With winter sun, sandy beaches, rum cocktails and luxury hotels there are so many things to do in Mauritius to make sure you have the perfect holiday on this Indian Ocean island.
I was lucky to spend a fortnight in Mauritius including a weekend trip to the neighbouring island of Rodrigues. Here’s what I got up to in my amazing trip – and why I can’t wait to go back there again!
Visit Mauritius beaches
Mauritius is surrounded by golden, sandy beaches from the north to the south and I never tired of soaking up the amazing views. When the sun got too hot (temperatures were in the high 20s/low 30s when I was there) a plunge in the ocean was the perfect way to cool off.
All the beaches in Mauritius are public beaches – even the ones which look claimed by the hotels are actually public and open to all – and at the weekends families would gather all day to chat, eat food, play music and generally chill in the open air. Mauritians work hard during the week but the weekends are strictly family time.
Stay in luxury hotels in Mauritius
Many hotels in Mauritius are located either in the north (near Grand Baie), east (near the pretty town of Trou d’Eau Douce) or on the west coast (around Le Morne or Flic en Flac), where you are assured of glorious sunsets. All the hotels I stayed in are listed in more detail in a separate post of the best luxury hotels in Mauritius, but here’s a sneak preview of some of the best ones:
Salt of Palmar
One of the newest and coolest hotels in Mauritius, Salt feels less like a place to stay and more like a way of life. The island’s first ‘eco-hotel’ number one hotel on Tripadvisor for the whole of Mauritius, Salt prides itself on not only being environmentally sound but on providing a window into the local community.
Its innovative skill swap programme offers guests to learn local skills from local people – anything from fishing to basket-weaving – while daily classes cover everything from cooking to yoga.
Paradise Beachcomber hotel
Reached via a causeway between the open bay and a lake, so you feel like you’re entering an exclusive, magical world, Paradis runs the length of a beautiful beach – you’re never more than a few feet from the stunning, turquoise waters – and has the largest hotel swimming pool I’d ever seen.
To stay at Lakaz Chamarel is to stay in a tropical garden paradise where villas and swimming pools are nestled between olive trees and ferns in lush green undulating slopes.
There are seven bedrooms and 13 suites hidden among the greenery – all have a terrace and open-air shower while the suites also each have a private pool – and the whole effect is of a deeply relaxing, ‘back to nature’ break.
Street food tour in the capital, Port Louis
Street food tours are a great way to experience not only the local food but to hear all about the history of a place, and so it proved with TasteBuddies.com food tour. My guide, Dada, was not only fun and friendly but full of information about Mauritius and Port Louis and was happy to go at my pace.
The tour lasts for three hours with eight food stops and included some really tasty options, from banana cakes to roti, rougaille (fresh tomato with oil, salt and chili) and steamed boulettes dumplings and ended with fresh lychees in the main market at Port Louis. Definitely arrive hungry as there’s a lot to get through!
Discover great food in Mauritius
Lunch seems to be the biggest meal of the day in Mauritius and is taken very seriously. If you’re a visitor to the island then I’d recommend heading beyond the hotel restaurants and following the locals to their favourite spots. Eating local food in any nation is a treat and so it proved in Mauritius, with their love of fresh fish, epic noodle dishes and the fabulously bonkers-looking bol renverse (upside bowl). Just be prepared to need a post-lunch snooze…
Rum-tasting at the Chamarel distillery
It’s pretty hard to visit Mauritius without trying a rum cocktail or two (I was very taken with the Ti Punch cocktail which was a delicious and powerful mix of rum, sugar syrup and lemons or limes) and it was fascinating to go to one of the newest rum distilleries on Mauritius at Chamarel and find out exactly rum is made, all the way from the sugar cane harvest to distillation. Best of all, there were eight rums to taste after the tour – and then an expertly-made pina colada.
Discover history of slavery in Mauritius and the sugar trade
It’s called L’Aventure du Sucre (The Sugar Adventure) but this fascinating museum near the north of the island is about so much more than sugar. Housed in a former sugar factory (complete with a 33 metre-high chimney stack), L’Aventure du Sucre reveals not only the sugar cane industry which was so crucial to the industrial growth of Mauritius but also its colonial history and the slave trade which grew alongside it.
If you want to understand the history of Mauritius then this is a must-visit – and at the end you can enjoy a sugar and rum-tasting and some amazing chocolate cake at the on-site restaurant.
Visit the Bois Cheri tea plantation
Mauritians are crazy about tea and Bois Cheri is the island’s largest tea producer. Even if you’re not a tea aficianado then you’ll find a tour around the working factory fascinating, from watching the bags full of freshly-picked tea arrive ready to be dried, chopped and crushed, to the museum showing the history of tea in Mauritius, to the beautiful tea planation where deer and monkeys freely wander around. Afterwards there’s a tea-tasting and you could visit the panoramic restaurant with great view of the island – or even stay overnight in one of Bois Cheri’s luxury Bubble Lodges.
Swim with dolphins
Getting up at 5.30am is definitely worth it when it means you can enjoy some magical moments swimming with some very friendly wild dolphins. The west coast of Mauritius is well-known for being on the route of wild dolphins and when our little boat saw a school of several dozen playing in the water, it was incredibly exciting to don a snorkel mask and flippers and join in the fun.
There’s no feeding or interaction and the boat kept its distance (although the dolphins did enjoy swimming up to us to say hello) and joining these wonderful creatures in the water will stay with me forever. Next time I need to bring a GoPro to record the incredible sight of them swimming towards me!
Hike along the coast and through the mountains
Hiking is an extremely popular activity in Mauritius as, unlike its Indian Ocean island neighbour The Maldives, there are plenty of mountains and hills to get the heart rate going.
From the Black River Gorges national park to the vertiginous heights of Le Morne there are plenty of hiking trails so you can explore the island and discover its varied wildlife and indigenous plants. For the more active, there are more extreme options such as zip-lining, mountain biking, kite-surfing and even parasailing – perfect if you really want to get to know the island inside and out.
Horse-riding on the beach
One of my last activities was a horse ride along the beach and it seemed a fitting way to end an amazing fortnight on this incredible island. The Centre Equestre de Riambel has been operating for 20 years and has around a dozen horses including several ex-racehorses. It caters for all standards, from beginner to advanced, and offers everything from sunset rides and beach tours to swimming with your horse. I didn’t swim with mine but we went for a good old plodge in the lagoon and along the deserted Riambel beach for a very chilled and relaxing hour.
Visit the neighbouring island of Rodrigues
Just a 90-minute flight due east of Mauritius, the island of Rodrigues is just 42 square miles in size but is entirely surrounded by coral reefs – which cover an area more than twice that – which make it an ideal destination for diving and snorkelling or just soaking up the stunning scenery.
It’s where Mauritians themselves come to relax and is known for its tranquillity, its lack of development and its beautiful wildlife as well as the beaches and islands which rival anything Mauritius has to offer. With few large hotels but a vast choice of excellent guesthouses (some of which are more like luxury boutique hotels) a trip to Rodrigues is a great way to break up a Mauritian holiday.
Be a digital nomad in Mauritius
If you want to relocate to Mauritius to work, retire or be a digital nomad (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?) then there’s a new, free, one-year Premium Visa just for you. Check out https://edbmauritius.org/work-live for all the requirements and you could be working on a beach, just like I was… what a glorious office!
Getting to Mauritius
British Airways and Air Mauritius both fly direct from the UK to Mauritius, while Emirates flies from the UK to Mauritius via Dubai.
Have you been to Mauritius and have any recommendations for my next trip? Send me your top tips in the comments or at [email protected] and safe travels!
If you like reading about some amazing destinations then check out these other reviews from ALadyofLeisure: A holiday of a lifetime learning to dive in the Cayman Islands; How to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – and enjoy the journey! River-rafting and zip-lining, boat trips and beach cocktails, my perfect Jamaica holiday; My epic food tour of Japan: sushi, sake, puffer fish and bullet trains; Volcanoes and fire-dancing: just a typical day exploring Papua New Guinea