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. As Mauritius celebrates 50 years of independence this year (2018) here are 50 reasons, 50 photos and 1 video which should convince you to firmly place the island on your travel bucket-list.
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 Sleeps: 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 a 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 snorkelling gear and see the fishes in the incredible 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.
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-metre 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. Favourite 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 colours I completely forgot I was on a photography assignment and quietly watched the sky-porn unfold with a Phoneix, the local beer in hand.
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 colonised by the Dutch, French and British and while the history is tragic at times, the 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 Mauritius calendar throughout the year, and you would be well advised to align your visit to include one.
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.
26. All the Food
Mauritius knows how to spoil your taste buds and the various influences over the years come out in each meal. From delicious Indian feasts to traditional seafood dishes and amazing buttery pastries in the morning, you have to hit up both the street food stands and fancy restaurants to get the full range of culinary delights on this islands menu.
27. Dholl Puri
Often called the national dish of Mauritius, Dholl Puri is a must try, especially from the small vendors at the markets in the capital Port Louis. These flatbread stuffed with smashed split peas is best topped up with a spicy chilli paste though if your mouth can’t handle hot food with a kick go easy on it.
28. Chamarel Restaurant
I can’t for the life of me remember what I ate at this restaurant because the insane views across Le Morne and the islands had me mesmerised. Translation: eat and enjoy the epic views ignoring the fact it’s quite the tourist trap.
29. Rochester Falls
One of my favourite moments in Mauritius was the morning we spent splashing around the cold waters of Rochester Falls. A 4WD through some sugar cane and a climb down a muddy rock path brings you to the small, but perfectly formed crashing waters of Rochester Falls.
30. Black River Gorges National Park
In the hilly south of Mauritius, Black River Gorges National Park provides ample opportunity to strap on the hiking boots and get lost entirely in lush, dense nature. Keep an eye out for Monkeys who might join you for a stroll.
31. Chamarel Falls
If you want a more impressive vantage view of Mauritius waterfalls, then the towering Chamarel Falls is a must visit.
32. Tamarind Falls
One of the most popular hikes in Mauritius is out to Tamarind Falls, another great set of crashing water on the island. If you are visiting during the wet season, it might not be safe to hike here so this is something to keep in mind when planning your trip.
33. Seven Coloured Earths
Depending on the light and conditions when you visit, you might be impressed or under-whelmed at the “Terres des Sept Couleurs”. This small collection of sand-dunes has various colours streaming through it and is worth a pop in while you are down in the southern part of the island.
34. Bois Cheri Tea Plantation
Not only can you visit the factory and see the production of one of the islands favourite drinks, but you can also walk through the tea fields before sipping Mauritius’s excellent vanilla tea surrounded by deer and an epic view on the restaurant’s balcony.
35. Kayaking through Tea Plantations
If that wasn’t enough, the lake in the middle of the tea-plantation has kayaks for the perfect chill out moment, another bonus if you have checked into the bubble lodge here.
36. Chamarel Rhumierie
With sugar-cane coating the island, Rum production is a big deal here. Be sure to swing by to Chamarel Rhumierie for an educational/tipsy experience learning about the production methods and sampling the various flavours on offer.
37. Port Louis Waterfront
In Mauritius’s compact capital Port Louis, a visit to Le Caudan Waterfront provides colourful umbrellas above shopping paths, chilled beer on terraces and a more cosmopolitan vibe then the small community towns you’ll have been stopping in to have a gorge on amazing snacks.
38. Port Louis Market
One of the best ways to get a feel for a place is the local markets and the central market in Port Louis is no exception. The bustling ground floor is stocked with colourful fruit, veg, tea and snacks while local fabrics and products are on the second floor.
39. Grand Baie Fish Market
Being an island the sea-food treats on offer in Mauritius are exceptional, if you want to see where the daily catch arrives to then the market in Grand Baie, a small village with an excellent beach on the northern side of the island is worth an early-morning visit.
40. Friendly locals
It’s a cliche and a bit of a lazy thing to say as a travel writer, but the warmth I felt from every smile and conversation in Mauritius left me giddy.
If you fancy 18-holes in Paradise, then you have come to the right place. Across Mauritius, golf courses are a popular outside entertainment, but for the ultimate tick, Ile aux Cerfs course on its own tropical island is one special place to play around.
42. Cure your need for speed
In the east of Mauritius, Domaine de l’Étoile reserve offers the chance for some off-road adventures by either horse-riding, buggies or quad bikes. With a wide range of flora and fauna, it provides a different experience to much of the island.
43. Go Ziplining
With zip lines measuring up to 250-metres, for those who want to fly through the tree canopy, Mauritius has got you covered too.
44. Historic race-courses
While I hate horse racing, the reason for visit Champ de Mars is more of historical significance. Not only is this the oldest race-course through the India Ocean but it was here that the flag was raised in 1968 as Mauritius marked its independence.
45. Make it a road trip
With the islands size and great roads making it super easy to drive around in no time at all, Mauritius is actually a pretty great road-trip destination. If you want to tackle some sugar-cane sided mud tracks though you might want to plump for a 4WD rental.
46. Visit a Chateau
These 5rand houses which are a visual reminder of colonisation have been repurposed into restaurants, museums and other uses. You’ll likely visit one during your visit. I spent some time at Chateau De Labourdonnais where the manicured gardens and restored rooms offer a small insight into its history.
47. Family friendly
I don’t have kids but if I did, thanks to kids clubs, welcoming resorts and laid-back safe vibes here I think it would be a pretty sweet spot for a family vacation.
48. Perfect romantic escape
I’m single AF, but if you want a romantic getaway or honeymoon destination that offers both chill and adventure, I don’t think you could pick a better place than Mauritius.
49. Get gambling
For a small island, I noticed Mauritius has a surprising amount of Casinos so if having a flutter is your thing; you won’t struggle to do so here.
50. Side trips to Reunion
If you want to visit Reunion and admire its insane landscapes such as towering extinct volcanoes that can sometimes see snow sit at its top, see lava flowing from an active volcano or visit a desert area (yep, it’s madness what these small islands pack in) then a quick and easy 40-minute Air Mauritius flight will whisk you to this French department.