Mauritius is a volcanic, windswept island situated 500 miles east of Madagascar and 2,500 miles southwest of India. I was intrigued when I first learned of Mauritius during a recent dinner with friends. After some quick research, I quickly realized I was missing out and starting planning my next adventure!
I immediately headed straight to the internet to find out more about planning Mauritius holidays, where I found great information to help draft my initial itinerary and plan for the practical side of traveling half way across the world. I recommend visiting this site for a detailed, all-in-one spot to learn everything from when to travel (May through September) to payment options (best to order currency in advance). The site was super helpful in helping me track down great hotels, which has always been a sticking point for me when traveling.
My husband and I have always been “beach people” but in my quest to become an actual adult, I’ve tried to make my trips more focused on local history, culture, and outdoor activities rather than sunbathing. Ok I usually reserve at least two days for sunbathing. With that in mind, my recommendations are focused a little more on outdoor and cultural offerings rather than spa and poolside luxury – although Mauritius offers that in spades!
I find that a brief look into the history and culture of your destination is always the best place to start when planning a trip. You need to know what you’re looking for and have an idea of the lay of the land! Here are some basics:
Covering 790 square miles, Mauritius is actually comprised of several different islands, including the island of Mauritius (the largest of the islands); the island of Rodrigues; the small Agalega Island; and the Cargados Carajos Shoals.
Like many African nations, the effects of colonization have contributed to the island’s multi-cultural feel: Dutch, French, Indian, and British influence can be seen in the architecture, cuisine, and language. A good illustration of this integration of cultures is found in the use of the English language for government affairs and the use of French for newspapers and magazines. Even the names of prominent citizens and historical figures are examples of this merging of cultures – many current inhabitants can trace their roots back to European colonists, and this is reflected in the spelling of their names. The island’s proximity to India is highlighted by the many religious and cultural Indian influences noted throughout the islands, and traces of Chinese, African, and Creole culture are also notable.
Now that you know a little bit about Mauritius and its multi-faceted cultural offerings, it’s time to decide how to best explore this dynamic island and plan a perfect trip! Here is my “adult list” for when I visit Mauritius!
Port Louis is the capitol of Mauritius. A walk through the streets is a good way to see the cultural integration of French, Dutch, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Note that the city shuts down after dark once local businesses are closed for the evening.
I personally believe that the best way to experience any city is through the local cuisine, which starts at the Central Market. Established in Victorian times, the present location offers a variety of indigenous fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Some of the more notable wares are the ancient Chinese medicinal herbs and aphrodisiacs (hey, you’re on vacation after all!).
The Blue Penny Museum is a great place to start your vacation in Mauritius. The museum is dedicated to educating guests on Mauritius’ rich historical and cultural background.
The Champ de Mars Racecourse was once a military training ground, until it was purchased by the Mauritius Turf Club in 1812 and turned into a modern day racetrack. It is the second-oldest race course in the world. The season lasts from April through September.
Located close to Port Louis in the village of Pamplemousses (French for “grapefruit”, which grow abundantly in the region), the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. The garden is famous for its giant pond of water lilies.
Noted for its renowned natural beauty, Chamarel is also known for its sugarcane, pineapples, and coffee. Plantations are nestled amongst the verdant hillsides, and hushed breezes blow in from the sea, which is only about 3 miles away.
Outdoor Adventures: Hiking, biking, ziplining, and horseback riding are all popular pastimes in Chamarel.
Truly a natural wonder not to be missed, the Colored Earths are an area located about 3 miles from the town of Chamarel. The phenomenon occurs when molten lava cools at different temperatures and hardens. The best time to see the Colored Earths is early in the morning; when the sun hits the mounds of Earth, the rays illuminate them and you can view seven naturally forming colors.
Make sure to take a break from your sightseeing to tour the Rhumerie de Chamarel, which is a working distillery and museum designed to highlight the use of ecofriendly rum production methods. You can take a guided tour of the facility and stop in afterwards at the Rhumerie’s restaurant, L’Alchimiste.
Chamarel Waterfall: With a drop of more than 95m, this site is not to be missed and is a short distance from the Colored Earths. Feeling daring, contact Vertical World to absail from the top of the falls to the pool below!
As you’ll discover once you start digging, you’ll soon realize that Mauritius has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious beach vacation, outdoor sports, or a chance to up your cultural game, Mauritius has it all!
Have you considered a trip to Mauritius? Is this volcanic paradise on your bucket list?
Thank you to Emirates Holidays for sponsoring this post and encouraging my wanderlust to grow!