Our Little Blue Dot: Mauritius

(pronounced more-RISH-us)

For an island in the middle of nowhere, Mauritius (east of Madagascar) is a remarkably cosmopolitan place.

Since outsiders first settled there some 400 years ago, it has accumulated a diverse collection of people from India, Europe, Africa and China, and could serve as a poster for multicultural harmony. As a result, Mauritius is a great getaway for travelers.

Along with sun, sand and seawater comes a fascinating blend of cultures. You can alternate visits to temples, museums and markets with swimming, fishing or diving and treks through nature preserves. Mauritius also features shell hunting, mountains and volcanoes. A relaxed atmosphere permeates the island.

After he visited remote Mauritius in 1896, Mark Twain quoted an islander as saying: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” There is more to that story here.

Video: Mauritius Tourism

Snapshot

The main attractions of Mauritius are excellent beaches, mountains, world-class deep-sea fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, intermingled cultures, volcanoes, bird sanctuaries, the Black River Gorges, shopping, shell hunting and festivals and multicolored temples.

Photo by Bamba Sourang via Mauritius Tourism.

The island will appeal to travelers who are already in that part of the world and who love beaches, the ocean and a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t expect everything to be within an easy walk or drive from your hotel.

Hotel Overview

Accommodations range from deluxe resorts to small, basic hotels, guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts. Several new resorts have been built and more are being put up. Most resorts are some distance from Port Louis and have beaches well protected by the reef. They usually offer a variety of watersports and other activities—several have casinos. The peak season is October-February (Mauritian summer) and July-August. If you do choose to stay in a guesthouse, we recommend that you check its cleanliness and security.

Photo & Credit: Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita

Dining Overview

The local or Creole food is of Indian origin, consisting mainly of rice, lentils, curry, a tomato sauce dish (rougaille) and sometimes a coconut chutney accompanied by small pieces of fish; it can be quite good. Also look for oysters, venison (June-October), lobster, crabs, crayfish, prawns, hearts of palm, wild boar and bredes (green leaves). Unfortunately, overfishing has caused a decline in the availability of some seafood, but a wide range of fresh produce can be found.

Photo by Bamba Sourang via Mauritius Tourism.

There’s a variety of international cuisine, usually found in the major hotels. Bananas, papayas and pineapple are always in season; mangoes, litchis, cantaloupe and watermelon are seasonal. Citrus fruit is imported and can be quite expensive. Do try Napoleon shortcakes covered with frosting. The local beers, particularly Blue Marlin, Phoenix and Blue Eagle brands are good, as is the local white rum.

Suggested Itinerary

Because of the country’s small size, logistics are no problem and there’s no need for a day-by-day itinerary. Four nights should be enough to see it all. Go first to what interests you most and work your way down the list. The two sights we would list as must-see are the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden and the Black River Gorges National Park. For those who love beaches and relaxation, one week is not long enough—pad your itinerary with a few extra days for some time on the sand.

How would you like to explore Mauritius?

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[Cover Photo & Credit: The Oberoi Mauritius]

[SOURCES: Pocket Travel Guide App, Mauritius Tourism]

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