Mauritius is a dream destination for half of the world and in all honesty, it is one of the most beautiful islands I have seen. On a clear day, it looks exactly the way we’ve seen it in those photographs—there is absolutely no editing there.
Formed by a volcanic eruption, the island is hugged by the Indian Ocean and its coral reef on all sides. The topography is blessed with dense forests, coastal plateaus and fertile farmlands.
I drew mixed feelings towards the people here. From the very professional to the laid-back, the shrewd to the polite, I met a variety. Perhaps the interaction lacked because I didn’t go away by myself to explore a remote part of the island. In my week’s stay here, I did find the people slightly racist, unfortunately. Though I could hardly escape how artistically inclined a majority of the locals are. It appeared to be one of those magical places where everyone is following their bliss.
Gawk at the Black River Gorges
The Black River Gorges lies in the south-western part of Mauritius. It is a national park that has a number of hiking trails etched out. The visual of the rolling dark green hills was pleasing and they lasted as far as my sight could go. It reminded me of the Mawkdok Dympep Valley View from back home in Sohra (Cherrapunjee) though!
Understand science at 7 Coloured Earth
The 7 Coloured Earth in Chamarel is a wonder. Thanks to a number of geo-climatic events, this piece of land has iron, aluminium and basalt deposits. Owing to the chemical reactions amongst their compounds, the land gets its range of colours.
On your way to the 7 Coloured Earth, stop by the cascading Chamarel Waterfalls, which is fed by River Viande Salée and River St. Denis.
(7 Coloured Earth is open seven days a week from 8:30-17:30 (Summer) and 8:30-1700 (Winter). Non resident adults pay 200 Mauritian Rupee and resident adults pay 125 Mauritian Rupee.)
Witness sunset at Le Mourne
Marking the southernmost tip of Mauritius, Le Mourne has a sad story to tell.
It served as a refuge to many slaves who had escaped to this mountain. However, when a contingent of British soldiers went to tell the slaves that slavery has been abolished and that they are free, this was misunderstood. The slaves assumed their arrest and hence, jumped off to death to escape enslaving once again.
Le Mourne is now surrounded by tourist sights and the sunset here is quite spectacular.
Kayak on azure seas
Needless to say that Mauritius’ reefs are worth every diver’s curiosity. I had forgotten my diver card and log book in India, which is why I spent time kayaking. The landscape beautifully changed from thatched huts of the resort to the endless horizon and crisp blue waters, as I paddled away. And it was so engaging that I had to be called back by the security boat!
(Most resorts include non-motorised water sports as a complimentary service. I stayed at LUX Grand Gaube where kayaking, standup paddleboarding (SUP), glass bottom boatride were all free.)
Drink up at Le Off
I’m sure Mauritius’ nightlife thrives on great music, vibrant house parties and a plethora of social events across the island, but I got a chance to visit only Le Off, which I quite liked.
The space is intimate, the people are polite and cheerful while the cocktails are great! My favourite was the Mojito, though Cosmopolitan, B-52 (shooter) were also good. Quick bites which stole my heart were Red Tuna Sashimi and Crispy Veg Stick, Crispy Calamari and Bruschetta with Fresh Tomatoes. Do not miss the chocolate mousse here!
(Mauritius manufactures a local beer called Phoenix, which is light, smooth yet potent. Also, the rum here is splendid. Choose from Green Island or Chamarel.)
Stay in a villa
I’ve seldom felt that beaches are ideal solo destinations (especially since Havelock) and Mauritius is certainly not one of them. So, if you are travelling with a significant other or a group of family or friends, stay in an apartment or villa. Resorts by the beach are great but the experience of the inland forests, quiet neighbourhood, living like a local and unwinding in your own house is unmatchable.
(Indian Ocean Villas have a number of properties around the inland. Pick your space and budget.)
Experiment with Mauritian cuisine
Mauritian cuisine is diverse. No really, it is highly influenced by Indian, French and Chinese. And seafood is abundant here. I experimented with a lot of fish (non-shell fish) and thought there was too much of non-vegetarian food around me. The rougaille here is famous. I like the Dorado Vindaye (Mauritian version of our Vindaloo) that I had in Le Chamarel restaurant. Though once I moved to the resort, I was happy going back to my vegetarian simplicity.
Everywhere the desserts were my favourite. The soft-centred chocolate cake, the home-baked pudding, the macaroons, red velvet cupcake and the panna cotta—all worked like charms.
In Mauritius I met this mind-blowing chilli paste, which is essentially green chilli chutney, mixed with some more ingredients. If I could, I would smuggle quintals of those!
Be a beach bum
What else do you do in such idyllic beaches? Nothing, actually. If you’d like some props, I’d suggest a book, a pint of beer or a frisbee. Though the rhythm of the waves is an addictive lullaby.
Good to know
-Mauritius is a visa-on-arrival destination for Indians.
-The island is quite expensive and the tickets from Mumbai can cost as much as flying to Europe. I booked mine in April for my travel dates in August and I still paid exorbitantly.
-French is the most spoken language on the island, followed by English, Creole and Hindi.
-Getting around within the island is difficult. I’d suggest booking a cab, which will also be expensive.
-Most shopping places shut by 1900 hours in the evening.
-Port Louis, the capital city, appeared brilliant and has a number of museums. Pity I didn’t get time for them.
Have you been to this paradise island yet?