This little island paradise in the Indian Ocean has a variety of surprises beyond its stunning coastline and some of the world’s finest beaches.
1. Sample the street food
A fun way to understand a culture is through its food, and we recommend you hit the streets of Mauritius for that. Every immigrant group has left its mark here. African, Indian and Chinese recipes have been localised to bring you a menu that is vast and delicious. Try the Indian dhal and chana puris, the versatile mazavaroo paste that goes with everything, and the delightful Creole seafood curries. Round it off with fresh fruit served on sweetened shaved ice.
2. Go on long drives
These roads were built for exploring (and getting lost and finding your way again). There are hidden villages and beaches and amazing restaurants that will remain hidden unless you get behind the wheel. Hit the southern coast all the way to the southern tip at Gris Gris, and let the best of Mauritian countryside wash over you. Drive past rugged cliffs and the brilliantly blue Indian Ocean that crashes into the white, windy beaches. (There is also no better way to sample the food up and down the island).
3. Try the speciality teas
Bois Cheri Tea Plantation
Whether you are a tea-enthusiast or not, a tour of Mauritius’s most famous mist-laden tea plantations is a treat for the senses. Travel down the Route du The and head on out to the Bois Cheri Tea Plantation; the scenery en route will make you stop and gasp. Once there, sample their 12 varieties of tea with their signature biscuits. Stick around for lunch at their restaurant; it’s a toss which is more breathtaking-the food or the view from your table!
4. Visit the Chamarel village
This surreal, geological oddity of multi-hued rocks is one of the most beautiful sights you will encounter in Mauritius. The drive to Chamarel through the rugged mountains of the island is almost as staggering as the destination, with cascading waterfalls and deep gorges providing plenty of photo opportunities en route. The beauty of the place is accentuated when the sun is at its brightest, bringing out the richness of the purples, yellows, reds and oranges. Book into one of the hotels in Chamarel for an elaborate stay. After a good night's sleep, carry your camera along and capture the wonderful sights in Mauritius.
5. Explore the stunning coastline
Beaches and water-sports
Clichéd as it may be, this is singularly the most amazing thing to do in Mauritius. You may choose to be a cocktail-drinking, sun-worshipping bum or you may want to sample the menu of water-activities that these little heavens of sand and water have to offer. Try your hand at kite-surfing at Le Morne, or just chill at the Belle Mare and La Cuvette Beaches. Strap on scuba gear and experience some of the best diving in the world.
6. Sample the island’s best beverage
Try Mauritian Rum
In a land where sugarcane plantations stretch away to the horizon, can delicious local rum be far behind? If Jamaica holds the number one spot, Mauritius is easily a close second in quality and variety of this alcoholic nectar. From the standard white to golden-caramel to dark, you have plenty of choice here. Flavoured rum (vanilla, coffee, cumquat) makes for a wonderful gift. Visit the Rhumerie de Chamarel for a taste of the best.
7. Take the undersea walk
You need not miss out on the gorgeous undersea life just because you haven’t taken scuba-diving lessons. In Mauritius, you can stroll among the dazzlingly coloured flora and fauna of the Indian Ocean without even getting your hair wet! A helmet will pump in sweet air as you walk under water. You will be accompanied by very able guides, past coral reefs and tropical fishes of unimaginable beauty. Just bring along your swimwear, a towel and some curiosity, and the ocean will do the rest. Surf through the Grand Baie Hotels list. There are countless options and you will surely come across a hotel that suits your tastes and needs.
8. Explore the cultural potpourri
To understand what makes Mauritius tick, get a glimpse of the melting pot of various cultures that have made it what it is today. The official language is English, but you will hear Creole, Hindi and French widely used, adding flavour to the churches, mosques, temples and Chinese pagodas dotting the island. Try your hand at the flamboyant and energetic Sega dance. Hike up 600m to Grand Bassin to marvel at the 30m high idol of Shiva, Hinduism’s holiest shrine on the island.
9. Hike up the nature trails
Black River Gorges National Park
If you love spending an entire day outdoors, strap on your walking shoes and hit the hiking trails of Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius’s largest and most prolific nature reserve. It is abundant with over 300 species of wildly colourful flowering plants and exotic fauna endemic to the island, including the rare pink pigeon, which was pulled back from the brink of extinction. There is no better snapshot of the island’s landscape of cliffs, forests, gorges, peaks and waterfalls as this.
10. Explore the Crocodile Park
As the name suggests, the main attraction is the crocodile, capable of being viewed in the safest manner, but the other fauna on display are no less exciting. Giant bats and tortoises, mongooses, a variety of monkeys and a huge collection of butterflies and other insects will delight the visitor. Kids and adults can get up close with ancient giant tortoises, feed them and play with them. Round off your visit with a meal at the Hungry Crocodile Restaurant built in the treetops. Check the list of flights to Mauritius, their timings and amenities. You can then select the one that suits your timing.
If you are visiting the Crocodile Park, be there at 11:30am for the feeding session.