Mauritius

“Pearl of the Indian Ocean”

An islander once told Mark Twain that “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and heaven was copied after Mauritius”.

 

Washed by the sparkling blue waters of the Indian Ocean, sculpted by volcanoes, with around 330 kilometres of coastlines sheltered almost entirely by coral reef, Mauritius is a paradise island and is rightly called the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

The Dutch were forced to land in Mauritius in 1598 after a violent storm drove them to the shore of the uninhabited island. The islands’ Dutch, French and British legacy is reflected in colonial mansions and botanical gardens, while hospitable locals of African, Indian and Chinese heritage give the island an authentic feel, with colourful markets and temples, fusion cuisine, and the sashaying séga.

There is more to Mauritius than sun, sea and sand… Among the lush vegetation and tropical forests is another world to discover on the island. Whether it’s skydiving out of a plane, hiking through the mountains and National Parks or soaking up the culture, this is truly a destination with something for everyone.

Its miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches, almost entirely encircled by coral reefs, offer sanctuary for those who want to spend days lounging on the beach. The crystal-clear waters are perfect for diving, snorkelling, swimming, kayaking and that’s just the beginning. Nature is everywhere in Mauritius, so whether you’re hiking up a mountain, taking a stroll in the botanical garden or simply admiring the view, you’re sure to see incredible sights.

The island’s diving opportunities include wrecks and canyons in the west and northern islands, and the chance to see sharks, turtles, eagle rays, and moray eels. The island’s best snorkelling spot is Blue Bay Marine Park and the clearest waters are found from November to April. Non-divers can try aqua scooters and undersea walks. Deep-sea sport fishing is popular on the west coast, while windsurfing, glass-bottom boat trips, snorkelling, water skiing and kayaking are complimentary at most hotels, and stand-up paddle-boarding options are growing. An early-morning trip to swim with and watch wild dolphins play in Tamarin Bay is a must or take a spin along the scenic southwest coast on a sea kart (like a jet-ski but safer and more comfortable). Catamarans visit pristine islands while powerboats whisk guests to remote islets.

Fast Facts

  • English is the official language, though French Creole is spoken island wide.
  • Population around 1.3 million people with a stable political system.
  • The time zone is Greenwich Mean Time plus four hours.
  • The national currency is the Mauritian Rupee which is divided into 100 cents.
  • Mauritius has witnessed a massive development and its economy prospered; it is now also a regional financial hub.

Mauritius Sugar Beach14

 Top 10 Unmissable Experiences:

  • Climbing iconic Le Morne Brabant.
  • Visiting the Seven Coloured Earths in Chamarel.
  • Skydiving over Cap Malheureux.
  • Exploring Black River Gorges National Park.
  • Visiting Grand Baie.
  • Sampling street food in the Mauritian markets.
  • Swimming with dolphins in Tamarin Bay.
  • Visiting Mahebourg.
  • Zip lining on the Indian Ocean’s longest zip line.
  • Ile Aux Aigrettes.

Why we like it:

  • Some of the best beach resorts anywhere and with that world-famous Mauritian service!
  • Great beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, snorkelling and the list goes on.
  • For the more active great adventures too including fishing, hiking, skydiving, SCUBA, ziplining, and much more!
  • Did we mention the beaches?

Where to go

Northern Mauritius

Dubbed the Creole Cote D’Azur, and with more sandy beaches and sunshine than anywhere else on the island, the north is understandably popular. Grand Baie is the centre of the action, situated on a horseshoe-shaped sheltered bay around an emerald lagoon on the northwest coast. It has hotels aplenty, shopping and the island’s best nightlife – around 50 restaurants line the coastal road to Pereybère.

The starting point of nautical trips to the northern islands and other sea activities, the north of the island also has plenty of beaches, each one more beautiful than the next. The most popular ones among Mauritians and tourists are Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas, and the long curvy beach of Mont Choisy which continues from Pointe aux Canonniers to Grand Baie and to the divine Pereybere public beach. Cap Malheureux is an incredibly picturesque village – famous for its red-roofed church, view of the northern islands and its important fishing community.

Eastern Mauritius

The breezy east coast is the Mauritius of the posters and undoubtedly one of the island’s most beautiful coastlines set alongside emerald coloured lagoons. Punctuated with numerous luxurious hotels and authentic villages, the several kilometres long Belle Mare beach is its main attraction.

Ile aux Cerfs – a water sports paradise – is a must-see. Complete with a lively boathouse, long beaches as well as a tortoise farm, this unique island can be reached by speedboat, pirogue, glass bottom boat, catamaran or even by pirate ship.

The East Road is far less travelled than those of the West and the North but is well worth the detour. It snakes down from Grand River South East to Mahebourg along the coast, taking you through small agricultural and fishing villages, with stunning views of the Grand Port mountain range and the turquoise lagoon that stretches from Trou d’Eau Douce to Blue Bay.

Southern Mauritius

The wildest and most beautiful landscapes of the island are in the South. Sandy beaches bordered by cliffs carved by waves, rocky shores, sugar cane fields as far as the eye can see, and mountainous terrains offering magnificent panoramas.

The rustic coastal road winds past the surf-sculpted basalt cliffs at Gris Gris to the rocky monolith of Le Morne Brabant, taking in fishing villages, roadside fruit stalls and deserted beaches. Glass-bottom boat trips head out from Blue Bay Marine Park in the southeast. Encounters with crocodiles, giant tortoises and the Mauritius fruit bat or iguana await you at La Vanille Nature Park. One of the main fishing villages on the island, Mahebourg is built along the shore of the immense bay of Grand Port.

The beaches in this part of Mauritius are rare but striking. One of them is the famous Blue Bay beach which is surrounded by a semicircle of casuarinas and considered one of the nicest of the island with its fine sand, clear water and lively corals, perfect for snorkelling.

The Baie du Cap road is considered to be among the best roads to drive in the world and the famous hairpin bend is where many tourists stop and take photos from the rocky outcrop which offers a stunning view of the sea below and the beautiful southern coastline.

Western Mauritius

The sheltered west coast has calm, shallow golden-sand beaches favoured by young families, particularly around the resort areas of Flic en Flac and the quieter Wolmar. Protected from the prevailing winds, the region boasts some superb hotels and lagoons calm enough for swimming, snorkelling, diving, water-skiing, kayaking, pedal boats and sailing activities.

Head to Tamarin Bay, or to the world famous “One Eye” at Le Morne, where you can find the best waves for surfing. Le Morne is also well known by kite surfers due to the steady winds that blow in from the South-East and accelerate in this corner of the island almost all year round. Tamarin Bay is however best known for dolphin-swimming, while Black River (Rivière Noire) is famous for big game fishing.

For nature lovers, the verdant Black River Gorges National Park provides glimpses of rare birds including the echo parakeet.

Rodrigues

Some 560 kilometres north-east of Mauritius lies Rodrigues: the jewel in the crown of the Mascarene Islands, an 18 km by 8 km pearl surrounded by a crystalline blue lagoon twice its size.

The secure waters of the lagoon and the trade winds that gently buffer the island provide many opportunities for the adventurous. Rodrigues is a wonderful playground for scuba divers who quickly fall in love with the diverse coral reef eco-system and its colourful assortment of sub-aquatic flora and fauna. Equally, the island appeals to those with a love of windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and fishing. Thanks to its outer reef edges sitting nearly ten kilometres away from the coastline, Rodriguan waters are rich in fish.

It isn’t only those who like the ocean that will be swayed by Rodrigues’ charms. Yellows, greens and blues: nature on Rodrigues throbs with a palette of colours. Rarely will visitors encounter such a variety of landscapes in such a small area.

Locations in Mauritius

Eastern Mauritius

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Northern Mauritius

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Port Louis

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Rodrigues Island

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Southern Mauritius

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Western Mauritius

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When to go

Mauritius enjoys a relatively mild climate. Although temperatures are rather moderate throughout the year with occasional rainfall, the most pleasant times to visit the island are between the months of April and June and between September and December.

On the central plateau, which is some 600 metres above sea level, the average day temperature is between 20°C in August and 26°C in February. On the coast, the temperatures are higher by about three to five degrees. The northern and the western parts of the island are warmer and drier than the eastern and the southern regions

Seasons Summer: November to April

The weather is hot and humid during these months, with peaks in temperatures occurring in the months of December, January and February. Rainfall is abundant, especially on the central plateau. The highest rainfall normally occurs in the months of February and March.  This is the best time for scuba diving – especially December through to March – and for deep-sea fishing. The cyclonic season extends right the way through from November to April. Most of the time, the cyclones manage to avoid Mauritius because of the small size of the island. However, if they come close enough, the bad weather may affect vegetation and certain wooden buildings. Please rest assured that beach resorts have been constructed in such a way as to be able to resist strong cyclonic winds.

Winter: May to October

The temperature is cooler during this season, and prevailing winds tend to blow over the island from the east and south-east. The lowest temperatures are felt in August, around 20°C on the coast. This is the best season for surfing, June to August.

Tip

Talk to the locals:

Tou korek? – Is everything ok?
Ki manier? – How are you?
Mo bien e ou? – Very well and you?
Ki so pri? – How much is it?
Mwa pa kompran – I don’t understand
Sallaam – Goodbye

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