Mauritius: Not just a beach destination

Mauritius is more than just a beach destination, it hosts a plethora of water and adventure activities for all fitness and ability levels, which can be easily arranged through the resorts, or by visiting the main tourist hubs on the island.

Domaine de Rambouillet (tourism-mauritius.mu) is the latest eco-park to open, offering quad biking, mountain biking, hiking and archery in La Nicoliére, near Pamplemousses gardens in the north (quadbikingmauritius.com). Continuing with this message is the new Ebony Forest project, a raised walkway through endemic trees to a west coast view, opening this spring.

Picturesque volcanic peaks and wilderness areas including the Black River Gorges National Park (tourism-mauritius.mu) and La Vallée de Ferney (valleedeferney.com) offer fantastic opportunities for hiking and experiencing some of the island’s unique flora and fauna. Horse riding is becoming increasingly popular, and there are exciting rides available along the beach at Riambel, through the Mont Choisy Sugar Estate, and up to the summit of Le Morne Brabant (mauritiusattractions.com).

For those preferring to explore on wheels, sugar plantations turned eco-adventure parks Domaine de L’Etoile in the east and Heritage Resorts’ Frédérica Nature Reserve on the Domaine de bel Ombre are home to exciting quad biking and mountain biking trails (tourism-mauritius.mu).

Hikes through dodo country on the well-marked trails of the Black River Gorges National Park leads to rare birds such as the echo parakeet, found among endemic ebony trees. A ranger-led tour also takes in the pink pigeons on rocky conservation island, Ile Aux Aigrettes, thought to be the dodo’s final resting place (tourism-mauritius.mu).

Discover the treasures of the island by bike pausing along the way to taste some of the island’s culinary delights. This year, Outrigger Beach Resort (outriggerfmb.com) entered a partnership with Electro-bike Discovery, allowing guests to more easily discover the beautiful surroundings of the resort, nestled in a nature reserve in the south of Mauritius. Guests can also arrange guided excursions to discover the many attractions of the area.

Electrobike Discovery’s goal is to ensure guests are enriched by experiencing the real Maurirus with an authentic and human experience in an original and fun way on one of its electric power-assisted bikes. An ecologically and social responsible company that is 100 per cent Mauritian that allows travellers to visit unknown and unexpected areas in the wild and unspoilt nature. With a range of bikes to suit the individual, there’s a host of excursions to embark on; from Chamarel to Le Morne Brabant, or Souillac. (www.electrobikemauritius.com)

Rock climbers can explore the cliffs of the rugged south-west coast, while visitors wanting a soaring bird’s eye view of the island can fly over the treetops on the zipline at Casela Nature & Leisure Park (caselapark.com), which is also home to two new canyoning circuits. Vertical World offers mountain and rock climbing too (yemayaadventures.com). More extreme adrenalin-junkies can take a tandem skydive from 4,500 metres with SkyDive Austral at Riviere du Rempart, 20 minutes from Grand Baie (skydivemauritius.com). There is also the spectacular 90m abseil at Chamarel Falls or go cliff-jumping at Tamarin Falls (tourism-mauritius.mu).

For something even more active, specialists Yemaya Adventures offers Bras d’Eau National Park which includes a peek into lava caves and sea kayaking expeditions to the northern Ile d’Ambre, birthplace of Mauritius’ most famous legend, Paul and Virginie (fun-adventure.mu).

Land sports at hotels and resorts include world-class golf and tennis – often complimentary – with academies for the whole family. Beachcomber’s

Paradis Hotel & Golf Club has a complimentary Luxury Tennis Package with private lesson, professional practice, use of six floodlit courts and post-game treatment at the Clarins spa.

The warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the island’s coral reef also provide a playground for adventure lovers. Larger resorts offer free non-motorised watersports equipment, including stand-up paddle boards, windsurf boards and kayaks, with many of the main tourist centers offering Jet Ski rental and parasailing. A sport only available on the island, Seakarting (fun-adventure.mu) gives intrepid riders the chance to drive their own speedboat from Black River to explore the breathtaking coastline from Flic en Flac to Le Morne. Surfers should also head to the south of the island to catch the best breaks, while kite surfers will prefer the calmer waters of Kite Lagoon on the western side of Le Morne peninsula (lemornekiteschool.com). Mauritius’ breezy east coast is a favourite with windsurfers and the exclusive Club Mistral Prestige caters for all levels at St. Regis Resort Mauritius in the southwest. ‘One Eye’ on Le Morne Peninsula is voted the third best kite-surfing spot on earth and is a fixture on the annual Kite Surfing Pro World Champion Tour.

There’s plenty of opportunity to spend a day on the water, with yachts and catamarans available to rent for sailing and fishing expeditions, while non-sailors can join a cruise to explore the coastal islets, often with lunch on the beach included.

With turtles, sharks and dive sites from canyons to submerged wrecks, Mauritius is known as one of the best diving spots in the Indian Ocean. Leading resorts have PADI dive centres, with sites for novice to experienced divers. The fringing reef which lies a few hundred metres from the shore provides a calm, safe training spot for novices, while numerous shipwrecks and vast caverns like The Cathedral offer an unforgettable adventure for the practiced, and a variety exotic species including parrot fish, angelfish, trumpet and clownfish make the reef an Aladdin’s Cave for snorkellers, too. Strong currents and winds render the south and parts of the east coast unsuitable for diving, so most activity focuses on the west in the summer months, when the warm waters attract an abundance of marine life.

Mauritius also offers Blue Safari Submarine rides, or a rare opportunity to take an Undersea Walk (solarunderseawalk.com) on the ocean bed, among the corals and fish of the north’s crystal clear, shallow lagoon. Sea walkers wear a special helmet connected to breathing apparatus, meaning they don’t even have to remove their glasses. World-class big-game fishing – tuna, marlin and shark – is found on the west coast and Mauritius hosts the Blue Marlin World Cup every July.

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