One for the family album
Have the ultimate family vacation in Mauritius. It’s the perfect place for kids and kids at heart.
Going on a holiday with the family is always a tricky balancing act — especially if you have children with you. Too much of the cultural stuff and the kids will be bored to tears; on the other hand, you can’t spend all your time at an amusement park. The adults will get bored, and yes, possibly the kids too!
The trick is to mix it up and find things that everyone would like to do. Discovering new things is also a great way to spend the holidays. Mauritius is a great choice to spend family holidays. From outdoor fun like snorkeling or playing on the beach, to fishing to whale- and dolphin-watching to cultural excursions exploring the island’s rich history and shopping, we’ve got you covered.
Beach and water-based activities
Surrounded by beautiful beaches, Mauritius is the perfect getaway for families who love the water. We recommend Trou aux Biches, which is clear, shallow and calm — perfect for swimming with little ones who may not be experienced swimmers yet. It’s also a great beach to introduce the kids to snorkeling. Feeling peckish? Along the coast road are food stands that serve delicious local food as well as a cafes and restaurants to tickle your tastebuds.
In the island’s southeast corner is Blue Bay Beach, which is also great for snorkeling with its abundant marine life. Ile aux Cerfs, another great spot to take the family, has everything for the whole family. The island has almost any water-based activity you can think of. Be warned though, that it can get packed during the weekend, so stroll further along the beach if you’re looking for emptier waters to splash around in.
Tired of swimming? Ile aux Cerfs has many activities to occupy the kids. One of the most popular ones is the Treetop Adventure Park, which has obstacles suitable for kids and adults — great for building up kids’ confidence and skills.
For a more adventure-packed vacation, head to Le Domaine de l’Etoile. This 1,200-ha former sugar plantation has every adventure you could dream of. Native forests, lush valleys, and dense vegetation make for an exciting place to explore. Try the longest zipline in the world, if you dare! Choose from seven ziplines, with the longest a breathtaking ride 3,500 metres above stunning views. If driving through stunning landscapes and lush vegetation is more your speed, try quad biking, to observe deer, exotic birds and boar or ride a buggy in the evening with the whole family, to see animals in the wild. Le Domaine de l’Etoile also has horseback-riding, hiking, archery and a host of other fun activities.
Walk on the wild side in the Black River Gorges, the largest national park in the country. Covering an area of 6,754 ha, the park is perfect for nature lovers and hikers who want to explore the natural beauty of the island. The park is home to one of the most unique forests in the world, with 311 species of native flowering plants and nine species of birds found only in Mauritius. A hike through this beautiful park will take you to the heart of the forest, where you get to learn about the local settlers, the beautiful and exotic flora and fauna and appreciate the island’s dramatic geographical formations — the park is named for the wide and beautiful gorge that curves dramatically between a series of mountains. Adding to the beauty are the spectacular waterfalls that will take your breath away.
Go quad biking, trekking, Segway or a 4×4 discovery tour in Frederica Nature Reserve, which is Mauritius’ own little Garden of Eden. The reserve covers 1,300 ha of picturesque views and pristine vegetation just begging to be explored. For conservationists, the reserve is protected under the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which ensures that sustainability and eco-efforts are practiced in the resort.
For a unique island-hopping adventure for the family, head to Ile aux Aigrettes, a small island on Mahebourg Bay, southeast off the coast of Mauritius. The island is a nature reserve where families can go on an eco-tour to learn more about the country’s unique flora and fauna.
In the interesting district of Pamplemousse is the Botanic Garden, which was initially the private garden of the French governor nearly 300 years ago. Today, it is the country’s national botanical garden and home to 650 varieties of plants, among which are the famous baobab trees, giant water lilies, the Palmier Bouteille, a large spice garden as well as medicinal plants and so much more. The garden is also home to 85 different varieties of palm trees from around the world. This is the perfect place to get kids interested in the plant world.
Take to the skies
For a truly unique and unforgettable experience for the whole family, you can book a helicopter sight-seeing tour to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Mauritius.
You can try the Mauritius Helicopter Ltd where you can book tours ranging from 15 minutes to one hour and they can even customise a tour for you.
For the tour, you’ll be taking off in Bell Jet Ranger helicopters equipped with 4 passenger seats — perfect for a small family! You’ll get to see amazing landscapes, lush forests, beautiful beaches as well as many other spectacular views.
For a one-stop shop of adventures, try Casela World of Adventures, the most visited attraction in Mauritius. Casela is situated atop sugarcane fields, with the Rempart Mountain as the backdrop. The park has many wholesome family-centric adventures that you and the kids will love — from an African Safari, encounters with big cats, riding dry toboggans and to scenic ziplines. It’s the perfect place to swim with dolphins in the morning, ride a camel at noon and walk with lions in the afternoon.
Located in a small village, the Mauritius Aquarium is home to over 200 species of fish, invertebrates, live coral and sponges, all of which come from the waters around the country. But what’s unique about the museum is the ocean floor walk, where you can observe the island’s rich marine life up close. Some of the species you will get to see include the crown squirrelfish, the Devil Firefish as well as thrillingly, several species of sharks!
Shopping and cultural attractions
Mauritius is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One is the La Morne Cultural Landscape, which includes the distinctively shaped Le Morne Brabant, a mountain where runaway slaves known as “maroons” used to escape for shelter during the 18th and 19th centuries, forming small settlements near the summit and caves. The mountain is a potent symbol of the country’s past and how the slaves fought for their freedom. Today, the area is more known as a tourist destination because of its beauty. It is also known as the only place where the country’s national flower, the Trochetia Boutoniana, can be found.
Did you know that Mauritius was the first British colony to receive indentured labourers when slavery was abolished? This period in history can be found in the Aapravasi Ghat, the original immigration depot from where modern indentured labourers were processed. Following the abolition of slavery, the British government began the “Great Experiment” of having indentured labour, and Mauritius was the first colony where this was implemented. Half a million immigrants arrived on the island between the mid-19th to early 20th century to work in the sugar plantations. These labourers come from many parts of the British Empire and most Mauritians can trace their ancestry from this diaspora. Today, less than half of the original site can be seen, but what exists — kitchens, lavatories, a hospital block and housing shacks — shed an important light into Mauritian history.
However, for a slice of local life, nothing beats going to Port Louis’ Central Market in the early morning, when the action is. The market was — and is — an important part of locals’ lives. Back in the day, this was where folk gathered to buy their daily necessities, trade, and find out what the news (i.e., gossip) was. Today, it is still a focal point of life in the capital, Port Louis. Head to the first floor, where the craft market is. This is where you can buy colourful textiles, artisanal sculptures and various fruit preserves. Want to sample a local drink? Then this is the place to go. Various blends of local rums are sold in the market. The market’s food court is also a great place to sample Mauritian cuisine. The scent of frying noodles, fritters, roti, various curries and dumplings will tempt you to sample all that’s on offer. Chase it all down with a refreshing alouda, an ice-cold milk-based drink served with agar-agar and psyllium grains (a natural laxative).
Taking place every Thursdays and Sundays in the daytime, the Quatre Bornes flea market is where locals shop. The claim is that here, you can find anything and everything — from Indian saris, to the latest in sunglasses to souvenirs. Don’t be afraid to haggle for the best price.
Though by no means definitive, this guide to where to go in Mauritius with your family should provide you with a great start to explore this beautiful island. Have fun exploring!
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