Mauritius

Introduction

Imagine Asia, Africa, France and Britain as an unspoilt tropical paradise, an idyllic island surrounded by dazzling-white palm-fringed beaches, aquamarine lagoons and pristine coral reefs.

This is Mauritius. Situated in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and just south of the Equator, the tiny republic is one of the most welcoming places on Earth, its African, French, Asian and Creole peoples among the friendliest.

Mauritius is also extremely green, its 720 square miles a wildlife refuge of lush forests, sparkling streams and waterfalls. Its resorts have been sensitively developed to conserve the volcanic island’s fragile ecology and natural beauty.

Once a base for pirates, then occupied by the Dutch and French, the country was captured by the British in 1810. Today, as an independent republic, it retains its ties with the Commonwealth and has gently and gradually evolved to become a holiday destination par excellence.

Not surprisingly, a good number of its visitors are from France and Britain, attracted by cultural ties and, more pertinently, world-class hotels, glorious beaches, snorkelling, diving, the capital Port Louis’ fine colonial architecture, shopping, delicious food and good entertainment. And then there is the trekking, mountain climbing, spas, great golf and the simple pleasures that come with exploring quiet towns, villages and numerous widely-scattered, inhabited islands.

Little wonder few who visit Mauritius leave disappointed – including those famed honeymooners!

The unit of currency is the Mauritian Rupee. You can exchange currency at banks and Bureaux de change but you’ll get better rates exchanging travellers’ cheques.

MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit cards at banks, hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. ATMs are widely available.

 

See & Do

There are a number of sights and activities that you can do during your stay. Below is just a selection of what is possible.

  • Domaine Les Pailles – 3,700-acre nature park with horse riding, quad biking, four-wheel driving.
  • La Vanille Reserve des Mascareigne – thousands of Nile crocodiles and the world’s only place breeding aldabra tortoises
  • Port Louis – Central Market and Natural History Museum
  • Water sports - Grand Baie – semi-submersible scooters, parasailing, submarine. La Cuvette – windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing
  • Diving. Flic-en-Flac – west coast, Trou aux Biches – north, Northern Islands – November to April.
  • Swimming.  Northern beaches – Trou aux Biches, Mont Choisy and Péreybère
  • Hiking.  Black River Gorges National Park, which has Mauritius’ highest mountain

 

Shopping

When it comes to shopping Mauritius is among the world’s finest holiday destinations, simply because of the quality and range of items it has to offer. 

Good designer clothing and jewellery are readily available in Port Louis’ Caudan Waterfront, and throughout the capital’s busy Central Market – extremely popular with local people – the bargains come in every shape, size and form. Model ships, sculptures, paintings, baskets, hats, and much more, attract the visitors.

Among the island’s best buys are jewellery and textiles.  Thanks to its Indian and Arabian immigrants Mauritius is able to offer extremely high quality jewellery at very keen prices. And as a major producer of textiles, cashmere sweaters and cardigans – for example – can be bought at rates well below the asking prices for the same garments in Europe.

 

Food & Drink

Mauritius food is greatly influenced by Indian, Chinese, Creole, French and English cuisine. And while in most restaurants national dishes are kept distinctly separate, in others they tend to blend.

Variety is the spice of dining out on this island thanks to a wide choice of dishes – from Indian curry and Chinese sweet and sour to Creole stew and French crème caramel.

Local specialities include venison, freshwater prawns in hot sauce, chilli cakes and dholl purri. This tasty pancake with ground peas is frequently served with curry.

A great favourite, Creole rougaille - tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and thyme – is normally provided as an accompaniment. Rotis and samosas, served as a snack, are universally popular.

National drinks include rum, fresh coconut milk, beer and alouda – an almond flavoured ice-milk.

Some recommended restaurants include:

  • Domaine Anna-Ile Maurice (seafood) – Flic en Flac
  • L’Assiette du Nord (Chinese) – Trou aux Biches
  • Ah Youn (Chinese – Flic en Flac
  • Le Café de Arts (French) – Trou d’ea Douce
  • Le Saint Aubin (fusion) – Souillac
  • Blacksteers (steaks) – Port Louis
  • Le Four a Chaud (international) – Trou d’eau douce
  • Sea Breeze Restaurant (Chinese) – Flic en Flac

 

Entertainment

Mauritius’ nightlife is similar to that found across continental Europe, based on bars, restaurants, nightclubs and discos. At the heart of this scene is Grand Baie, while Port Louis limits itself to bars and restaurants, and the Creole fishermen’s district of Rivere Noire concentrates on local sega dancing. Anyone who enjoys a flutter really should head for one of the island’s many casinos.

Remember that as each hotel resort provides a self-contained holiday experience, late-night parties can sometimes take a while to kick off.

Some good night-spots include:

  • Banana Café, Zanzibar, El Diablo and Kapu Kaî – all at Grand Baie
  • Troux au Biches – for beach dancing
  • Latitude 20 Bar – Bourdonnais Hotel
  • Club Med – La Pointe aux Canonniers

 

Excursions

An excursion from Grand Baie to Ile Aux Cerfs for water-based activities makes a great day out. The popular island, with its crystal clear water, offers everything from parasailing to under-water walks. Glass-bottom boat trips to see the coral and fish in Blue Bay, the country’s only marine park, are another ‘must.’

For families a big attraction is the National History Museum, where dodo skeletons are exhibited, and the 61-acre Casela Bird Park. Situated in the west of the island this 61-acre site has more than 140 different types of birds from five continents.

Health & Safety

As vaccination requirements tend to change visitors are advised to consult their doctor before travelling to Mauritius. Recommended precautions include boiling or sterilising water – or buying bottled water – while the stonefish, whose sting can sometimes prove fatal, is best avoided. People at risk of ill health should consider buying emergency evacuation insurance.

Mauritius is generally safe, although normal precautions against theft and other crimes apply.

 

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