When you think about Maurtius, you imagine long sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and endless palm trees.
All true, but what first hit me was the amazingly rich and lush vegetation all over the island. Second, the mix of cultural influences.
Mauritius was first used by the Portuguese as a pit stop for their ships on their way to India. Then the Dutch came and colonised the then unhabited land. The French followed and under their governship the island really started to develop. Last but not least the British took over, one of their main achievements being the abolition of slavery (mainly Africans and Indians) in 1835. Mauritius, although a republic now, is still a member of the Commonwealth.
Anyway, back to the cultural mix, driving is left-hand, people speak creole, french, english and their physical appearance & architectural influences are incredibly diverse.
So, what to do on the island?
- Scuba, snorkeling and an entire spectre of water sports, the golf in Le Morne being particularly popular for kiting or windsurfing, as it’s always windy and the water is extremely shallow. And by shallow (a feature present throughout the island) I mean it reaches up to your knees, which is great for families with small kids, but you can’t really swim anywhere. In the north it’s a bit better, but there are too many boats anchored everywhere. On one diving expedition we even saw, besides the well known coral reed, a stingray and a giant turtle!
- Take a boat trip to the famous Ile aux Cerfs on the East coast. The ride alone is worth it (we had the “luck” of the most rainy day ever, but it was fun nevertheless).
- Sacrifice one day for touristy spots like The Seven Colored Earths & waterfall in Chamarel or the Botanical Garden in Pamplemousse.
- Visit a Hindu temple.
- Drive up to Cap Malhereux in the Northern part of the island.
All the above are stuff that we actually did and it was worth the drive, including crashing the car (not our fault from driving on the wrong side of road).
What I would also recommend is a helicopter ride over the island, so you can see the amazing landscape from above and a hike to one of the mountains top. I’m afraid of heights so the heli ride wasn’t necessarily high on my wishlist and I’ll admit we were too lazy for a hike.
More family oriented stuff could/would/should be visiting the Black River National Park or the Nature Parks, where kids can see giant turtles, crocodiles, zebras, antelopes, etc, basically an entire array of not so ordinary animals.
Where to stay?
Well, there is wide range of hotels you can choose from, but make sure you do some research on the different regions. For instance in the Southern Bel Ombre it’s pretty undeveloped, so you don’t really have going out options outside the hotel, but in the Northern Grand Baie things are a bit more lively.
Other little things that make life on the island interesting? The little harmless lizzards that crash your terrace at night, the not so little but still harmless bats that fly around (no worries, they eat fruits), the crabs that are all over the beach (also at night) which run like crazy in their sand holes once they spot you. Or play dead, depending on how close you are :) The sky, presumably clear, is filled with stars (download the SkyView app so you can spot your zodiac sign) and, for some the most important thing, the food & fresh fruits are amazing pretty much everywhere.
And if everything else fails, just keep calm, have a drink, relax on the beach and/or be romantic with your significant other! :)
Conclusion? Welcome to a small corner of heaven!
Photos: my iPhone.0