Having spent a week in Mauritius, I have returned with a renewed enthusiasm for the island. During my visit, I explored much of the coastline, a number of inland attractions and of course many hotels.
Famed for its idyllic palm fringed beaches and turquoise waters, the island also boasts inland beauty with lush vegetation and dramatic mountain backdrops. The history too is fascinating with the first Europeans to visit the island being the Portuguese at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Dutch settled in 1598 and introduced sugar cane and Java deer before leaving in 1710. Sugar cane still covers a great deal of the island today and is one of their main exports. The French and British followed the Dutch until Mauritius gained its independence in 1968. Today, the island is one of the most multicultural in the Indian Ocean and I saw it all from Indian temples to Colonial houses and everything in between. This diversity also results in a unique mixing pot of styles and flavours to be experienced in its exotic cuisine.
There is plenty to do on the island. Most hotels include a wide range of watersports during your stay; kayaking, snorkelling, sailing, water skiing and pedal boats are the most common. After a busy day of hotel visits, I relished in the opportunity to join a snorkelling trip off the south-west coast. The water was crystal clear and the fish were plentiful, it was a perfect end to a busy day.
If you fancy a change from the daily routine of the beach and pool then there is a good deal of inland attractions to keep you busy. I enjoyed a walk around Pamplemousses Botanical Garden with a rather jovial but excellent bilingual guide, and a city tour of Port Louis. The seven-coloured earth of Chameral was especially interesting: a geological curiosity and the only place in the world where you can find a clay earth of seven colours in one place. Travelling at this time of year is particularly beautiful as many of the trees and flowers are in bloom and as I made my way around the island the lush green terrain was broken with vibrant splashes of colour. The bright red and orange flowers of the Flamboyant (Flame Tree) was my favourite.
Mauritius is also well known for its luxury hotels with slick service. From my experience, its reputation did not disappoint. I found most of the properties to have excellent facilities and not only was the service efficient, it was always with a warm Mauritian smile.
There are a great number of large resort style hotels which are well-facilitated and cater perfectly for families. For golf enthusiasts there are a number of excellent courses to improve your handicap. If you prefer a smaller, more low-key property, then I am delighted to report that I saw a lovely selection: from five star luxury boutique hotels to mid-range luxury guesthouses. And last but by no means least, don’t forget about your well-being. A trip to Mauritius would not be complete without some pampering in a hotel spa!
My overall experience of the island is that it certainly has much to offer whether it is exploring the historical sites, staying active with the numerous watersports available, or simply relaxing on the beach or by the pool with an ice cold beer or glass of wine. Mauritius combines very well with a safari in South Africa or Kenya, ideal for families and couples alike.