Top 10 places in Mauritius you shouldn’t miss
Chances are if you’re coming to Mauritius on vacation, then relaxation will be high on your agenda. Fortunately for you we’re one of the best destinations in the world to help you do that, but don’t forget there’s so much more to Mauritius than chilling out on the beach. Here’s ten places you really shouldn’t miss…
1. Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges – the only national park in Mauritius – is located in the island’s mountainous south west corner. It’s the best place in the country to experience true wilderness, with a chance of spotting rare endemic species like the Mauritius kestrel, the green echo parakeet and the pink pigeon. With visitor information centres, picnic areas, quad biking routes and more than 60 kilometres of hiking trails, it’s the perfect place for a nature-based adventure.
2. Blue Bay Marine Park
Occupying a tranquil lagoon on the south east coast, beautiful Blue Bay Marine Park is a great choice for diving in Mauritius and a paradise for snorkellers wishing to discover the varied sealife lying just below the ocean surface. With depths of only 5-6 metres, this protected spot is a perfect choice for beginners, with shoals of damselfish, rainbow wrasse, sea anemone and butterfly fish darting in and out of the many species of coral. Even non-confident swimmers can get a taste of this secret underwater world, with one of the many glass-bottomed boat tours which operate throughout the day.
3. The southern coast at Gris Gris
The south coast of Mauritius is the only part of the island not protected by a reef, giving the coastline a dramatically different feel to the rest of the island. Right in the centre of the southern section, past the village of Souillac, lies the beach known as Gris Gris. Here, you can stand high above the golden beach below and watch as fierce Indian Ocean waves batter the shoreline and rush back into the sea. A short trail leads down to the beach itself – you can’t swim here but it’s a lovely spot for a picnic or off-the-beaten-path stroll.
4. Pamplemousses Botanical Garden
Now renamed the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden but still commonly known as Pamplemousses, our world-renowned garden is a real Mauritian treasure. The oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere, its 37 hectares are bursting with life and colour, from the 85 global palm varieties to the wildly fragrant blooms and spices which line its pathways. Look out for the incredible giant waterlillies and many unusual tree specimens like the Indian Almond tree, the Philippines bread-root and the Caribbean laurel.
5. Le Morne Peninsula
The spectacular south west corner of Mauritius is home to one of the country’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Le Morne Cultural Landscape, inscribed in 2008 for the importance of monolithic Le Morne Brabant mountain as a symbol of resistance to slavery. Today, the swirling blues of its iridescent lagoon are an equal draw for visitors, who come for the surfing and kite surfing or simply to experience the beauty of one of the island’s best beaches.
6. Port Louis Market
Whether you’re seeking fresh fruit and veg, spicy street food, local handicrafts and souvenirs, or the latest catch of the day, you’ll find it all at the Port Louis Market – a daily portrait of Mauritian life in microcosm. The market attracts tourists and locals in their hundreds – all eager to soak up the atmosphere of this quintessentially Mauritian destination – and throbs with the sounds, sights and smells of all the different cultures that make up this diverse country.
7. Mauritian Tea Country
Follow the Tea Route at the Bois Cheri tea plantation and you’ll soon discover why this humble drink is consumed with such fervour on the island. Starting just south of Curepipe at the Domaine des Aubineux, the journey takes you from the stately colonial-style house and gardens to the Bois Cheri factory itself, where you’ll learn about the tea-making process before getting the chance to sample your own while admiring the panoramic views across an ancient volcanic landscape.
8. Ile aux Aigrettes
Ile aux Aigrettes is a stunning nature reserve about 800 metres off the coast of Mahebourg and offers another opportunity to spot the protected pink pigeon in the wild. The site can be visited on a 90 minute guided walk with a local wildlife expert, who’ll lead you along the marked trail past native species of flora and fauna, before visiting the Aldabran Giant Tortoise in its one-hectare home. Two viewing platforms offer glimpses into the island’s coastal forest and across to neighbouring islets and the bay of Mahebourg.
Deep in the heart of Mauritius, the 1830s Creole mansion Eureka was once owned by the island’s richest sugar baron, but is now a perfectly preserved museum offering a window into the life and times of plantation owners and their workers. Stuffed with fine antiques and meticulously carved period furniture, the 109-door house is just one of the reasons to visit – beyond the mansion lies manicured gardens full of palms and mango trees, and trails lead down to the river banks where four exquisite waterfalls lie waiting to be discovered.
10. Amber Island
Wildlife lovers won’t want to miss this idyllic speck of pristine green nature off the north east coast between Grande Gaube and Poudre d’Or. For eye-level views of the salty wetlands, mangrove forests and wild lagoon plants that make up Amber Island, jump in a kayak for a lazy day of exploring. As you glide silently in and out of the tiny inlets, you might be lucky enough to spot a sea turtle or native butterfly. And when it’s time for a break there’s an inland sea water pool to discover, and a few old French colonial ruins to explore.