The island’s white beaches are protected by coral reef which runs around the whole island, except for the southern coast, which offers wilder strands and dramatic cliffs. From the northern plains, the land rises to a central plateau dotted by lakes and extinct volcanic craters. A few uninhabited islets are scattered around the main island. The island’s coasts differ widely. Here are some highlights.
The north of Mauritius is also blessed with an incredible variety of beaches, with stunning coves, where you’ll find white sand beaches and emerald waters. Standing in the north, is the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens. Spanning over an impressive 60 acres, The Botanical Gardens make the perfect spot for a picnic and a charming alternative to the beach. Perhaps the most incredible sight at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden is the water lily pond, home to the Victoria Amazonica; the largest water lily in the world and originally from the Amazon. The garden also boasts a variety of birdlife, including the Madagascar Fody.
Located in the south of Mauritius is Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth, considered both a magical sight and a geological curiosity. The striking landscape tucked within Chamarel’s forest has been formed by volcanic rocks that cooled at different temperatures, creating a spectacular array of patterns and colours on the hillsides. Now turned to sand, the hills’ shades of red, brown, grey and purple attract visitors all year round.
Another must in the south of Mauritius is Grand Bassin, or Ganga Talao. The lake centres on Hindu pilgrimage and between the end of February and beginning of March, the lake becomes a site of festivities, when more than 400,000 celebrate Maha-Shivaratree. Grand Bassin sits in the isolated mountains of the Savanne district and is the perfect location to take a stroll, watch the monkeys play, or simply relax in the peaceful atmosphere.
Belle Mare is one of the most popular resorts, mainly because of the beautiful stretch of white beach found here. Ile Aux Cerfs is a small island just off the coast of Belle Mare, which is open to the public. You can get over here via speedboat or catamaran. Off the coast of Ile Aux Cerfs, is great for snorkelling. At low tide, it’s shallow enough to stand up but there is lots of coral and marine life you can see so great for beginners.
Still in the East you can find Domaine de L’etoile; the incredible 2000 hectare forest reserve, is an awe-inspiring hinterland to be conquered by foot, bike or even quad bike. The reserve is a haven for those hoping to spot wildlife on their trip to Mauritius, with animals such as Javanese stags roaming in the forest and often spotted by visitors. The sightings of incredible flora and fauna are also a treat for a journey up the mountains.
At the tip of the westerly peninsular of Mauritius is the astonishing sight of Le Morne; the stand-alone mountain which centres an exceptionally beautiful lagoon.
Further down is Black River Gorges, a national park and a magnificent area to spot the island’s native species. Formerly the prime hunting ground of Mauritius, the area has been a protected reserve since 1994 after an incredible 300 species of flowering plants, nine endemic species of bird and an overwhelming population of fruit bats which numbered over 4000. As well as this, endangered species such as Mauritius kestrel, the echo parakeet and the pink pigeon all roam freely here. Among other opportunities for sightings are the wild boar, macaque monkeys and deer.
For an upbeat alternative, head to Flic en Flac. The beach town is bustling with shops, restaurants and nightlife. The annual carnival through July is a popular time to visit, with the beachside barbeques and creative floats.