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.
Flic En Flac
Flic en Flac knocks it out of the park in terms of scenery, dishing out turquoise waters, white sand and an Indian Ocean panorama as far as you can see. There’s also the odd mountain or three muscling in on the action, plus pods of dolphins that play offshore.
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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 »