10 free things to do in Mauritius
If you’re staying in one of our luxury Mauritius hotels, or a private villa, we appreciate how hard it can be to drag yourself away from such peaceful surroundings. But with so much to see and do on the island, it would be a shame not to venture beyond the gates of your resort. Follow our guide to the best free things to do in Mauritius and go beyond the hotel – without spending a Mauritian rupee.
1. Wander through Port Louis market
Take a stroll through the daily Port Louis market for a real insight into the people, produce and culture of Mauritius. Take time to absorb all the different sights and sounds, and experience the sweet scent of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and street food.
2. Visit Cap Malheureux
Spend an afternoon ambling through this atmospheric fishing village just north of Grand Baie on the island’s northernmost tip. Due to a history of shipwrecks, the name translates as ‘Cape Misfortune’ but there’s nothing sad about this secluded beauty spot with views out to the offshore islands of Ile Ronde, Ile Plate and Coin de Mire.
3. Discover the Mauritius art scene
Mauritian artists have much inspiration to draw on, with a vast cultural heritage derived from Africa, Asia and Europe, and an incredible natural landscape on the doorstep. You can see their work, and that of other international artists, at some of the many art galleries on the island, including Galerie du Moulin Cassé, Seebaluck Art Gallery and 3A The Excellence of Art
4. Admire the surfing action at Le Morne
Surfing and kitesurfing can be challenging to master, but they both make excellent spectator sports if your sense of balance is less than stellar. One of the best places to watch these daredevils in action is down at Le Morne in the island’s south west, where the favoured position and large flat lagoon makes for excellent watersport conditions.
5. Watch the fishermen’s catch arrive at Grande Gaube
The little north eastern fishing village of Grande Gaube is a great place to get a feel for one of the island’s longstanding traditions – fishing. The village is home to many families whose livelihood depends on the sea, and if you don’t mind a very early start you can watch the men return to shore in their wooden pirogues and unload their overnight catch.
6. Explore Chinatown
When large numbers of Chinese traders arrived in the 1940s, they settled in the area around Royal Road in the Mauritian capital of Port Louis, and a thriving Chinatown was born. Shopfronts burst at the seams with all kinds of goods: paper lanterns, crockery, hand-held fans, toys, spices, dried vegetables, musical instruments. Wander the streets for a glimpse of this fascinating neighbourhood.
7. Walk around Ganga Talao
Considered by many to be the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius, Ganga Talao, otherwise known as Grand Bassin, is a secluded lake which lies within the crater of an extinct volcano about 550 metres above sea level. A popular spot for locals and tourists alike, the site is also home to a temple dedicated to Shiva and other Hindu gods.
8. Learn about the island’s past at Aapravasi Ghat
One of two World Heritage Sites in Mauritius, Aapravasi Ghat is the original immigration depot which saw more than half a million indentured labourers arrive between 1834 and the 1920s to work in the sugar plantations. Most Mauritians are able to trace their ancestry back to this site.
9. Watch the sun go down at Trou aux Biches
It’s the Mauritian beach that everyone’s heard of, and for good reason. If you’re looking for the perfect location to watch the sky do its thing in glorious technicolor, the sunsets here are legendary. And if a proposal is on the cards, it might just be the ultimate spot.
10. Discover Black River Gorges National Park
Much of the forested mountain range in the island’s south west corner belongs to Black River Gorges National Park. This protected haven for endangered species of flora and fauna is full of hiking trails and viewpoints, and is one of the best places in Mauritius to feel at one with nature. The deep green views across this remote volcanic landscape are spectacular.
Photos: Painting by VACO