Coconut-white beaches, gin-clear waters, and mountains coated in bottle-green forest – paradise island clichés come thick and fast on holidays to Mauritius.
Mauritius’ number-one pull is its beaches – imagine sweeps of silvery-white sand backed by slim palms and you’ll be on the right track. Away from the edges, you’ll find sugar-cane fields, waterfalls straight out of a Herbal Essences advert, and thick jungle that hides families of macaque monkeys. And the island is volcanic, which means you can count on an impressive backdrop of jagged, deep-green mountains.
Offshore, the textbook turquoise waters play host to Disney-esque creatures. Slip on a pair of flippers and you’ll come mask to face with rainbow-bright parrotfish, skinny trumpet fish and stripy, Nemo-like clownfish. Sea turtles and dolphins sometimes put in appearances, too.
Coast to coast
The star of the north coast is Grand Baie, where you’ll find a lively restaurant and bar scene. Short bus rides put this spot in arm’s reach of the peaceful beaches of Calodyne and Anse le Raie. This part of the island is a haven for wind and kite surfers, too. The east coast is best for beach lovers – the sands in Belle Mare are toothpaste-white and run for miles. Thanks to trade winds, it’s also a good surf spot. The island’s south-west corner is a family favourite, with resorts like Bel Ombre dishing up huge beaches and calm waters. Some of the best diving and dolphin-spotting sites are here, too.
On the culture front, Mauritius is a bit of a mish-mash – you’ll find a jumble of influences here, particularly French and Creole. It makes for a pretty interesting mix, especially when it comes to food – everything from coq au vin to rice and beans crops up on menus.
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Belle Mare is a pint-sized village with a mammoth beach. Its stretch of serene sands spool right down to Trou d’Eau Douce in the south. This is unspoiled country – the snow-white beach is backed only by coconut palms, luxury retreats, and a clutch of championship golf courses.
The fishing village of Grand Gaube is on the very edge of north Mauritius’ tourist trail, so its laid-back vibe is light years from the hubbub of the west coast. A handful of exclusive hotels stick close to a coastline that’s made up of spiky headlands and sandy bays. And beaches are on the petite side, so each hotel has a few under its belt. Things are pretty peaceful around these parts, so the only things you’ll spy from your sunlounger are dawdling fishing boats and a stray kite surfer or two.
The village of Bel Ombre is in the south-west of Mauritius, sandwiched between forest-blanketed mountains and a shimmering lagoon. This is a spot where nature has yet to feel the squeeze of major development. There’s a small collection of tip-top hotels hugging the coastline but, for the most part, it’s still as nature intended.
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Black River Gorges – 25 minutes’ drive from Bel Ombre – is Mauritius’ only national park, so it’s a must-do for nature fans.…View details »
The botanical gardens at Pamplemousses have been around since the mid-1700s, nabbing them the title of the oldest in thesouthern…View details »