Mauritius has great diversity - from white sand beaches and water sports to tropical forests and remnants of its colonial history. The starting place for most adventures in Mauritius starts in the capital - Port Louis. Named after the French ruler King Louis XV, Port Louis was founded by the French around the year 1735, so that their ships could halt for a while before continuing their journey around the Cape of Good Hope.
Surrounding Port Louis is the Port Louis Moka mountain range. Le Pouce and Pieter Both are two famous and important peaks, and the latter towers 800 meters above sea level.
This Mauritius destination guide, together with our tour suggestions, will tell you all you need to know about the highlights of Mauritius. And be sure to check out some of the local highlights of nearby Madagascar, South Africa, Swaziland and Rodrigues .
Because of the long history of colonisation, Port Louis has many colonial buildings, which also have historic relevance to the city. Fort Adelaide, also known as La Citadelle, is one such fortification which was built by the British in 1835. From this fortification you can see most of the other architecture of the city.
At Port Louis you can attend the national derby called Champ de Mars at the Port Louis Race Course, which is the oldest race course in the Indian Ocean and the second oldest in the southern hemisphere. The other well known destinations in the capital are the Port Louis Waterfront and Police Barracks known as Les Casernes.
The Grand Bay (Grand Baie) in the northern region of the island was the first area to attract the influx of tourists. Apart from being a paradise for shopping and relaxation, Grand Bay also has a happening night life with plenty of bars, discos and restaurants. The La Cuvette Beach has recently been revamped and a trip to this beach is worth your while. A catamaran trip from Grand Bay to Ile Gabriel, a group of islands in the north, will take you to some of the best beaches where you can snorkel to your heart's content.
Swimming too is a pleasure at the northern beaches such as Mont Choisy, which is a narrow white stretch of sand running a distance of about 2 kilometres. The Trou aux Biches is a beautiful beach dotted with casuarinas trees, and the Péreybère, which is a little cove between Cap Malheureux and Grand Baie, is not to be missed.
The Péreybère Beach is also known for its shopping, and its lively pubs and restaurants. Situated close to the Baie aux Tortues are the Balaclava ruins, Baie aux Tortues was so named by 17th century sailors because of the many tortoises found in the region. From here you can also see the sea walls, the foundation of which was laid by Mahé de Labourdonnais, who was the Governor General of Ile de France and Bourbon Islands in 1735.
A visit to the longest village in Mauritius, the Triolet Shivala, should also be included in the itinerary. Here you can see the temple of Maheshwarnath, which was consecrated in 1819 and is dedicated to a pantheon of Gods, such as Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.
If you want to see a large variety of colourful and perfumed exotic flowers and tropical fruit trees, then a visit to the Labourdonnais Orchards is a must. Hiking and trips on mountain bikes are also possible in the northern region.
The Flacq Market is an important village in the eastern region of Mauritius. It is here that the inhabitants of the East converge in the country's largest open air market. This lively and colourful market attracts large crowds.
Ile aux Cerfs is a tiny island which sits like a real pearl in the landscape. The Ile aux Cerfs region is known for the most beautiful beach in Mauritius and also boasts of amazing resorts. Here, you can have your fill of water sports. A boat tour to this island is highly recommended if you are looking for a peaceful getaway.
The ruins of the first Dutch fortification can be found in the South-Eastern Region of Mauritius. These ruins at the Vieux Grand Port are the oldest settlements in Mauritius. To understand the history of this region, excavation works are now in progress.
Ile aux Aigrettes: This island stands testimony to the wonderful work done by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund in protecting valuable natural resources and endangered species. Extremely rare creatures such as the kestrel, the rare Pink Pigeon, Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise can all be found on this island.
Mahébourg: This is a peaceful town and is also one of the main fishing locations on the island. Founded by the French Governor Charles Decaën in 1804, the town was built on the Grand Port Bay. It also has a naval museum housed in a French colonial mansion.
Domaine des Grand Bois: This is an area of 900 hectares, situated in the Anse Jonchee hills. The luxuriant vegetation is home to boars, monkeys and stags and you may even sight the kestrel, which is on the brink of extinction. The Domaine has four thatched roof bungalows and a restaurant. Do have a meal here to enjoy the food as well as the view of the sea.
Souillac: This small seaside resort is located along the rugged coast of the Savanne District and is also its capital. It was named after Vicomte de Souillac, who was the island's governor from 1779 to 1787. A beautiful garden named after Dr. Charles Telfair overlooks the sea and is a famous landmark in the region. From Gris Gris, which is the top of a cliff, you can get a beautiful view of the region.
Blue Bay: True to its name, the region has some of the bluest waters and prettiest white sand beaches. A trip to this island is recommended during the week when the place is quiet and you can experience its tranquillity. Weekends are busy as the local people also come out on these days. A cruise on a glass bottom boat and snorkelling trips are some highpoints of the trip to Blue Bay. A part of Blue Bay has been assigned as a marine park.
A climb up the Mountain le Pouce or ‘the thumb' will take you two hours from the village of La Laura. The climb is worth the effort as the 360 degree view of Port Louis and the northern region of the island is spectacular.
Also visit the Martello Towers, which are five defensive forts built near the La Preneuse public beach in Tamarin. They represent a milestone in Mauritian history when slavery ended and Indian immigration started.
The village of Chamarel presents two natural wonders. One is the undulating landscape, which has different shades of colours. The red, blue, green, and yellow coloured Earth is the result of erosion of volcanic ash. The second is the magnificent waterfalls of Chamarel. Much of the coloured earth has been collected by locals as souvenirs so though the area is cordoned off it is not as impressive as it was earlier.
Casela is a bird park in the Rivière Noire district, which spans an area of 25 hectares and has more than 140 bird species from the five continents of the world. There are other attractions such as fish ponds, tortoises, deer, monkeys and even tigers. Orchids are grown here and a nice playground makes it a good outing for children.
There is also the Yemen Game Reserve where you can see deer and other Mauritian fauna at close quarters. You can go to the rustic kiosks in the reserve, sip a punch and enjoy the view of the sunset over the sea.
The Black River Gorges National Park is a 16,788-acre forest, created as recently as 1994 to protect the remaining native forest area of Mauritius. This is a good area to go hiking. A trail from the Petrin information centre takes you to the conservation area where you will get to see indigenous plants, animals and birds. The Black River Peak trail takes you to Mauritius's highest mountain and very close to this trail, the Maccabee trail plunges into the gorge to Black River.
If you want to see the sight of thousands of Nile crocodiles then a trip to La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes, commonly known as ‘The Crocodile Park', is a must. There is also an interesting insectarium here. This is the only place in the world to breed the aldabra tortoises. At the park shop you can pick up items made from crocodile skin.
At Tamarind Falls you will find the amazing sight of seven waterfalls surrounded by verdant mountains. Do carry a swimsuit as there are numerous pools at the foot of the falls where you can take a refreshing dip.
Ganga Talao is considered as a sacred lake which attracts the highest number of Hindu pilgrims outside India. It is considered as a tributary of the holy River Ganga, which was created when a few drops of water fell from Lord Shiva's head onto this island. During the Maha Shivaratri festival, many Hindu Mauritians walk to the place, fast and offer prayers here. There are gigantic eels in the lake which are fed by the pilgrims.
Grand Bassin Beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas are two other natural lakes which are curiously located in the crater of an extinct volcano. An interesting activity which you can undertake is to tour the Moka Mountains by a quad bike or alternately by a four-wheel drive. You can tour a sugar industry, followed by a rum distillery and end the tour with a meal at one of the four restaurants in the area.