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Our brand partner Vamizi Island launched their first retreat in January 2012

Enjoy reading Wellicious Fan Claire Finlay´s diary in three separate blogs on our website about her experience of teaching on Vamizi.

Claire is packing it all in for a fabulous getaway to teach on an exclusive retreat on a private island called Vamizi…

Part 1: With the flight to Vamizi Island a mere 24 hours away, I ask myself what do I pack for a return trip to Paradise? I struggle to travel light at the best of times and with an ever expanding list of yoga props, not to mention books, Wellicious gift boxes and yoga wear, plus my favourite mat (so aptly named DIVINE…with 300 SWAROVSKI CRYSTALLIZED™ stones forming a gracefully designed Mandala), I can just picture the eye rolls at Excess Baggage.

Next stop: Paradise

Today is beyond frantic! Nicci Dhamu from Wellicious calls to wish me good luck. After some last minute packing and somewhat teary goodbyes to the family we leave for the airport.
The overnight flight to Dares Salaam in Tanzania leaves bang on time at 5.50pm. So far, so good. Deliriously excited about seeing the island for the first time, I still manage to squeeze in dinner, a movie and a sleep. Arriving at Dares Salaam, I then transfer onto the Vamizi flight a small plane with only 12 seats. This is no normal flight, it’s more of a dreamy film sequence. The Indian Ocean coast of Africa is one of the least exploited and most beautiful stretches of beach in the world so naturally I’ve got my face pressed up against the window for the entire journey. The Quirimbus Archipelago is awe inspiring. From the plane’s vantage point I can make out the shadow of whales under the water and an amazing scattering of small coral islands that arc out across the ocean. I later find out that these make up the 7,500 km square Quirimbas National Park that’s home to some of the richest coral reefs on the continent and teeming with marine life.

Love at first sight

I’ve been to some pretty far-flung, exotic destinations, but this island is something else. When I catch sight of Vamizi for the first time I’m awestruck. It´s unspoilt, 12 km long and 1.5 km wide. All I can see are huge swathes of white powdery sand contrasting with various shades of emerald and turquoise water. It is truly breath-taking. There are no sun beds, no beach bars, no shops, no concrete and not a person in sight. Yep, I think to myself as my feet sink into the crushed coral and shell sand, I can see what all the fuss is about and why Vamizi has won so many Condé Nast Awards!

Meeting, greeting and eating

With just a matter of days before the guests arrive, it’s all systems go. I get to meet important people from Island Management including Spa, Dive, and Fishing. I also spend an interesting afternoon with Russell who is Head of Hospitality and famed for opening E&O in Notting Hill. We have a long and detailed discussion about the retreat menus with Momade our acclaimed chef. He’s been trained by the head honcho from Jamie’ Oliver’s restaurant, Fifteen, so I know we’re in line for some outrageously great gastro delights…clean, nutritious and straight from the land or sea… Inspired by Nature… that’s the theme for the retreat!

My next task is to check out the exclusive new private villas, Kipila and Suluwillo, which are arguably Vamizi’s best asset. Situated on the edge of indigenous tropical forest, I’m intrigued by the window-less lodges that catch the breeze from the ocean, each commanding their own expansive section of the beach. All with breathtaking ocean views, they are airy and expansive, with timbered floors, huge day beds, sofas, walk-in showers and sun decks. There’s no TV, telephone, wifi or air conditioning. The only sound I can hear is the sing song chanting of nearby monkeys and the waves lapping at the shore. This is all about barefoot relaxation and living alongside nature. The countdown starts…read more next week…

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