Award-winning Irish travel, food and lifestyle blogger, Stephanie Buckley, shares her top five things to do in Mauritius.
Some may think that Mauritius is purely a honeymooners’ destination, for those that want to chill by the pool, sipping on all-inclusive cocktails while watching the world go by for a week or two. By all means you can do just that, but there is more to this tiny island than sunshine and rum. Holidaymakers can enjoy fine beaches, a great range of accommodation, restaurants, world-class water sports facilities, exciting outdoor excursions, wonderful shopping opportunities and entertainment. The island is only 90km x 50km so anywhere and everywhere is easily accessible. It’s a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, with a huge heart and plenty to offer any explorer. Scroll down for my top five things to do in Mauritius.
1. Visit Grand Bassin aka Ganga Talao
Grand Bassin, or Ganga Talao, is a sacred lake that represents the mighty Ganges river of India. The Crater Lake is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites outside of India and devotees and visitors pay homage at the site all year round. On arrival, giant statues of Lord Shiva and Lord Durga will greet you. Visitors present fruit and flower petals to the Hindu Gods while walking bare foot through the temple. The sound of chanting and smell of incense fill the air. Women, dressed in spectacular patterns and colours, offer their sacrifices, such as bananas, coconuts and flower petals to their Gods. Men break coconuts off the ground and spill the milk on to the feet of the colourful statues throughout the temple. The atmosphere at Grand Bassin is incredible.
2. Explore Black River Gorges National Park
The Black River Gorges National Park is the largest protected forest of Mauritius, providing over 50km of lush, green trails. Located in the south-west of Mauritius, it has a lot to offer the active explorer. It’s a popular spot for hiking, picnics and scenic drives with a number of impressive viewpoints, including Alexandria Falls, Chamarel Waterfall and the Black River Gorges viewpoint. During your visit keep an eye out for deer, wild boar, macaque monkeys – and the stunning waterfalls, of course. It is advised to bring some fresh fruit for the hungry monkeys that you are almost guaranteed to meet during your visit to the National Park. However, be warned, these monkeys are not shy and they will grab whatever they can get their hands on.
3. Soak Up The Sun on Gabriel Island
If you are a fan of boat trips and being out on the open water, then a trip to Gabriel Island by catamaran is a must. The island, situated in the north, is one of the most beautiful and preserved islands of Mauritius. Gabriel Island is a protected natural reserve that is most famous for its beautiful unspoiled beaches, with crystal-clear waters surrounding the entire island. Day trips depart from Grand Baie, the Mauritian centre for sailing activities. Visitors can join a yacht tour, a catamaran cruise or even charter a private launch here. The catamaran excursion combines a cruising experience on a luxury catamaran with snorkeling, BBQ lunch, complimentary drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and free time to enjoy the breathtaking Gabriel Island.
4. Discover Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths
The seven coloured earths are a natural phenomenon and a world-famous tourist attraction in Mauritius. No matter what part of the island you are situated in, north, south, east or west, Chamarel is only a short car journey away. The small group of sand dunes is made up of a combination of distinct colours in the earth – red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow. It’s not all rolling hills of colourful sands though: giant tortoise are kept in an enclosure just below the coloured earths. There are also two spectacular viewpoints over Chamarel waterfall that you don’t want to miss out on. Combine your trip with a visit to the Curious Corner of Chamarel and the Rhumerie Chamarel to make the most out of your time.
5. Eat with the Locals
The island of Mauritius has plenty of dining options available, with a delicious mix of Creole, Indian, Asian and European cuisines, true to the cultural diversity of the island. But if you are looking for something a little different, you could try dining with a local Mauritian family. What better way to sample some authentic local cuisine than eating a home-cooked dinner at a Mauritian family’s home? You will be offered mouth-watering local delicacies while making friends with the locals, and getting to know the food culture of the country you are visiting. Guests enjoy a varied menu from fresh coconut water, local Phoenix beer and agricole rum, to chopped fruit covered in chillie and sugar, hot and spicy curries, homemade chutney, rougaille and pickles wrapped in buttery breads. For a truly unforgettable and authentic dinning experience, pop this on your to do list!
Mauritius is more than just beaches, the people are super friendly, the island is stunningly beautiful and it’s safe to wander around on your own. Rent a car – the roads are easy to navigate – or alternatively book a day trip with your hotel or a local tour operator. If you are planning a trip to Mauritius, I urge you not to sit around the hotel grounds for the duration of your holiday – get out and explore the island!
For more travel inspiration from Stephanie, visit her website EatSleepChic.ie