Ringed by powdery white beaches, and warm, translucent blue seas, Mauritius is renowned as the ultimate honeymoon paradise. But scratch the surface and you’ll find it offers so much more than, ahem, Sex on the Beach.
First colonised by the Dutch in the 1600s, the French claimed it in 1715 and renamed it Isle de France. A century later, the Brits decided it was their turn and Mauritius stayed under colonial rule until 1968, when it finally became an independent state.
In order to dispute its honeymoon-only reputation, I arrive sans a husband to seek out the best this Indian Ocean island has to offer.
Top things to do in Mauritius
Blundering through the lush undergrowth, the wind ruffling your hair, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of a quadbiking adventure.
With amazing rainforest valleys, Mauritius is perfect for quad biking and visitors can bomb around the Domaine Bel Ombre nature reserve or go monkey-bothering at the Black River Gorges national park.
Scuba diving and sea karting
For those who want to try scuba diving, there warm, crystal-clear waters are teeming with sea life, colourful canyons and coral-laced caves.
More experienced divers can visit fascinating shipwrecks off the north coast, or the legendary La Fosse aux Requins locally known as ‘Shark’s Trench’, where schools of blacktip sharks roam.
If you’re looking for a unique beach experience head to Tamarin on the west coast, and try the island’s new craze of seakarting.
Think James Bond-meets-banana boats, these inflatable speedboats are brilliant fun and mean you can take your own sea safari around the island.
Golf holidays in Mauritius
With more than a dozen courses squeezed on to this tiny island, eight of them championship standard, golf is a major attraction.
Heritage Golf Club on the Domaine de Bel Ombre estate, hosted the AfrAsia Mauritius Open, the world’s first tri-sanctioned tournament in May. Even if your game is more pitch and putt than PGA standard, its rolling, velvety greens bookended by mountains and the ocean is simply breathtaking.
Kitesurfing, windsurfing and paddle boarding in Mauritius
There’s a host of watersports on offer including kitesurfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and snorkelling.
If man-handling a kite the size of 4-man tent whilst balancing on a surfboard sounds like fun, then kitesurfing could be the sport for you.
Not just for the young dudes, when we visited there were families, couples and kids of all ages learning the ropes.
Rated as one of the top kitesurfing spots in the world, the shallow lagoons and steady winds on the island’s south-western coast offers the best kitesurfing conditions for beginners.
Hook up with a kitesurfing instructor at KiteGlobing at the C Beach Club, and you’ll be up on a board within the week.
Cycling in Mauritius
Cycling has increased in popularity over recent years in Mauritius, and the island hosts several competitions including the Deutsch Bank 100km cycle race held in October.
Many hotels offer bikes for guests to explore the island, or join a guided cycling tour along the Black River Gorges Maccabee Trail, or through Chamarel, home to the famous coloured earths.
Black River Gorges
The Black River Gorges is the island’s only national park, and while there are many ways to explore it including hiking or on horseback, taking a nice, air-conditioned bus to the Macchabée viewpoint is by far the easiest option.
Situated at the highest point in the park, with nearly 70km² of virgin rainforest unfurling beneath you, it’s one of the most spectacular views on the island.
UK walking holidays you won’t hate!
Despite being a mouthful to ask directions to, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens is regarded as one of the world’s finest botanical gardens. Explore weird and wonderful horticulture including the sausage tree, which produces fat, sausage-shaped fruit, and the Victoria amazonica water lilies whose leaves span up to two metres across.
Declared a nature reserve in 1965, the lush, wooded Ile aux Aigrettes has been run by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation since 1987. Well-informed guides seek out fruit bats, Mauritius’ only indigenous mammal, rare ebony trees, and will introduce you to the 90-year old Big Daddy, one of its many Aldabra giant tortoises. Sadly, the island’s dodos are but a distant memory.
Top beaches in Mauritius
The totally tropical Trou aux Biches is renowned as one of finest beaches on the island. With shallow, clear waters, gently sloping sands, and lively, fragrant street food stalls dotted along the sandy approach, it’s a tropical delight.
Lined by lanky palms, Flic en Flac beach on the west coast is a swathe of sugary soft sands lapped by curaçao-coloured waters. Stay on for a sundowner in one of the coconut frond-topped bars that line the front.
Tucked away in the southwestern corner, Le Morne beach lies under the shadowy monolith of Le Morne mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A popular spot for windsurfers and kitesurfers, it’s palm-dotted shore is equally as reputable amongst the sun-worshipping crowd.
Where to stay in Mauritius
Heritage Le Telfair has deluxe rooms starting at £260 per night on a B&B basis.
Emirates offers flights to Mauritius with a stopover in Dubai from £681 return.
Kitesurfing lessons start from €55 per hour.