International travel has been off-limits for some time now, yet never has it been so intriguing. Isn’t it true that the one thing you’re not allowed to do is the one thing you want to do most?
While we wait for the travel ban to be lifted, I’ve decided to do a blog series that will feature my post-lockdown international travel bucket list. First up is Mauritius. By the way, did you know that Mauritius has now been declared COVID-19 free? Frankly, I’d much rather be in Mauritius than anywhere else at the moment.
One of the most popular parts of Mauritius is found in the North. It is known for its white, sandy beaches and calm lagoons. It is also the most developed part of the Mauritian coastline and boasts numerous beach resorts. It’s a treasure trove for explorer-wanderers, heaven for historians, an adrenalin centre for adventurists and a cultural hub for those who want to meet locals and explore local cuisine.
To the beach!
Mauritius is known for its many water sport options that visitors can choose from. From waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing to deep sea fishing and parasailing. Fill your evenings with beautiful sunsets and sundowners from one of the many bars along the coastline – a nightlife scene to remember.
Doing what locals do often makes for the best experience. Their favourite beach is Péreybère – also the best beach on the island. Grand Baie is filled with a fantastic array of galleries, shops, hotels, restaurants and nightlife. Cap Malheureux is known for its idyllic fishing village with spectacular views and Choisy is one of Mauritius’ longest beaches. Trou aux Biches offers a golf course and brilliant ocean views.
Sugar & Rum
A visit to L’Aventure du Sucre brings you close and personal to the fascinating history of Mauritius’ sugar and rum industries. Here you’ll learn more about where the slaves came from, how sugar and rum slaves lived, their emancipation and how their descendants built one of the most prosperous and successful economies in the world today.
Shades of green
One of the most visited attractions in Mauritius is the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden with its million shades of brilliant green. You’ll be amazed by the giant Victoria Amazonia water lilies, famous Baobabs, dozens of medicinal plants, a spice garden and 85 different palm tree species. You’ll also be able to meet some of the island’s giant tortoises and sip on some vanilla iced tea here.
Pump it up
Get the adrenaline pumping with some adventurous activities like kitesurfing (try spots around Cap Malheureux and Anse la Raie), kayaking, windsurfing, deep sea fishing, yachting, hiking, trail biking, scuba diving, snorkelling or running along one of Mauritius’ many beach-, mountain- or forest routes. End off a perfect day with a dip in the warm, crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean.
Grand Baie is the central shopping hub of Mauritius, but there are also numerous other shopping locations to choose from. Try the Main Bazaar for local handcrafts and other Mauritian products; Goodlands for Indian clothing, textiles and soft furnishings; Arsenal for cashmere, artisanal products, bespoke lighting and big name fashion labels; and Pamplemousses for gifts of handcrafts, paintings, jewellery and a wide variety of maritime memorabilia.
Deep down under
North Mauritius has the most beautiful dive sites for both novice and experienced divers. Gunner’s Coin is known for sightings of large parrotfish, Whale Rock is where you can come face to face with a Hammerhead shark (if you’re lucky) and Holt’s Rocks’ name refers to the formation of huge rocks under the sea. Trou aux Biches is more ideal for families and you can swim with turtles at Pointe aux Piments.
Dump the dive
Dump the dive and rather try a Blue Safari submarine trip or an underwater scooter. It’s the perfect alternative to diving if you’d like to encounter the rich and varied Mauritian marine life.
The Northern Islets
Visiting the small group of islands in the North of Mauritius with either a catamaran or speedboat has become a favourite among Mauritian experiences. From snorkelling at Gunner’s Coin where the cliff holes nest seabirds, to swimming and having a picnic around Flat Island and Gabriel Island.
Round Island is a unique nature reserve where access is prohibited (without a special permit) to protect its endemic plants and reptiles, as well as many types of indigenous species introduced there.
Château de Labourdonnais
If you’re an avid fine diner like I am, Château de Labourdonnais is definitely a must-visit. In addition to reflecting the island’s grand past, it also offers an elegant Mauritian fine-dining experience and local produce for sale. It is built from teak in the neoclassical Italian style and stands regally in the heart of a fertile orchard. Here you’ll find a century-old mango tree, spice trees, pomme jacot and Kythira plum trees, papaya and guava trees and passion fruit vines.
Mauritius is a great family destination, but also perfect for a romantic getaway. Either way, I would #RatherbeinMauritius right about now.