Mauritius holidays are brimming with colonial mansions, soothing waterfalls and tea and sugar plantations. Museums tell of its rich history while larger areas like Port Louis and Grand Baie provide culture, shopping and nightlife. Read on to discover things to do on this beautiful island.
Drive along the winding roads of Mauritius and you'll be surrounded by fields of tea and sugar. To find out more, you can visit Bois Cheri Tea Plantations or L'Aventure Du Sucre – a sugar museum with fields and produce to sample.
If you're more interested in the end product, head to Rhumerie de Chamarel. This distillery on the west coast makes rum from sugar cane rather than molasses. You can take a guided tour, taste the vanilla-spiced liquor and stock up in the shop. Also in Chamarel is the natural phenomenon of the Seven Coloured Earths – sand dunes of seven distinct colours.
Mauritius' capital of Port Louis has plenty to do day and night, with a large central market open every day selling spices and souvenirs. Think vanilla rum, handmade jewellery and lots of dodo paraphernalia, as the dodo was endemic to Mauritius. There's also a food hall where you can pick up local specialities, but you might want to swing by Caudon Waterfront for more international restaurants and places to grab a cocktail.
You'll also find 170 boutiques and duty-free stores, plus craft stalls brimming with textiles. To learn about the area head to the Blue Penny Museum, which provides interesting facts about colonial Mauritius. Or if you'd rather, stop by the National History Museum to see one of the few remaining dodo skeletons in the world.
For even more nightlife fun on your package holidays to Mauritius, you might like to venture from your resort and try Grand Baia to the north. After all it is nicknamed 'Le Trop', roughly meaning 'excess'. On its Royal Road there are Mauritian cafes, cocktail bars and clubs open until late.
Situated between Port Louis and Grand Baie is the 18th century Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Gardens, otherwise known as Pamplemousses Gardens. The largest gardens in the southern hemisphere, it's known for its pond of giant Amazon waterlilies. You can hire a guide at the entrance to take you through the lotus flowers, baobab trees and 85 different varieties of palm tree.
Another beautiful garden can be found in the grounds of Eureka Colonial House. You can explore the house and gardens plus have an authentic Creole three course meal for just RS1000, or around €26. Sit on the long terrace enjoying lunch with views to the Moka Mountains before heading out to explore the gardens, complete with their own nature reserve and swimming hole beneath a waterfall.
The Black River Gorges make up Mauritius' largest national park in the hilly southwest of the country. It comes complete with waterfalls of all sizes and nearly 50 kilometres of hiking trails, from which you can spot rare species like the Mauritian flying fox and Mauritius parakeet. At the Black River Peak viewpoint you'll get one of the best views across the island as macaque monkeys play on the railings.
Over at La Vanille Nature Park there are giant tortoises, crocodiles, a mongoose enclosure and an insectarium with a whopping 23,000 species to explore. But if you'd rather be whizzing through the jungle than stopping to see what lives there, Domaine de L'Étoile eco-playground might be for you. It offers quad biking trips, horse riding and self-guided treks, with a Mauritian buffet lunch included in all activities. Children have their own activities village and those with stamina can try one of the longest zip line circuits in the world – a staggering 3.5 kilometres long.