MAURITIUS - THINGS TO SEE & DO
THINGS TO SEE & DO
South Island Helicopter
As you know, walking, kayaking and driving offer a different perspective on a destination and this is certainly true of taking a helicopter ride over the South Island in Mauritius. Soaring above rugged mountains and endless lush canopies, this thirty minute ride is one of the most breath-taking ways to see the island and all from a birds eye view!
Casela National Park for Wildlife
Casela National Park is arguably the most popular attraction on Mauritius and can be compared to a zoo but with a twist. That is to say, moral values are very high at Casela and there is a very strong emphasis on creating a spacious, open environment for the wildlife as opposed to leaving them stuck in cages. In this sense, Casela is more of a nature reserve and a great opportunity to get up close to beautiful species such as giraffe, monkey’s and even lion.
Hiking in Mauritius
Although the island may not be best known for hiking, there are some excellent hiking trails and outdoor regions to explore on foot. Featuring cascading waterfalls, volcanic landscapes and towering peaks, this is also one of the most stunning places you are likely to hike anywhere in the world.
In fact, if you take a trip into Le Morne, it’s possible to hike to the top of the highest peak on the island. As you can imagine, the views are unrivaled and you pass so many varied habitats along the way from forests and mountains to the most incredible waterfalls including Tamarin Falls and Cascade 7.
Another must-do hike is the Black River Gorges Natural Park Hike. The park is a wonderful destination for hikes, nature lovers and bird-watchers alike. It is Mauritius's largest national park as is famous for its waterfalls, incredible views and hiking. It is situated in the cooler/less touristy, south-western part of Mauritius, in the Central highlands and is home to one of the worlds rarest forests, it's also home to over 300 species of native and endemic flowering plants and 9 endemic species of birds, including the Mauritius Kestrel, the pink pigeon, the Mauritian parakeet, the Maritian cuckoo-shrike, -bulbul, -olive white eye, - grey white eye, and -fody. The only endemic mammals is the Mauritian flying fox, but the park is also home to non-native Long Tailed Macaque, which was introduced by the Portuguese almost 400 years ago.
The hike will lead you into the heart of Mauritius' last remaining indigenous rainforest and afford you breathtaking views. You'll discover beautiful canyons and incredible waterfalls.
Deep Sea Fishing in Mauritius
Taking a deep sea fishing trip is another way to get out and experience something truly local in Mauritius. Of course, the surrounding coral reefs are known for many species but when you venture out into deep seas, there are also black and blue marlin along with barracuda, shark and yellow tuna. Most hotels on the island will organize these trips but it’s always best to pre-book as the trips are popular throughout the summer months.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving on the Island
As already mentioned, the island is surrounded by stunning coral reefs and it’s here you can find so many colorful creatures such as parrotfish, wrasse, clownfish and even damsel fish. At the same time, with up to 8 meters visibility, this is also an opportunity to witness the underwater world of algae gardens, sea grass and mangroves. As long as the weather is fine, snorkeling can be enjoyed from almost any beach in Mauritius but Trois en Biches and Pointe aux Piment are especially popular.
For the same reasons as snorkeling above, diving in Mauritius is hugely popular and one of the main attractions for scuba fans. In most instances, divers will flock to Blue Bay Marine Park where azure waters and near-perfect conditions offer the ultimate opportunity to dive in Mauritius. It’s best to pre-book these encounters but either way, the marine life is incredibly varied with more than fifty species and the unique network of coral reefs protect the bay which makes the water extremely calm.
The Stunning Beaches on Mauritius
You will find white powdered beaches at every turn in Mauritius and for many visitors, this is the main attraction. However, you can snorkel on these beaches and the water is perfect for swimming between November and May. Also, the beaches are usually within easy reach of most hotels so you also have access to amenities if you happen to spend a full day at most of these beaches. That being said, Flic en Flac beach is probably the most impressive on the island with endless sand, coves and stunning coastline that never fails to amaze visiting tourists!
Horseback Riding for a Different Perpective
If you’re like me, horseback is often the most authentic and interesting way to discover any landscape and this is certainly true in Mauritius. In fact, you can take these horseback rides through a wide variety of regions and these usually include the beaches in Mauritius. In most cases, you even get to finish the trek in the ocean, where the horses love nothing more than splashing around in the turquoise waters after a trek through the nearby trails. Although horseback tours are fantastic anywhere not he island, the Le Morne peninsula is arguably the most interesting place to enjoy one.
Visit Chamarel for Colour
Every region on the island is special in it’s own way but Chamarel is one that often stands out for visitors. In other words, the stunning range of colours and diverse flora in Chamarel is unlike anywhere else. These contrasting colors are often the result of volcanic activities but beautiful waterfalls, green forests and rolling hills are also found everywhere in between. And. Then there is Chamarel Village where sublime food and drink can be enjoyed with stunning ocean vistas.
Explore the Culture in Mauritanian Culture
Finally, you just cannot visit this island without exploring Mauritanian culture. If you travel to Ile aux Aigrettes, you will find the enchanting “Lion Mountain” and an idyllic village called Mahebourg. Located next to Grand Port Bay, this tiny village offers a unique insigh into the local culture and the arts, crafts, spices and food for which the islanders are known.
You know, it’s true that Mauritius is not the most abundant in terms of wildlife but the opposite is true in the waters surrounding the island. On the other hand, few island destinations have this many attractions on offer and when it comes to things to do, Mauritius is likely to exceed even the highest expectations.
Why Food and Culture is the Real Highlight in Mauritius
When most people think of Mauritius, it usually evokes images of white powdered sands, turquoise blue waters and stunning resorts with even more elegance than the Orient Express. However, there is much more to this colourful island than precious vistas and slightly over-the-top comforts. That is to say, aside from fancy hotels and lazing around on the beach, Mauritius has a fascinating culture and a staggering variety of cuisine that’s just crying out for attention.
But what’s so special about the culture?
Taking an Alternative Perspective through Mauritanian Culture
You see, the people of Mauritius are mostly the descendants of immigrants from Europe, India and other far flung places around the world. Needless to say, this makes for a very diverse population and the remoteness of the island seems to give these people a very unique and solid sense of patriotism.
In the beginning, this was also known as a slave island and in many respect, quite similar to Zanzibar on the opposite side of the continent. With just 1.2 million inhabitants, the island can feel quite remote and isolated at the best of times and this only serves to heighten the cultural experience. For example, when visiting some of the cultural communities such as Mahebourg village in Grand Port Bay, you will often find yourself alone with the locals and far from what we know as modern civilization.
Now, even if there happens to be other visitors, the experience is still just as unique and such an excellent way to gain insight into the old or traditional way of life in Mauritius. As you can imagine, this is far from the beach life or fancy resort experience we come to expect from the island, which makes this a surprisingly rewarding experience.
With the above in mind, cultural encounters are easy to find in Mauritius for those who seek them out. What’s more, the myriad of influences from France, India, China and elsewhere in Europe add an entirely new perspective on any trip to the island.
Exploring the Melting Pot of Flavours in Mauritius
As for the food, Mauritius may not be famous for cuisine but make no mistake; the blend of European, Indian and Chinese influence make this an exciting aspect to explore. Also, due to a historic correlation with France, there is a distinctly French flavor infused into many items on most menus.
In fact, while there are many Chinese and European dishes on the island, it is most often the French based meals that stand out. For example, coq du vin is such a delightful meal to have with a glass of red wine while civet de lievre or tuna salad with French dressing are much lighter options that taste equally good.
That being said, there is also Fish vindaye, which is a typical Mauritanian dish. After being cooked in a mixture of garlic, onion, turmeric and mustard, the fish is wonderfully tender. Interestingly, the dish is quite similar to Indian vindaloo and is usually served with vegetable, rice, pickles and lentils. Either way, this local dish brings even more diversity to the table and offers yet another sample of local life in Mauritius.
As you can see, while many people think of the beaches and resorts, the underlying culture of Mauritius is often more memorable than any amount of relaxation. What’s more, when you sample the flavors that blend seamlessly from one dish into the next, you should find that this alternative taste of Mauritius will usually last longer than the memory of any beach, attraction or five star hotel.