Mauritius is best known for its 5-star resorts rolled out alongside endless stretches of palm-fringed beaches; all offering de-luxe accommodation, entertainment, activities, culinary delights, and pampering second to none. But, beyond the private butlers, plunge pools, and exotic cocktails served in sugar rimmed margarita glasses, lies a distinctive melange of cultures, peoples, and flavours that have all come together to form a fascinating and unique patchwork…
A miniscule part of Africa, floating alone in the Indian Ocean, this tiny island packs a relatively big punch on a number of fronts. Silky, powder-white sand, crystal- clear topaz-blue lagoons, rich tropical foliage and dramatic volcanic mountains, blissful weather (nearly) all-year-round, interesting and peace-loving people, and a smorgasbord of ‘wow-factor’ activities, all form part and parcel of this tropical paradise.
Favourable onshore winds and shallow waters in delightful coves due to the protective coral reef, make Mauritius a popular spot for water-based activities. Try your hand at kite-surfing and kite-boarding at the famous Le Morne Peninsula. Discover a fascinating underwater world, rife with the most beautiful fish and coral species, and possibly even turtles, at the famous snorkelling spots of Blue Bay Marine Park, Trou aux Biches, Ile aux Cerfs island, and Pointe aux Piments. For a truly unforgettable experience, swim with dolphins, or watch them from the boat, off the South West coast. If you are really fortunate, you may even spot whales…
Hike to some sensational unimpeded views from atop the remnants of the original volcanic crater that rose up out of sea many millennia ago. Challenging, but worthwhile climbs include Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire, Pieter Both, Lion Mountain, Le Morne and Le Pouce. If you’re more of an ambler than a scrambler, try the Macabee Trail through the Black River Gorges National Park, a wild expanse of thick forest and rolling hills and an important habitat for some of the island’s most endangered bird species.
The beautiful lime-green sugar cane plantations and old sugar cane factories with their stone lime kilns have a history dating back to the 17th century. A visit to l’Aventure du Sucre at the old Beau Plan Sugar Estate gives a fascinating insight into how ‘King Sugar’ has shaped, and continues to shape, the Island’s economy. Follow the Tea Route to the Bois Cheri tea estate for a culinary and cultural journey into the history of tea production in Mauritius. While in this area, lunch on wild boar at the Rhumerie (Distillery) de Chamarel and taste the wonders being done with this sugar cane- based drink.
Then of course there are the helicopter tours, tandem skydiving, and island hopping on a catamaran, to name but a few more… No visit to Mauritius is complete without lunches at one of the many restaurants or stalls specialising in ‘Creole’ cuisine, a fusion of European, Chinese, and Indian dishes reflecting the heritage of those who came to populate this uninhabited island over 350 years ago. Here you can discover dishes like ‘Foo-Yung’ or ‘Dholl Puri’ unknown or forgotten back in China and India respectively.
As the words of that famous song say it so well: …just another day in Paradise!