Before we landed in Mauritius, we did not know what to expect.
After a week in Mauritius we didn’t want to leave. And after 2 weeks, we were wondering when we would come back.
Soon, wasn’t even soon enough.
We were captivated with the raw beauty of the land, and fell in love with the people.
Some tips we have for visiting Mauritius. Try to stay at different locations. We started off at Flic en Flac, then moved to Trou d’Eau Douce, finally ended up on Trou aux Biches. This way you get to experience the different towns and their unique points. Traveling with a young family we found Mauritius kid friendly, the public transport safe and easy to use. More info on what to do, and how to go about doing it here..
Here’s our top 10 Things to do in Mauritius…
1. Visit Gris Gris, Maconde and Le Morne
One of the more scenic drives is along the south coast of Mauritius – Gris Gris up to Maconde and on to the south west – Le Morne, Then up to Black River Gorges national Park.
East of central Souillac, you will reach a plot of grassy cliffs. Over the edge you will see waves crashing against black rocks. A path leads down to Gris Gris beach.
We were warned by the locals that we could now swim in these waters and we could now see why. Words like perilous and unpredictable comes to mind.. not to mention ‘dashed against the rocks’!
The term gris gris traditionally refers to ‘black magic’ and looking at the menacing rocks below, it’s not hard to see why. Still it made for some amazing photography.. just don’t drop your camera of phone as you negotiate to cliffs to get that picture perfect shot!
Onward to Macondé. Windy and winding does not even begin to describe this look out point. Be careful your hat doesn’t blow away in a gust of wind. The winding road snakes along the foot of the cliffs, ending with a sharp hairpin and a piece of rock which ends up high at the look out point. Jutting into the ocean, the rock is pummelled by the swirling sea. From this rocky outcrop located between Le Morne and Baie de Cap, you will be gobsmacked by the stunning view of coastline where land meets the sea crashing foam and angry waves. It’s just breathtaking. Historians believe the area was named after it served as a shelter for runaway slaves coming from the Makonde tribe in Mozambique.
If Gris Gris and Maconde swept us off our feet, then Le Morne stole our hearts from under our noses. Le Morne.. a rugged mountain that juts into the Indian Ocean in the southwest of Mauritius was used as a shelter by runaway slaves, maroons, through the 18th and early years of the 19th centuries.
If you would like to climb up the Le Morne summit, a local guide is needed so plan early and organize one otherwise you might be turned away at the point of entry.
We stopped to take photos and the locals were incredibly friendly. The windy conditions make this place ideal for surfing and kite surfing.
2. Go for a Cooking Class
One of the great highlights of our stay in Mauritius was going for a cooking class in the midlands. Kot Marie Michelle is located amidst sprawling cane plantations in the Midlands, Plaines Wilhems and it serves up incredibly delectable, Cajun & Creole food.
I wouldn’t call it a restaurant per se, it’s more like a home cooked meal, shared by the host with her guests. It’s all super homey, informal and friendly – they even do a Sega dance to welcome guests, just before you try your hand at cooking on a open wood stove and having your Creole food, knocked back with homemade, flavoured Rum, amidst lush cane plantations.
Wanabe chef! 😛
We tried vanilla and ginger flavoured rum.. it was delicious!
The real chefs!!
Marie Michelle puts the finishing touches on the fish cooked Creole style
Samosa starters and rum to welcome guests!
Welcome dance and Sega
“The best things in life, are the people we love, the places we’ve been and the memories we’ve made along the way..” Luca and Ana.. best buddies though brief!
Lunch is served. We eat with our hosts and chat and laugh and have a great time exchanging info on Mauritian and Malaysian culture..
Best time ever, we highly recommend this cooking class for anyone visiting Mauritius – more info here, on their FB page
My glam moment amidst the sugar cane plantations, wearing a most colorful Sega skirt!
3. Go for a Glass Bottom Boat Ride
Blue bay is stunningly beautiful and you can’t even imagine this shade of blue existing outside of fairytales. It’s incredibly blue! Clear waters, across a public beach that’s kept pretty pristine, this activity is great for young families. The Blue Bay marine park, it situated on the South East coast of Mauritius near Mahebourg.
The total area of the Marine Park is 353 hectares – it includes the lagoon and extends about one kilometer seaward from the reef crest. Once you reach the bay of Blue Bay Marine Park, you will feast your eyes on some of the bluest waters and most breathtaking white sandy beaches you will ever see. When you see the turquoise blue color of the lagoon you will understand where the name comes from. The colors of the sea are incredible and are of variety of many different blues.
At the Marine Park, you can decide to see the underwater world onboard the boat through its glass bottom, or to jump into the water for some swimming and snorkeling. The excursion lasts all in all around 40 minutes.
look ma… fish! 😛
4. Visit Black River Gorges
Mauritius’ biggest and best national park is a wild expanse of rolling hills and thick forest covering roughly 2% of the island’s surface. This is one of the last pieces of Mauritian forests, and home to many diverse & native species. It’s also the most spectacular corner of the island, so if you make only one day trip from the coast, make it here.
If you look down into the Black River Gorges, you will notice a white bird flying around – that is the symbolic bird and incidentally the mascot and logo for Air Mauritius, the country’s national air carrier.
Once prime hunting grounds, the area became a protected reserve in 1994 after scientists identified over 300 species of flowering plant, nine endemic species of bird and a population of giant fruit bats that numbered more than 4000.
This is also an important habitat for three of the island’s most endangered bird species: the Mauritius kestrel, the echo parakeet and the pink pigeon. Wild boars, macaque monkeys and deer also wander through the vast swaths of old-growth ebony, and sightings are not uncommon.
5. Walk Chamarel Colored Earth
The seven colored earth is a natural phenomenon and a prominent tourist attraction. The colors evolved through conversion of basaltic lava to clay minerals. It is a relatively small area ofsand dunes comprising sand of seven distinct colours (approximately red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). Due to the tropical weather conditions, all water-soluble elements such as silicon dioxide have been washed out. The remains are the reddish-black iron- and aluminium oxides which create shades in blue, cyan and purple. The various colors developed due to the different compositions.
And apparently what is more fascinating is the fact that if you mix the colored earth together, they’ll eventually settle into separate.. my boo found the colors totally fascinating..
Since the earth was first exposed, rains had carved beautiful patterns into the hillside, creating an effect of earthen meringue. At first you’ll notice shadows on the hills, creating the illusion of different colours, but soon you realise that the colours are real and the shadows were the illusion.
Sunrise is the best time to see the Coloured Earths. Geologists are still intrigued by the rolling dunes of multi-coloured lunar-like landscape. The Colored Earth of Chamarel has become one of Mauritius’ main tourist attractions since the 1960’s. Nowadays, the dunes are protected by a wooden fence and visitors are not allowed to climb on them, although they can look at the scenery from observation outposts placed along the fence.
On the premises, the kids will love exploring these giant prehistoric looking tortoises. Massive, wrinkled and super sluggish, they lay half in the sun, half in the shade, passing time with not a care in the world.
6. Have lunch at Rhumerie de Chamarel
Checking out this Rum house is a must. I mean, how can you come to Mauritius and not check out the sugar cane alcohol industry right? La Rhumerie de Chamarel is one of the rare distilleries still in activity and they cultivate their own sugarcane. The harvest is done by hand, without ever burning the crops, and extends between July to December. The identification of the various crops and their traceability will allow the Master Blender to select the finest lots for the White Rums and the Old Rums.
The distilled rum is stocked for at least 6 months in stainless steel vats for a slow and gradual decrease of the alcohol content, allowing it to acquire a pleasant roundness and its full expression. Part of the White Rum is transferred to ageing cellars. Barrels, casks, ovals, French oak, American oak, 18 months, 3 years, 6 years, …an array of combinations give the rum its aroma, roundness and its colour.
a twist on the salad nicoise – they smoke their own tuna and this dish was sublime!
Also, don’t miss lunch at L’Alchimiste, which specializes in local produce sourced from the estate itself. A typical menu might include exotic delicacies such as palm heart or dishes featuring deer and wild boar, enhanced with fine wines imported from France and the main continents.
welcome cocktail – rum based of course, foie gras terrine, pork roast and grilled fish
Rum Baba.. my favourite sort of dessert… sweet, buttery and drenched in Rum of course!
7. Go for a Submarine Ride
Another kids friendly activity to do as a family is the submarine ride on board the Blue Safari. It is a two-hour under-water excursion in the BS1100 submarine (including 40m of dive) with great views of the Indian Ocean from 35 metres below sea level. You will get safety training, a full explanation of the excursion and an unforgettable 40-minute journey under water. The cost : approximately MUR 4,900.00
Located at Trou aux Biches in the north-western part of Mauritius Island, Blue Safari Mauritius allows folks, young and old, to explore the splendid and diverse marine life of Mauritius in the safest way possible. If you’re lucky, you will see sea turtles, shoals of fish, colourful and majestic coral reefs, and the amazing Star Hope Ship Wreck plus a 17th century anchor at the bottom of the ocean.
In the past, we used to dive and have also done the ocean sea-bed walk, but we never went in a submarine before. It’s the best for young families as it is safe even for babies and toddlers.
Ours was a 10 seater submarine, fully air-conditioned with transparent-glassed cabins so you can have a panoramic views of the extraordinary underwater world. Each has been designed so that every passenger benefits from an individual observation window for viewing the sea bed outside.
There is also a camera situated on the submarine’s bridge which projects the great views from outside through a TV screen located inside the submarine, giving you an additional view of the marine life. All submarines are approved and certified by the international authorities for design and safety at sea.
8. Visit the Red Roof Chapel
Cap Malheureux is the most northerly point of the island and the place where General John Abercrombie landed his troops when the British first attacked the island. A tiny chapel famous for its red roof, the Notre Dame Auxiliatrice gleams in the bright sunlight and is stunning juxtaposed against a deep blue backdrop. Many come to pay homage to this site, while others come to ogle its giant clamshell basin.
Some want to immerse in a bit of history and many come to pray. But to me, the view outside is just as spectacular and not to be missed.
9. Take a Speedboat to Ile Aux Cerfs
Île aux Cerfs Island , known in English as the deer island is an island near the east coast of Mauritius in the Flacq district. Once sparsely populated by cerfs (stags, imported for hunting from Java), you’d be lucky to spot one now, as this place is crowded with travelers all year round.
The waters are pristine, and the water sports (water skiing, snorkeling, banana, glass bottom boats) are incredibly popular. This paradise island of Mauritius constitutes of around 100 hectares of land. One one side of the lagoon is the popular strip and so packed with human bodies you can barely find a clear spot for a photo.
But you walk around the back, the island is more deserted and here, you can get some peace and quiet.
You can get to Ile Aux Cerfs from the mainland by speed boat, catamaran or even yacht. These are available at various points on the east coast of Mauritius.
After half a day out in the sun, we were sent by speed boat to our BBQ Grilled lunch at Ile Aux Mangenie.
To deal with the heat, here’s how you end up dining in the waters to keep cool!
10. Visit Port Louis
Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. It’s the hub and business center of Mauritius. Known for its French colonial architecture and the 19th-century Champ de Mars horse-racing track, Port Louis can be reached easily by public transport (bus or car) but beware the 4-5pm window when after work hour traffic is at its peak (That’s right, work knocks off at 430pm in Mauritius thereabouts).
The Caudan Waterfront is a lively dining and shopping precinct, Central Market the main market place for local produce in the heart of town and Citadelle, the best place for a birds eye view of the Port below. The Blue Penny Museum focuses on the island’s colonial and maritime history, along with its culture. China town can be explored on foot too so long as you have a full day to play around with.
Interesting buildings exploring Port Louis
Exploring Caudan Waterfront – Towering Statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam – He was the Prime Minister of Mauritius from 1968 until 1982. He is known as the ‘Father of the Nation’. As decolonization swept the third world, he led his country to independence from the United Kingdom in 1968. He was Governor General from 1983 until his death in 1985.