A guide to things to do in Mauritius
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.
Tea with sugar
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.
Eating, drinking and shopping
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.
Gardens and grand houses
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.
Get wild with the wildlife
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.
Experience the Indian Ocean
The blissful, volcanic island of Mauritius is surrounded by alluring cobalt blue ocean, and it won’t be long before you snap up the invitation and jump in.
This island is a paradise for water lovers and along the beachfronts of the main resorts you’ll find a selection of exciting watersports including parasailing, waterskiing, stand-up-paddle boarding and wind surfing.
Glass bottom boat trip
The south-eastern coast of Mauritius is home to the Blue Bay Marine Park, one of the best places on the island to observe the vibrant underwater world.
Edged by white sand beaches and extending a kilometre out to sea, the lagoon boasts brilliant blue, transparent water and an abundance of mangroves waiting to be explored.
Hop on the glass bottom boat at Pointe Jerome and enjoy a 20-minute voyage to the marine park. Once within the lagoon, passengers are invited to snorkel among over 50 types of colourful coral and spot a wide variety of fish from fluorescent damsel and surgeon fish to the peculiar trumpet fish.
Dolphin spotting and whale watching
Come face to face with these remarkable sea creatures as you immerse yourself in the adventure of a lifetime. Suitable for everyone over the age of seven, boat excursions depart year round from the west coast giving you the chance to observe sperm whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
As you locate a pod of playful dolphins, your captain will invite you to enter the water with a snorkel for a closer look at these curious creatures before voyaging further out to the open water in search of the larger sea mammals.
Sperm whales are resident all year round but humpback whales only grace the waves between July and November as they migrate to warmer waters.
Underwater sea walk
Arguably one of the most unique ways to experience the diverse marine life in Mauritius, the underwater sea walk departs from the resort of Grand Baie on the north coast and offers visitors over the age of 10 the chance to, quite literally, walk underwater.
Likened to walking on the moon, you’ll be kitted out with a helmet complete with transparent visor and supply of oxygen, and a trained lifeguard to guide you.
Once you arrive at the departure platform off the coast, walk between the colourful corals on the ocean bed in a breathtaking lagoon location. You’ll be able to admire tropical fish up close without so much as getting your hair wet.
Kayak to lle D’Ambre
Located a 40-minute drive north of Belle Mare on the northeast coast of Mauritius, you’ll find an array of tour operators offering sea kayaking adventures to the beautiful islet of Ile D’Ambre.
Suitable for those as young as eight years old, paddle through tranquil mangroves, visiting the ruins and forests of this fascinating marine ecosystem.
Here, you can experience the clear water and rich vegetation of the lagoons and the vast open waters of the Indian Ocean. There’s a stop off at Bernache Island for a quick swim before sliding back into your kayak and soaking up the spectacular views of the surrounding islets.
Under an hour’s drive from the airport, on the south coast of Mauritius, the Lux Tamassa is set within incredible gardens and beside a stretch of beach. Quirkier than some hotels, it offers a phone box for calling home, messages in bottles and hidden spa vouchers, so it’s worth taking the time to explore the site. With four pools and a beachfront restaurant and bar and a spa, guests want for absolutely nothing.
Scuba diving in Mauritius
Off the north coast of Mauritius are the remote islets of Gunners Quoin and Flat Island, which are home to a handful of spectacular dive spots.
Enjoy the overgrown corals and tropical fish of Confetti Bay or explore sheer rock walls dropping hundreds of feet where you’re sure to spot schools of barracuda, tuna, parrotfish and several shark species.
To the west of Gunners Quoin, you’ll find a dive site identified by its namesake island full of turtles and a beautiful wall covered with soft corals.
If you’re after a wreck to explore, the Djabeda won’t disappoint. The Japanese fishing boat, spread along the sandy ocean floor, stretches for 44 metres and is inhabited by giant moray eels.
Across the wreck you’ll find a breathtaking coral garden full of colourful fish, soft corals, sea slugs and majestic lion fish, with the occasional visit from barracuda, sting rays and dolphins.
The western coastal resort of Flic en Flac is a must visit for both divers and snorkellers alike. For the experienced diver, the Indian Ocean serves up the famous Cathedral, a large, underwater sun-lit cave with cracks and crevices covered with tropical fish and giant morays lurking in the darkness.
A short distance from the shore, snorkellers can enjoy a host of marine life amid the calm lagoon and shelving sands. Further north, off the coast of Grand Baie, Whale Rock offers divers the chance to observe hammerhead sharks and swordfish. And the blue lagoon of Pointe aux Piments provides snorkellers with opportunity to explore the reefs.
Shaped like a snake in the sand, Rempart Serpent also makes promises of hammerheads as well as dolphins. This intriguing rocky pocket covered in seaweed and corals extends over 100 metres and is home to brightly coloured tropical fish, scorpion fish and moray eels.
Finally St. Jacques, off the coast of Le Morne on the south-western tip of the island, offers one of the best drift dives in Mauritius. It gives divers the opportunity to observe white-tip reef sharks, turtles, eagle rays and anemone gardens.
One of the islands most striking wrecks can be found at Trou aux Biches on the northwest coast. Stella Maru, an old Japanese trawler, has been acting as an artificial reef since it sunk in 1987 and is surrounded by vibrant coral and schools of exotic fish.
South and east coast
The protected Blue Bay Marine Park offers an abundance of incredible coral and fish life and is suitable for all levels of both diving and snorkelling.
Moving up the coast, La Passe De Belle Mare – a popular drift dive – will have you floating with the current past black jacks, barracudas, tuna and eagle rays, as well as an array of corals and sponges.
Also, from the coastal town of Belle Mare you’ll find Chateau, a stunning rock formation that resembles a castle. Dotted with tropical fish and coral life around its many corridors, you’ll also find the dive site known as Boulders, offering an impressive arrangement of large rocks and bizarrely shaped reef.
Located some 20 metres below sea level, the 19th century HMS Sirius lies off the eastern coast of Mahebourg. Much of the wreck has been broken up over the years and you’ll find exposed cannons on the seabed alongside an abundance of marine life.
Explore Le Morne Brabant
Le Morne Brabant is a peninsula found at the southern coast of Mauritius, marked by the large basaltic mountain carved with caves and overhangs.
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it was a place of refuge for slaves on the island up until slavery was abolished in the 19th century. Though perilous in places for climbing, the area is a big tourist hotspot as the beaches surrounding the mountain are incredibly gorgeous and relatively secluded.
Visit nature reserves
Mauritius is paved with outdoor activities from nature parks to gardens, plus a multitude of ways to explore them. Think quad bikes, boat trips, hiking trails and more. These are just a few favourites.
La Vallee des Couleurs Reserve
Frederica Nature Reserve
La Vanille Nature Park
Mauritius National Botanical Garden
Wander through Port Louis
Port Louis is Mauritius’ capital city, located along the northern half of the island’s west coast. It’s the centre for basically everything here, with a vibrant arts scene, a packed, shopping-heavy marina known as Caudan Waterfront, and a wealth of architecture that reflects its long colonial history.
Also on offer here are some of Mauritius’ best museums, including the Blue Penny Museum, which highlights the island’s art and history. While the Natural History Museum of Port Louis’ exhibits highlight the flora and fauna, most famously Mauritius’ now-extinct dodo bird.