Mood for an island getaway, there are hundreds of destinations to choose from. When it comes to your options in the Indian Ocean, the places to visit in Mauritius make it one of the most sought-after locations in the world for a relaxing escape. Situated some 550-plus miles east of Madagascar, this modern paradise has managed to maintain a rather firm hold on its natural splendor despite more than 350 years of colonization. And, since it has been visited by traders from European, Arab, and Asian cultures, it has an interesting mix of traditions that manifest in its delicious cuisine and colorful architecture.
Looking for some ideas on where to make your memories? Here are eight of the best spots on the island:
La Citadelle, the 175-year-old British fort overlooking the harbor, is the key feature of the country’s main shipping center and capital. From there or the Port Louis Mokka Mountains just beyond city limits, you will be able to get wonderful views of this growing cosmopolitan haven. Skyscraping towers have just begun to sprout from the streets, meaning the area has a pleasant mix of modern style right next to places with local flair. Spend mealtimes around Kadafi Square, a great spot for native cuisine, or see if you can grab a bite at the Caudan Waterfront shopping district while in between stores.
To many Mauritians, this beach town is regarded as the first real tourist spot in the island’s history. It’s a reputation for thumping dance clubs and hopping bars has made it a favorite for those in search of an authentic experience (locals love partying here), but there are plenty of beautiful beaches to help you catch some rays and flat-out gorgeous lagoons perfect for snorkeling.
The Chateau de Labourdonnais
The best-known building on the island, this massive plantation was a center for sugar cane harvesting in the 19th century. Though it has long since cut production, the estate is a great spot to get a taste of Mauritius’ past while sampling some of its finest products. The onsite museum describes farming practices and the rum distillery offers tours (and samples) for those wondering how their daiquiris get started. Plan to spend a few hours relaxing here, as the open-air dining room and expansive gardens make for a perfect change of pace.
Casela Bird Park
Don’t be fooled by the name, this wildlife reserve is more akin to a zoo than a specialized avian conservatory. This park just outside Flic en Flac is home to hundreds of rare birds (the pink pigeon, an endangered local species, is a favorite) and dozens of larger animals. Spread out across the side of an oceanfront mountain, you can enjoy watching the cheetahs, turtles, and monkeys before turning to the west for incredible views of the sea.
Black River Gorges
Those who love the outdoors will flock to Mauritius’ only national park. The hiking trails cut gently through the abundant rainforest, making visitors feel as if they are walking through a living organism replete with dozens of endangered plant and bird species. The surrounding terrain varies from low banks kissed by the river to sheer cliff faces stretching several stories above the rushing waters below. No matter where you go in this piece of nearly-unchanged jungle, you will have plenty worth seeing.
Home to the Mauritian National History Museum, most travelers label this community an up-and-comer on the tourism scene. Mixing the commercial feel of Port Louis with the home-grown flair of Grand Baie, it has recently undertaken a large project to develop its waterfront, which was once the main port for the Dutch imperial government. Wander through the local produce markets and purchase some snacks, then stretch out on the soft white sands and enjoy the whisper of its turquoise waters.
This quiet village in the southwestern part of the island is surrounded by many natural wonders. Volcanic soil has made an ideal home to hundreds of bright-green trees, giving visitors a marvelous sense of the majesty of Mother Nature. Fresh mangoes are available in corner stores and small markets, but the “Seven-colored Earth” is what draws most travelers. The sweeping sands appear almost out of nowhere from thick jungle creating an undulating series of dunes in various shades of red, orange, and purple – the contrast alongside the verdant forest is wonderful.
Ile aux Cerfs
Part of a chain of volcanic remnants, Mauritius has a handful of islands off its coast – and none are better for activities on the water than this one.
Well-known amongst scuba divers as one of the best areas to be off the eastern coast of Africa, there are plenty of shallow pools of crystal clear waters fit for snorkeling, too. Those who enjoy more extreme adventures will find themselves drawn to the islands many speedboat cruises, though an afternoon spent skipping along the waves on a jet ski is an enticing option. At the end of the day, relax on the beach for a picnic to watch as the sun dips behind the horizon and splays color across the sky.
The climate of Mauritius is mainly tropical with the influence of the southeast trade winds. The summer months are hot and humid while the winter months are pleasant and dry. The best time for Mauritius travel is between the months of October and April. The weather in this part of the year is pleasant with less rainfall.
Air: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is the main airport in the country. It operates lots of domestic and international flights. Air Mauritius is the main airline carrier in the country.
Road: Road transport is well developed in the country. Regular car and bus services are available to various parts of the country.
Ferry: Being an island country, ferry services are well developed in Mauritius. Cruise and marine services are available between Mauritius and other parts of Africa and southeast Asia.
- Location: Africa
- Capital: Port Louis
- Currency: Dollar
- Language: English and French
- Best time to Visit: October and April
- Time Zone: MUT
- Calling Code: 230
- Major Airports: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport