As I step from the wooden walkway onto the sand I hear the muezzin call shimmer across the water from the neighbouring island. It is early yet, and almost cool; as my bare feet sink through the soft grains they hit a chill dampness that will not be there later on. At noon, the sand will be too hot to walk on, its coral whiteness too dazzling for the naked eye.
But for now the warmth of the early sun is on my back and the beach is almost empty. To my left a heron sits alert on the thundi wall, staring into the clear blue water, waiting to dive, dart straight, onto its favourite fish; chromis, fusilier, there are so many that he can afford to be choosy. I watch for a while, but he remains immobile, majestic.
I wander to the waterâ€™s edge and hitch up my sarong so I can feel the rhythm of the waves on my feet. Just here the lagoon is shallow and young reef sharks joust for imagined territories, the twists and turns of their smooth bodies mimicked by their shadows just inches beneath.
Further up the beach one of the gardeners is working with his rake, smoothing away the tiny flotsam and jetsam left by the nightâ€™s high tide. Fragments of coral and shell, appealing to the eye but sharp beneath the feet. Miniscule traps for the unwary tourist who must, after all, be pampered.
On the other side of the jetty the undergrowth is allowed to encroach on the sand. I wade out a little to pass a fallen tree and am rewarded by the flashing blue of a parrotfish just inches away from my legs. I am still gazing into the water when a frangipani bloom floats past, its overblown orange beauty washing away with every rise and fall of the water.
The waves lap, the insistent calls of the mynah birds reverberate from the scented coolness of the bushes behind me, the sun warms my shoulders. Across the water, the villagers are at prayer.