Best of Mauritius
Rum and tea, coconut palms and Creole cuisine, history and golf, relaxed barefoot luxury and breathtaking nature: Mauritius is a pearl in the Indian Ocean that shimmers in the most diverse facets and never loses its magic. Especially because there is always something new to discover here.
3 January 2022
If one believes a former visitor to the island, then one could gain the opinion that Mauritius was created first and only then the sky. "Heaven is an exact copy of Mauritius", Mark Twain recorded in his diary after visiting the Indian Ocean island for the first time. Twain goes on to write, "Another resident will say that this is an exaggeration; that the two principal villages, Port Louis and Curepipe, are far from heavenly existence; that no one lives in Port Louis except by compulsion, and that Curepipe is the wettest and rainiest place in the world."
Indeed, Mauritius is unbelievably beautiful and the weather is tropical, with the one or other short rain shower in between - this has not changed much until today. But Mark Twain could not have imagined during his visit in the year 1896 what Port Louis would become one day: with its 150.000 inhabitants, the once so small village has meanwhile grown to the capital of the island. Numerous museums, such as the Blue Penny Museum and the Natural History Museum, as well as boutiques line up here just as excellent restaurants and hip cafés that could just as well be located in a European city. A tip in this respect is the Caudan Waterfront at the harbour, where you can buy products of well-known fashion labels as well as local products. Just a few meters away, street vendors sell their street food: roti, curries and boulettes. Simple houses and impressive colonial buildings characterize the streetscape of Port Louis. At the Central Market, locals buy fresh fish, spices, fruit and vegetables; there is a cheerful confusion, togetherness and coexistence. But it's not just Port Louis that's a fascinating mix - the people, who belong to diverse religious groups and speak different languages and dialects, as well as what the island has to offer, seem to combine the best of different worlds. Tourists prefer the lively north and the region around the capital because of the popular resorts (such as Grand Baie), clubs and discos, as well as the popular beaches of Pointe aux Canonniers and Mont Choisy. The northeast is a little quieter, with hidden coves and picturesque villages, as well as the botanical gardens of Pamplemousses, famous for its giant water lily pads. The largest Hindu temple on the island is in the village of Triolet.
Luxury on sandy beaches in the east
From Grand Gaube via Belle Mare and Mahébourg to Blue Bay stretches the quiet and relaxed east coast. It is lined with numerous luxury hotels, whose guests relax on almost endless sandy beaches. Mahébourg, the former capital of the island, has retained its original character to this day. Typical Mauritian cafés with local delicacies, the colourful market on Rue Hollandaise and colonial-style houses invite you to take a stroll. The real highlight of the area, however, is hidden in the water: almost the entire island is surrounded by a coral reef, which makes it a hotspot for divers and snorkelers, but the underwater world in this lagoon is particularly beautiful. Sugar cane fields in the plains and the rugged mountains of the central highlands dominate the scenery in the south. It is mainly nature lovers and botany fans who visit the region between Mahébourg in the east and Grande Riviere Noire in the west, which is rather little developed for tourism. Their top destination is the Black River Gorges National Park with its network of more than 60 kilometres of hiking trails. Trips to the waterfall at Chamarel and the so-called "Seven Colored Earths" are also worthwhile. After the multicoloured underground in Chamarel, a swampy green sets the (colour) tone in the crocodile park La Vanille: Here, the primeval animals can be safely marvelled at, as can iguanas, monkeys, snakes and giant tortoises. Le Morne Brabant, the highest mountain of the island, is also worth a visit. Although the ascent is a bit strenuous, from the top one is rewarded with great views in all directions. The mountain also plays a significant (if sad) role in the island's history, which was marked by many dark decades of slavery. It served as a refuge from the cruel fate of captivity for escaped slaves - many of whom threw themselves off its cliffs in desperation.
African flair in the west
The fact that Mauritius belongs to the African continent is particularly evident in the west. Sega music and exuberant picnics on public beaches with lots of dancing are indicators of this, as are the strong African influences in terms of cuisine. Almost all beaches have a well-developed tourist infrastructure; there is a wide choice of accommodation, restaurants and bars. The sporting offer also seems limitless - the west coast is sheltered from the wind, which is why the water is warmer and calmer than in the other island regions. The dolphins also appreciate this, for example off Tamarin Bay: anyone who takes a boat out here in the morning has a good chance of swimming a round with the marine mammals. They cavort in large schools off the bay in their search for food and enjoy being observed frolicking in their habitat. With a bit of luck, you can get very close to the animals.
Most popular hotels
Anantara Iko Mauritius
Luxury resort with new wellness and well-being concept
This tranquil resort on the south-east coast of Mauritius is a tranquil retreat completely dedicated to the well-being of its guests. When choosing accommodation - the rooms and suites are deliberately simple in contrast to the magnificent nature all around - guests can choose between a breathtaking view over the beach of Le Chaland and towards the Indian Ocean or accommodation in the middle of the lush gardens. A new wellness and well-being concept with tailor-made packages (for three, four or five days) offers the perfect treatments for every guest. Plus a wide range of outdoor activities, from yoga to meditation to tai chi. Tip: the 90-minute Anantara signature massage. Price: Premier room per night from € 348.
Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas*****, anantara.com
Blue Bay Marine Park, Le Chaland, 51510 Plaine Magnien, Mauritius
T: +230 651 5000
Lux Le Morne Resort
Chic boutique resort at the foot of the mountain
Situated on the peninsula of Le Morne Brabant (a Unesco World Heritage Site) and at the foot of the famous mountain, the resort is one of the most popular hideaways on the island with its five pools, three restaurants, spa with Turkish hamam, tennis court and extensive sandy beach. In addition to the resort's amenities, it's the location and laid-back vibe that guests appreciate. Speaking of location, there's a good chance of spectacular sunsets from "Lux Le Morne". Price on request.
Lux Le Morne Resort*****, luxresorts.com
Coastal Road, Le Morne, Mauritius
T: +230 401 4000
One & Only Le Saint Géran
Tropical island paradise with unique views
Exciting water sports activities and fishing trips are on the agenda at One & Only Le Saint Géran, as are dives in the coral reef and trips on the private yacht. Guests can find deep relaxation in the ESPA and Biologique research spa, and five restaurants guarantee delicacies. The resort is located on a private peninsula and with its elegant rooms, suites and the "Villa One" is considered the grand dame of luxury hotels in Mauritius. Double room per night from € 990.
One & Only Le Saint Géran, oneandonlyresorts.com
Pointe de Flacq, Poste de Flacq, Mauritius
T: +230 401 1688
Sugar Beach Golf & Spa Resort
Aesthetic retreat in Flic en Flac
With its colonial-style buildings, the resort exudes the charm of times long past. Situated on the sheltered bay of Flic en Flac, it offers all the modern amenities that discerning travellers desire. Elegant rooms and suites appeal to couples and families alike. In addition to a spa and a wide range of activities, this member of the Sun Resorts scores with access to two 18-hole championship golf courses. Price on request.
Sugar Beach Golf & Spa Resort*****, sugarbeachresort.com
Wolmar, Flic en Flac, Mauritius
T: +230 403 3300
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita
Luxury hideaway in the east
On the edge of an idyllic lagoon, the resort is located on the east coast of the island. It is a secluded oasis that offers its guests plenty of privacy. Each of the stylish villas and residences has its own garden with pool; relaxation is also available in the award-winning spa. Golfers can indulge their passion on the Ernie Els-designed greens or the Bernhard Langer course. Exceptional restaurants and bars round off a perfect day of watersports adventures and island explorations.
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita*****, fourseasons.com
Coastal Road, Beau Champ,
Mauritius, T: +230 402 3100
Most beautiful beaches
The beach in the south of the island scores with golden sand, huge waves and a small stone cave. The current is too strong for swimming, but it's a perfect Insta-spot. Because it's only accessible via a footpath, hardly any people stray here, which is why it's perfect for yoga on the beach.
Bras d'Eau Beach
The relatively unknown beach beauty on the east coast convinces with its naturalness. It is best to combine a visit here with a hike through the nearby national park, which attracts with lush flora and fauna.
Trou aux Biches
The two-kilometre-long beach is considered the most beautiful in Mauritius due to its powder-sugar-like sand and crystal-clear water. Top for snorkelers!
"Tastebuddies Mauritius" - Tour
If you want to get to know really good street food and the authentic cuisine of the island, it is best to trust the locals. The "Tastebuddies Mauritius" have made it their business to introduce visitors to the culinary delights of their island. In small groups of maximum six persons, they guide through Port Louis, where in small backyards (in which one would never get lost as a tourist) and at inconspicuous street corners, often the most delicious dishes are offered. At the same time, the participants of the tours also learn something about the history of the country and pass several sightseeings of the capital. The distance covered is not particularly long, but the tour still takes around three hours. Tip: the tours usually start at 11 o'clock. Skipping breakfast is not a mistake.
From € 48,- per person. Book tours online; the meeting point will be announced. tastebuddies.mu
This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Winter 2021/22.