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My biggest surprise on a flight to see Mauritius' 'underwater waterfall': I flew the plane

July 02, 2022
8 min read
The beautiful island of Mauritius
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The idyllic island of Mauritius is a lure for travelers seeking pristine beaches and upscale resorts. However, you'll also find a stunning natural phenomenon – an "underwater waterfall."

You can only view this remarkable illusion from the air, so when I learned of the underwater waterfall seaplane tours, I had to sign up.

I expected a scenic ride. Little did I know that I was in for the flight of my life taking the controls of the Czech-built TL Ultralight TL-3000 Sirius while flying barefoot.

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About the flight

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

I stayed at the JW Marriott Mauritius Resort in the lush Riviere Noire District. It was only a five-minute drive — on the left-hand side of the road — to La Prairie Beach where scenic seaplane flights operated by LagoonFlight depart.

You can choose from 15-, 25-, 40- and 60-minute flights. The real highlight of the trip is the underwater waterfall, which you see on all of the flights. So I went for the 15-minute flight for 120 euros (about $125).

LagoonFlight operates two planes with just two seats, both of which are identical. Being ultralightweight, the planes only weigh about 650 pounds when empty. My plane only had 100 horsepower, which was adequate, but takeoff was no sprint. To my surprise, these planes only have a 34-gallon gas tank, and as you might expect, it takes the same unleaded fuel you put in your car. They have a range of 870 miles, so in ideal conditions, they get about 25 miles per gallon.

Related: How I’m spending over 5 million Marriott Bonvoy points

Preparing for flight

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

I parked the rental car (something you should have in Mauritius if you're comfortable driving on the other side of the road) in a dirt lot just adjacent to the beach, then walked over to the stall where I was offered a cup of coffee. After filling out a short waiver, I received a life jacket.

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(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

At first, I thought that I was given the life jacket to swim out to the plane since there was quite clearly no dock to board from. It gave the ground staff a good laugh.

As it turns out, life jackets are required to be worn "just in case."

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

The plane came right up to the beach and it was refueled. Then, I walked out in knee-deep water to the plane and stepped up onto the pontoon.

They gave me a headset to communicate with the pilot, then belted me in over the lifejacket.

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

On this flight, I had a very special pilot, Capt. Flo.

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Capt. Flo, who is half South African and half Mauritian, is a year older than me. Her dream is to become a pilot for Air Mauritius, where she'll fly Airbus A330s and A350s. By flying the seaplane, she's able to gain the flight hours she needs to advance her career in aviation.

Throughout the flight, Capt. Flo and I had a nice conversation thanks to the headsets. I told her a bit about my experience with aviation working for The Points Guy, but more on that later.

After setting the throttle for takeoff thrust, Capt. Flo pulled back on the control column as we reached a rotational velocity of 50 knots. We were up and away!

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Related: Why Mauritius should be at the top of your travel to-do list right now

Seeing the waterfall

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

After about five minutes in the air, we were cruising at an altitude of 1,500 feet. And there it was — the underwater waterfall.

Now, in all honesty, there's no water falling into an abyss. However, Mauritius is situated on an island shelf above sea level. Off Le Morne, there's a gradual incline followed by a sudden 13,000-foot plunge. Since the sand is in constant movement in the ocean, from the sky it looks like an underwater waterfall through the pristine turquoise ocean.

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Taking the controls

At this point in the flight, I was thoroughly content with what I had just seen and assumed that we'd be on the ground soon. Little did I know another highlight was still ahead.

Capt. Flo took us farther out over the ocean and seemed interested in my experience with aviation. I told her that I love traveling and flying, but then, of course, Capt. Flo wanted to know if I could fly. I let her know that I grew up on Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane.

Then, out of blue said to me, "Right, Kyle, you have the controls!" I believe my mouth dropped.

She told me to take the control column and follow the horizon and asked me for my phone.

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

As I was flying, Capt. Flo snapped lots of great pictures. Then, while I had the controls, we hit a pocket of turbulence. Once we cleared the turbulence, we came out with the nose at a 10-degree downward position. I quickly pulled back on the column to prevent us from losing more altitude.

After that, which felt to me like a near-death experience, I requested that Capt. Flo take over the flying.

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Landing

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Descending to just 100 feet, we flew right over some waves crashing toward the beach.

Capt. Flo then began the landing procedures by radioing the base and initially setting the flaps for 15 degrees.

She let me know that landing the plane would take lots of concentration, so we paused our conversation. I watched over the controls – altitude: 30 feet, airspeed: 50 knots, flags: 40 degrees.

And then, splash! Her landing was so smooth I had hardly realized that we had touched the ocean. Once we really made contact with the water, the plane came to a barreling halt. I was glad was wearing my seat belt harness. With the physics of a plane landing on water, the ground staff told me that's normal.

Bottom line

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

My seaplane flight was not only the highlight of the day; it was the highlight of my Africa trip. I found that 120 euros were very reasonable for such a memorable experience. Capt. Flo was a lovely individual and superb pilot. Who knows? By the time I get back to Mauritius, maybe she'll be the pilot on my international flight over there.

If you find yourself in Mauritius and prepared for an adventure that you likely wouldn't be able to have in the United States, I would definitely recommend LagoonFlight.

Featured image by (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023