A country naturally endowed with beauty, full of people with a legendary hospitality. It is also a model for true democracy for every African country…Mauritius
Mauritius is one of Africa’s great destinations. It is located in the middle of the turquoise Indian Ocean, inhabited by a multi-racial, peaceful people. It is covered in great golf courses, offering myriad water sports, mountain trekking, hunting. And also birdwatching, luxurious resorts, an old colonial capital, great food, three- and four-star hotels. It also has one of the world’s best botanical gardens. Good nightlife, beautiful beach bars, UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is one of the oldest horse racing tracks in the world, great sightseeing… But we will come to that just later. For now let’s talk about the things that characterise the beauty of Mauritius.
1. The Island – Mauritius
When your island is surrounded by perfect white sand beaches. Themselves surrounded by the stunning blue Indian Ocean. And the center of the island contains mountains and breathtaking scenery. Plus almost year-round sunshine, it’s difficult to be miserable.
Since gaining independence in 1968 there’s never been a coup, or military or populist uprising of any kind on this small Indian Ocean. It is an island (just more than 2,000 square kilometres in size).
The population of almost 1.3 million is 68 percent Indian, but also comprises Creole, Chinese, French, plus a smattering of English and South Africans.
However, between them they speak English (the country’s official language), French, Mauritian Creole, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Bhojpuri and Hakka.
Often, the sound of the native Sega music (an Indian Ocean version of calypso) inspires dancing and laughing on the beaches all night.
Also, participants refresh themselves with the local ice cold Phoenix beer, the occasional Green Island rum and Coke and barbecue, freshly caught seafood like snapper, dorado, prawns, octopus and lobster.
Yet any holiday on Mauritius needn’t be a laze on the sand.
2. Site Seeing – Mauritius
For sightseers there are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape), the colonial capital of Port Louis, one of the oldest horse racing tracks in the world at Champs de Mars, one of the world’s best botanical gardens at Pamplemousses, the Blue Penny Museum (home to one of the world’s rarest stamps), the Black River Gorges National Park and the Casela Wildlife Park, where you can walk with lion cubs.
To get to any of these, or just to get around Mauritius, you can use taxis (find a good one on your first day and stick with him), hire a car or use one of the many tour companies in Mauritius like White Sands Tours.
Living on Mauritius can also be cheap, with a modest one bedroom flat costing from US$320 a month, car rental from US$350 a month and utility bills much cheaper than most countries.
3. Food – Mauritius
The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian. It’s common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.
Strong ties with the French (who ruled the island from 1710-1810) has meant that even today French dishes are still served. Hence delecacies such as bouillon, tuna salad, daube and coq au vin are popular. Meanwhile Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius brought their cuisine with them, making curries, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste that’s popular especially when served with fish) and pickles popular especially when given a unique Mauritian flavor.
The arrival of Chinese migrants at the end of the 19th century also led to rice becoming part of the staple diet of the island and noodles. Both steamed and fried, became common.
Chinese appetizers such as crispy chicken and crispy squid have also become part of the Mauritian diet.
In addition, at night guests are greeted with lit torches along the driveway. And eat in individual gazebos set on man made lakes within tropical gardens in this palatial restaurant.
All the vegetables are grown locally and there’s live music and dancing at weekends.
4. Activities – Mauritius
Land sports: Any resort hotel will also have its own people to provide you with almost any land sport you want. Otherwise, companies such as Yemaya (www.yemayaadventures.com) provide mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and cycling.
Mauritius Horse Trails (www.mauritiushorsetrails.com) can take you on some wonderful horseback tours of the island.
Golf: There are seven great golf courses on the island. The best being Golf du Chateau and the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita, plus several nine-hole courses.
Deep sea fishing: Mauritius has some of the best deep sea fishing in the world and the Marlin World Cup (www.marlinworldcup.com) is held here every February/March.
JP Henry Charters Ltd run Best expert charters on the island.
Mountain trekking: There are well more than 20 great mountains to trek up. The best people to guide you here are YANATURE (www.trekkingilemaurice.com).
Watersports: Any resort hotel will have its own people to provide you with any watersport you can think of.
Any village on the coast will likewise have several companies to do the same. Just ask and any Mauritian will tell you where to go.
Shopping: Local arts and crafts stores can be found in most villages, as well as designer factory outlets that sell Ralph Lauren and other brands at a fraction of European prices.
5. Hotels – Mauritius
Five star hotels and resorts fill Mauritius plus plenty of budget options.
For a list of accommodation on Mauritius visit www.mauritius.net. Meanwhile here are a few of my favorites. Lakaz Chamarel: Mauritius has numerous small boutique hotels well off the beaten track and, for my money, this is the best.
It’s located high in the Chamarel hills in the south of the island and has 20 luxurious guest rooms and a superb restaurant.
With rates starting at around MUR4,700 (US$160) a night it’s not cheap by island standards, but its tropical surroundings are worth it.
Piton Canot, Chamarel; +230 483 5240; www.lakazchamarel.com
Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa: This great place is on the island’s east coast, with luxurious rooms all enjoying Indian Ocean views, a great golf course on its own island, regular shows at night and a wonderful selection of restaurants, including the Republik Beach Bar & Grill.
Coastal Road, Trou d’Eau Douce, Flacq; +230 402 7400; www.shangri-la.com/mauritius
Villa Paul Et Virginie Hotel: Located in Flic en Flac on the west coast, the Villa Paul et Virginie is a beautiful hotel for those on a tight budget. Mauritius
See also 10 Beautiful Places to visit in Mauritius.