“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” This was how the American novelist Mark Twain once described the island paradise of Mauritius and with good reason. About 1,700 kilometres east of the African continent this island has impressive long, white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, remote lagoons and an exotic atmosphere.
With its area of about 1,865 square metres, Mauritius is not even as big as Tenerife, but the little island has nevertheless had an eventful past. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to discover the island in 1505 and then afterwards it was conquered by the Dutch, the French and finally the British. Since 1968 Mauritius has been an independent island state with a parliamentary democracy. The state of Mauritius consists of the main island of the same name and numerous smaller islands scattered across the Indian Ocean, only a few of which are inhabited. The various conquests have left their mark on the population. The French brought African and Madagascan slaves and when the British conquered the island, Indian and Muslim slaves followed by Chinese were brought onto the island. The Mauritians today are therefore a very mixed people, with European, African, Asian and Indian roots.
It is not only the people of Mauritius, who are diverse, but also the nature here and the range of leisure activities on offer. Mauritius is an ideal holiday destination for sports fans and families, as well as for anyone looking for relaxation or a romantic getaway. It is no surprise that the island is a well-known destination for honeymooners. The island was for a long time perceived as a holiday destination for the rich. There are still the exclusive hotels and golf resorts which are among the best in the world here, but nowadays there are also numerous more affordable alternatives to the top hotels.
Although most travellers see Mauritius as a destination for a beach holiday, with its white sandy beaches, turquoise sea and blue lagoons, the island has so much more to offer. The small island state in the Indian Ocean is also appealing because of its wonderful nature, an enormous national park, a lively capital and its variety of cultures.
Ile aux Cerfs
Off the east coast of Mauritius is Ile aux Cerfs (Deer Island) which is a real paradise with snow-white dream beaches and crystal clear water. This is a truly idyllic place where you can completely relax and unwind. The small island is directly off the coast of Mauritius and can only be reached by boat. If you are looking for picture perfect dream beaches, then Ile aux Cerfs is certainly one for you.
Black River Gorges National Park
Inland on the island you will find impressive natural landscapes which are well worth exploring. In the 6,500 hectares of Black River Gorges National Park you can admire not only rare animals such as the java deer, but also deep gorges and exotic plants. This is a tropical paradise which you should not miss out on.
Seven Coloured Earths in Chamarel
Chamarel in the south-west of Mauritius offers an impressive, mystical natural spectacle – the Seven Coloured Earths. Here you will find a hilly landscape of volcanic origin which shimmers in all imaginable colours. This colourful spectacle is at its most intense in the mornings and evenings.
The wild and fascinating landscape of Mauritius is really worth seeing. The island is also known for its numerous waterfalls. Amongst the most impressive are the Tamarin Falls, spilling downwards over seven steps and which you can watch from a viewing platform. However, the best way to admire the beauty of Tamarin Falls is from below and the local guides will help you with the descent. Just as breath-taking is the Charamel waterfall which is not far from the Seven Coloured Earths. Here the water crashes down 100 metres and there is a small footpath leading to the bottom of the waterfall.
Pampelmousses Botanical Gardens
North-east of the capital Port Louis is the garden of Pampelmousses which was planted in 1767. This beautiful garden has one of the largest varieties of plants of any botanical gardens in the world which can be admired across its 90 hectares. The main highlight here is the rare sight of enormous lily pads which are the size of a car wheel.
The eventful past and various colonisations have had a large influence on the culture of Mauritius. The diversity of the population of the island is reflected not only in the variety of the cuisine, but also in music, religion and in the different festivities. Through the influences from France, India and China emerged not only the unique Creole cuisine, but also a very special kind of music, the so-called Sega. Music and dance generally play an important role on Mauritius and many songs are written in the Creole language and tell stories about slaves.
Temples and Places of Pilgrimage
Due to the diversity of the population of Mauritius, you will find many different faiths on the island. As 60 % of the population have Indian roots, there are several temples all across the island which are dedicated to various gods. The Shivala Temple in Triolet is the largest on here and since 1891 it has been possible to admire colourful images of Vishnu, Braham, Shiva and other gods in this temple. In Gran Bassin on Mauritius is a holy lake in a volcanic crater which is the largest pilgrimage site for Hindi outside India. This sacred place is dedicated to Shiva, the god of destruction and rebirth. Usually this site is a place of calmness, but at the end of February and at the beginning of March around 500,000 believers come on a pilgrimage to this holy lake to celebrate the Maha-Shivaratree festival. It is worth coming here not only for this festival, but also to see the statues to honour the gods.
Best time to travel Mauritius
Mauritius has a tropical climate with pleasant temperatures all year round and with only two seasons. In the summer from November to April there is more rain than in the winter which runs from May to October. The warmest period is between December and March with average temperatures of 33°C, but you can also spend a nice holiday on the island paradise of Mauritius in winter with its temperatures between 18°C und 28°C.
Mauritius is therefore an all-year-round holiday destination, but the months between April and June and between September and November are the best times to come here, as it is then mainly dry, sunny and not too hot. Not so good are the months from January to March with the risk of tropical storms and a lot of rain. Nevertheless a beach holiday on Mauritius at any time of year means pleasant water temperatures which are ideal for swimming and water-sports activities.
The enormous reef which surrounds Mauritius not only provides good swimming conditions, but also has a fantastic underwater world. The variety of species and the colourful fish attract divers and snorkelers from all over the world. There are numerous diving schools on the island, but you can begin to explore the breath-taking underwater world with just goggles and flippers.
The seas around Mauritius also offer several highlights, including tours with a catamaran where you can watch dolphins, as well as heading for the beautiful small islands nearby. A popular destination for a day-trip by catamaran is the island of Ile aux Cerfs.
Mauritius is a real paradise for golfers, having ideal conditions all year round. Golfers from Europe particularly like to extend their golfing season with a holiday in Mauritius. Many luxury hotels advertise with their own golf courses, many of which are amongst the best in the world. On the paradise island of Ile aux Cerfs you will find not only dream beaches, but also an absolute golfing highlight with an 18-hole golf course which was designed by Bernhard Langer. Every golfer, from professionals to beginners, will get their money’s worth on Mauritius, as there are golf courses that will suit all levels here.
Shopping in Port Louis
If you are looking for souvenirs to take home, then Port Louis is the place to go to. The capital of the island and former colonial town has numerous boutiques and shops which are ideal for a bit of shopping. A particular experience is a visit to the Central Market which is right next to the harbour. Here you can try exotic fruits and regional delicacies and maybe find a souvenir or two to take home with you.
Canyoning and Ziplining
Those looking for an adrenaline kick should try canyoning at the Tamarin Falls, where you can get as near to a giant waterfall as you ever will. Another adventure on offer is ziplining in the Caselapark, where you can ride on a pulley suspended on a cable and enjoy the fantastic view of the deep gorges and the surrounding nature, which is just like sightseeing from the tree-tops of Mauritius.
Regions and Places
Capital of Port Louis
Port Louis in the north-west of the island is not only the capital of Mauritius, but also the largest town with 150,000 inhabitants. The town owes its name to the French King Louis XIV. Port Louis is the perfect place to emerge yourself into the culture of Mauritius. The colourful markets at the harbour are ideal for a stroll around and from the Fort Adelaide fortress you can enjoy a wonderful view of the town. Horse racing fans should definitely go to the Mauritius Turf Club, which is the second oldest racecourse in the world and the oldest in the southern hemisphere. Here you can watch races from May through to December. Stamp collectors will feel their hearts beating faster when they visit the Blue Penny Museum, where among the exhibits they can see the Orange and the Blue Mauritius on display.
Grand Baie is on the north coast of Mauritius, about 20 kilometres from Port Louis and is the tourism centre of the island and the place to go to for an all-round experience. There is a good reason why this coastal area is called the Côte d'Azur of Mauritius. The seaside town is the centre of the Mauritian cuisine scene and has many restaurants, cafés and snack bars. The popular holiday resort is also known for its nightlife, with its numerous discos, bars and jazz clubs. Grand Baie is the place to head for if you like partying until the early hours of the morning. However, it is also appreciated by beach holidaymakers and water-sports enthusiasts, especially sailors, with its long bay and the beaches next to the small town being very nice and perfect to pass the time at.
In the south-west of Mauritius, only a few kilometres north of the airport, is Mahébourgh which was the former capital of the island. It is situated in the bay of Vieux Grand Port and here you can discover the history of the former colony. In an old house built in 1722 is a museum where you can learn about the hard-fought sea battle between the British and the French in 1810. This small town built in the French colonial style is also a tourist attraction because of its architecture and has many small alleyways and hidden corners which are well worth strolling around and exploring.
Visa: Travellers from the European Union, the USA and the British Commonwealth do not need a visa for Mauritius. On arrival you will get a residence permit for 3 months. It is possible to stay longer if you have a ticket for the return flight and a valid passport.
Time zones: Although Mauritius is a tropical destination which seems to be a long way away, the time difference is actually only +3 hours compared to Central European Time and only +2 hours in summer. This means that the problem of jet-lag is not an issue here.
Language: The official languages of Mauritius are English and French. A large part of the population speaks Morisyen, a Creole language based on French and which was developed by the slaves themselves. There are also many other languages spoken on Mauritius including Bhojpuri, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu and Chinese.
Currency: The currency here is the Mauritius Rupee which is divided into 100 cents. One Euro is about 40 Rupees. As well as cash, almost everywhere credit cards and travellers’ cheques are also accepted.
Driving on the left: On Mauritius you drive on the left, so make sure you that you keep this in mind if you hire a car. Those used to driving on the right generally get used to it quite quickly, though.
About the beaches
Mauritius is a real gem in the Indian Ocean. Gleaming white sandy beaches, coconut trees and turquoise-blue water as far as the eye can see give the coast of Mauritius a picture postcard setting. Even experienced globetrotters are impressed by the beauty of the island. There are 170 kilometres of beach waiting to be explored and Mauritius is a dream holiday destination for a beach holiday. Almost the entire island is surrounded by a coral reef which not only provides shelter from the waves, but also keeps large, dangerous fish away from the beaches.
Public beaches and hotel beaches
On Mauritius you will find well-known public beaches together with many hotel beaches. The exclusive hotel beaches have lots of amenities and everything else you could want for your comfort and convenience. Many of these hotel beaches are not restricted to hotel guests and allow you to use them upon payment of an entrance fee.
Beaches on the north coast
The beaches on the north coast are very well established for tourists and include some of the best beaches for swimming on the island. Among the nicest public beaches are La Cuvette, Grand Baie Public Beach and Pereybère Beach. The absolute highlight on the north coast is the long sandy beach of Trou aux Biches which stretches for miles and is rightly regarded as one of the nicest beaches of Mauritius. The shallow water here is sloping gently into the ocean and the offshore reef with its colourful underwater world combine to make this beach ideal for a holiday with the whole family. If it is luxury and relaxation you are looking for, then the hotel beaches of Veranda Grand Baie Beach and Veranda Pointe aux Biches Beach are just right for you.
Beaches on the east coast
The beaches on the east coast of Mauritius are also popular with holidaymakers. The beaches on this coast are as diverse as the island itself. Here you can choose between fantastic lagoons, amazingly long beaches and idyllic islands. The beach of Belle Mare does not have much to offer tourists, but is popular with the locals. Blue Bay beach is fantastic for snorkelling to admire the beautiful underwater world. La Palmeraie Boutique Beach and Veranda Paul et Virginie Beach are great for a romantic holiday, as there are lovely bays and you can enjoy the exclusive personal service here which helps to make these beaches also popular destinations for honeymooners.
There are many dream beaches on Mauritius, but Ile aux Cerfs is in a class of its own. On this little paradise island you will find picture perfect beaches which are rightly regarded as belonging to the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Beaches on the south coast
Part of the southern coast does not have the offshore reef which shelters the rest of the coast of Mauritius. Therefore you will not find many beaches in the south of the island which are suitable for swimming, as the currents here are too dangerous. If you look at a map of Mauritius you will see that it is only a small part of the coast that is unprotected.
Around the Le Morne peninsular in the south-west of Mauritius you will find real dream beaches where you can enjoy swimming without a second thought. If you are looking for relaxation, Heritage Resorts Beach and The St. Regis Mauritius Resort Beach are ideal for you, while Le Morne Public Beach is known around the world as a hotspot for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The beaches near the impressive mountain of Le Morne Barbant are really beautiful and have a breath-taking setting.
Beaches on the west coast
If you want to spend your holiday mainly at the beach, then the nice west coast beaches have what you are looking for. The beaches here are not only appealing to the eye, but also have excellent conditions for swimming and water-sports. The dream beach of Flic en Flac is the longest sandy beach on Mauritius and at the same time one of the nicest. Albion Beach and Wolmar Beach are ideal for nature-lovers and relaxation seekers, while those looking for more action should head for Tamarin Beach. Here there is a gap in the reef which makes the beach especially popular with surfers.
"A first-class view!"
"The beach of the Heritage Resorts has everything you could wish for!"
"This beach is amazing on and under the water."
"The perfect beach for a dream wedding or a holiday with the family!"
"The perfect beach for a romantic holiday for couples."
"The small beach of the Veranda Resort Grand Baie is refreshing and relaxing."
"A romantic place to get married."
"A beach in an impressive setting!"
"A beautiful beach where you can let off steam."
"The best beach for kitesurfing!"
"The chic beach atmosphere reflects on the entire area"
"A family beach with an exciting underwater world"
"One of the nicest beaches on the island!"
"A place of calm for all nature-lovers"
"Here you will find a magnificent coral reef!"
"Spa Beach is the best place to spend some romantic time together!"
"A feel-good oasis for relaxation-seekers"
"A little hidden gem with perfect swimming conditions and a great underwater world"
"Great beach for boat trips"
"Surfing, picnicking and sunset - all here at Tamarin Beach!"