Mauritius – a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, has always promoted itself as a place that is a pleasure to visit. I have always heard a lot about this country – so much that I at one time, had shortlisted it to be my honeymoon destination. Sadly, I could not make it back then but had always heard from my other friends that every bit of their trip was just a marvelous experience. The reviews and pictures were enough for me to add it to my bucket-list and thanks to the Mauritius Tourism board, I finally managed to see and more importantly, affirm the fact that Mauritius was indeed a pleasure to visit.
A tiny green blob of land in a vast ocean of blue is how Mauritius appeared to me through the windows of Air Mauritius. The pristine atmosphere of the island was evident from high up there and I can promise you that it was indeed the case on ground. It is not just the clear blue waters or the pristine atmosphere that makes this country so pleasurable. It is a combination of a lot of things – the culture, the activities, its natural attractions to name a few. It is the fact that Mauritius has something for everyone – no matter how diverse your interests are , that makes it a pleasure for all who visit it. Here are my 10 reasons that will prove that Mauritius is just a perfect destination for all.
1) Mauritius – A blend of cultures
The first thing that struck me in Mauritius is the delightful blend of cultures – French, African , British and Indian. Why that is the case is best understood with the history of Mauritius. An island that was occupied by the Dutch, later by the French and British had its language influenced by the natives of these places. The French had their sugar plantations in Mauritius run with the help of slaves from India and Africa. Over time, the language of these slaves gave rise to a new tongue – Mauritius Creole, primarily French with some bits of Indian languages and African words. This further enhanced as more migrants were brought in by the British later in the 1800.
The sweet blend of these cultures is not left only to their language but is evident in the culture of the country. At different times of the year, you can witness various celebrations, each paying homage to the varied origins of its inhabitants. The bright Diwali to the colorful Holi and the Shivratri from India to the vibrant Chinese New Year from China and the All Saints day and Christmas from Europe.
The food is another place where you will find this lovely mix. Be the traditional 3 course meal that is served in a very European manner or the mix of cuisines that make these meals. The French mannerism with the Indianised cuisines makes every meal in Mauritius a delight.
To me, it is the totally harmonious blend of World cultures that makes Mauritius so unique. It is this experience that no other country can give you that makes it so pleasurable.
2) Pristine Beaches of Mauritius
It does not matter which beach you go to, for every beach here is just as beautiful. The white smooth sand and the gorgeous blue lagoons around are possibly the signature of Mauritius. I had the pleasure of enjoying the Trou aux Biches – a beach that is widely acknowledged as the best in Mauritius. It was a pleasure walking along this strip, catching the sight of turtles swimming around, the bright colored fish in the coral reef that is along its shores and well, just relaxing.
Mont Choisy Beach and the Grand Baie beach are the other two popular beaches in North Mauritius – with tons of activities, food joints and enough hotels along the beaches.
Quite like South Goa, the South of Mauritius has a lot of virgin beaches. The St. Felix beach in particular was quite inviting as we drove past it several times. The beach has this lovely garden spread out along its shoreline, with mowed grass and trees, perfect for some family picnic as we witnessed. Add to that the gorgeous colors of sunset that cast a lovely glow through the trees onto the landscape.
The other beach that I managed to see was the Flic en Flac beach along the West, where we indulged in one of the best activities that I did in Mauritius – Sea Kart. The water seemed perfect for a swim – something that I promise to do the next time I am there. The currents I am told, are non existent here and that is what makes it ideal for a dip in the sea.
3) Green and gorgeous hills of Mauritius
It is not just the beaches that you can enjoy here. If you like a bit of that hilly chill, then Mauritius has that for you. Born out of volcanic eruptions, it is not surprising that you find various mountain peaks looking down at you at various points within the country. In fact some of them are quite delightful with their shapes and legends. The 2nd tallest mountain – Pieter Both Mountain being the most interesting. 🙂
Notice the little head atop the mountain. This is said to be the head of Pieter Both, who people claim overlooks and protects the whole island of Mauritius, Who is Pieter Both? Well. some rationalist say that it was the 2nd Dutch Governor General of Mauritius. While some interesting legends have it that he was a milkman, who witnessed some fairy activities, promised the fairy that he would not say anything and then blabbered it around. The fairies got angry and well, turned his head into a swollen head 😉 You got to read these versions. Google Pieter Both mountain story .
Coming back to the lovely mountains. where there are mountains, there are waterfalls and you are bound to enjoy some spectacular ones here. Like this one at Chamouny at the La Vallée des 23 Couleurs.
Also, at the mountains, you are treated to some unusual geological wonders – as the 7 colored earth of Chameral. With its lovely spread of colors, twittering colorful beauties and perfect weather, a day out in the mountains is another pleasure that you should experience in this country
4) Choice of adrenaline rush
Do you like the extreme dangling in the air or diving into the depth of the sea, then Mauritius has plenty for you. However, if you do like a bit of adventure but are a lot milder with risk, then again- Mauritius is the place to be in. It does not matter what levels of adrenaline rush you can handle, there is something for you in this place. Take deep sea adventures – you can either head for a deep sea dive with your divers’ license or try some mild snorkeling along the shores of its lagoons or if you really don’t want to try either of the two with the fear of swimming, some sea-walking or ride in a submarine is perfect for you.
From ziplines to parasailing to skiing, name an activity that you enjoy and you will find it in Mauritius. It is almost like you have a menu of activities based on your thrill levels. Each day of your holiday allows you a spike in your thrill, thanks to the varied choice.
5) Food in Mauritius
Neither spicy, nor bland. Neither sweet nor too tangy. A little of East and a little of West – the food in Mauritius is bound to appeal to anyone. The Mauritian blend of cultures is the most evident here. I particularly, recommend their Palm Heart salad as an appetiser. Made from the tender leaves of palm trees, it is amazing how many flavors this particular salad has. Through the 5 days that I was there, I had it almost every day and each day, I discovered a different variety of this salad.
Dholl Puri (Daal Puri), Paratha and Curry are some Indian dishes that are commonly found in the Creole menu. The European Grilled Fish and vegetable blend in beautifully in any Mauritian meal, making the entire meal course delicious. Be it a vegetarian or a non vegetarian – there is enough for either of you.
6) Sugar Haven
Sugar, Sugar – all around! From the time you step out of the Airport till the time you leave back with possibly a gift pack containing the various types of sugar for yourself and people at home. And no! I am not exaggerating.
Everywhere that you drive in this country, you are bound to see fresh green sugar cane fields all along the roads. Along with them, are quaint little sugar mills, some of them old and abandoned and some still functioning. You can even visit one of those old mills which has now been converted to a Sugar museum – to understand the history and the entire process of sugar making.
And where there is sugar, there is a little rum. 🙂 Rum distilleries are as much a part of Mauritius as is actual sugar. Here they almost toast to each other with a shot of rum. Visit Chameral or Chateau Labourdonnais or even the old Sugar mill and you can do some rum tasting here – a little bit of coffee flavored rum is what I favored.
The entire history of the country, its evolution and culture is all linked to this one commodity – Sugar and that is what sweetens your entire experience of Mauritius.
7) Heritage sites
The history buff in me was pleased with the few heritage sites that Mauritius offers. The Aapravasi Ghat is a UNESCO site that is considered to be a landmark of one of the key events in Mauritian history. This was a site where thousands of indentured Indian workers sent by the British in 1880s as laborers for the sugar plantations, took their first step into Mauritius. The old temporary buildings, the hospital wing and a museum about this movement still exists here, allowing you that brief glimpse into the history of this Island.
The Chateau Labourdonnais is yet, another well-preserved relic of the 19th century that gives you a glimpse of the other side of the sugar plantations – the life of the rich and famous. With its Victorian styled home, sprawling orchards and old distillery, this is yet another illuminating tour of the history of Mauritius. Details on these? Coming up shortly in a separate post :-).
8) Shopping in Mauritius
I sure would have loved to do more of shopping here. There was no great temptation than the colorful markets of Grand Baie and Port Louis. I had a taste of street shopping at the Port Louis Central Market – with its colorful cane artifacts. From cute little bags to magnets to cane hats and table mats. A little haggling and you can be sure that you will be needing an extra bag to carry them home.
The Waterfront Cauden in Port Louis is a different matter. Hundreds of umbrellas strung together greet you as you walk through the wide open spaces with lovely shops lined all along. Dotted with open air cafes and restaurants, the market is a lovely one to just sit around and enjoy the Water front. If you are bored, you can grab a movie or two here or just try your luck at the casinos.
9) Animal Love
Mauritius has tons of places where you can interact closely with various birds and animals. From holding baby tortoises to feeding the giraffes, there are enough opportunities for you to show your animal love.
My favorite was capturing a peacock who pranced around just for me 🙂
10) People in Mauritius
The most important reason that makes Mauritius a pleasure to visit are its people. The Mauritians are really warm and caring, which is evident with every interaction that you have with them. Add to that, the discipline that they have which is evident in their way of life – be it traffic regulations or the manner of running their business. It is quite admirable to see how they conduct themselves.
There is a certain camaraderie that you experience with them – possibly in my case as they look Indian, have Indian names and are quite curious about India. From the staff at the hotels to the shopkeepers at various markets to even your co-passengers at various attractions and rides, all I experienced was a polite and friendly greeting and a smile that said that they were ever ready to be a part of my thrilling journey through Mauritius.
Each day spent here was indeed a pleasure for many of the reasons that I have cited above. I will be sharing a lot more of my trip in the later posts, so stay tuned for those. Till then, here is something to mark and remind you Why it is a pleasure to visit Mauritius.
- Mauritius is well-connected to the rest of the world with direct flights. This is the best way to reach here.
- There are some cruises that do take you to Mauritius as well.
- I will be sharing a detailed guide on Mauritius shortly. This will include all the legal formalities, internal travel suggestions, places to stay etc. Stay tuned for the same.
- Any season is a good season to head here. The weather is quite warm and pleasant all through.
- Here is the link to the official tourism page of Mauritius. This also, has some basic travel tips as well.