Activities and experiences to tick off your list on this Indian Ocean island nation. Plus, our edit of luxury hotels to stay at
Beaches to unwind on
The crowd-pleaser: Île aux Cerfs
This little piece of turquoise paradise boasts over 4km of sandy bliss. Sun worshippers can sunbathe under the glowing sun while keen golfers can perfect their swing at the Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club while lapping up the views.
The cultural gem: Le Morne Beach
Enjoy an exotic beach break while ticking off a cultural must-see at this stunning hotspot. Here, you’ll find miles of white sand and crystal clear waters set against the backdrop of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Le Morne Brabant mountain.
The secret spot: Riambel Beach
This hidden gem rises out the sapphire ocean to welcome you to an untouched haven. The unspoilt beach could be your best bet if you want a more secluded affair.
Dives for all skill levels
Beginner: Blue Bay Marine Park
With a clear visibility (up to 50 metres), this park feels like a bottomless pool of marine treasures. With stunning corals and colourful fishes gliding through the shallow waters, it’s the perfect spot for beginners and those looking for a gentle dive experience. Prepare to enter a Finding Nemo style wonderland, with clown fish, reef sharks, moray eels, and batfish swimming right beside you.
Intermediate: The Cathedral at Flic-en-Flac
Located off Flic-en-Flac on the western coast, this site features a stunning 28-metre arch and a vertical chimney that allows you to approach the most dazzling species of marine life. As you descend deeper into the underwater cave, you’ll see a stream of light seep through the arch illuminating the entire aquatic landscape. In the crevasses, scorpion fish and schools of jacks hide.
Advanced: Whale Rock at Grand Baie
The varying depths of the site make this dive a bit tricky, but the exceptional diversity of reef life on display makes it worth the effort. From angelfish and triggerfish to small moray eels, parrotfish and labre fish, colours swirl around you. Occasionally in the summer, it’s possible to see some of the larger species of fish that linger here, such as swordfish and hammerhead sharks.
Local dishes to taste
Trying the tasty street food, such as dholl puri, is a must. Mauritians go starry-eyed at talk of this delicious treat made of traditional flatbread and filled with spicy ground split peas, and Dewa & Sons makes the best on the island. For lunch, look no further than bol renversé, Mauritius’ magic bowl.
As the name suggests, the tasty dish is an upside-down mix of chicken, stirred vegetables and rice packed into a bowl to form a dome topped with a perfectly oozing fried egg. And if you’re looking for the ultimate way to quench to your thirst on a hot summer’s day, alouda (made with milk, basil seeds and agar-agar jelly) is a lifesaver. Port Louis Central Market serves it by the bucketful.
Cultural attractions you must visit
Beyond the pristine beaches and turquoise seas, Mauritius is a melting pot of different cultures well worth investigating. Make the Natural History Museum the first stop on your list. Not only is it the oldest museum in the country, but also the oldest in Southern Africa, preserving the richest zoological collection of the Indian Ocean as well as various artefacts that reflect the island’s history and art.
Venture further down memory lane to the heart of the island’s colonial past at the Mauritius Photography Museum. Hidden behind the cobbled pathways of Port Louis, the 18th-century building is home to thousands of historical pictures taken during the 18th and 19th centuries. Make sure to end your trip on a sweet note and learn more about the deeply intertwined history of sugar and Mauritius at L’Aventure du Sucre. Housed in a former sugar factory, it tells the story of the sugar industry in Mauritius, with lots of different varieties to taste.
Wildlife attractions to admire
Walk with lions at… Casela Nature Parks.
Take a walk on the wild side (quite literally) and get to experience first-hand what it’s like to be part of the pride. Under the supervision of expert rangers, you’ll get to enjoy a stroll alongside the Kings of the Jungle, touch them and learn all about their natural habitat.
Admire endangered bird species at… Black River Gorges National Park.
Whether it’s the Mauritian flying fox or the vibrant red fody, echo parakeet, pink pigeon, or olive white-eye, there’s a lot for twitchers to keep an eye out for here. Considered the largest protected forest of Mauritius, the national park is home to over 300 species of flowering plants, nine species of birds that are unique to Mauritius, as well as spellbinding waterfalls (the lush Alexandra Falls is particularly striking).
Feed giant tortoises at… La Vanille Nature Park.
Embrace the rare chance to feed, pet and play with these marvellous creatures while watching Nile crocodiles go about their day. The park also houses a rare collection of butterflies and other brightly coloured insects (about 23,000 species in total), making it one of the most fascinating in the world.
Where to stay in Mauritius
Tucked away on the edge of a sheltered leafy peninsula on Mauritius’ east coast, Constance Prince Maurice, Mauritius will charm you with its beauty and calming ambience.
Home to luxurious palm-shaped suites, a sprawling pool, lavish spa and spectacular floating restaurant offering the rich, warm flavours and spices of the region on a plate, it’s no wonder this romantic retreat is named after Prince Maurice Van Nassau, who pioneered the spice trade in the Indian Ocean.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep cocooned amid the oldest and largest tea plantation on the island at the cosy Bubble Lodge. The resort’s semi-transparent eco-domes give you an unfettered view of the wandering clouds and twinkling stars above. And with the dawn chorus as your only companion, you can stretch out and sink into the easy rhythm of Mauritian life. Add a gourmet restaurant and oodles of activities to try, and you’ve got the perfect escape.
Lapped by the ocean, with the jagged La Morne Mountain in full view, The St. Regis Mauritius Resort is set on one of the island’s most stunning and sheltered stretches of blond sand. Soaring ceilings, four-poster beds and vast terraces add a touch of classic glamour, whereas Iridium Spa is daringly contemporary. Be sure to explore the world-famous One Eye surfing spot – it’s ideal for kite surfing adventures.
Refurbished by British designer Kelly Hoppen, the edgy LUX* Belle Mare Resort & Villas promises an element of sweet surprise at every corner – think chocolate workshops hosted by pastry chef extraordinaire Pascal Galette. From the thatched-roofed villas dressed in soothing whites, to the sweet-scented spa treatments, spectacular roster of restaurants, and attentive service, the resort is sure to win you over.
A local’s guide to exploring
Experience the Mauritian way of life through the eyes of Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas’ streetwise guru Lionel Athion
“For a true taste of Mauritian life, set off on a journey to discover the island’s original capital, Mahebourg. The small town is relentlessly charming and is all about the simple pleasures in life. Take a stroll along the streets and admire the historic wooden creole houses, scenic waterfront promenades and buzzing markets, all while soaking up the spectacular views of the looming Lion Mountain.
“The town’s multicultural population is evident in its many churches, mosques and colourful Hindu temples. Be sure to check the Monday market off your must-see list. Brimming with exotic spices, souvenirs, pooja offerings, woven baskets and silks, it’s a feast for all the senses. You can also discover remnants of the 1774 shipwreck at the National History Museum, which is located in Chateau Gheude, an old French colonial country house built in 1772.”
Inspired to go? See the latest travel offers to Mauritius.