Recently I decided to head to the North of the island. The purpose was to visit the Grand Baie area which I have not seen for a few years. My memories of Grand Baie and Pereybere date back to the 80’s. In those days the region had a charm and beautiful tranquil beaches. (Click on photo to view larger format).
Walking around Grand Baie I had a shock at its development. Unfortunately, for me, it is a negative sight. This small touristic place has become an eyesore. Buildings have been constructed willy-nilly, stacked up against each other. Walking along the main road you have, what seems to be, a never-ending line of restaurants each having a tour operator next-door. The buildings almost touch each other or are stuck together. You get a feeling of wild architectural construction without a thought for the environmental pleasure. There are several commercial centres along the main road mostly catering for the tourist but looking like concrete bunkers. In the rat-race to build commercial outlets it is obvious that not much has been done to replant trees or have green areas.
Thankfully, the lagoon is still there with the many moored boats. However, I get the feeling that the beach is shrinking. Either it is due to erosion or the parking spaces invading inch by inch (or cm by cm if you prefer).
Continuing North just up the road is Pereybere beach. This used to be a tranquil public beach area with few hotels or seaside homes. Today, the same phenomena has invaded the Pereybere area with construction of restaurants, bars and seaside homes in every available space. The beach is no longer the enjoyable one of years ago. Today the beach has been taken-over by hawkers who demand ridiculous prices to rent beach chairs and parasols. The beach and turquoise sea still offer an enjoyable swim if you pick the right time to go there. (Click on photo to view larger format).
While I don’t begrudge people attempting to make a living from tourism, I feel that there is a saturation point. The saturation point comes when the charm of a place has been replaced by sterile construction with no regard for its traditional reputation. Also, when a main coast road is polluted by heavy and noisy traffic this is a recipe for disaster.
Conclusion, I have no wish to return to the area but rather will explore little hidden corners of the island which still have charm and beauty. Best for me to head South and enjoy nature before they commercialize that too.