A marvellous smorgasbord of cultures, flavours, sights and sounds, Mauritius is an idyllic island escape… and so much more.
A holiday playground highly favoured among South Africans, Mauritius is located in the heart of the Indian Ocean and offers everything you’d want from an island vacation. More accessible than the Maldives and more affordable than Seychelles, it’s home to pristine beaches and skirted by spectacularly rich coral reefs. A short four-hour flight from Joburg will get you to this tropical paradise, with a culture that combines diverse religions and ethnicities from across different continents. The island locals are warm and welcoming, with a friendly and accepting attitude towards all cultures. Tourism and sugar production are the main pillars of Mauritius’s economy, with textiles and the services industry following close behind. The weather is very pleasant year-round, with seasonal rainfall and a moderate climate. The best times to visit the celebrated island are between April and June, when you can expect pleasantly dry and sunny weather, and when it’s warmer, from September through to December.
There’s more to Mauritius than first meets the eye. Although soaking up the sun on some of the world’s most sublime beaches certainly warrants a large portion of your time, the island has much else to offer.
In Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, visit the Aapravasi Ghat (‘immigration depot’ in Hindi) for a dose of history and culture. This Unesco World Heritage Site serves as a tribute to the thousands of labourers who arrived in Mauritius from India after the declaration of the abolition of slavery and proceeded to make the island their home. Le Caudan Waterfront (caudan.com) offers some of the best entertainment, shopping and dining on the island, not to mention excellent harbour views, so it should be a definite stop on your list. If you have children in tow, plan a trip to Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre (rgsc.govmu.org), a gallery and fun park, which includes loads of hands-on activities and games that will keep the little ones entertained for a good few hours. Sir Seewoosagur Roomgaloom Botanical Garden, also known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, is the national botanical garden of Mauritius, and is well worth a visit. Take a leisurely stroll around the expansive area and marvel at the tropical gardens and some of the wildlife of the region, including bats, giant tortoises and deer. In the north, you have to stop by Trou-aux-Biches, considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, sheltered by casuarina trees. Mauritius Aquarium (mauritiusaquarium.com) at Pointe aux Piments is the only public aquarium on the island, and is home to 150 of the Indian Ocean’s most precious sea creatures, including giant morays, sea turtles and reef sharks.