IT is when the sun slices out from behind the angry black clouds that I finally get Mauritius.
The sea, for days a frothing grey, is suddenly a flat, sparkling turquoise.
Beige sands dry out, at last brilliant white, soft and welcoming. And tropical vegetation, until then just a dripping mass, is once more providing dappled shade.
This is more like it.
After three days of highly unusual torrential rain, the sun is out and I can see what all the fuss is about.
And although we have just a few hours before catching the plane home, there is no better place to enjoy the Mauritius experience than on Ilot Mangenie, the private island paradise for guests of the Touessrok Resort & Spa.
Its just a five-minute bob across from the hotels jetty.
Once there, its a case of settling on a sunbed or in a thatched cabana and sizzling in the gorgeous sunshine, pausing only to take a dip in the warm waters.
The islands little beach club serves a mean cocktail, as well as a great line in tropical salads and oven-fired pizzas.
Its all just too perfect. Guests at Touessrok are a loyal lot one Brummie couple on our boat journey to the island tell me they have been coming annually for more than 20 years.
And its not difficult to see why. As well as the private beach club, the hotel owns a neighbouring island complete with 18-hole golf course.
And then there are the beaches fringed by palm trees, infinity pools and tropical gardens.
Rooms have terraces or balconies right on to the white sands with floor- to-ceiling windows to soak up every last Instagrammable view of the Indian Ocean.
But paradise, it turns out, doesnt have to come at a price.
While the resorts three exclusive beach villas, complete with their own champagne butlers, promise royalty and celebs total privacy at 6,000 per night, long-haul specialist Southall Travel has week-long stays in ocean-view rooms from 1,250 including your flights and transfers.
It was my first time in Mauritius which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary of independence from the UK and despite the soggy start, the island was a revelation.
Setting off from Le Touessrok to discover the south of the island reveals endlessly changing landscapes, from busy colonial-era towns and centuries-old sugar- cane plantations to volcanic mountain ranges and unique geological wonders.
In the Black River Gorges National Park we are almost grateful for the deluge as we hike our way up muddy trails through the indigenous rainforest to a lookout point with far-reaching views.
GETTING / STAYING THERE:Long-haul travel specialist Southall Travel has seven nights B&B at the 5* Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort and Spa.
From 1,249pp including return flights with Turkish Airlines from Gatwick.
The same trip staying at the 5*H Lux Belle Mare is from 1,199pp.
Book online at southalltravel.co.uk or call 0208 705 0086.
There are 40-odd miles of hiking trails to explore and a guided tour is the best way to understand the natural wonders around every twisting turn.
Its no stroll in the park though pack decent boots, wear long trousers to keep bugs at bay and douse yourself in mosquito repellent but the views from the summit are worth every muscle-burning step.
With the rain still tipping down, we dont get to see the Seven Coloured Earths at their best but this geological phenomenon is still astonishing waving sand dunes in a riot of colours that seem to defy the downpours amid the dense tropical forest background.
And if nothing else, our next stop at the Chamarel Waterfalls proves all that rain CAN be a positive.
We are treated to an astounding deluge of water as it crashes over the edge of a gorge, sending plumes of steam rising into the air and creating an almost prehistoric atmosphere as bats circle overhead.
We dry off and refuel at the Varangue Sur Morne restaurant in Chamarel. Originally a rustic game-keepers lodge, its lovely verandah has panoramic views and decent Mauritian food try the deer or venison curry or fish of the day. Served with simple rice and salad, it hits the spot perfectly.
Heading back to Le Touessrok on the north east of the island, we have just enough time to take in Trou aux Cerfs.
Its a dormant volcanic crater that seems to sit implausibly on the edge of a little town as well as the Grand Bassin, a crater lake some 550 metres above sea level with its calm waters and shoreline dotted with Hindu temples.
The skies brighten as we explore the capital Port Louis the next day and with the sun comes searing heat.
After admiring the views of the city from the Victorian-era Citadel Fort Adelaide that stands guard over the city we plunge into the cool but chaotic Central Market.
Locals take their pick from stalls piled with glistening fresh fruit and veg, then queue for a dhal puri at the Ramsahye Maraz stand on the markets edge.
Wafer-thin puri pastry is stuffed with a spicy lentil mix and your pick of chutneys and extras.
Its not delicate or easy to eat but delicious and filling.
As the clouds roll in again we stroll the manicured lawns of the Pample-mousses Botanical Garden, just a short drive from the capital.
From humble beginnings as a vegetable garden started by the islands French governor in the 1720s, it has grown to include a huge collection of tropical palms and a beautiful pond of giant water lilies.
The gardens are well worth an hour or two but do try to plan around lunch at the restaurant Tante Athalie.
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This family-owned, relaxed affair sees guests eating almost in the front yard of a modest colonial house on a former sugar-cane estate, surrounded by an eclectic collection of vintage cars, bikes and even planes.
The view may be bonkers but the food is spot on a heady mix of French and Creole delights with delicious fish and meat curries, fiery chutneys and plenty of fresh local vegetables.
Our final night sees us dashing with brollies from our rooms to the Safran restaurant back at Le Touessrok for high-end Mauritian Indian cuisine spiced grilled fish, meaty curries and delicate dahls are demolished.
But it is next morning when I throw open the curtains and finally glimpse the sunshine bouncing off a turquoise blue sea that Mauritius finally makes sense.
My tip? Do it all embrace the rain, admire the natural delights.
Then collapse, cocktail in hand, on a white sandy beach and let the sunshine do what it does best.
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