The Essential Guide to a Luxury Holiday in Mauritius
“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven: and that heaven was copied after Mauritius,” said Mark Twain after visiting the tropical island in 1896. This pear-shaped paradisaical island, nestling in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, oozes exclusivity and style, with its stunning coastline, world-class resorts, spas and gourmet cuisine.
The island, which is 45km wide and 65km long, is a pleasure to explore, but it’s wise to avoid the heavy tropical rain between January and March. Visitors prepared to venture from the confines of their hotel will discover a melting pot of diverse cultures, nationalities and religions: the Indians, Creoles, Chinese and French coexist in easy harmony.
Over 100 hotels are scattered across the island and five star (or five trident) establishments proliferate. The main tourist centre is in the north, around Grand Baie, which is packed with beaches, hotels and entertainment. The soft white sandy beaches of the east are home to a range of renowned hotels, while the calmer waters of the west coast attract families.
Accommodation options are endless and holidaymakers can take their pick from thatched cottages and villas to colonial mansions. There are some excellent, affordable all-inclusive resorts, village-style resorts, boutique eco-lodges, and for those for who money is no object, numerous all-suite and pool villa hotels, with teams of staff and helicopter transfers. Mauritius has nine outstanding golf courses, all of which are attached to hotels and spas — a true island commodity.
Mauritius is predominantly a beach destination, the north having the biggest number and variety of beaches. For talcum-powder-soft sand, visitors flock to the sophisticated east, while the golden sands of the west are lapped by calm waters and bask under spectacular sunsets.
Buzzing Grand Baie – the place for action and watersports
Belle Mare Plage — ten kilometres long, one of the most beautiful on the island
Blue Bay — a protected marine park featuring spectacular underwater scenery
Pretty Trou aux Biches has flat, shallow water and mild currents and is ideal for snorkelling
ÃŽle aux Cerfs — Mauritius’s top island playground, popular with couples, families and golfers
What to Do
Beyond the sun loungers, Mauritius is perfect for sightseeing. The nature reserves, sugar estates, colonial mansions and museums give an insight into the island’s rich and varied history. Mauritius has been a duty-free haven since 2010, offering boundless shopping opportunities.
The Botanical Gardens near Pamplemousses were established in the early 18th century and are home to thousands of exotic plants. Grand Baie, a fishing village turned tourism hub, is packed with attractions.
The Creole colonial museum, Eureka House, is set against the backdrop of the Moka Mountains. Domaine Les Pailles is a fascinating Mauritian cultural heritage centre.
ÃŽle aux Cerfs can be reached by boat and watersports abound upon arrival. There are hikes and mini-safaris to be had at the nature reserve of Domaine du Chasseur.
The ancient capital of the island, with its colonial architecture, rustic restaurants and pink-paved waterfront is well worth a visit for those seeking a taste of the old Mauritius.
Gris Gris, outside Souillac, provides dramatic views over the rugged coastline.
Food, Drink & Nightlife
Mauritian cuisine is second to none; numerous top-class international restaurants, many with Michelin stars and famous chefs, are attached to hotels and resorts. Local food is varied and delicious. For a hip dining experience, foodies should head to Grand Baie, and also to Port Louis.
After sunset, Grand Baie is the best place to party outside the resorts. The beach party idea is gathering momentum and glamorous bars and clubs are emerging across the island.