Quilalea’s own website, of one of their boats as a “Ski boat”. This is, in fact, a double-hulled boat that travels at speed, rising up above the plane of the water, to skim the surface of the ocean on ‘skis’. Our travellers read this and thought that water-skiing was possible here – and were disappointed when it wasn’t. As the result of this feedback, Quilalea is changing their description of the boat on the website!
However, we’re pleased that they had a great time otherwise – even if the fishing wasn’t what they’d hoped for!
A beautiful resort
We arrived at Quilalea minus our luggage (which was still in Dar es Salaam), so it wasn't the best start to our paradise honeymoon! However the staff at Quilalea bent over backwards to help - we were taken shopping in Pemba on our way to the transfer and so had managed to buy a few essentials. Once on the island some other guests lent us clothes and our bags arrived after 3 days.
The island itself is beautiful - and our villa was spectacular. It was nice to meet in the bar each evening to discuss if we wanted to do any activities the following day. We did a Discover Scuba course and enjoyed it so much that we went on to dive nearly every day (accompanied by the Divemaster Janine).
The marine life and corals were beautiful and we also had the most amazing experience of snorkelling with dolphins.
Mark was also the first ever guest to do the 4 1/2 hour kayak to Ibo island (with Nathan, one of the staff.) We also chartered the Islands' catamaran for half a day which we really enjoyed as a change from diving and snorkelling.
The food on the island was superb and the restaurant staff very friendly and chatty. It's a pretty laid back place with a very relaxed atmosphere. As with the other lodges we stayed at, we couldn't find fault.
Barefoot luxury on an intimate island
We had a wonderful stay. Even after 10 days we left wanting more, especially as our days could get busy with two dives.
We had room 9 booked and confirmed but when we arrived we were allocated another room. We showed our voucher and luckily room 9 was to be used by other guests arriving that day so a swap was possible. Not sure what would have happened otherwise! Definitely go for rooms 8 or 9, then 6/7. Rooms 1-5 are nearer the generator which runs 24 hours.
Great dive school. Well organised, and everything arranged for you, including carrying of heavy equipment to the boat.
Great food too with lots of delicious local seafood. Staff very friendly and willing but their English was often limited to the extent they could not answer queries or take instructions, eg, coffee ordered for 7.15 came at 7.45. Language barrier also a bit of an issue with the massage girls as you could not tell them anything about the treatment you hoped for.
Good other range of activities - kayaking, walking round the island, picnic lunch, visits to other islands. The trip to Ibo, while very worthwhile, was rather overpriced at $400 we felt compared to the cost of other boat trips.
Expert Africa comments
Quilalea's owner, Marjolaine, commented that they realize that their luxury yacht, Kiraku, is costly, but that this due to the high price of maintaining and fuelling the craft in such a remote area. They had tried to find other guests who wanted to share the costs of the fascinating trip to Ibo, but sadly on this occasion it wasn't possible.
The staff on the island have come a very long way since this remote lodge started. Levels of education in this area of Mozambique were very low, and a lodge like this has to train most of its staff from scratch. Bearing this in mind, what the staff have achieved so far is fantastic.
Most already speak at least 4 languages, including Portuguese, and whilst classes for learning English continue, it will be some time before everyone attains a high standard.
Overall the experience was excellent.
Some of the activities appeared a little expensive, eg the trip to Ibo Island.