THE MAGIC OF MAURITIUS – PLACES TO VISIT
Mauritius is famous for its gorgeous tropical weather, palm-lined powder-white beaches and turquoise-blue waters with luxurious resorts and an endless array of outdoor adventures. In fact, according to Mark Twain, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; heaven being copied after Mauritius”.
He was right. Mauritius is heaven on earth for fun-loving, sun-worshipping holidaymakers with a yearning for the ultimate beach escape. There’s a lot more to see and do in Mauritius than laze on idyllic beaches. Pack your backpack, hire a car and go on an incredible tour of the tropical island for a unique cultural and gastronomic experience.
Mauritius is an island nation located in the warm Indian Ocean some 2 000 kilometres off the east coast of Africa and some 800 kilometres off the east coast of Madagascar. It’s a beautiful destination with idyllic beaches, lush tropical vegetation, vast sugar cane plantations, magnificent mountains and aquamarine lagoons. It’s also rich in culture with an exotic mix of Creole, Indian, African and European inhabitants; all of whom have made an indelible mark on the serene spirituality of the country and its delectable cuisine.
Tourism is geared towards the all-inclusive Mauritius holiday package which includes flights, luxury accommodation, meals and a select choice of outdoor activities. It’s the ideal destination for families with an endless array of things to see and do in Mauritius. The popular Mauritius resorts have onsite clubs for children geared to provide endless fun and entertainment while parents get quality time together.
TOP 7 PLACES TO VISIT IN MAURITIUS
There is so much to see and do in Mauritius if you can drag yourself away from your luxury hotel in Mauritius. Here is a list of the Top 10 most popular attractions:
Le Morne Brabant
Le Morne Brabant is located in the southern region of Mauritius. It’s surrounded by Mauritius hotels although Le Morne Brabant itself is sparsely inhabited. The iconic mountain peak is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is rich in history. It’s the place where slaves from the sugarcane plantations fled to when they escaped from their masters. Le Morne Brabant offers visitors panoramic views over the west coast of the island and the southern coastal belt of Mauritius.
Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park spans some 6 574 hectares of verdant natural forests which covers about 3.5% of the total land area of Mauritius. The area is rich in fauna and flora with over 300 species of flowering plants found in the dense forest. It’s also home to the Pink pigeon which is one of the rarest birds in the world and endemic to Mauritius.
There are a few interesting hikes through Black River Gorges National Park with panoramic views of the island and beautiful gorges, peaks and waterfalls.
Chamarel is one of the most scenic attractions in Mauritius and renowned for its spectacular waterfall and the Seven Coloured Earths landmark. Chamarel itself is a small village located in the district of Savanne.
The Chamarel Falls is about 100-metres tall; a climb to the top takes you to a viewing platform which offers visitors the most incredible view of the island and the rock pool at the bottom of the falls.
The Seven Coloured Earth attraction is an amazing geographic phenomenon; these sand dunes are marked by distinct colours of reds, browns and purples which formed due to the cooling process in volcanic activity.
Pamplemousses Botanical Garden
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden is more commonly known as the Pamplemousses Garden which was the name given to it by the British after the common grapefruit that grew in the area. The beautiful botanical gardens lie in the heart of Port Louis, spanning some 60 acres. It’s renowned for its giant lily ponds, massive fruit bat trees with bats hanging from the branches and large ponds which are home to giant turtles. You’ll also find a selection of trees planted by famous people such as Nelson Mandela and Indira Ghandi.
Château de Labourdonnais
Château de Labourdonnais is a magnificent manor home nestled in a gorgeous natural estate. It was built in 1859 and showcases the grandeur and elegance of the 19th Century era. Château de Labourdonnais has been beautifully restored to its original splendour. An added attraction is the distillery owned and operated by Rhumerie des Mascareignes which produces Mauritius rum.
Ile Aux Cerfs
Ile Aux Cerfs is a stunning private island located off the east coast of Mauritius. It’s renowned for its palm-lined powder-white beaches and crystal-blue water. The picture-perfect island is one of the most popular destinations for Mauritian holidaymakers with a selection of fun watersports and a lovely restaurant serving delicious food. It’s also home to the famous Bernard Langer golf course.
Grand Bassin Sacred Lake
Grand Bassin is a lake situated high up in the mountainous area of Mauritius, some 1 800 feet above sea level. It’s a feature of an extinct volcano and regarded by Hindu followers on the island as a sacred place. The Lord Shiva temple takes pride of place at the Grand Bassin Sacred Lake with a 108 foot statue of Shiva standing proudly at the temple site.
The Hindu island people believe Grand Bassin is filled with holy waters from the River Ganges in India. On the occasion of Maha Shivaratee, Hindu followers make pilgrimages from their homes to the lake on foot; carrying religious carts known as Kawals.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN MAURITIUS
From swimming and snorkeling and lounging on idyllic beaches to eating out in restaurants, shopping in Port Louis, hiking in mountains, deep-sea fishing, visiting bustling street markets or walking with lions; there is no shortage of things to do in Mauritius.
While on holiday in Mauritius you can stay on the beaten path and visit the popular attractions or you can wander off and discover the magic of Mauritius. The island is a melting pot of cultures, rich in history and is home to an incredible array of fauna and flora.
It’s tempting to spend your whole holiday lapping up the luxury of a Mauritius resort destination but do yourself a favour; hire a car and see the rest of the island. You’re promised a world of adventure and fun exploring the four stunning quarters of the island.
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius and the largest city on the island. It’s renowned for its incredible architecture with strong French colonial influences and maritime landmarks which includes the historical naval base.
What to do in Port Louis? The list is endless.
Central Market in the heart of Port Louis is a famous street market and has been a bustling economic hub since the Victorian era. It’s been extensively refurbished and boasts stalls packed with fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh meat and fish as well as a selection of clothing and souvenir stalls. You’ll find food vendors selling delicious authentic Mauritian food.
Le Caudan Waterfront
Le Caudan Waterfront is a massive shopping mall in Port Louis which lures thousands of Mauritius holidaymakers to its glitzy corridors. You’ll find a selection of luxury boutique shops, international retail outlets, a craft market, food market and a wide selection of restaurants.
For a fun evening of entertainment, visit Port Louis’ impressive cinema complex. Three theatres offer visitors the choice of international releases with up to five screenings a day.
Port Louis Casino
Port Louis Casino is a vibrant nightspot if you fancy a bit of gambling while on holiday in Mauritius.
Champ de Mars Racecourse
Champ de Mars Racecourse is home to the second-oldest racecourse in the world. Originally a military training ground, the Mauritius Turf Club was founded in 1812.
Jardins de la Compagnie
Jardins de la Compagnie is beautiful city garden located in the heart of Port Louis. It’s renowned for its vast banyan trees, tranquil fountains and quite spaces and a large number of statues.
The Municipal Theatre in Port Louis is a delightful venue that seats over 600 people. It was built in 1822 in the classic Victorian theatre style and is the oldest theatre in the region.
Blue Penny Museum
Blue Penny Museum is a quirky museum dedicated to the world-famous Mauritian one-penny and two-pence stamps of 1847.
Natural History Museum & Mauritius Institute
This small museum is worth a quick visit if you’d like to see a life-size replica of the now-extinct dodo bird which was hunted to extinction in the late 1800s.
Mauritius Postal Museum
This small but interesting museum showcases commemorative stamps and other postal paraphernalia from around the world.
Aapravasi Ghat is a small grouping of historic buildings located on the seafront of Port Louis. They served as the island’s main immigration depot to process the arrival of slaves brought from India to work in the sugarcane plantations.
Fort Adelaide was built by the British and resembles a Moorish fortress. It sits high on a hill with panoramic views over the city and the Port Louis harbour.
SSR Memorial Centre for Culture
The SSR Memorial Centre for Culture is a simple house located near Jardin Plaine Verte which has been turned into a small museum. It houses a collection of belongings that belonged to the father of Mauritius’s independence; Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.
Place d’Armes is a palm-lined boulevard which leads up to Government House.
Government House is a striking French-colonial landmark in Port Louis which dates back to 1738. A rather solemn statue of Queen Victoria stands outside the building. Government House is closed to visitors.
The Jummah Mosque was built in the 1850s and is the most important mosque in Mauritius. It is designed with a fascinating blend of Indian, Creole and Islamic architecture.
BEST STREET MARKETS IN MAURITIUS
One of the best things to do on a Mauritius holiday is hire a car and go on a road trip around the island. There’s a fabulous food market in every large town in Mauritius with locals selling fresh produce, spices, herbs, salted dried fish and fresh meat. They rely heavily on Mauritius tourism and when you buy from the street markets, you’re making an important contribution to their livelihood.
Food markets sell outstanding fresh fruit and vegetables and it’s always cheaper than the supermarkets. The food market vendors are friendly and welcoming and you don’t have to haggle like you do in other countries.
Port Louis food market
This popular food market is a famous landmark in the capital city, Port Louis. It’s one of the things to put on your list of things to do in Mauritius because it’s crammed with fresh produce and fresh meat and fish. There’s a food hall where you’ll find the best alouda (a flavoured milk drink), tamarind juice, black jelly, delicious sandwiches and dhal puris.
Open daily (get there before 9am for the best fresh produce)
Located in Central Port Louis on Queen and Corderie Streets
Rose Hill is a smaller, less touristy food market in a town located on the outskirts of Port Louis. It’s also popular for its incredible selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. Stop for lunch at Dewa & Sons on Royal road for delicious dhal puri. It’s the best place in Mauritius to get this favourite local snack.
Located in Rose Hill, close to the centre of Port Louis
The street market at Flacq is a delightful thing to do in Mauritius; particularly if you’re tired of the food at your Mauritius resort. You’ll find an incredible selection of fruit and vegetables and fresh fish. The aroma of braaied fish and Creole cooking is tantalising. You can stock up on the island’s famous ready-made mazavaroo which is a delicious chili paste.
Open Wednesday and Sunday
Located in the centre of Flacq, a beach town close to Belle Mare on the east coast of Mauritius
Vacoas is the home of exotic Mauritius fruit; you’ll find a selection of fresh produce that you’ve never seen before such as chou chou, navet, pipangaye, patol, calbase and zat. The perimeter of the Vacoas street market is lined with clothing and basket stalls as well as vendors selling Indian snacks such as spicy samosas and chili bites, sweet maize and rice cakes dusted with grated coconut.
Open Tuesday and Friday
Located in the town of Vacoas in central Mauritius
Grand Baie fish market
What makes Grand Baie street market a fun place to visit in Mauritius is the informal fish market which opens every afternoon from about 4pm. The ‘catch of the day’ is braaied on the beach and attracts scores of locals as well as hungry Mauritius holidaymakers.
Located in Grand Baie on the far north coast of Mauritius
Quatre Bournes street market
This is a good street market in Mauritius to shop for clothes but the food vendors are also excellent.
Open Thursday and Sunday
Located inland of the west coast of Mauritius
PLACES OF INTEREST
The Lighthouse of Pointe aux Caves (Albion) is situated on the West Coast of Mauritius and is a striking landmark along the coastline. Construction on the lighthouse began in 1909 and was completed in 1910. The structure rises 30 meters of the ground and offers visitors a panoramic view of the island and Indian Ocean.
A visit to Albion Lighthouse needs to be authorised by the Mauritius Port Authority.
Crystal Rock is a striking landmark off the south west coast of Mauritius, about 200 metres from the shore. The giant rock sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean and is a wonderful scuba diving destination.
Le Jardin Pamplemousse
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden is usually shortened to SSR Botanical Garden or otherwise referred to as Pamplemousses Botanical Garden. The popular tourist attraction in Mauritius is located near Port Louis and is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s famous for its large ponds filled with giant water lilies.
Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens were constructed between 1719 and 1786 and showcases endemic plant species as well as exotics from Central America, Asia, Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean.
Notre Dame Auxiliatrice
Cap Malheureux is a beautiful red-roofed Notre Dame Auxiliatrice and one of the most photographed attractions in Mauritius. Have a peek inside to see the intricate woodwork and a holy-water basin which was fashioned out of a giant clamshell.
You can attend Mass at Cap Malheureux church at 6pm on Saturday and 9am on Sunday.
Pont Naturel is a volcanic rock formation standing some 2 meters high which looks like a natural bridge. It’s part of a cliff at Gris-Gris beach and if you’re brave enough, you can cross it.
There are many small holes in the rock and when the sea water washes over it, you can hear a faint whistling sound which has earned it the nickname of ‘le soufler’ meaning ‘the blower’.
Seven Coloured Earths
This world famous attraction is a unique volcanic geological phenomenon resulting in seven colours of earth swirled together to create a beautiful feature. Found in the stunning region of Chamarel, this is a popular Mauritius attraction that’s worth a visit.
The Seven Coloured Earths landmark is nestled in a lush tropical forest with a breathtaking 83-metre high waterfall close by. You can also take a short walk to the quaint Church of St Anne which was built in 1876. Drive back to your Mauritius accommodation through the scenic Chamarel to Baie du Cap.
The Aapravasi Ghat is an UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the Bay of Trou Fanfaron close to Port Louis. The historical site was built by the colonial British government in 1849 and served as an immigration depot where indentured laborers were ‘processed’ before being sent to work in the sugarcane plantations.
Between 1834 and 1920, about half a million immigrants were brought to Mauritius; mainly from India and some from China, Madagascar or Africa.
Domaine des Aubineaux
Domaine des Aubineaux is a colonial house which was built in 1872 and is part of the famous Mauritius Tea Route. It has been converted into a museum dedicated to the history of Mauritian tea. A guided tour takes you through a spectacular Camphor tree garden and offers insight into the history of the tea trade in Mauritius.
You’ll find a unique collection of antique furniture dating back to Compagnie des Indes of the 17th century and a fascinating collection of photos of colonial houses which have been demolished. The tour ends with tea and pastries at the estate’s famous tea room.
Eureka House (Maison Eureka)
Eureka House is a magnificent authentic colonial house set in a lush garden in a breathtaking setting. The elegant Creole house was built in 1830 on the river of Moka. The residence was originally owned by British and French aristocrats and was reputed to be the largest house on the island with 109 doors and windows. It has since been restored and opened to the public as a museum; showcasing artefacts from the colonial era and a fascinating collection of photographs.
The colonial home is surrounded by a lush tropical forest with stunning waterfalls. It’s a wonderful destination for nature lovers and Mauritius holidaymakers interested in the island’s rich cultural heritage.
Château de Labourdonnais
The Château de Labourdonnais is a lavish colonial home which was originally owned by Christian Wiehe, an influential figure of 19th century Mauritius. Construction started in 1856 and the magnificent home was completed three years later.
The architecture is inspired by the Italian neo-classical era with two levels and a double colonnaded gallery. A central hallway leads to an ornate dining room and an elegant lounge. The Château de Labourdonnais is set in a magnificent garden setting with old orchards of 100-year old mango trees, spice trees such as nutmeg and clove as well as several exotic fruit trees.
A tour of Château de Labourdonnais ends at the popular Tasting Bar where you can sample local products including jam, fruit jelly, fruit juices and sorbets.
NATURE & WILDLIFE
Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park is a protected fauna and flora nature reserve which was proclaimed in 1994 to protect the remaining indigenous rainforests of Mauritius. It covers an area of some 68 square kilometres and is made up of humid upland forest, drier lowland forest and marshy heathland. Visitors have access to two information centres, delightful picnic areas and 60 kilometres of beautiful wilderness trails.
Black River Gorges National Park is home to endemic species including the Mauritian flying fox and all of the island’s endemic birds: Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, Mauritius parakeet, Mauritius cuckoo-shrike, Mauritius bulbul, Mauritius olive white-eye, Mauritius grey white-eye and Mauritius fody.
Domain du Chasseur Game Park & Reserve
Domaine du Chasseur is a private nature reserve spread over an area of 1000 hectares at 300 metres above sea level located at Anse Jonchee in the South East of Mauritius. This altitude offers Mauritius holidaymakers a panoramic view of the island and the tranquil waters of the magnificent Indian Ocean. The nature reserve is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts with over 30 kilometres of wilderness trails which can be explored on foot, by mountain bike or quad bike and a popular mini jeep safari tour.
Ebony Forest Reserve
Ebony Forest Reserve is a protected nature reserve and a 50 hectare sanctuary for the island’s remaining threatened endemic flora and fauna. In the past decade, more than 14 hectares have been cleared of invasive vegetation and more than 140 000 indigenous plants have been planted in the nature reserve.
The endangered Pink pigeon and Echo parakeet were re-introduced to the reserve in early 2018. Ebony Forest is now home to five of the nine endemic bird species: Mauritius Bulbul, Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher, Mauritius Kestrel, Grey white-eye, Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet.
Enjoy a guided tour through Ebony Forest on raised walkways, hike through the forest or go on a safari tour in a mini jeep. The Ebony Experience museum showcases 8 million years of natural evolution.
Heritage Forest Reserve
Heritage Nature Reserve lies nestled in the spectacular 2 500 hectare domain of Heritage Bel Ombre which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The geomorphology, climate and vegetation of Heritage Nature Reserve is the perfect habitat for a fascinating array of plant and animal species.
Mauritius holidaymakers have the pick of an exciting choice of outdoor activities which includes exploring the dramatic landscapes of tropical forests, rivers, waterfalls and mountainous terrain on foot, on a mountain bike or quad or on a safari tour in a mini jeep.
Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve
Ile aux Aigrettes is a small island situated in the Mahebourg Bay about 850 metres off the south-east coast of Mauritius. Spanning some 27 hectares, Ile aux Aigrettes is a striking feature in the tranquil blue waters of the Indian Ocean. It’s made up of coralline limestone and is home to the last remnants of dry coastal forest which was once found in abundance throughout Mauritius.
The island was affected by tree logging and clearance, much the same as the mainland; where the introduction of exotic animal species and the decimation of endemic plant species almost destroyed the native fauna and flora. The island was proclaimed a nature reserve in 1965 and intense conservation efforts have restored the forest and seen the re-introduction of rare endemic island species.
La Vinille Nature Park
La Vinille Nature Park is set in a lush tropical forest and spans some 5 hectares; it’s located close to the village of Rivière des Anguilles in the south of Mauritius. It was created in 1985 and is home to an exotic array of fauna and flora, including famously giant tortoises, iguanas, deer, wild pigs and an impressive collection of Nile crocodiles which you’ll find at the La Vinille Crocodile Park.
The insectarium at La Vinille Nature park showcases one of the largest collections of insects in the world which were collected over a period of 30 years by Jacques Siedleck. There are over 20 000 species of insects and butterflies originating from all five continents.
You can choose to join a guided walk through La Vinille Nature Park or you can meander through the park on your own following the clearly marked paths with informative panels.
Le Morne Brabant
Le Morne Brabant Mountain is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site situated on the southwestern tip of Mauritius. It’s become a popular Mauritius tourist attraction since it was opened to the public again in 2016. The majestic basaltic mountain summits 556 metres above sea level and is surrounded by a beautiful lagoon. The landmark has enormous cultural significance to local inhabitants.
Le Morne Brabant bears testimony to the struggle and fight against slavery in the country and was used as a fortress for shelter for slaves who’d escaped their masters at the sugarcane plantations. The World Heritage site represents the universal ideals of individual freedom and resistance to oppression.
The striking landmark is also home to two rare plants; the Mandrinette and the Boucle d’Oreille.
Casela World of Adventures
Casela World of Adventures is the ultimate thing to do in Mauritius if you’re on with a young family. The 14-hectare nature park offers a staggering range of activities including giant slides, animal interactions and adrenalin-pumping activities such as ziplines, canyoning, quad bike rides and safari tours. Casela is home to zebras, impalas, waterbuck, giant tortoises, ostriches and monkeys as well as rhino, lion, cheetah and hyenas.
Spend the whole day at Casela World of Adventures with lunch at the Mirador restaurant which offers guests a panoramic view of the sweeping coastline. The adventure playground is on the main coastal road 1 kilometres south of the turnoff to Flic en Flac on the west coast of Mauritius.
Bernhard Langer Signature Golf Course
Bernhard Langer Signature Golf Course is one of those things to do in Mauritius if you’re an avid golfer. There are other scenic golf courses in Mauritius but this one should definitely be on your bucket list.
The golf course is laid on 38 hectares of pristine land on the southern half of the popular Ile aux Cerfs island. All 18 holes of this prestigious golf course have views of the ocean; with lush tropical turf offset by powder-white sand bunkers and crystal-clear water obstacles.
The Bernhard Langer golf course snakes up and down the length of the island in undulating topography with volcanic rock outcrops, lakes and gullies and a magical array of tropical trees and plants.
BEST BEACHES IN MAURITIUS
The exotic island of Mauritius boasts an idyllic coastline which stretches some 330 kilometres in length. The choice of palm-lined powder-white beaches coupled with balmy tropical weather makes a holiday in Mauritius one of the best places you can take your family.
Most of the island is surrounded by a fragmented coral reef which has created several large bays with calm waters. They’re perfect for swimming and snorkeling and a bit of wind surfing and kite surfing if the wind picks up.
The northern coastline of Mauritius has the greatest selection of beaches and where you’ll find the main Mauritius hotels and resorts which draw thousands of Mauritius holidaymakers in the peak summer season. The beauty of the northern coastline is the variety of beaches; ranging from popular ones for families on holiday in Mauritius to isolated coves that are largely undiscovered by the crowds.
The public beach at Grand Baie is one of the most popular beaches in the country and the place to be if you want a festive holiday atmosphere. There’s an array of water sport activities on offer and a wide selection of beachside restaurants and bars as well as clubs and casinos at the popular Mauritius resorts in Grand Baie.
Trou Aux Biches
The water at Trou Aux Biches is shallow and calm because of a reef which lies close to the shoreline. It’s one of the best places in Mauritius for snorkeling and scuba diving with crystal-clear visibility. Deep sea fishing trips can be booked at the Blue Water Diving Centre. There are a few food stalls in the parking lot or you can eat at one of the lovely café cum restaurants on the beachfront.
This beautiful beach on the northern coastline stretches some 3 kilometres and is lined with beautiful casuarina trees. The tree has delicate, slender terminal branches and leaves that are no more than scales, making the tree look more like a wispy conifer. The beach is popular with locals on weekends, particularly the active type who go jogging and waterskiing or do Pilates and aerobics on the beach. There’s a football field adjacent to beach which draws local soccer fans.
This stunning beach in northern Mauritius is popular for snorkeling. The lagoon is deep and tranquil which makes it ideal for families with younger children. There are a number of food stalls along the beach and a selection of excellent restaurants serving authentic Mauritian cuisine.
It’s an easy drive from Grand Baie along the main coastal road. There are also a number of top Mauritius hotels and resorts along this stretch of beach offering the popular all-inclusive Mauritius holiday packages.
La Cuvette is very popular for those wanting to get away from the crowds at Grand Baie. The small, intimate beach is lined with coastal trees and the sea is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There’s a good diving school based at La Cuvette which offers fascinating day and night scuba diving excursions.
La Cuvette is a short drive from Grand Baie on the main coastal road.
The east coast of Mauritius boasts some of the finest beaches in the country. There are a number of 5-star Mauritius hotels on the eastern coastline offering luxury accommodation and breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.
Île aux Cerfs
Île aux Cerfs is a privately-owned island which is renowned for its powder-white palm-lined beaches and turquoise-blue water. The island is named after the deer (Cerfs) that used to roam the area. At low tide, you can cross over to the small island of Ilot Mangenie to escape the busy Mauritius tourist crowds.
You have the choice of a wide range of watersport activities; ranging from parasailing to catamaran cruises, speed boat rides and pirate boat rides for children. There’s also a fun adventure playground on the island to keep children entertained when it’s too hot to be on the beach.
Île aux Cerfs Golf Course is one of the best golfing destinations in Mauritius. After all that exercise, you can enjoy delicious local food at one of the small restaurants on Île aux Cerfs.
You take a ferry across to the Île aux Cerfs which you’ll find launching from the public beach at Trou d’eau Douce. This service runs every half hour from 08h00 to 17h00.
Belle Mare Plage
Belle Mare Plage is renowned for being one of the best beaches in Mauritius. It’s a 10-kilometre stretch of idyllic sandy beach from which you can access the Pass which is the most famous diving site on the east coast.
It’s not ideal as a swimming and snorkeling beach because of the windy conditions and strong currents; however, this makes it an ideal destination for windsurfing and sailing enthusiasts.
A popular nightspot is Laguna Bar which is known for its festive jazz band. There’s also a floating bar and restaurant called Barachois.
Drive to Belle Mare Plage along the B62. Taxis are available as an alternative to hiring a car.
Blue Bay is an incredible protected marine park that offers scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts the best underwater scenery close to the shore. Other popular activities at Blue Bay include windsurfing, kayaking and sailing.
Tour operators offer scuba diving and deep-sea fishing excursions; a few of them on glass-bottom boats.
Blue Bay is a 10-minute drive from SSR International Airport.
Mauritius resorts on the south coastline offer a different beach experience for holiday makers. Strong currents make them less popular for swimming and snorkeling but for those wanting to get away from the busy crowns in the northern and eastern region of Mauritius; the south coastline offers absolute peace and tranquility with magnificent ocean views.
This is not a swimming beach because the coastline is renowned for its strong currents but it is a spectacular destination purely for its incredible views of massive waves crashing against giant rocks. For the more adventurous, there’s an array of caves along the coastline which you can explore.
La Cambuse is an isolated beach which is largely undiscovered by Mauritius holidaymakers. It’s situated close to the international airport.
The appeal of La Cambuse is it is quiet and uncrowded and more popular with locals. You’ll find lovely firepits, benches and huts on the beach and a lovely hiking trail which leads to the west side of the coastline. Here you’ll find beach coves that are almost untouched by Mauritius holidaymakers. Another hiking trail leads out to Le Bouchon public beach.
La Cambuse is a 10-minute drive to the southeast of SSR Airport.
The western coastline of Mauritius island is renowned for its spectacular sunsets. You’ll find a wide selection of Mauritius accommodation on this side of the island; ranging from beach chalets to 5-star luxury hotels.
Flic en Flac
Flic en Flac is a hugely popular beach destination and one of the liveliest in Mauritius. The sandy palm-lined beach is beautiful and the sea is safe for swimming and snorkeling because the coastline is protected by a long coral reef.
It’s the ideal place to learn how to scuba dive in Mauritius with the most popular dive site being Cathedral. You’ll also enjoy an incredible view of Tamarin Mountain from Flic en Flac. And for the family, it’s a 10-minute drive inland to Casela World of Adventures.
Tamarin is a popular beach for Mauritius holidaymakers and home to some of the best Mauritius resorts. What makes Tamarin so popular is the dolphins which attract hordes of Mauritius tourists. You can book a boat cruise to see the dolphins or hire a jet-ski or paddleboard to get out into the open ocean to see these delightful creatures.
Tamarin is the only surf beach in Mauritius and was a famous surfing spot for international surfers for many years. The best time to surf at Tamarin beach is between June and September.
This beautiful 4-kilometre stretch of pristine sandy beach is a popular spot for kite surfers. It’s also a good beach for swimming, kite flying and private horse rides. There’s a beautiful hiking trail up Le Morne Mountain which forms the backdrop to the picture-perfect beach.
There’s one restaurant on the beachfront which serves a combination of authentic Mauritius cuisine and the usual western favourites.
FUN FACTS ABOUT MAURITIUS
The exotic archipelago includes the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and the outer islands of Agalega and St Brandon as well as two disputed territories and a number of smaller uninhabited islands. The main island of Mauritius is only 28 miles wide and 40 miles long and is completely surrounded by a coral reef.
The largest city and the capital of Mauritius is Port Louis. It’s the economic hub of the island and home to about 40% of the national population. It was established in 1736 by the French East India Company.
Arab sailors were the first recorded traders to visit Mauritius. They found the island in the Middle Ages and named it Dina Arobi. They weren’t interested in settling there and mostly used it as a pitstop.
The Dutch arrived in the late 1590s when a squadron landed in Mauritius at Grand Port under the leadership of Admiral Wybrand van Warwyk. He named the island “Mauritius” after Prince Maurice van Nassau who was ruler of the Dutch Republic at the time.
The Dutch established a small colony on the island in 1638 and introduced sugar cane, domestic animals and deer. They battled with the extreme agricultural conditions and pests and abandoned the island in 1710.
France took control of the island in 1638 and renamed it Isle de France. They already controlled the neighbouring Île Bourbon which is now called Réunion Island.
French governor Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais arrived in 1735 and established Port Louis as a naval base and a shipbuilding center. He oversaw the building of Government House and the Line Barracks that still stand today. Under the French East India Company, sugarcane farming thrived and the island became an important base on the trade routes from Europe to the East before the opening of the Suez Canal.
In the ensuing years, there was a long power struggle between the French and the British during the Napoleonic Wars. The French won the Battle of Grand Port but they could not prevent the British from landing at Cap Malheureux a few months later.
The French surrendered control of the island to the British in December 1810 but the French settlers were allowed to keep their land and property and continue farming on the mainland. Today, the strong French influence is evident in the language spoken on the island and its criminal and civil laws.
Under British rule, the island’s name reverted to Mauritius. Slavery was abolished which had a serious impact on the production of sugarcane in the country. The British plantation owners brought in half a million indentured laborers from India between1834 and 1921 which added another cultural layer to Mauritius.
Mauritius was a strategic British naval base and later an air station. It played an important role during World War II for anti-submarine and convoy operations as well as signal intelligence.
In 1968, Mauritius finally attained its independence from foreign rule although it remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie and the African Union.
The brightly-coloured national flag of Mauritius was adopted in 1968 and bears ‘four bands’ with red representing the bloodshed at the time of slavery and colonisation as well as self-determination and independence; blue for the Indian Ocean surrounding the island; yellow for the new light of independence shining golden on the future of the country, and green for the lush vegetation of the island.
The people of Mauritius
There are some 1.4 million inhabitants in Mauritius made up of a diverse population where the majority is Indo-Mauritian (68%) and the balance Creole (27%), Sino-Mauritians (3%) and European (2%). Indo-Mauritians are of Indian origin, Creole are of mixed African and European origin and Sino-Mauritian are of Chinese origin.
Three primary languages are spoken on the island; English, French and Creole. English and French are the official languages spoken at the Mauritius hotels and resorts but Creole is the main language spoken at home in local communities.
Mauritius is also rich in religious diversity where freedom of religion is a constitutional right. Hinduism is the strongest religion on the island, followed by Roman Catholic, Muslim and Christianity. Mauritius is the only country in Africa with a Hindu majority.
Mauritius is a democratic country with a democratically-elected government and inhabitants enjoy freedom and equality. With a population of some 1.4 million inhabitants (2015), Mauritius has the highest population density in Africa.
The eclectic blend of cultures in Mauritius is evident in its cuisine, religious festivals and music. There are many public holidays in Mauritius and almost all are religious festivals ranging from Eid and Diwali to Christmas and the Chinese new year. The dominant religion is Hinduism, followed by Christianity and Islam. A small group follow Buddhism.
The food on the island is some of the tastiest you’ll experience on an all-inclusive Mauritius holiday package which is why you should hire a car and explore the rest of the island. Make your way to the authentic street markets and try delicious Creole dishes which the island is famous for.
Séga music is the national music of Mauritius. It originated from the slave populations of Mauritius who were brought from India, Indonesia and Malaysia to work in the sugarcane plantations. It’s created using only three instruments; the ravanne used for drum beats; the maravane used as a rattle; and the triangle which makes a sharp metallic ping.
The séga folk dance which accompanies the music is a rhythmic, exotic dance where the entire body moves but the dancers feet never leave the ground. Seggae is another genre of music unique to Mauritius; it’s a combination of Séga, reggae and Indian beats.
Football (soccer) is the national sport of Mauritius and widely supported by the island’s sports enthusiasts. The country competes in the African Cup of Nations Tour.
Winter horse racing is one of the most popular sporting events in Mauritius and its famous horse race track in Port Louis attracts tens of thousands of people on each racing day during the racing season from late March to early December. The Champ de Mars is the oldest horse-racing club in the Southern Hemisphere and the second oldest in the world.
Economy of Mauritius
Mauritius tourism is a key driver of economic strength in the country with the island attracting hundreds of thousands of international holidaymakers each year. The country has experienced remarkable economic transformation since its independence in 1968; growing from a low-income, agriculturally-based economy to a highly diversified, upper to middle-income economy based on sugarcane, fish processing and textiles and apparel as well as tourism, textiles and apparel, financial services, information technology and hospitality and property development.
As much as 90% of the cultivated land area in Mauritius is allocated to sugarcane plantations and sugar processing accounts for at least 15% of the island’s export earnings. Other crops include tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, beans, cattle, goats and fish.
Mauritius has a tropical climate with a warm humid summer from November to April and a relatively cool, dry winter from June to September. The average mean temperature is between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius.
Mauritius is a year-round holiday destination as the classic tropical climate is warm and sundrenched all year round. The best time to visit Mauritius is from May to December when the weather is cool, dry and sunny.
Avoid booking a holiday to Mauritius during the wet cyclone season from January to March; and avoid the east coast in July and August when the wind is stronger.
The infamous Dodo bird
Mauritius is famous for having been the only known habitat for the now-extinct dodo bird. It’s a type of overgrown pigeon which settled on the island more than 4 million years ago. It is believed that dodos lost their need and ability to fly as no predators attacked them. They also weighed some 20 kilograms.
When the island was discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1507 and used as a stopover for ships, the dodo bird became a welcome source of fresh meat. Thousands were killed for food. Then the Dutch introduced rats, pigs and monkeys to the island which ate the dodo eggs in the ground nests.
Within 100 years of the arrival of humans on Mauritius, the once-abundant dodo became a rare and endangered species. The last one was killed in 1681.
The dodo bird is a prominent feature in the Mauritius National Coat of Arms.
Flights to Mauritius
Visitors on a Mauritius holiday arrive at the main international airport located southeast of Port Louis. It has a long name which most Mauritius holidaymakers battle to pronounce; Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. It’s usually just called Mauritius Airport.
The state-of-the-art Christian Decotter Cruise Terminal was built in Port Louis to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships. About 25 massive cruise ships bring Mauritius tourists to the island every year. You can book a wonderful cruise to Mauritius with the following cruise line companies; Costa, MSC, Princess, Silver Sea, Cunard, P&O and Crystal.
Ecosystem of Mauritius
The island of Mauritius is encircled by a broken ring of mountain ranges composed of extinct volcanoes, streams, waterfalls and rivers which are all covered in verdant forests. Its network of pristine lagoons are protected from the open sea by the world’s third largest coral reef which surrounds the island.
These splendid reefs protect Mauritius holidaymakers from attacks by sharks and jelly fish which make the beaches some of the safest in the world. There are over 150 kilometres of powder-white, palm-lined beaches in Mauritius which is the main drawcard for travellers wanting an idyllic sun-soaked holiday in the tropics.
Prevailing trade winds keep the eastern side of Mauritius cooler and results in more rainfall on this side of the island. Several tropical cyclones move through the ocean region between January to March each year.
Only 2% of the island’s natural habitat remains with some 700 species of indigenous plants threatened with extinction. Indigenous species compete with and are destroyed by exotic plants and animals which were introduced centuries ago by the spice trade settlers.
The fauna and flora of the island are protected by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund which serves to protect the country’s endangered species and natural resources. This includes a few of the world’s rarest birds such as the Pink Pigeon.
Mauritius is also home to the oldest Botanical Garden in the Southern Hemisphere which showcases vegetable and fruit crops as well as flowers and spices from around the world. The SSR Botanic Garden was created during the period of French occupation in the 18th century.
A popular nature destinations to visit on a Mauritius holiday is the Frederica Nature Reserve which is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and beautiful waterfalls. You can also visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites as something to do on an on an all-inclusive Mauritius holiday.
The first one is Grand Bassin Lake, which is considered a sacred lake by the Hindu followers; and the other is Mont Le Morne Brabant, which is a popular hike that takes you to the top of a mountain. It was a place of sanctuary for slaves which had escaped captivity. It’s one of the wildest and most well-preserved nature sanctuaries on the island.
For incredible scenery and spectacular hiking, the Black River Gorges National Park is definitely something to do on a Mauritius holiday package. The wild, verdant mountain and forest surrounds is a protected nature reserve and home to an incredible array of fauna and flora.
HISTORY OF MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a melting-pot of cultures and has a vibrant multi-ethnic society. Its inhabitants are descendants of an array of nations which arrived and made their mark on the island; leaving behind religions, languages and social diversity which has shaped the rich cultural diversity of Mauritius.
The Arab traders
Arab traders travelled through the Red Sea and Indian Ocean in ancient vessels called dhows. They were strong enough to withstand the seasonal monsoons which swept in from the Indian Ocean and found themselves in the vicinity of the Mascarene islands, possibly when a severe storm hit the tropics and caught an Arab dhow unaware and pushed it towards what is now Mauritius.
The routes to Indian and China were controlled by the Arab fleets from the 17th century. They had a monopoly over the commercial trade in silk, spices and other exotic merchandise. Their control of the sea trade waned with the invasion by the Portuguese traders who went on to dominate the important trading routes.
In 1502, the first European map mentioned Mauritius by its Arab name; Dina Arobi which means ‘Desert Isle’. It provided proof that Arab seamen were the first traders to discover the three small islands south east of Madagascar.
The Arabs never attempted to settle in the Mascarene Archipelago for a number of reasons. Firstly, Mauritius was too far removed from their main trade routes and devoid of inhabitants to trade with; and secondly, the journey to and from the islands was far too dangerous for Arab dhows.
The Dutch Era
The first Dutchman arrived on the island in 1598 and renamed it Maurits, after the Dutch stadholder who was then the chief magistrate of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. The Dutch used Mauritius primarily as a call station for VOC ships.
The Dutch never formally settled on the island of Maurits and didn’t build permanent settlements for the first 40 years. They did however rape the island of its natural resources which included ebony and wild animals such as the notorious dodo bird as well as pigs, goats and giant tortoises.
In the 1630s, the Dutch built permanent settlements in Mauritius mainly to prevent occupation by the dominant French and English trading companies. They chose to settle on the east coast of Mauritius adjacent to the south-eastern harbour where Vieux Grand Port now stands. Their settlement was called ‘Haven of Warwijck’ after the first Dutchman who arrived on the island.
The Dutch built a square wooden fort in 1638 with bastions and cannons at each corner. It was named Fort Frederik Hendrik and garrisoned by a force of 25 Dutchmen. In 1639, Adriaen van der Stel was appointed the new governor of Mauritius. He was the father of the then famous governor of the Cape of Good Hope; Simon van der Stel. He was born in Mauritius when his father was governor of the island.
Van der Stel rebuilt the fort and armed it with 14 cannons and extended it to garrison up to 80 men. The first slaves were imported from Madagascar and put to work in the sugar cane, vegetable and fruit tree plantations. The first attempts at farming were a dismal attempt because the plantations were overrun by rats.
After failed attempts at farming and a weak economy, the VOC decided to abandon the colony in 1658. The last governor was instructed to destroy Fort Frederik Hendrik and left the island with the remaining 40 inhabitants.
Between 1658 and 1663, Mauritius was uninhabited apart from several shipwrecked victims.
The Dutch returned to Mauritius in 1664 when the VOC ordered the governor of the Cape colony to re-establish the Dutch settlement in Mauritius. The new governor re-started the ebony felling enterprise and made an attempt to develop farming practices. The population of the island slowly increased; the fort was repaired, a new church was built, a tannery was established and 16 kilometres of road were built.
The Burghers settled around the island; mainly in the present area of Flacq, Black River and Port Louis. During this period, hunting was unrestricted and the last dodo bird was killed.
In 1695, a devastating hurricane destroyed the island and the Burghers lost most of their crops. Many of them abandoned their farms and left the island. The last Dutch governor was appointed in 1703 but by then the island economy was in ruins and the inhabitants were living in extreme poverty. The VOC finally decided to evacuate the island in 1706 taking with them the Burghers and their families as well as the slaves. The last Dutchmen left Mauritius in 1710.
The French Era
In 1710, the Dutch abandoned Mauritius for good after two unsuccessful attempts at colonisation. In September 1715, Guillaume Dufresne d’Arsel took possession of Mauritius in the name of King Louis XV of France. He named it the Isle de France, placed the French flag near what is now Port Louis, drew a document witnessed by his officers declaring the island French and sailed away after three days.
The first French colonists landed on the island in 1722. They relocated to the safety of the north west harbour which became known as Port Louis. For the first 14 years, the French colony followed the dismal experience of the Dutch. Only the most desperate and toughest of the settlers survived. They treated their slaves in an appalling manner, forcing them to escape and flee into the forests where they lived in dire conditions.
Port Louis was transformed from a primitive harbour into a thriving seaport largely due to the efforts of Bertrand Mahebourg de Labourdonnais who was an aristocratic sea captain. He was appalled by the wretched conditions of the French settlers and slaves and set about transforming the island from “a colony of malcontents” into “the star and key of the Indian Ocean”. The latter remains the motto of Mauritius to this day.
He demolished the thatched hovels and built barracks, forts, warehouse, hospitals and houses. He was instrumental in establishing the region’s thriving ship building industry. Labourdonnais imported ox-carts to relieve the burden on slaves and instead, had them trained in more valuable skills which would be more useful. He turned the slaves into artisans and farmers and set about establishing a thriving agricultural industry which included sugarcane, cotton, coffee and pineapples. The first sugar factory in Mauritius opened in 1744.
Just as things were going well on the island of Mauritius, England and France went to war in 1746. Labourdonnais led an expedition of 9 ships from the Ile de France to India; they defeated a British squadron and captured Madras which as an import British outpost.
However, through a tragic sequence of events, Labourdonnais was accused of accepting a bribe and replaced as Governor of Ile de France. He was eventually found innocent but he died a broken man two years later. His statue stands in Port Louis facing out across the harbour. The town of Mahebourg was named after him.
Mauritius was handed over to the King of France at the end of the seven-year war and a Royal Government was established in 1767. At that time, there was population of 18 773 inhabitants; over 3 000 were Europeans, about 600 Hindus and the rest were slaves.
A new administrator was selected for Ile de France; Pierre Poivre who was nicknamed Peter Pepper because he introduced new plant varieties to the island including peppers. Under his influence, the colony developed as an agricultural and trading centre. He improved the harbour facilities and Mauritius accommodation for both colonists and slaves.
Eventually the French East India Company was wound up and private enterprise became the order of the day. An era of profit-making and extravagance was brought to the colony and Port Louis became renowned for its vibrant social life. Public affairs were neglected and fraud, corruption and dishonesty was commonplace.
Fast forward two decades and a turbulent period of ups and downs on the island which included the abolishment of slavery, a new French governor and the enforcement of Napoleonic laws; the British finally marched into town in 1810 and the French surrendered control of Mauritius.
Settlers and soldiers who did not want to stay in Mauritius under a British administrator returned to France.
The British Era
British occupation of Mauritius lasted until 1968 when the country was granted its independence. The only reason the British were interested in the island was because it lay along the sea route from England to British Island. The French presence in Mauritius was a threat to British shipping.
The British Admiralty of the time viewed Mauritius as the key to the control of the Indian Ocean and possession of the island became a military imperative. When the British took over control of Mauritius, the British Empire remained virtually unchallenged until the entry of Imperial Japan in World War II in 1941.
Mauritius is one of the few countries in the world to have been successively colonised by the French and the British. Both nations left behind the French and English language and a system of laws. This included a Westminster-type government, a civil service, a constitution, a British-based educational system and an embryonic welfare system.
Mauritius became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1968. Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State was represented by a Governor General.
In 1971, social and industrial unrest led by the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM) resulted in a state of emergency. The party’s leaders, including Paul Berenger, a Franco-Mauritian born in 1945, was jailed for a year.
In the election of 1982, the MMM with Paul Berenger as General Secretary and a 53-year old Hindu British-trained lawyer, Anerood Jugnauth as President, captured all 62 directly-elected seats. Anerood Jugnauth became Prime Minister with Berenger as his Finance Minister.
In 1992, Mauritius became an independent republic with the Commonwealth.
ACCOMMODATION IN MAURITIUS
The choice of accommodation in Mauritius is outstanding; from 5-star luxury Mauritius hotels and resorts to self-catering villas and seaside apartments. Mauritius accommodation caters for a range of budgets and interests; you can choose a Mauritius resort in the busy tourist hubs or you can find yourself a Mauritius hotel which is located in a remote and isolated corner of the island.
Hotels and resorts in Mauritius have defined the art of hospitality and roll out a tried and trusted formula which is generally based on the ‘all inclusive Mauritius holiday package’.
On the other hand, villa rentals in Mauritius are becoming more popular because it offers more flexibility and originality and can sometimes be cheaper than the popular Mauritius all-inclusive resorts. Villas in Mauritius offer more privacy and exclusivity as they usually come with a private pool and beach.
It’s a long flight to Mauritius from Johannesburg as the island is some 3 000 kilometres away from the city. When you arrive, you’re expecting luxury accommodation in Mauritius in a fabulous setting and a few days of sun-soaked relaxation on an idyllic beach. Let’s look at your choices for accommodation in Mauritius so your holiday is everything you dream it will be.
There are twelve major Mauritius hotel groups in the country:
- Apavou Hotels
- Attitude Resorts
- Club Med
- Constance Hotels
- Indigo Hotels and Resorts
- Lux* Island Resorts
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts
- Sun Resorts
- Veranda Resorts and Heritage Resorts
- One&Only Resorts
The all-inclusive Mauritius holiday package
The popular all-inclusive Mauritius holiday package takes a lot of the stress out of booking flights and accommodation in Mauritius. The all-inclusive package includes flights to Mauritius, airport transfers, accommodation, breakfast and dinner daily as well as complimentary watersport activities and services such as free Wi-Fi and room servicing.
The all-inclusive Mauritius holiday packages are generally better value for money and you can get good Mauritius specials if you keep an eye on social media for special airfares and discounted accommodation rates.
The DIY Mauritius holiday
Many Mauritius holidaymakers opt for the DIY option where they book their flights and accommodation themselves. This has become a more popular option with the rise in popularity of booking sites such as Airbnb.
The only issue with the DIY Mauritius holiday plan is the ‘surprise factor’ and the risk of arriving on the island and finding your accommodation is not quite up to scratch. The Mauritius resorts are popular because they offer a standardised hospitality package that’s worked for decades.
Mauritius accommodation in low season or high season
It’s a toss up deciding whether you visit Mauritius in the low season when you’re more likely to get good specials of flights and accommodation in Mauritius or visit in the high season when the island tends to be more crowded and the prices are higher.
Fortunately, Mauritius has a pleasant subtropical climate all-year round but there are a few months in the year when it is not advisable to book a holiday to Mauritius. The cyclone season is from January to the end of February and the island is often lashed by gale force winds and rain. If you get cheap flight and accommodation in Mauritius at this time of the year it’s because costs are heavily discounted because it’s the low holiday season in the country.
Your choice of accommodation in Mauritius also depends on your interests and which side of the island you’d like to stay. The coastline is the obvious choice because the best Mauritius resorts and hotels lie along the spectacular coast but you also have the option of booking accommodation inland which is a unique wilderness experience.
The North West region of Mauritius is the most popular side of the island; the beaches are idyllic and there’s an abundance of things to see and do on that side. The southern parts of the island are a little wilder and more remote and are best for those Mauritius holidaymakers who prefer to get away from the holiday crowds.
The south west coastline in the region of Tamarin Bay is popular for the surfing and kitesurfing crowd and there’s a greater choice of self-catering villas in this area.
If you’re still scratching your head over where to stay in Mauritius; the top 3 destinations you should consider are:
The city of Balaclava is widely considered as the best place for tourist accommodation Mauritius. It’s located to the north of the island and very close to Pereybere which is regarded as one of the best public beaches in Mauritius.
Most of the luxury hotels in the Balaclava area have their own private beach which offers guests privacy and exclusivity. The town of Grand Baie is a few miles away and it’s the tourist hotspot for Mauritius holidaymakers. There’s a wide choice of restaurants, pubs and casinos and the nightlife in Grand Baie is fantastic.
Flic en Flac
Flic en Flac is located off the west coast of Mauritius and is home to some of the best Mauritius resorts on the island. It also lays claim to having one of the best public beaches on the island as well as one of the longest.
Flic en Flac is a self-contained tourist town with a wide array of restaurants and pubs as well as a vibrant nightlife.
Trou aux Biches
Trou aux Biches lies on the north coast of Mauritius. It has a beautiful beach and is a popular tourist destination because the Mauritius resorts and hotels along this stretch are a bit cheaper than the hotels and resorts at Balaclava and Flic en Flac.
One benefit of Trou aux Biches is it’s the closest of the three popular tourist destinations to Port Louis, the capital and main economic hub of Mauritius. From Trou aux Biches you have easier access to the major attractions in Port Louis and the famous inland wildlife and nature reserves.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a melting pot of cultures and this is evident in its rich and diverse food culture. Strong gastronomic influences come from the Arab, Creole, French, Chinese and Indian inhabitants.
The island is blessed with fertile soil so there is an incredible selection of fresh fruit and vegetables which are the staple of the local’s diets. Obviously, seafood is the primary source of protein and the basis of most authentic dishes served in Mauritius.
Make a point of leaving your Mauritius hotel or resort and venture into the markets. Street food is fantastic in Mauritius and eating out in local eateries is a wonderful way of learning more about the rich culture of the island and the way of life of its inhabitants.
Dholl pori is the “national dish” of Mauritius and one of the most popular things to eat at street markets in Mauritius. It’s thin bread stuffed with ground yellow split peas and deep friend; it’s most often served with bean curry, atchar and coconut chutney. Dholl pori is derived from Indian flatbread known as paratha which was brought to the island by Indian immigrants. They couldn’t get the proper ingredients for traditional Indian flatbread so they used substitutes.
A Mauritius holiday is gastronomic heaven for seafood lovers. You can have seafood any way you like it; fried, grilled or baked.
Curries are a staple dish of Mauritius due to its strong Indian heritage. It’s not a typical curry found in India and has been adapted to the Mauritian palate. The base is the same; garlic, onion, fresh curry leaves and turmeric. The cultural influences of the chef dictate whether you then get a tomato-based Creole curry or a creamy Indian version. Mauritian curries are served with rice or faratha (flat bread) and delicious coconut chutney, achard (vegetable pickles with mustard) and the unusual mazavaroo.
Raugaile is a popular Creole dish and a type of tomato stew. It’s made with meat or fish and a base of tomatoes, garlic, onion and thyme.
Briyani is another firm favourite with local inhabitants although it has its own distinct Mauritian flavour. It’s similar to Indian briyani which is made with beef, chicken, fish, mutton or vegetables and flavoured with the island’s unique spice combinations.
Fish vindaye is the Mauritian version of Indian vindaloo but with fish instead of lamb. The fish is cooked with mustard, garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion and a variety of vegetables. It’s served with rice, lentils, pickles and coconut chutney.
This Mauritian dish is supposedly adapted from the Indian vindaloo, although there’s debate about this. It’s cooked with mustard, garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion and usually fish, although it can be made with vegetables instead. It’s served with rice, lentils, pickles and chutneys. Oh, and it’s delicious.
Dim sum is a Chinese dish with a Mauritian twist. The locals make their own version of dim sum called boulet which consists of dumplings made from fish, prawn or chou chou (a pear-shaped vegetable); served with a broth laced with copious amounts of chili. It’s a hugely popular dish found at street markets in Mauritius.
Farata is similar to Naan bread in the Indian culture. It’s a flat bread eaten with curry and is buttery, doughy and delicious. It’s sold at street markets and usually served at the Indian and Mauritius restaurants.
This is a hot roti of the Indian kind. It’s always served with curries and accompanied with coconut chutney and pickles.
Mine frites are fried noodles and a hugely popular dish served at street markets. The noodles are fried in soy sauce and topped with spring onions and copious amounts of chili. The dish has a strong Chinese influence. Cool your mouth down with a bowl of herbal black jelly (la mousse noir) which looks weird but tastes delicious.
Palm heart salad
The palm heart salad is also known as ‘millionaire’s salad’ in Mauritius. Palm trees that grow in abundance on the tropical island are cut down to extract the ‘heart’ which the arm-sized inner tube of the tree. One heart feeds about three people as a starter.
The palm heart is sliced finely and either added to a salad or eaten raw with smoked marlin and other seafood. It’s sometimes cooked in a sauce and served as a hot side dish.
Mazavaroo is a chili condiment served with everything in Mauritius, including fruit. It’s chopped chili or chili paste which is ranges from very hot to unbearably hot for foreigners. Mauritians eat chili with everything and they like their chili breath-taking hot. Take a bottle home and dare your friends back home to face it’s fiery wrath.
Gajak is like the South African version of ‘bar munchies’. It’s a collection of delicious snacks which is hawked by street vendors and beach sellers. Everything is fried and includes samosas, eggplant fritters, cassava chips and potato fritters.
Coconut chutney is a hugely popular condiment served with every curry dish in Mauritius. It has a zingy, fresh-tasting flavour and helps to cool the palate when eating a hot, spicy curry.
Gateau patat douce (filled sweet potato)
This is a tasty Mauritian teatime treat. Sweet potato dough is wrapped around a filling of coconut, cardamom and sugar and then deep fried. These sweet potato cakes are a tasty Mauritian teatime treat. Sweet potato dough encases a filling of coconut, cardamom and sugar which is then deep fried.
These delicious cookies are made using grated coconut and sugar. They’re a popular teatime treat.
This is an intensely sweet and buttery Indian sweet which is found at the Bombay Sweets Mart in Port Louis. There are 30 different types of mithai so take your time and try them all.
Think tropical island, think coconuts. Don’t end a Mauritius holiday without drinking from a coconut. The water inside a coconut is delicious and refreshing. Buy one from a beach vendor and ask him to open it up after you’ve sipped it dry so you can eat the delicious flesh.
Mauritius is blessed with fertile soil and its fruit is supersized and super sweet. Victoria pineapples are best eaten on a beach. Pineapple vendors cruise up and down the beach and will present you with an artfully-cut pineapple that’s easy to hold and eat.
Mauritian pineapples are sweeter and more delicious than South African ones. They’re best eaten on the beach in your swimming costume, with your hair still damp from your last swim in the warm Indian Ocean. There are pineapple sellers who cruise the beaches, ready to cut pineapples into easy-to-hold (and eat) treats.
Vanilla tea is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ as it’s an acquired taste. It originates in the south of the island where black tea is grown on Bois Cheri tea estate and missed with Ceylon tea imported from Sri Lanka. Vanilla flavouring is added to produce a delicious black vanilla tea.
You’ll find vanilla tea all over the island but something fun to do on a Mauritius holiday is to hire a car and visit Bois Cheri café for a tour of the tea factor and a tea tasting. The café has incredible views over the tea plantations and the southern coastline.
The local brew is Phoenix beer and is to Mauritius what Castle is to South Africa. It’s an award-winning beer renowned for its crisp, refreshing taste.
Mauritius produces a fine selection of rum. There are three distilleries on the island which produce Agricole rum which is made the proper way from sugar cane juice instead of molasses. All three distilleries produce rum which is infused with exotic flavours such as vanilla, coffee, kumquat, spices and citrus fruit. The rum is sweetened with raw sugar cane so it’s a little more palatable for non-rum drinkers.
Go on a rum tasting tour as something different to do in Mauritius. We recommend St Aubin, Chateau Labourdonnais and Rhumerie de Chamarel in Chamarel rum.
Ti rum punch
Ti rum punch is short for ‘petit rum punch’ and it’s drunk all over Mauritius. Different ingredients are added to the base of rum and sugar syrup. You can buy a ready-made version which is perfect for picnics and beach sundowners.
MAURITIUS TRAVEL INFORMATION
MAURITIUS PACKAGES ALL-INCLUSIVE
A Mauritius all-inclusive package generally means the rate includes accommodation as well as all meals, non-alcoholic beverages and select alcoholic beverages as well as various land and water activities and day and night entertainment programmes.
There are many Mauritius resorts and hotels which offer an all-inclusive holiday package; ranging from 3-star to 5-star accommodation in Mauritius. It’s what the island is renowned for; catering for all budgets. Enjoy a carefree holiday with an all-inclusive package at one of the many luxury Mauritius hotels and resorts.
Mauritius specials for visitors arriving from South Africa are based on direct flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg . All Mauritius specials include flights, taxes and levies, transfers to/from your Mauritius resort and accommodation with meals and drinks as specified.
Mauritius accommodation is subject to availability at select Mauritius hotels. Terms and conditions apply.
FLIGHTS TO MAURITIUS FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg take 3 hours 55 minutes. Popular airlines flying to Mauritius from Johannesburg include South African Airways (SAA), British Airways and Air Mauritius. Direct flights to Port Louis are available from Johannesburg.
Look out for Mauritius specials on flights and good Mauritius packages all-inclusive deals.
All flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg fly into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (SSR) which is situated on the island’s southeast coast. Transfers to your Mauritius accommodation take anything from 10 to 90 minutes depending on which side of the island you’ll be staying.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is about 4 kilometres from the town of Mahebourg.
Booking a Mauritius package through a reputable travel agent and tour operator such as Moafrika Tours means you have access to the best value flights and hotel deals and it covers the cost of the airport transfers.
Mauritius has a sub-tropical climate which promises all-year sunshine and warm weather except during a brief period of monsoon-like rainfall. The average daily temperature rarely drops below 24 degrees. When it rains, it’s usually a brief shower and the sun comes out immediately afterwards.
Mauritius is located close to the Tropic of Capricorn which means the sun is at its highest point longer than in other destinations around the globe. This is why countries like Mauritius enjoy many hours of bright sunshine all year round.
In general, temperatures along the coastline are 3 to 5 degrees higher than on the central plateau. The western and northern regions of Mauritius are warmer and drier throughout the year.
The country has a micro climate which means that it can be raining in one region with dark grey skies and be dry and sunny in another part. If it rains in the morning, the weather changes quickly and the sky is blue and clear in no time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MAURITIUS
Mauritius has two seasons:
- Summer: from November to April with daily temperatures of around 27 degrees on the coast and 22 degrees on the Central Plateau
- Winter: from May to October with daily temperatures of around 22 degrees on the coast and 18 degrees in the Central Plateau
There are minor changes in temperature between the seasons, the only difference is the amount of rainfall and wind. The humidity is high during the summer months and more tolerable in the winter months.
Mauritius in April
January to April are the hottest months in Mauritius with high humidity and daily temperatures of 30 degrees and above. The country experiences rainfall in the hot summer months but it’s usually brief and a welcome respite. Occasionally strong winds occur in February.
Mauritius in June
May to August is “winter” in Mauritius with cooler daily temperatures of 25 degrees on average.
The driest period in Mauritius is between June and November although you’ll experience sporadic rainfall.
Mauritius in July
July is considered the “coolest” month of the year with average temperature of around 20-21° C; it’s all relative because the days are usually warm and pleasant. The evenings get a bit nippy when the sun goes down.
Mauritius in August/September
September to December is warm and pleasant with average daily temperatures between 27-30 degrees. It’s not as hot summer months when humidity is at its peak.
Mauritius in October and May
This is commonly the transition months in Mauritius where the climate shifts from one season to another.
October and November are the wettest months in Mauritius but because Mauritius enjoys a micro-climate, you’ll always find a dry corner of the island.
Mauritius in December
December, January and February are the hottest months in Mauritius with average daily temperatures of 28 degrees and higher. It’s also the time of year when cyclones are more likely to occur.
December is the peak holiday season in Mauritius but this has more to do the end-of-year holiday period than the weather.
RAINFALL IN MAURITIUS
Rainfall varies considerably from region to region and throughout the year. What is fascinating about Mauritius is it can rain in one area while only a few kilometers away, the sun is shining and no cloud is in sight.
If you wake up in the morning with a grey sky, don’t worry. Go for a shower, have breakfast and by the time you’re ready to head to the beach, the sun will be out and the sky blue.
GETTING AROUND MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a small island country and getting around it is quite easy, although travelling takes time because the roads are often congested or in poor condition.
Apart from the one major highway which winds its way from the airport to Mauritius resorts in Grand Baie in the north; roads are generally narrow, slow-going and not for the faint-hearted. Generally, there are no pavements on the country roads and you need to give way to people and animals walking along the road.
It’s not uncommon for people on a Mauritius holiday to travel up to 2 hours from their hotel to see a major attraction. Buses in Mauritius go everywhere expect to the uninhabited Plaine Champagne region. It’s a fun and cheap way to get around Mauritius but it’s time consuming and unpredictable.
Taxis and hired cares are a better option. Petrol in Mauritius is relatively cheap and you can search around for Mauritius specials on car hire. Self-drive is popular, reasonably safe and a flexible way to explore the island.
Mauritians drive on the left side of the road, as you do in South Africa and the UK.
Drivers wishing to rent a vehicle must be over 23 years old and must be in possession of a foreign license; it is not necessary to have an International Driving Permit.
All passengers must wear seatbelts including the driver and the speed limits are 80kph (50mph) on the motorway and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas.
One issue which is problematic self-driving in Mauritius is that the towns and attractions are poorly signposted. Mauritian drivers are also fairly erratic and you have to have your wits about you.
The tourist taxis in Mauritius are regulated and the price is governed by the hotel or province they are linked to; you’ll see this printed in a yellow panel on the driver’s door. Find a reputable taxi operator and use him for sightseeing. It takes the stress out of navigating your way to the popular things to see and do in Mauritius.
Many luxury Mauritius hotels and resorts run their own shuttle service and offer transport for daily excursions to the main attractions in Mauritius. There are also a number of reputable tour operators who operate reliable and relatively affordable shuttle services for day tours.
MAURITIUS NATIONAL HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS
Mauritius is small country but it has an incredible diversity of cultures and religions. As a result, Mauritius holidaymakers are like to visit the island when one of the many religious festivals are being celebration. It’s a fascinating experience to be part of a vibrant festival and provides travellers with an wonderful insight into the country’s rich cultural heritage.
You’re always warmly welcomed to join in the celebrations and be part of the festivities.
- Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year): January-February
- Cavadee Festival: end January-February
- Thaipoosam Cavadee: beginning of February
- Maha Shivaratree: February-March
- Holi Festival: March
- Ganesh Chaturthi: August-September
- Father Laval Day: (Jaques Désirée Laval): 9 September
- Eid-Ul-Fitr (Id-El-Fitr) Festival: October-November
- Divali (Diwali) Festival or Festivals of Light: October-November
MONEY IN MAURITIUS
The local currency is the Mauritian Rupee, although most major hotels and resorts in Mauritius accept credit cards. Both Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted throughout the island.
The best thing about an all-inclusive Mauritius package is you can put your wallet away because almost everything is covered in the daily rate. This includes breakfast, dinner, all non-motorised water sport and unlimited waterskiing. It might also include lunch and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages and select wines, beers and spirits.
TIPPING IN MAURITIUS
Although it’s not obligatory, tipping service staff in Mauritius is highly appreciated. For good service, a tip of between 10-15% is recommended. Check first if it hasn’t already been included in the bill issued by the top-end luxury hotels in Mauritius.
VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR MAURITIUS
Travel visas to enter Mauritius are not required for citizens of the USA, EU, Canada and Japan.
South African passport holders do not require visas.
Initial entry is granted for one month but extensions for a further three months are available at Port Louis. Visitors from other countries can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport for a period of up to 60 days.
Visit the Mauritius Embassy website for full details on visa requirements.
All visitors to Mauritius require a passport valid for at least six months from date of departure from Mauritius.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR MAURITIUS
It is highly recommended that tourists travelling to the island for a Mauritius holiday take out a Travel Insurance Policy which provides adequate cover for travel and health issues. This might include an emergency evacuation and hospitalisation.
VACCINATIONS REQUIRED FOR MAURITIUS
If you have travelled through a Yellow Fever infected area such as Kenya and Tanzania, you are required to provide proof of a yellow fever vaccination before entering Mauritius.
It’s recommended that all tourists ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date before going on a holiday to Mauritius.
SAFETY IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a safe country to visit as long as you follow the usual precautions and be vigilante about your own safety. Do not venture out into the city streets at night on your own and take care of your valuables. Leave your expensive jewelry at home and keep the amount of cash you carry on you to a minimum.
Crime in Mauritius is negligible and tends to be petty offenses such as pickpocketing in busy street markets or from unguarded handbags on beaches.
Avoid certain areas in the city which are considered ‘high risk’ and avoid drinking excessive alcohol which could see you walking into trouble in areas you shouldn’t visit.
LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a multi-cultural country with strong Creole, Indian, French and British influences. However, English is the language used in official documents and signage at places like the international airport and Mauritius hotels and is widely spoken in high-density Mauritius tourism areas.
Due to the fact that Mauritius is more Francophone than Anglophone, the language most widely spoken by locals is French.
The third predominant language spoken in Mauritius is the mother-tongue Creole pidgin which is French-based mixed with English and other Asian and African words.
Others languages spoken include Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu, Mandarin and Hakka. This reflects the religious and cultural diversity of the country.