There is no questioning the beauty of Mauritius’ landscape, its sapphire-blue waters have long enticed visitors to the island. Yet beyond its picturesque aesthetics lies an island waiting to be discovered.
Mauritius is the kind of place that rewards even the smallest attempt at exploration. Bustling markets, blooming gardens, feathery fields, verdant green mountains form a dense landscape that perches on the Indian Ocean. The Republic of Mauritius comprises the islands of Rodrigues, Agalega and St. Brandon. This tropical island set against a volcanic mountain in the backdrop is the place for discovery. The edifying confluence of cultures in Mauritius is apparent through its architecture lined with Indian temples, French colonial houses, creole language and of course, delicious food options. Famed for its pristine offshore islands, the history adds to the charm of the destination.
Mauritius has abundant activities for a power-packed yet relaxing holiday. Exploring the beaches such as Blue Bay at Pointe D’esny, Flic En Flac, Le Morne, Mont Choisy and Ile Aux Cerfs are a must on your trip. World-class spas and flight golf courses make it hard to leave the hotel, but it has plenty to see and experience – from nature walks, quad biking to zip-lining and horse riding.
A melting pot of cultures
If you ever need to quote an example of ‘diversity’, Mauritius makes it to the top of the list. It was centuries ago when people from different countries such as the Dutch, British and French settled and ruled the island. The rulers brought workers from countries such as Asia and Africa to work on the grounds. Presently, you will find various cultures merged up and living in harmony as the descendants have made Mauritius a great and peaceful place to live in or to visit. The warmth of hospitality can be experienced from the moment you set foot in Mauritius. Mauritians speak creole but there are different accents spoken across the island, some might mix it with French or even with Indian languages.
Larger than life Lagoon
Most places in Mauritius have a protected lagoon with wonderful coral reefs which means you can surf or enjoy any water activities in the lagoon. Water activities in the tropical island are a must. The Island of Mauritius is small but packed with the most diverse marine life in the world. Activities such as kayak, snorkelling, boat trip, Dolphin watching, Catamaran and diving are some of the activities you can plan through your trip.
Divers, the luckiest
With 330 kilometres of coastline encircled with turquoise lagoons, Mauritius is one of the most recognised places on earth to dive underwater and witness its elaborate and colourful flora and fauna. There are approx 50 diving sites across Mauritius that vary in difficulty and depth. The entire coastline is home to a plethora of fish species ranging in colours and sizes, corals from live to dead, giant and tiny sea turtles and many other rare species for you to explore. Located off Flic-en-Flac on the west coast of the island the Cathedral is the most popular dive in Mauritius. Gunner’s Coin is another site to go for diving as you can see Whale Rock in deep waters, and if luck is on your side you’re in for an experience of a lifetime to come face to face with a hammerhead shark. So depending upon the kind of marine experience you’re looking for, you can choose your dive sites accordingly. If opinions make a decision, the famous hairpin bend at Baie Du Cap is one of the best driving destinations on the planet. What makes diving in Mauritius unique is the proximity to the shore.
Doing nothing is doing everything at times
Just lazing around, appreciating nature, the sunsets, the clear sound of the waves clashing the shore or getting tanned at some mesmerising beach will bring about calmness in you. Thanks to its beautiful landscapes that make every moment on the island so spectacular. Mont Choisis beach in the northern region of the island is the perfect place to watch the sunsets. With feet buried in the sand and gazing at the overwhelming orange burning sun reflecting on the ocean, sipping your coconut water, these priceless moments will be etched in your memories forever. (PS- Don’t forget to take pictures as you might never watch sunsets like these again.)
The Southern hemisphere’s oldest botanical garden – Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical garden resides in Mauritius and is home to countless varieties of indigenous and exotic plant species. Mauritius’ biggest and best national park, The Black River Gorges National Park is a wild expanse of rolling hills and thick forest covering roughly 2% of the island’s surface. The La Vanille Nature Park boasts of the world’s most extensive collection of captive-bred giant Aldabra tortoises. Their count stretches into thousands and visitors can pet them as well! One can also encounter imported African animals at Casela, the island’s premier eco-adventure park. One of the world’s rarest birds, the Pink Pigeon can be found in the lush green forests of Mauritius. We’re certain you have seen pictures of colourful dunes and wondered if those were for real; yes, they’re as real and natural as it can get and are one of Mauritius’ most popular tourist destinations. The Seven-coloured Earth in Chamarel which consists of dunes of myriad colours owe their formation to the volcanic eruptions which have cooled off at different rates over centuries.
Mauritian cuisines are rare and delicious. Spices play an essential role in enhancing the Mauritian flavour. Seafood including fish, crabs, lobsters, squid, prawns, shrimps and octopus are extremely popular throughout the island. There are plenty of options you can try when in Mauritius starting from dhollpourri, gato Pima and samosa to pizza, pasta and curries. Make sure you try local dishes such as daube, fish vindaye and chicken kalia. If you’re a fan of street food, this island is a paradise for your gastronomic fantasies with food vans and vendors spread across the island serving some of the most lipsmacking snacks, drinks, and even have lunch and dinner options.
From a Bygone Era
Mauritius is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites – the first is the Aapravasi Ghat where Indian labourers were brought over by the Britishers to work on sugarcane plantations. The name translates to immigration depot. The second World Heritage Site – Mont Le Morne Brabant was once a sanctuary for the slaves who escaped their master’s oppressive rule in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This mountain is now a popular trekking destination, providing trekking enthusiasts with majestic natural views of the island. The Grand Bassin Lake also known as Ganga Talao is considered as Mauritius’ most sacred pilgrimage site for Hindus. A towering statue of Lord Shiva resides beside the lake where Mauritian Hindus travel to each year during Maha Shivratri to pay their respects to the Almighty.
The north around Grand Baie has the maximum concentration of hotels, beaches and entertainment. The east coast is renowned with some of the most celebrated hotels and stretches of undoubtedly the most stunning white-sand beaches, while the flat, calm beaches of the west coast are favoured by families. The striking south is the island’s wilder, but perhaps the most fascinating side. There are clutches of hotels in the southeast and more to be found squeezed onto calm stretches near pounding surf and clifftop walks in the green southwest.
Interesting Facts about Mauritius
- The island of Mauritius is surrounded by a ring of dormant volcanoes, streams, waterfalls and rivers in all four directions.
- Three nations have over the years colonised Mauritius – the Netherlands (1638-1710), France (1715-1810) and Great Britain (1810-1968).
- Mauritius is the only African nation with Hinduism as the dominant religion.
- Ironically, the national football team of Mauritius is nicknamed as The Dodos – a bird commonly associated with slumber and lethargy.