Mauritius is a lesser-known island off the coast of Madagascar – a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, neighboring Reunion Island and The Seychelles. Once under Dutch, French, then British rule, Mauritius is independent but still shows a blend of these cultures, particularly in the French language and the Indian cuisine. English, French, Mauritian Creole, and the Indo-Aryan language Bhojpuri are all spoken here. Its diverse history and mix of cultures is what drew me the island.
Mark Twain once wrote, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
The island is surrounded by reefs making the beaches inaccessible to sharks, and their wildlife does not include poisonous snakes, or really any dangerous animals for that mater. With low crime rates and strict drug laws the island is very safe, and thanks to the booming tourism industry and their local crops of sugar, unemployment is relatively low. As one local explained it “There really isn’t anything dangerous here.” In other words, Mauritius truly is paradise.
Our travel agent, Susie Freeman Travel, specializes in Mauritius and has amazing deals at some of the most luxurious resorts on the island. We chose Constance Le Prince Maurice, one of several Constance properties in Mauritius, and a true five star hotel. The infinity pool overlooking the beach is the first thing you see when arriving at this hotel, and the beauty is carried through every detail of the property. You can lounge by either of the two gorgeous pools, swim out to the dock in the ocean, take a complimentary kayak or paddle boat ride, work out in the nicest hotel gym I’ve seen to date, or practice your short game on the putting green. You’ll find the friendliest staff will take care of your every need, even bringing cold waters and fresh pineapple to those lounging by the pool.
We opted for half-board (breakfast included, with a daily credit for lunch and dinner) and the three restaurants and three bars were each incredible. Our favorite was the infamous “floating restaurant” Le Barachois, a romantic restaurant that is situated on five floating docks out on the water, and even has a resident shark named Johnny that swims by every now and then. (Sharks are very rare in Mauritius but Johnny got trapped in the lagoon during construction and now is a bit of a mascot for Le Barachois.)
Constance Le Prince Maurice was the epitome of a luxury honeymoon hotel – relaxing, beautiful, and picturesque.
Although the island is small, there are tons of day trips you can take from your resort. There is a “north tour” and a “south tour” of the island. We opted for the north tour to get the highlights, and then did a separate day trip to Île aux Cerfs. If you’re more of an outdoor adventurer, the south tour is most likely for you!
Île aux Cerfs – Although the name means “Deer Island”, there haven’t been any deer here for many years, or any permanent residents. The small private island off the eastern coast is accessible only by boat for day trips, and many locals and tourists come to swim or enjoy water sports. We took a catamaran to just hang out on the beach for a few hours.
Port Louis – The capital city is not only the business center but also the most populous city. Central Market is worth a stroll to get a souvenir at one of the craft or food halls, and see the famous umbrella street. For history buffs there’s the Blue Penny Museum and Photography Museum, and if you’re looking for views climb up to the old citadel, Fort Adélaide.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden (Pamplemousse) – Famous for the gigantic water lilies, the Botanical Garden is a favorite of both locals and tourists. You can take a guide to learn more about the plants, or just stroll through the garden to see all of the amazing trees, flowers, and even a small reserve of deer and tortoises.
Cap Malheureux – This area of Mauritius is best known for the red-roof church on the water, a great spot for pictures. There is also plenty of beach cafes along this area of the coast, and a great spot to visit and relax with locals.
Chamarel Waterfall – Through the scenic forest and mountains is Mauritius’ highest waterfall at 328 feet (100 meters).
Seven Color Earth – Multicolored volcanic rocks formed this fascinating stop that looks supernatural.
Black River Gorges National Park – This park has panoramic views of the coast and even has monkeys roaming about.
Although not well known to most Americans, Mauritius is a true paradise. You’ll find everything you need here – great food, fascinating culture, beautiful landscapes, kind locals, and luxurious resorts.