In 1896, Mark Twain visited Mauritius, a distant and remote island at that time, and said: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” With such high expectations, we made it to this wondrous island nestled off the eastern coast of Africa, about 6 hours away from Dubai. Despite visiting in the “winter” season and being alarmed with the weather forecast prior to our arrival, we found the island to be pretty warm and even humid at some point with rain lasting 10-20 minutes at most. We only had 5 days in the Mauritius but we managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing and activities.
I recommend our driver Vikash if you ever make it to Mauritius. You can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or WhatsApp him (+23057736393) your preferred places before your arrival or take one of the fixed itineraries he offers based on your interests.
Now, why would anyone visit Mauritius? There are plenty of reasons since the island is packed with places worth exploring from national parks, sacred Hindu sites, waterfalls, small towns and villages in addition to a vibrant capital that is often overlooked by tourists. Below are some of my favorite places on the island which I believe have a unique history or beauty to merit a visit.
1. Experience the laid back vibes of Le Morne:
This has got to be my favorite place in Mauritius, despite my disappointment at not being able to see the so-called “underwater waterfall”. A laid back small town on the west coast, Le Morne has a lot of resemblance to Hawaii with a relatively high mountain towering over the city’s beautiful beach. Lots of water sports to do around here and if you’re somewhat energetic or fit, you can climb all the way up to the top of the aforementioned mountain for amazing views of the surroundings, including the “underwater waterfall”. Although this is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, it also has a tragic history — after the British passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1834, a group of soldiers and police went to the Le Morne area to let runaway slaves know that they were finally free. But the slaves, seeing the authorities approaching, feared that they were being recaptured and returned to their masters, and climbed to the top of the mountain summit and threw themselves off committing suicide by landing in the ocean.
2. Admire the awe-inspiring Chamarel waterfall:
We stopped by several waterfalls while touring around, but none were as amazing as this one. The Chamarel waterfall is almost as high as the Statue of Liberty, and just as impressive. And since you’re in the area, you should certainly visit the nearby Chamarel seven colored earth, a cluster of colorful dunes that evolved through the natural conversion of basaltic lava to clay minerals.
3. Drink all the rum:
Despite being a relatively new industry for Mauritius, rum is now associated with the island and is a visitor highlight. There are several rum distilleries and shops around the island but after some research we opted for St. Aubin which has a beautiful mansion, a nice restaurant, and a decent rum shop which you can visit on an afternoon.
4. Connect with nature at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden:
To be honest, I included this place in our itinerary just to see its lotus flower pond, but as soon as we walked in we couldn’t help not being wowed by its beauty and botanical diversity. We ended up spending more than an hour here instead of the scheduled 15 minutes. In addition to its giant waterlilies, the garden also features spices, ebonies, sugar canes, and 85 varieties of palms from Central America, Asia, Africa and the islands around the Indian Ocean.
5. Visit the Bois Cheri Tea Estate:
Even if you are not big on tea, you will like coming here just for the scenery. I have been so many tea plantations in my life but very few share the same beauty as this one, located in the south center of the island. Tickets are available for a tea tasting that includes about a dozen different flavors. You could also walk around and admire the nature.
6. Relax at one of the many beaches:
Mauritius is a pretty compact island so wherever you are, you could be on a beach in less than an hour. Whether you’re looking for a secluded beach or want something more lively, Mauritius got you covered. Although the island is safe, always exercise caution with your belongings on the beaches. The beach at which our hotel, LUX* Belle Mare, is located was my favorite on the island.
7. Admire the giant statues of Ganga Talao:
Perhaps one of the biggest, most awe-inspiring statues I have ever seen is located at Ganga Talao, a scared site for Mauritian Hindus. The place has an interesting history too — in 1887 a priest claimed to see the waters of Ganga Talao flowing from the goddess Ganga in a dream — the same goddess who personifies the holy waters of the Ganges River in India. Word of this revelation spread, transforming Ganga Talao to the embodiment of a Hindu god, connected directly to the mighty Ganges situated nearly 4,000 miles away. Oh and did I mention that the lake is located in what was a volcanic crater?
8. Hop on to Reunion Island:
Located a few kilometers away from Mauritius is Reunion Island, a small French island that is virtually impossible to spot on most maps. To get there you’ll more than likely have to go through Mauritius, so why not do both if you have the time. Pro tip: book a combo stay with LUX* Resorts and Hotels who also have a property on Reunion Island and get a lower price. Since you’ll probably never get to visit Reunion Island on its own, it’s best to combine it with Mauritius.
Convinced to visit Mauritius already?! LUX* Resorts and Hotels has 3 beautiful, strategically located properties on the island, and they offer combo deals on long stays and stays in more than one hotel so make sure you check them out when you go! You can also read my review of one of these properties, LUX* Belle Mare, here.