Where to Go in Mauritius
Mauritius is the twinkling jewel in the Indian Ocean off the south-east coast of Africa that punches way above its weight. While sunny skies, sandy beaches and the warm Indian Ocean (the water is rarely cooler than a balmy 23°C / 73°F!) all come standard on a Mauritius holiday, this diverse island can truly be said to have something for everyone, whether you want a vibrant resort town with ample nightlife or a quiet nook where you can go hiking or birding.
The easiest way to decide where to go in Mauritius is to divide the island into four and match your interests and expectations with the best stretch of coastline and best places to visit. The northern and western beaches are generally busier and have more amenities and tourist attractions if you’re after an action-packed, sight-seeing vacation while the eastern and southern beaches are quieter and lend themselves to a ‘doing nothing much’ holiday.
Of course, Mauritius is small enough that you can rent a car for the day and drive yourself to another beach or to see a particular landmark or tourist attraction – you won’t be ‘stuck’ in one place at all. Its coastal roads make for lovely driving and, along with a staggering selection of beaches, there are plenty of places of interest, like welcoming towns to pretty gardens and nature reserves in the island's green and mountainous interior.
If you want shopping & restaurants - Grand Baie, North Coast
- The north of Mauritius is full of bustling energy: there are interesting shops, a fantastic selection of water sports and the island’s only resort town - Grand Baie. Although Grand Baie has evolved from a sleepy fishing village into a thriving tourist destination, it still retains its friendly small-town feel along with a fine collection of hotels, restaurants and bars that line the pretty, horseshoe-shaped bay. It is only a 25km / 16mi to the capital, Port Louis, and is the best place to visit for a classic 'resort vacation'.
- Grand Baie is an excellent spot for browsing clothes, jewellery, upscale mementos and high-end labels. After shopping all day, have a nap to catch the nightclubs, which get going after midnight.
- The waters around Grand Baie are dotted with fishing boats and the beaches of La Cuvette and Grand Baie Public Beach aren't ideal for swimming but lying just a short drive away is the peninsular of Pointe aux Canonniers, the start of an unbroken chain of sugar-white sand beaches running all the way down the island’s west coast.
- On the eastern side of Grand Baie lies the quieter Rivière du Rempart region which has just a handful of resorts. Secluded coves, luxurious accommodation and world-class spas have made this north-east coast of Mauritius an increasingly popular choice for honeymooners or those seeking a romantic break.
- The North Coast is the gateway to even tinier islets like the prosaically named Flat and Round Islands, and ones with more evocative monikers like Gunners’ Quoin and Serpent Island.
For great diving & unforgettable sunsets - Flic en Flac, West Coast
- It’s often said that 'west is best' and we certainly agree: Mauritius's west coast has unbeatable beaches ranging from the fine white sands of Trou aux Biches in the far north to the isolated Le Morne Peninsula on the south-west tip of the island. And it's Le Morne that has the most dramatic setting on the entire island: its long stretch of sand, reef-protected lagoon and superb golf course are all laid out at the foot of an imposing mountain.
- As for Trou aux Biches, clear water and safe swimming make this stretch of coast particularly popular with families, and with coral reef just a short swim from shore, it’s also great for snorkelling. Trou aux Biches can get busy at times but if that's the case then simply stroll along the coast to neighbouring Pointe aux Piments – a refreshingly quiet stretch of sand, although it is rocky in places.
- South of Port Louis lies the best known – and longest – beach on the west coast: Flic-en-Flac. Sheltered from the south-east winds, the calm waters of Flic-en-Flac are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and diving while its palm-lined shore is home to a good selection of accommodation along with shops, restaurants and bars.
- The West Coast is shaded by casuarina trees (bewilderingly, they look a lot like pine trees popping up out of the white sub-tropical sand) and is home to Mauritius’s largest and intricately decorated Hindu temple and rolling sugar-cane fields.
To stay at luxurious hotels with beautiful beaches - Belle Mare, East Coast
- More exclusive and less built-up than the west coast, the eastern coastline of Mauritius has some of the island’s most luxurious hotels and is home to the extremely beautiful Belle Mare region. The mix of the softest powder-white sand, an emerald lagoon and lush green vegetation place Belle Mare firmly amongst the prettiest beaches in Mauritius, and although the sea can get rough at times you can always take a refreshing dip in the lagoon.
- At the northern end of Belle Mare lies the Post de Flacq Peninsula which has several top resorts and is where to go in Mauritius for a choice of golf courses. To the south of the peninsula and only a short boat ride from Ile Aux Cerfs, lies Beau Camp, a tropical playground where you can enjoy all manner of water sports from parasailing to water skiing. Round off your day at Beau Camp with a seafood barbecue on the beach.
- The east coast catches the wind, so in summer (about November to April) you have a welcoming sea breeze but in winter (about May to October) it can be a bit blustery. Check our when to go to Mauritius section for more information or simply ask one of our Africa Safari Experts about the best time to travel to this region.
High cliffs & dramatic scenery - South Coast
- The south coast is more rugged than the rest of the island and its towering cliffs make for wonderfully dramatic scenery. There are fewer swimming beaches here - and therefore less development - and many locals say that the Mauritius south coast still reminds them of the way most of the island used to be: wild, beautiful and authentic. This is the best place to visit if you want to get off-the-beaten track and insert some adventure into your beach break.
- In the south you’ll find the Blue Bay Marine Park (Blue Baie) which protects rich coral reefs offering some of the best snorkelling and diving in Mauritius. At least 50 different species of coral have been noted here and at least 80 percent of them are still alive. Also well worth mentioning are Bel Ombre and nearby Chemin Grenier – both unspoilt stretches of sand in a lush green setting.
- Far from the relative bustle of Grand Baie and the popular west coast, the south coast of Mauritius is for people who want to escape the crowds and enjoy genuine tranquillity. Ile Aigrettes was declared a nature reserve in 1965 and is home to several endemic plants found nowhere else. The Mahebourg Market is a lively place to get a feel for an authentic island trading place.
If you want hiking trails, forests & waterfalls - Chamarel, inland
- How to see a different side to Mauritius: while we have no doubt that your main reason for travelling to this sun-soaked island is sandy beaches and tropical sea, we’d also highly recommend a few days inland surrounded by forested hills woven with cool, clear streams and nature trails.
- The Black River Gorges National Park is well known for its walks past thick jungle-like vegetation and pretty waterfalls, hiking and mountain biking trails, heavenly viewpoints, plenty of tortoises and fantastic birdlife including pink pigeons and green parrots - two rare species that have been bought back from near extinction. Abseiling from the Chamarel waterfall is not for the faint-hearted: it plunges about 95m / 312ft with spray that rises more than half way up!
- Other places worth leaving the beach for include the surrealistically striped sand dunes at the ‘Seven Coloured Earth’, which is also in the Chamarel region close to the Black River Gorges. These dunes are thought to date back approximately seven million years and vary in colour from the expected yellow and brown to the unexpected black, red and purple.
- And if you’re up in the north of the island, why not spend a few hours at the ‘Jardin des Pamplemousses’, botanical gardens with shady trees and giant water lilies? On your drive, stop at local farm stalls to buy fresh coffee, sugar cane and sweet pineapples.
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