Mauritius is a beautiful island, so much so, that it was described by Mark Twain as “paradise on earth”. With white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters and no natural dangers, it is a tropical island with temperate weathers throughout the year. Lots of rainfall keeps it very lush and green.
I must admit that I did not truly value how beautiful my natal island was until I recently returned as an adult and could play tourist.
If you are a first time visitor to Mauritius, I can pretty much guarantee that you will love it; from the culture, to the food to the beautiful scenery. There is a lot to love in Mauritius.
Many visitors, unfortunately, do not venture from the beautiful resorts and hence fail to see the real side of this wonderful country. So today, I have gathered a list of sights that will show you the highlights of Mauritius:
L’adventure du Sucre
This former sugar mill has been converted into a museum which documents the history of Mauritius and outlines how it was shaped by sugar cane and trading. Learning about the history and culture of this beautiful country is fascinating. The museum also provides an overview of the sugar cane growing process. After making your way through the factory you can taste and buy various sugar based products (check out the fruit jelly – my favourite) in the gift shop.
Where: L’Aventure du Sucre, Beau Plan, Pamplemousses, Beau Plan B18, Pamplemousses, Mauritius
Price: Adults Rs 380, Children (6 to 13): Rs 190, Students (13 to 26): Rs 190 (student ID required)
Jardin de Pamplemousses
This is the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere. It is simply amazing and well worth a visit. You will have the chance to visit an historic “chateau” (old southern type house), an old sugar factory, giant tortoises, stags and the thousands of fish, ducks and trees that call this garden home. This is a very popular attraction with the locals and if you want a real taste of Mauritius, go on a Sunday when the Pamplemousses market is on and the locals come to picnic on the grass or the picturesque kiosks.
There is free parking at the entrance of the garden.
TIP: Remember to bring some bread to feed the fish.
Where: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, Pamplemousses, Mauritius
Price: Rs 200 (ages 5-59)
The Maconde Lookout is located at the bottom of the island and looks south. It juts out into the road offers an elevated 360 degree panoramic view of the Indian Ocean and the island.
Where: B9, Mauritius
Bois Cheri Tea Plantation
Located towards the centre of the island, up in the highest part of the country, the Bois Cheri tea plantation gives another insight to the history of Mauritius. Having been a haven for relief from life on the seas, Mauritius was involved in lots of trading. You can sample the many flavours of tea (make sure to try the famous vanilla) and purchase some to take home.
Where: Bois Cheri Road, Bois Cheri, Mauritius
Price: Rs 500 / US$15
Domaine de Labourdonnais
The Domaine de Labourdonnais is an historic sugar cane plantation that has been owned by the same family for over 150 years. The domain consists of a “chateau” (southern style colonial house) which has been brought to its former glory by the family and is surrounded by orchards. The produce from the orchards is used to make juices and various other products including rum.
I cannot begin to tell you how I much I loved visiting this place. It is imbued with history and such a calm and peaceful place. If you visit, make sure to catch a breath in the café and join the rum degustation. It is truly worth it.
Where: Riviere Du Rempart, Mauritius
Price: Adults Rs 385/US$11, Children (4-12) Rs 220/US$6.50
Located on opposite sides of the island, you can drive from Flic en Flac to Trou Deau Douce. This is a three hour trip but it will give you a good introduction to the country with some amazing views, just make sure to stop along the way and take in the scenes or in villages such as Mahebourg and walk through the centre.
You can see dolphins at Flic en Flac. I would however recommend that you do not participate in the tours as it destroys the natural habitat of these beautiful creatures.
Walk under the sea
On my last trip to Mauritius, Scott and I went for a walk under the sea and boy was it a life changing experience. I am terrified of diving and having to control my air supply, but you need no skill for this activity. They supply all the equipment and it is so amazing.
I would recommend this company. They were really great and they lent us some equipment to go snorkelling after our walk.
Where: Belle Mare, Mauritius
Price: US$80 for 20 minutes, per adult
Mauritius is famous for its aquatic activities such as diving, snorkeling, parasailing and many more. If you are staying at a resort, check what the resort offers before booking extra activities. They might also be able to recommend companies for other activities.
The best beaches can be found in the north of the island, with the best beach being at Mont Choisy. This is a well-guarded secret and you will truly mingle with locals here. All the beaches in Mauritius are public, even the ones that are next to resorts, so you can pretty much wander everywhere.
Ile aux cerfs
Ile aux cerfs is a tiny island next to the coast of Mauritius, which is part of the Mauritius archipelago. It is the only one of the islands which has a hotel and is geared for visitors. For a more rustic or adventurous trip, you can visit other islands around the country.
Trou aux cerfs
Trou aux cerfs is a dormant volcano. You can climb to the summit for spectacular views over the town.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Eureka house. This is another example of a colonial house but not in as good a condition as the Chateau de Labourdonnais. The differentiating point is that this house backs down to some pretty amazing landscape and you can walk to the waterfall and dip your toes in the river.
Where: Eureka – La Maison Creole, Eureka Lane, Montagne Ory, Moka, Mauritius
Grand Bassin is another dormant volcano, which has filled with water to form a lake. It is also the holy ground of Hindus, and there is a big temple right next to the crater.
It is a cool experience, just dress appropriately and beware of the monkeys.
Where: Grand Bassin, Mauritius
You cannot go to Mauritius without making a trip to Port Louis. It is chaotic, filled with traffic and people but this is the heart of Mauritius. This is the place you go to for shopping, any banking needs, or just to see the heart of the country.
Port Louis Market
Open everyday you can find all manner of things here. From food to clothes and souvenirs. Beware of the “tourist tax” when shopping in the market and also note that haggling is not common in Mauritius.
Tip: avoid buying spices here as they can be marked up astronomically
Where: Corderie St, Port Louis, Mauritius
I hope this guide has been useful. If you have been to Mauritius, did you have a highlight? Let me know in the comments below.