Beaches, sure, but what else was there to do in Mauritius? I’d seen the perfect palm-fringed coastline on many a magazine, but a lot of Mauritius’s other magical elements had been glossed over by those glossy brochures, so much so I was amazed and captivated by this small island paradise from the moment it came into view from my flight.
This small but perfectly formed African nation in the Indian ocean provides an amazing road-trip destination thanks to its scale, the perfect relaxation break thanks to its resorts or the ultimate adventure playground thanks to its national parks and water-sports.
1. Incredible Accommodation: Outrigger Resort
I’ll get the obvious out of the way first, and talk about the ample incredible resorts across the island. In the south, Outrigger Resort was a treat.
With its own protected reef, kitesurfing and watersports, numerous restaurants including a cheese and wine room and a prime location alongside Domaine de Bel Ombre Nature Reserve, the relatively affordable rates (in comparison to other nearby hotels) and no dress-code make this a relaxing winner.
2. Unique Sleep: Bubble lodge at Bois Cheri
For a different kind of stay, you can check into this bubble lodge nestled into the hill country of the Bois Cheri tea plantation. With a transparent, domed roof, it’s the perfect place to sleep under the stars before picking your tea fresh in the morning.
3. Paradise Resorts: Trou aux Biches Beachcomber
Perhaps the most luxurious yet relaxed resort I’ve stayed at on the ideal location of Trou aux Biches, one of the best beaches on the northern side of the island.
The villas with private plunge pools at Beachcomber overlook the beach and are suitable for both couples get-away, mates or families thanks to the relaxed vibe.
4. Budget Beating Accommodation
Think Mauritius is just luxury resorts? Wrong! You can score rooms for as low as £10 here and for example, right now I can see this three-bedroom house on the beach for just £20 a night… your Mauritius vacation doesn’t need to cost a fortune, grab the squad and make it a mates trip to paradise.
5. Direct Flights from London
Air Mauritius (LHR) and British Airways (LGW) offer direct flights to Mauritius, and at 12-hours overnight, you can easily make it a long-weekend getaway without the hassle of changing flights like many other far-flung island paradises.
6. Year-Round Climate
With only two seasons, Mauritius offers up temperatures between 17 and 30+ degrees making it an ideal year-round destination. That said, January to March tends to be wet as it is cyclone season and one even struck the island during my visit in April, so something to keep in mind when researching the best time to visit Mauritius.
7. Scuba Diving
From ship-wrecks to dolphins, scuba diving in Mauritius is a must if you are qualified. Warm waters, clean views, and excellent visibility make it a perfect place to get qualified as well.
Not qualified or not into Scuba? No worries, the island is surrounded by reefs so you can just swim out with your snorkeling gear and see the fishes in the incredibly clean water.
Stand up paddleboarding is huge in Mauritius thanks to the calm waters from the reef-protected island, most hotels will have gear ready and available to start your day right at sunrise.
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In fact, all water sports are excellently catered for in Mauritius. Whether it’s jet-skis or kitesurfing you are after, keep an eye when booking accommodation as plenty of hotels will throw in these activities with the room rate.
11. The Beautiful Beaches
I mean, it’s obvious, but wow, some of the best sandy memories of my life came from Mauritius.
12. Le Morne Brabant
This UNESCO listed site sits at the south-western tip, and apart from the fantastic beaches around here, the towering 555-meter high mountain makes for an incredible backdrop to take a dip or top up the tan. This spot also holds a historical reminder and importance as it sheltered slaves who had run away during the 18th century.
It is also here if you can get an aerial view you will see the famous ‘underwater waterfall‘ illusion that Mauritius is famed for.
13. Dolphin and Whale Watching
Around Tamarind Bay you can hop on a boat, or jump in the water, and see Dolphins and Whales playing in Mauritius’s crystal clear waters. Always be responsible and try and enjoy the spectacular sight from a distance, though these friendly Dolphins might get inquisitive and come over to say hello!
14. Island Hopping
If Mauritius isn’t perfectly petite enough for you then grab a catamaran or fishing boat and take to the islands. Favorite spots include Ile aux Cerfs and Ile d’Ambre, but there are a whole host of small islands offering a range of different activities.
15. Ile Aux Aigrettes Torotioses
One island that might be worth visiting for a wildlife fix is Ile Aux Aigrettes where giant tortoises can be seen. While you can see these in a few spots around the main island, it is now sadly usually in pens to stop tourists harassing these gentle giants 🙁
16. Pink Pigeons
Another endemic sight you may see on Ile Aux Aigrettes is the native Pink Pigeon, a rarity to see these days and a big draw for fans of bird-spotting.
17. Sunrise and Sunset
Need I say any more? Although with mainly grey skies due to the impending Cyclone during my visit the two magical sunrises and sunsets were so captivating in their vivid colors I completely forgot I was on a photography assignment and quietly watched the sky-porn unfold with a Phoneix, the local beer in hand.
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18. Catamaran Sunset Cruises
I was so looking forward to watching the sunset from a catamaran but again due to weather reasons we had to call this off so, go and enjoy and send me a snap!
19. Sega Dance
The Sega can be seen in many places around the island, including at many resorts such as Outrigger.
With a sad history, the music hailed from Madagascar and mainland Africa and was originally sung by those who had been solved as slaves. Nowadays, the folksong in Creole is the musical expression of the joy and liveliness that is the Mauritian way of life.
20. Safety and Stability
Mauritius is a safe, welcoming and stable country which makes for a relaxing destination for people of all ages, especially families who may be more aware of the current global climate when planning their vacations.
21. Multiculturism and Inclusion
While the majority of the population of Mauritius in Hindu, you’ll spot monuments from various religions side by side. The harmony across the country from its Hindu, African, Chinses and Muslim cultures is a lesson for the whole world.
Before Mauritius’s independence, it had been colonized by the Dutch, French, and British and while the history is tragic at times, modern-day Mauritius is a beautiful example of co-existence.
22. Grand Bassin
The volcanic crater lake of Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao, is a great place to witness Hindu monuments and temples in a serene, secluded location.
23. Maha Shivaratri Festival
Every February this festival which is likely the largest Hindu pilgrimage not within India takes place and the numbers can be upwards of 450,000. Various festivals mark the Mauritius calendar throughout the year, and you would be well advised to align your visit to include one.
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24. Visit Volcanic Craters
With both dormant and extinct volcanoes on the island, these craters with impressive views are a reminder of how this small island came to gain such a rugged and awe-inspiring interior.
25. See giant lilies at the Botanical Gardens
The Sir Seewoosagur Botanic Garden, more commonly called Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, is the oldest in the southern hemisphere and while it’s a relaxing walk in nature, most people head here to admire the giant water-lilies that are sadly facing extension and as such are kept protected here.