Mauritius is one of those islands you always hear about but you’re never actually sure where it is. Is it in the Pacific? Maybe it’s one of the many Mediterranean islands? Could it be somewhere in the region of South America or the Caribbean? Either way, it stumps more than a few people on world geography exams.
It is, in fact, located in the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean, some 1000 kilometers off the coast of Madagascar. This of course makes it an African nation, the only country on the continent where Hinduism is the main religion. English is the most wildly spoken language and the island is known as the only recognized home of the long-extinct Dodo. But let’s not dwell on something negative!
With an abundance of world-class beaches, exciting activities for the more adventurous, multicultural, friendly people and a fascinating history, there are plenty of reasons why Mauritius should be the choice for your next holiday. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Given the enviable position that the island affords above the tropic of Capricorn, with a cool, welcome breeze off the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a year-round holiday destination. You’ll only ever have two seasons here, a warm and humid summer from November to April and a cool, mild winter from June to September. Expect bright sunshine for most to the year, perfect for you to work on your tan on one of the island’s paradise-on-earth beaches.
You’re going to be spoiled for choice here for some of the most stunning beaches you’re ever likely to see on earth. Everywhere you turn there’s a new lagoon with pristine white sands to explore, enjoy the perfect temperature of the sea, or simply relax under the gentle sway of the palm trees. Trou aux Biches is one of the best for swimming and is popular with families. Head to Mont Choisy during the week to get away from it all. Visit the Blue Bay beach for kaleidoscope colors. We could write a whole article on Mauritius beaches alone!
Into the Water
With crystal-clear, azure-blue waters gently lapping the brilliant white sands, it won’t be long before you venture off the loungers and into the sea. Swimming and snorkeling here has a good shout for being the best in the world, and scuba-diving is extremely popular too. The island has won numerous awards for the quality of the underwater attractions on offer thanks largely to its volcanic make-up. And if you’ve ever wanted to swim with dolphins (who hasn’t?!) then this is the place for you!
The people and traditions of Mauritius are as colourful as the island itself, and it’s a must for you to enjoy one of the many festivals held throughout the year. In February, you’ll see thousands of people making a pilgrimage to a giant Lord Shiva statue for the Maha Shivaratri festival – the largest of its kind outside India. The island is the only non-Asian country to celebrate Chinese New Year, and for those who have the stomach for it, the Thaipoosam Cavadee body piercing festival is certainly not for the squeamish! The Holi Festival of colours, where participants throw coloured powder everywhere, might be a more family friendly option!
History and Culture
As well as enjoying some incredible festivals, you must also soak in the history and culture of the island, which is eclectic enough to make it a viable choice for your next holiday. Creole is the native language of the locals here, and with it comes a rich history and tradition – including the exotic Sega dance performed by the women of the island. The experience is unforgettable will have the hairs standing on the back of your neck. There’s a tangible meeting of European, Eastern and African cultures here, reflected in the life and heartbeat of the island.
The Natural World
Think Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” and you’re on the right lines here! Waterfalls, volcanoes, and lush vegetation dominate the landscape. Although a mouthful to pronounce, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden is popular for over 500 species of plants. The Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel is a geological formation of beautiful, multi-coloured sands. And conscious of the infamous loss of the Dodo, Mauritius is at the forefront of environmental conservation. The flora and fauna here will keep you occupied for days.
As you would come to expect, the full force of such a rambunctious history has had a significant impact on the dinner plate in these parts. Mauritian cuisine is a literal melting pot of African, French, Chinese and Indian influences, and if that doesn’t get your mouth watering, we don’t know what will! Dholl Puri is regarded as the national dish, a flatbread stuffed with ground yellow split peas that you enjoy with a spicy chili side. You’ll also find incredible curry dishes here, as well as all the bountiful fruits you would expect on an island paradise. You’ll dine like kings and queens!
You’ll Never Want to Leave!
Mauritius is one of those places so diverse in everything it offers it would take several articles on any number of sights and attractions to fully do it justice. It’s a hugely popular spot for newlyweds too, and many of the resorts cater specifically for romantic couples. The choice of golf courses might put a strain on some marriages early though! We’ve barely scratched the surface here, and Mauritius is definitely a destination you’ll want to see at least once in your lifetime. So why not just make it your next holiday?!