A stunning fusion of sherbet-white beaches, warm blue lagoons, colourful coral reef and deep green rainforest, the natural beauty of Mauritius makes it the perfect location for a luxury Indian Ocean holiday. Whether you want to laze on the beach, sample world-class diving, take a catamaran cruise or a mountain hike, you can do as much or as little as you choose on this tropical island idyll.
Lying east of Madagascar in the southern Indian Ocean, the volcanic island of Mauritius has all the ingredients to create a wonderful holiday and is the ideal destination for those looking to relax and revitalize, for honeymooners in search of romance and for families seeking activities to satisfy all ages and tastes. Encircled by one of the world’s longest continuous coral reef systems, the island is ringed by a series of sheltered shallow lagoons, making Mauritius ideal for watersports, such as windsurfing and kayaking. The area is also regarded as one of the world’s best diving and snorkelling sites. In fact, the aquatic thrills here are limitless, whether you fancy battling with a blue marlin on a deep-sea fishing trip or taking a catamaran cruise to explore the incredible Blue Bay Marine Park.
Land-based adventures are equally alluring. The island’s interior is full of lush green rainforest with tumbling waterfalls, deep river gorges and steep mountains, making it the perfect playground for hiking, abseiling and swimming in waterfall pools. Add to this the heavenly beaches and fascinating blend of African, French and Creole cultures and cuisine and it’s easy to understand the lure of magnificent Mauritius.
The largest selection of hotels, restaurants and nightlife can be found on the North Coast, where the first tourists were attracted to the stunning beaches and warm sheltered lagoon waters. The cosmopolitan town of Grand Baie is popular for shopping, cocktail bars and hip clubs, but we’d also recommend venturing inland to the Pamplemousses Royal Botanical Gardens where the star attraction is the pond full of giant water lilies.
For those interested in Mauritian history and culture, the island’s capital Port Louis, found on the West Coast, is an animated city of colonial villas and bustling markets, smelling of spice and fresh tea leaves. This is a lovely place to shop for leather goods, catch a lively Sega show for a taste of Creole music and dance, or to visit the Mauritius Institute to see the dodo displays (the bird was once endemic to the island). The West Coast is also home to one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, Flic en Flac. The long stretch of pure white sand and gentle turquoise waters backed by swaying filao trees, is the perfect place to enjoy beach life and watch the stunning sunsets and it’s no surprise that this side of the island is popular with families. Inland, the UNESCO-listed Black River Gorges National Park is a great place for abseiling canyon walls, swimming in waterfall pools and hiking through the lush rainforest and you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive Mauritian pink pigeon.
Often nicknamed the Wild Coast, the East Coast has lots of rugged charm, lovely beaches and a lack of mass tourism. In fact, some of the islands most exclusive and glamorous properties can be found on the East Coast, making it ideal for a romantic getaway. Lovers of watersports will enjoy the proximity to the island’s largest lagoon, Trou d’eau Douce, where you can also find the small islet of Ile aux Cerfs, which has a great golf course and several lovely restaurants.
The least developed and most authentic area of Mauritius is the South Coast, an area rich in indigenous trees and plants. Like the East Coast, this is ruggedly beautiful and less developed, with just a few luxury resorts. One of our favourite beaches here is Pointe d’Esny and we’d also recommend a visit to the tiny coral island Ile aux Aigrettes, owned by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which serves as a habitat for rare and endemic flora and fauna, including giant tortoise, Mauritius kestrel and pink pigeon.
There is a great range of luxury accommodation on Mauritius, so whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat, a small boutique or glamorous five-star hotel, there is something to suit all tastes. The French, African and Creole fusion gives the cuisine added interest and the island also has its share of cocktail bars and hip nightclubs. What’s more, Mauritius is only a four-hour flight from South Africa, making the luxury beach resorts here perfect for combining with a safari.
With beautiful white sand beaches, plentiful watersports, world class spas, gourmet cuisine, excellent levels of service and an eclectic culture, it’s hard to disagree with Mark Twain when he wrote, ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and Heaven was copied after Mauritius.’
Mauritius is absolutely perfect for honeymoons. Private beaches, good weather and a relaxed atmosphere all contribute but it is the world class service, expertise and understanding from the hotels really make Mauritius a special honeymoon destination.
South Africa and Mauritius couple superbly for a safari and beach holiday or honeymoon. Whilst South Africa offers both world class safari and cosmopolitanism, Mauritius encapsulates the very essence of laid-back island life. Start your adventure on the plains of one of South Africa’s many game rich national parks, spending your days on safari, tracking the Big Five and sipping on sundowners, before exploring the country’s vibrant cities or impressive coastal routes. A short flight to Mauritius takes you to another world of sugar white beaches, kaleidoscopic reefs and a verdant green mountainscapes. There, you can choose to do as little or as much as you like, whether it be soaking up the island’s unique Creole culture or whiling away lazy days under the shade of a leafy palm. The ultimate safari and beach combination for a year-round adventure.