Larger than the ‘one resort’ islands of the Maldives but still not much bigger than Surrey, Mauritius is an Indian Ocean escape with something extra. East of Madagascar, this lush island is more than just white sands – although there’s no denying it has some of the most stunning beaches in the world.
The island is surrounded by a huge reef sheltering the shallow lagoons, whose waters meet a shoreline of sugar white beaches.
These lead to sugar cane plains, waterfall pools and forests of ebony and eucalyptus, before finally reaching the peaks of bare and broken rocks that make a moonscape of the mountains.
Mauritius plays host to a number of world class hotels, as well as family-friendly resorts. Accommodation options are widespread around the coastline, though there are considerably less resorts on the island’s south coast.
Away from its beaches, Mauritius bursts with historic sights, cultural diversity and natural attractions. Take a dip beneath cascading waters at Tamarin Falls – a beautiful natural collection of waterfalls in southwest Mauritius, which, though awkward to get to, are well worth a visit. Black River Gorges is Mauritius’ sole national park – a wild area of thick indigenous forest in the central highlands that is home to over 300 plant species and rare bird life. Visit Pamplemousses Royal Botanical Gardens and stroll through lush vegetation including the unique collection of palms and the ‘Victoria Regia water lily’ which has leaves that grow to over two feet wide.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Mauritius is the only African country to have a Hindu majority.
- Sugarcane is grown on 90% of the cultivated land and accounts for 15% of the country’s exports.
- Mauritius was the only known habitat of the now-extinct dodo bird, a type of pigeon which settled on the island more than 4 million years ago. With no predators dodos lost their need and ability to fly. Within 100 years of the arrival of humans, the once abundant dodo became a rare bird. Hunted by Portuguese settlers for food and their eggs eaten by rats, pigs and monkeys introduced by the Dutch . The last one was killed in 1681.
- Lewis Carroll is said to have been inspired by the dodo to write his famous book “Alice in Wonderland” in 1865.
- Sega music – originated among the slave populations of Mauritius – is now the national music of Mauritius. When performing the sega folk dance, Mauritian dancers move their entire body but their feet never leave the ground.
- Mark Twain has been quoted as saying, “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”