There are endless reasons to pack up your bags and jet off to Mauritius. This lush tropical island will seduce, captivate and enthrall you. I’ve gathered my seven best reasons to add this laid back paradise to your holiday list.
Many people consider it a honeymoon destination, but to date it has been one of our best family holidays. So much so that five months later my four year old on a winter’s morning still harks back to the sun filled days with ‘Mummy, I wish I was in Mauritius’. And mummy thinking at prospect of the school run ‘You and me both baby’.
This volcanic island in the Indian Ocean has over 330 kilometres of coastline surrounded by coral reef. And thanks to its location just above the Tropic of Capricorn the island is ideal for all year round sun seekers. We went in August their refreshing winter season, running from June to September. More like the balmy 26 degrees we’re sometimes treated to in the UK – I’ll take that! Travelling at this time also means you avoid the extreme humid conditions you can experience during their summer months.
We traveled with Scott Dunn Travel who meticulously organised our amazing family trip and flew with Air Mauritius. It was my first and only big gulp of the holiday. I have a thing about flying anything other than BA, especially since having kids. I was pretty quick at getting over this bugbear. Flying BA long haul during the school summer holidays would have blown my budget right out of the water.
I was pleasantly surprised on our 12 hour direct (a lifesaver with children) flight from Heathrow. They were amazing with the girls. Each received a mini metal suitcase packed full of goodies (one being a Rubik’s cube). Not that it got a look in along with their evening meals. They were both pretty much knocked out 30 minutes into the night flight. Exhausted from the sheer excitement of being allowed to stay up so late (more curry for mummy and daddy!).
So here are my nine kick-ass reasons on why you should book a holiday to Mauritius…
1. Sun-kissed Beaches
Ok. Obvs. I know! We stayed on the north coast, fringed by rocky headlands and long white sand beaches. At first sight the turquoise sea and perfect beach made me feel like the whole world had gone wide angled and infinite. The sheer gorgeousness instantly unplugged me from my daily world.
2. The Crystal Clear Waters
With idyllic waters in all shades of blue and green as far as your eye can see, we couldn’t resist experiencing our first family submarine expedition. Yes, really!
Blue Safari Submarines are the only company in the Indian Ocean that offer this unique activity. It’s a spectacular way of diving with kids and the bonus for me was my hair stayed dry!
In an air conditioned cabin under atmospheric pressure you discover the magical underwater marine and coral world at 35 metres depth under the sea.
The trip lasts 45 minutes where we serenely floated past the ship wreak ‘Star Hope’, corals and an anchor from the 17th century. We were lucky to see a family of turtles swim by too – pure magic (apparently it’s rare).
The girls were mesmerised, which is more than could be said of the two young South African boys sat with their exasperated parents. Their eyes glued to Nintendo DS screens than the amazing sea creatures floating past their windows. What a waste!
For us, it was a fabulous and rare experience. A golden nugget of joy for my memory banks.
We were also super lucky to see a family of Spinner dolphins on route to Radha’s first open water snorkling experience.
3. Black River Peak
The highest mountain in Mauritius, is also known as Le Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire. The peak is 828 metres high and the hike is moderately easy though steep in parts. Safe to say that we didn’t climb it this time around. We admired the views from a distance when our driver stopped at a viewing point. If you do manage the 15km trek you apparently get a 360 degree panoramic view of the whole island, so well worth the effort – next time hey!
4. Chamarel Waterfalls
The falls are close by to Black River Peak near Chamarel village, it’s home to two natural wonders. The first being Chamarel Waterfalls, the highest in Mauritius and plunges more than 83m down. Surrounded by the lush vegetation of the Black River Gorges, many consider it the most beautiful waterfall in Mauritius. Be careful not to leave your belongings unattended or you may find some cheeky wild monkeys helping themselves to your lip balm!
5. Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel
It’s a magical site and still considered quite a mysterious phenomenon. The seven different shades of earth is a geological formation of sand dunes comprised of seven distinct colours. It’s thought to be a result from molten volcanic rock cooling at different temperatures. In the rolling psychedelic dunes you can see the colours of red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow. These colours are striking in contrast to the bright green of the surrounding forest. You can no longer walk directly on them but you get fantastic views from the observation decks.
6. Trou aux Cerfs Volcano
Now thankfully a dormant volcano located in Curepipe, its name means ‘Holes of the Deers’. I can confirm there are no deers and only one hole. The crater is between 300 and 350 metres in diameter and is 80 metres deep. And completely covered in trees. It could become active again one day. Another good reason to get down to see it before it decides to erupt.
7. Ganga Talao
This sacred crater lake is also called Grand Bassin and is about 540 metres above sea level.
It’s considered one of the most important hindu pilgrimage sites outside of India. During the festival of Maha Shivaratri more than 400,000 believers make their pilgrimage barefoot to Gango Talao from all corners of Mauritius. An epic feat.
Blown away by the site, it was a privilege to visit and leave offerings to the many statues of the deities. Including a huge 33 metres high statue of the Lord Shiva.
8. Luxurious Hotels
It goes without saying that the island is full of amazing hotels, but our home for the ten night break was the Trou aux Biches Resort and Spa. It enjoys a stunning position on the north west coast of Mauritius on one of the islands best sheltered stretches of sandy beaches – always a good bet when you go during the so called ‘windy season’. Not to mention being close by to the shops, cafes and bars of Grand Baie and Port Louis.
This all-suite hotel is set in 35 hectares of palm groves and tropical gardens with opened sided buildings under mostly traditional Mauritian thatch. There is a mix of natural woods, creams and tropical colours and water is everywhere – waterfalls, fountains, water channels and 106 pools! Total bliss.
On arrival after a 12hr flight and one hour transfer from the airport. Knackered was an understatement. The warm friendly welcome of lemon scented wet towels, a stunning array of tropical fruits and an ice cold drink whilst being checked in was just the ticket – I knew I’d picked well. My overall smugness at that time tripled, when we were offered an upgrade to a double beachfront suite with our very own slate plunge pool – Happy days! In the words of Radha it was ‘humongous’.
The hotel has a fabulous choice of six restaurants with a world of flavours from Thai, Indian or Italian – all amazing! For lunch we mainly ate in the buffet restaurants. Mr S and the girls were fine with their abundant choice of fish dishes. On the other hand I quickly realised that I basically had a choice of boiled vegetables or to eat off the children’s menu – pizza and chips or pasta with tomato sauce. A quick chat with the head waiter Ramesh, along with another disgruntled veggie guest, resulted in our own special tasty lunchtime dishes created for us. Daily! By day four of the holiday these dishes became an addition to the usual lunchtime fare being offered to all the guests. The staff were very accommodating. It goes to show if you don’t ask you don’t get.
A special mention goes to the Bob Marlin Mini Club. Open seven days a week and run by qualified professionals. They kept my two entertained with fun, educational indoor and outdoor activities. To the point that I became a victim of witnessing their sad faces when we’d organised family trips. Radha even went on her own trip with her friends to a sugar cane factory (I admit, I was slightly jealous I couldn’t go).
And of course when there’s a kids club, it means only one thing – mummy and daddy get to go and play too. I naturally gravitated towards the Clarins Spa on more than one occasion and enjoyed treatments in their open air cabanas. Just lush!
Oh and how can I forget the breathtaking sunsets witnessed every evening from the jetty. Sunset dreams eat your heart out.
9. The Locals
The warm, friendly, delightful nature of the people truly make this island. There is no official religion here Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists all live in peace, love and harmony. The hotchpotch of cultures leads to a mouthwatering combination of Indian, French, African and Chinese influenced Mauritian dishes. It’s a curry guzzler’s heaven. The Creole curry being my number one favourite.
Mauritian Creole is a French based language spoken in the country, it uses a number of words from English, African and Asian languages. English is fluently spoken so you’ll have no problem when out and about.
All I wish now whilst sat chained to my desk is when will I be able to go back to my carefree, sun drenched days. Sometime soon I hope.
Have you been to Mauritius? Which were your best bits? Do you have a dream holiday you can’t stop thinking about?
Trou aux Biches | Triolet | 22321 | Mauritius