all you need to know about this island paradise
activities hotels sights shopping restaurants
kanoo world traveller
The Indian Ocean is an area blessed with some of the most idyllic spots on Earth. The Maldives and the Seychelles are both stunning, but if you like your tropical island to come with a vibrant culture – alongside the clear turquoise seas, white powder sands and endless sunshine – then you should turn your attention to Mauritius. This small but proud nation has a rich history, delicious cuisine, ancient, hikeable mountains and an old colonial capital – Port Louis – as well as mile upon mile of palm-fringed shoreline. Get ready for the holiday of a lifetime... About This Guide We’ve compiled the 101 best things about Mauritius and placed them into simple-to-reference sections, making it easy for you to plan your perfect trip. Our recommendations try to cater for all tastes and requirements.
Contents 5 The Hotels – the country’s most exciting and alluring accommodation. 11 The Shopping – key souvenirs to bring back from your trip.
13 The Sights – Mauritius’ natural and manmade highlights.
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15 The Restaurants – from local dishes to international dinners. 20 The Activities – a huge spread of options both on land and on water.
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Welcome to Mauritius
Essential facts for getting to and around the island. GeTTinG THeRe
coast: it’s far easier to work your way around the
Air Mauritius is the national airline of Mauritius and
periphery than driving straight across the centre.
flies to the island regularly from the city of Dubai. A
Most main roads converge in Port Louis, the capital,
series of other airlines, including Emirates, Oman Air
which means that during rush hour there can be
and Qatar Airways also fly from a cities in the Middle
major jams – it’s important to avoid the hours of
East to Mauritius. For airline ticketing information
7.30-9.30am and 5.30-7pm or you could end up
and to make a booking, visit your nearest Kanoo
stuck for quite some time. Do be careful on the roads
Travel or American Express Travel outlet.
as road-users in Mauritius have a tendency to drive quite near the centre right up until they pass you,
which can be offputting until you get used to it.
The single best way to get around Mauritius is by car – whether you take one of the good-value cabs,
book a hotel car or hire a car yourself. If you decide
The Mauritian Rupee is the official currency of
to hire and drive, you’ll find that most of the major
Mauritius. Banknotes are available in denominations
car rental companies are represented at the airport
of 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 and
and that picking up a car when you arrive is simple.
ATM machines are widely available throughout
You’ll also find that Mauritius is an easily-navigable
the country. One US dollar is the equivalent to 27
island, with good roads, particularly around the
The original cost in pennies of a Mauritian Blue Penny stamp, which was the first British Empire stamp to be produced outside of Britain and is now worth thousands of pounds to collectors.
The number of colours on the flag of Mauritius, each of which has a meaning. There’s red for freedom, blue for the colour of the Indian Ocean, yellow for the sun and green for the nation’s agriculture.
The number of kilometres of coastline and beautiful beach which encircle the island of Mauritius. 31
The main events to enjoy...
It’s time to take in some horseracing, as the Barbé Cup kicks off at Port Louis’ Champs de Mars racecourse, one of the world’s oldest. Make sure to book a box.
Bel Ombre beach sees the yearly Beach Rugby tourmament take place, a friendly and exciting daylong festival which sees big crowds turn up to lend their support.
The annual Mauritius Marathon takes place, with runners racing round the coastal road from Black river to Saint Felix beach, where they jump in the sea for a swim.
The Mauritius indian ocean Triathlon takes place, starting from Les Pavillons Hotel in the Black River Gorges district and careering its way across the island in a carnival atmosphere.
Party time: the Festival international Kréol, a celebration of all things Creole, comes to the nation’s beaches and parks: expect displays of dance, music and superb food.
opera Mauritius takes place, bringing together talented singers and conductors at the Conservatoire de Musique François Mitterand for workshops, performances and recitals.
March 12 sees the whole country come together to celebrate national Day, the anniversary of independence and a celebration of the Republic.
The horse-racing season
A huge racing challenge takes place in the form of the Royal Raid, a run which goes on for as long as 22 hours, through beautiful scenery.
It’s a big month for anglers, who pit their wits against the sea – and each other – in the South indian ocean Billfish Competition. Expert fishers are welcome.
begins at the Champs de Mars racecourse in the nation’s capital with the Duchess of york Cup.
The Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre hosts the Mauritius Ball Room Dancing Spectacular, which sees couples from across the region compete.
A festival celebrating the new year takes place, lasts for almost a week, and is mixed in with a celebration
of the harvest – special dishes are cooked and the streets are decorated.
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The accommodation in Mauritius is among the best in the world: there are dozens of blissful hotels and resorts in which you can relax and make the most of the island. The big news in 2011 is the launch of Long Beach
captivated for hours. And if you’ve got kids with
Mauritius, a new resort only just opened which
you, they’ll be captivated too – by the hundreds of
has – rightfully enough – created huge anticipation
fun activities on offer at the Penguin Kid’s Club.
on the island. At the resort’s heart is an ‘urban-
Shanti Maurice boasts one of the island’s
style piazza’ where guests can saunter between a
finest beaches, as well as a battery of villas taken
series of lovely lounges, restaurants and shops, all
straight from your tropical getaway fantasies. The
surrounded by gorgeous tropical and urban styling.
pick of the bunch is the lovely Shanti Villa, which
With an enormous stretch of coastline, every room
has picture postcard views over the bay and no less
has as much as 109 square metres of beach
than 800 square metres of space, surrounded by
to itself: space, modern decor and style are the
landscaped gardens. The private swimming pool
is gigantic and there’s an immaculate ‘Sala’ dining
The Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre is located on the gorgeous south coast of Mauritius, the wildest and most untamed stretch of this lush
pavilion for entertaining – plus two bedrooms, three bathrooms and a luxurious living room. The Intercontinental Mauritius Resort,
tropical island. Designed around a beautiful deep
Balaclava Fort on the north coast has a prime
blue lagoon, it is the incarantion of ‘eco chic’, a
position. Not only does it overlook the beautiful Bay
welcoming retreat where light, water and sun have
of Balaclava, it is also just a 15 minutes drive from
been prioritised by the architects, with plenty of
the fun seaside town of Grand Baie. But there’s
open-air elements in your private rooms (you’ll also
plenty to entertain you at the resort itself, including a
have a private garden or pool) so you can smell
gorgeous pool, an Angsana Spa, nightly music and
the scent of flowers in the air and hear the waves
dance shows and – should you choose to book one
breaking on the shore as you stroll around. For a
of the Duplex Presidential Suites, a private hot tub,
real treat, check in to one of the six beach villas.
terrace and balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Cradling the beautiful bay of Pointe Aux Piments
The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa is also
on the north-west coast is Le Méridien Ile
close to Grand Baie, and is set between verdant
Maurice, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens
fields of sugar cane and an ocean nature park.
and backed by mountains. If you’re feeling in the
This Marine Park, whose edge is marked by a
mood to indulge, book a ‘Premium Nirvana’ room
reef that runs along the hotel front, is filled with
with ocean view: the scenery is enough to keep you
life, including angel fish, star fish and grunt fish,
Le Touessrok, Mauritius Le Touessrok is one of the world’s truly great resorts – the essence of cool, modern elegance, imbued by the cultural warmth of tropical Mauritius. It is set upon a beautiful stretch of white – sand coastline overlooking the tranquil Trou d’Eau Douce bay. Across the water are two exquisite islands, including the spectacular championship golf course by Bernhard Langer. A wonderful array of restaurants and bars have been designed to cater for all tastes, moods and occasions. And in order to indulge in a real rejuvenating cure, the glamourous Givenchy Spa is the ideal refuge. Three private villas, designed for maximum privacy and comfort, offer the highest level of service with a dedicated chef and a team of waiting staff to make sure that all the special wishes of guests are met. www.letouessrokresort.com
Clockwise from left: The Grand Mauritian; Le Touessrok; The One&Only Le St Géran Mauritius.
‘The One&Only Le St Géran is a typically brilliant One&Only property, where huge thought has been put into creating experiences the guests will remember forever’ as well as lots of gorgeous coral. The Grand has
seafront protected by a coral reef, making it calm,
much to recommend it, including Mauritius’ largest
tranquil and perfect for snorkelling. The hotel is well
swimming pool and, for true island relaxation, a
equipped for families, with children welcomed with
batallion of hammocks slung between palm trees,
a present when they arrive, and a dedicated club
where you can while the day away under the sun.
set up where they can socialise with other kids their
The One&Only Le St Géran Mauritius is a
own age. There’s even a babysitting service which
typically brilliant One&Only property, where huge
means you can make the most of the lovely inhouse
thought has been put into creating experiences
restaurants and enjoy a quiet dinner à deux.
the guests will remember forever. There are the
Le Touessrok is one of the hotels which is
private dinners at sunset on the beach – a silvery
really defining the island’s luxury status. Everything
strip on the hotel’s own private peninsula – the
has been created to the highest possible level of
brilliant spread of all-inclusive watersports, and the
quality, and the staff is absolutely flawless. As well
thrill of teeing off at the lovely nine-hole Gary Player
as the wonderful accommodation, which shows
links golf course. The Ocean Suites – which lead
off this sun-soaked slice of Mauritius to its best
directly out towards the water – come particularly
advantage, there’s also a Givenchy spa, a Bernard
Langer-designed golf course and a private island –
Out on the East Coast is the Constance Belle
Ilot Mangénie, where you can get the full Robinson
Mare Plage, with direct access to two separate 18
Crusoe experience (all with five star service,
hole championship golf courses, and a stretch of
Below left: The Oberoi’s pool. Right: Villa at Four Seasons at Anahita
‘The Sofitel So Mauritius is located on the gorgeous south coast of Mauritius, the wildest and most untamed stretch of this lush tropical island’ The Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort is set on the Domaine de Bel Ombre, not far from the You’ll find only villas on offer at the Four
lovely Chateau de Bel Ombre and the Valriche
Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita – so we’re
nature Reserve, and draws on Mauritius’ African
afraid it has to be luxury all the way if you check
heritage in its style and decor. The resort has a lot
in here. You’ll find the villas have been beautifully
of ticks in its boxes – particularly for keen golfers
and traditionally decorated, using local materials
who will love playing the immaculate 18 hole
like wood, thatch and volcanic stone. Out on your
course, and spa aficionados, who will be blown
private terrace you’ll discover a plunge pool, an al
away by the Seven Colours Spa.
fresco private bathroom and views that will melt
A good value option on the North West coast,
your heart. Meanwhile, just off shore is the hotel’s
Veranda Grand Baie proves that you don’t have
own private island, Ile aux Chats – make sure to
to pay a huge amount in order to experience the
pop by for a visit.
best of Mauritius. Located in the sunny seaside
On Mauritius’s West Coast you’ll find The Oberoi
town of Grand Baie, which offers increasingly good
Mauritius, a very laidback retreat where you can
shopping, it has rooms decorated in fresh and fun
happily let all the stresses and strains of life melt
Creole style with good facilities and direct access to
away. Whether you’re lazing in a hammock by
the local beach. Just a short way south along the
the beautiful pool, taking a walk along the shore,
coast lies sister property the Veranda Pointe Aux
enjoying an al fresco spa treatment in a private spa
Biches, another good value winner of a property,
garden or just tucking in to some of the country’s
where guests can enjoy a stay that’s perfectly
best local and international cuisine at the torch-
geared up for families (check out the cute bunk
framed restaurant, you’ll love this place.
beds for kids in the family rooms).
Below, left to right: Suite at So Sofitel; Beachfront villa at Trou Aux Biches.
Also on the North West coast is the ultraluxurious Royal Palm hotel. It’s a grand, opulent place where everything has been designed and created to the highest possible standards. The Royal Suite offers some of the very finest accommodation on the island, with its own hammam, gazebo and even a private pool in which
mini-golf, snorkelling and windsurfing – and the
you can swim lazy laps while looking out over the
emphasis on traditional Mauritian service and
ocean. When it comes to unwinding, you’ll love
hospitality make this a winning choice. Also by
taking a treatment at the Spa by Clarins, which has
Naiade is Les Pavillons, a five star beach resort
been decked out in gloriously attractive fashion with
whose attributes include a beautiful view of the
lava stone, slate and wood, and which comprises
peak of the Morne Brabant, six hundred metres of
private cabins. each with a private patio in case you
sandy shoreline and no fewer than four pools.
want to enjoy your treatment out in the fresh air. Villas Valriche is a residential development
For a romantic couple’s break, head for the Trou aux Biches Resort & Spa, which offers gorgeous
attached to a Peter Matkovitch-designed golf
chalet-style and villa accommodation, built in eco-
course which is one of the very best on the island.
friendly fashion. Book a beachfront suite and you’ll
The fairways are crossed by a pair of rivers – St.
get our own private pool – although that turqouise
Martin and the Citronniers – at a few key points,
sea is just a few steps further away. And for real
and the panoramic views of mountains, sugar cane
indulgence, hit the large and popular Spa by Clarins
fields and sea are superb. There’s also a great PGA
for a treatment or two.
golf academy on hand should you need some
Finally, the south-westerly tip of Mauritius is the
pointers. The villas themselves are exquisite and
location of the fabulous Paradis Hotel & Golf
serviced by private chefs and butlers: gorgeous
Club. Its set of suites and villas are scattered
villas and a great spa complete the mix.
around the largest lagoon in the country, and
Beau Rivage Ile Maurice is a property from
its facilities are unbeatable - particularly as it
the Naiade group, located on the white sands of
shares restaurants and activities with Dinarobin, a
Belle Mare. This beach hotel is great for families
neighbouring property from the same Beachcomber
– activities for children include a dedicated club,
The Shopping While the prime focus in Mauritius is on culture, watersports and sun, you’ll find the shopping’s not bad either – there are some interesting boutiques to stroll around where you can pick up some top souvenirs of your trip. Shopping in Mauritius is a laidback, bargainous
metres down the road you’ll find the slightly
affair involving lots of locally-produced goods.
lower-key Designer Paradise, which specialises
Artisanal specialities include diamond jewellery,
in GF Ferré, Abercrombie & Fitch and upmarket
glassware and incredibly detailed model ships.
bikinis. The neighbouring Designer Depot sells
You’ll also find lots of highly-discounted factory
a similar range of names, plus miniature sailboats
outlet clothing on offer, much of it seasons out of
and, somewhat oddly, bongo drums. Once you’ve
date: it’s well worth a browse as there are some real
stocked up on discount clothing you might like to
gems dotted among the dross.
swing by interiors emporium Piment Rouge, which
Grand Baie’s central drag has a dedicated Shopping Village, where you’ll find a series of fun little stores in which to abuse your credit card.
does a nice line in stylish lamps, bowls, stenciled pots and pillows. A medium-sized mall in downtown Port Louis,
There’s River Woods for preppy beach wear,
Caudan is home to lots of homegrown stores and
motto-ridden Ts and light summer jackets – ideal for
a scattering of international names, spread over
slinging over your shoulder in case of a downpour.
a series of boulevards. Hit up Out of Africa for
Then there’s Hemisphere Sud for handmade
dresses, Indya Vogue for brightly-coloured saris,
leather bags, wallets and diaries, and Equateur for
Koki for big, loud shirts for men and Billabong
tasteful tropical shirts (yep, it is possible). Finally,
Girls for outlandish jewellery. If you’re in need
don’t miss out on Montali for stylish womenswear
of beachwear, you’ll find a bunch of good value
and Kavanagh for diamond jewellery set in
offerings from Billabong, O’Neill, Rip Curl and
platinum and gold.
Quicksilver. Then there’s the Mauritius Glass
The factory outlets of Route Royale in Arsenal
Gallery for ethically-conscious trinkets made from
– in the North of the island, not far from Grand Baie
recycled glass heated and shaped using recycled
– sell designer products at greatly-reduced prices.
cooking oil. There’s also a dedicated Craft Market
There are ten or so stores here, all selling a similar
of some forty stalls, featuring rugs, bags and
mix of stuff. The biggest and best of the bunch
pashminas, plus a surfeit of carved wooden dodos,
is K.N.E. Rayinale where you’ll find D&G, (with
coconut knickknacks and bottles of coloured sand
a particular emphasis on handbags and wallets),
from Chamarel. And don’t leave without checking
Chanel, Versace and Armani. A couple of hundred
out Tea Route, home to scale models of 17th
This page: The local markets.
century sailing ships, proper three-masted beauties
bikinis and sarongs, at Villebrequin there are racks
equipped with rigging, flags and miniature cannons.
of upmarket swimshorts and at Altitude they’ve
Where Le Caudan is slick and westernised, Port
got cool, original Ts and pretty cutaway summer
Louis’ Central Market is unabashedly no-frills
dresses. Visit Passion for delicate necklaces and
and local. Huge piles of spiky fruit, vibrant chilis
rings, featuring diamonds, zirconia and local shells
and dried vanilla are enthusiastically hawked from
and the small but imaginative Xxbelle for Euro-style
tiny stalls and the air is filled with noisy banter. You
fashion. You can pick up some local art from the
may well be picked up by a salesman from the
gallery and buckets of cashmere and Abercrombie
spice shops which line one side of the market,
& Fitch from the factory outlet. The real standout for
and persuaded over to look at their tiffin tins and
souvenirs is Manshree, where you’ll find gorgeously
presentation cases of saffron – expect lots of
light Indian dresses, kaftans, pashminas, elaborately-
football chat and a free print-out of a curry recipe to
decorated pillow cases, rich swathes of silk, bolts of
loosen you up, followed by feigned consternation
velvet, wood carvings and outsized solitaire kits with
and teeth-sucking from the owner when you start
to haggle. Le Ruisseau is a lovely, low-rise complex of 60
Finally, buy jewellery in Mauritius and you won’t be charged tax – just bring your passport and air
boutiques, more chilled out than Caudan and with
ticket with you to prove you’re a tourist, or else
a smarter bunch of stores. Work your way around,
collect the tax back at the airport. The biggest
stopping off for regular refueling sessions at Le
jeweller is Adamas – visit them in Floreal (686 5246)
Kiosk Café, with its pleasant outdoor terrace – if
and Grand Baie (269 1609). They cut and set the
you’re there for lunch, the gourmet paninis are a
diamonds themselves, which helps keep the prices
sound bet. At Delire you’ll find a barrage of colourful
The Sights There’s lots to see in Mauritius – and happily because the island’s not huge, you can take almost all of it in during a single visit... Head to Black River Gorges national park in the
There are no bells or whistles here – it’s all about
south west of the island, and you can check out the
the fish, housed in simple tanks, adorned only with
geological wonder that is the Earths of Chamarel.
earnest missives about their genus and habits. But
The volcanic rock in the area has been eroded and
what fish! To a soundtrack of crashing waves (slightly
weathered over the millenia, producing an amazing
superfluous given that the beach is directly opposite)
array of multicoloured sands – as you stroll along
you’ll check out the humbug-esque blue and yellow
you’ll see seven colours including yellow, blue and
cerulean damsels, the ruffle-wearing devil firefish,
green, which create an appealing, alien landscape.
Jurassic era yellowmouth moray, luminous palette
Just nearby is the imposing Chamarel waterfall,
surgeonfish and vicious-looking ribbon morays.
an 83-metre beauty where you can take some fantastic snaps. The Aquarium, on Coastal Road, Pointe Aux
Over in Port Louis, on Rue du Vieux Conseil, you’ll find the kooky Musée de la Photographie. It’s crammed with ancient cameras (of the old
Piments, claims to offer visitors a unique experience
school, ‘head under a blanket, hand holding up a
‘without the fear of being eaten’. It’s only one
flash’ style), plus thousands of photographs (and
of many advantages of a trip to this low tech
even some daguerrotypes) of Mauritius. The island,
attraction, a key stop-off on any tour of the north.
it seems, has always been in love with photography: one of the first people to buy a camera when they went on sale in 1839 was a Mauritian, Fedinand Wöhrnitz. The glimpse into the development of the island and the life of its inhabitants is fascinating. For a chilled afternoon of strolling in the sunshine, hit the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, better known as Pamplemousses Garden. It’s a 37-acre plot in Pamplemousses, in the north of the country, and features rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and an onslaught of tropical plants. You can take an organised tour (guides wait in a special hut by the entrance and call out as you pass by), or simply make your way around on your own, checking out the 80 different species of palm trees,
Previous Page: Earths of Chamarel. Below: Chamarel waterfall. Right: Pamplemousses Garden.
and sugar booms. Anyone who likes ancient engineering will love the big main room filled with tugboats and distilling contraptions, not to mention the decommissioned heavy machinery and steam engines which dot the grounds outside. The gift shop is good fun too – pick up some natty sugar t-shirts, homemade lollies and no fewer than twelve types of sugar. The Blue Penny Stamp Museum, next to Le Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis, gives you a good overview of the country’s social, artistic and stampy history, with lots of old maps, paintings – check the pond filled with tyre-sized water lilies and the
out the drawings of Port Louis when it was little
aromatic spice plantations. There is also a small
more than a pair of sheds – and etchings of the
enclosure filled with ultra-cute deer and a score of
island through the ages. The centrepiece exhibits
giant turtles – although in contrast to places like La
are the one and two penny stamps, the first issued
Vanille Reserve you can’t go and pet any of them.
in Mauritius, bought back for the nation at a cost
History buffs keen to learn about the island life of yesteryear should try L’Aventure du Sucre. This place, located at Beau Plan near
of two million dollars. There’s a nice little museum shop, too, for all your mug and postcard needs. Finally, down on the south coast at Rivière
Pamplemousses offers a great introduction to the
des Anguilles you’ll find La Vanille Reserve des
history of Mauritius. Sure, there’s a fair amount of
Mascareignes, a captivating nature sanctuary filled
technical information, plus some slightly tenuous
with exotic animals. First stop is the insectarium,
connections – Nostradamus is pressed into the
where you’ll find 23,000 species of butterfly and
service of sugar promotion at one point – and
creepy-crawly – some live, some mounted. Next
feeble games – a ‘spot the sugar’ cartoon for kids
up are the water-filled network of pools containing
marks a particular lowpoint. But in the main, it’s a
2,000 Nile crocodiles: you can pick up and play with
well thought-out museum which takes you through
baby crocs and, if you visit on a Wednesday, you
the whole rambunctious history of the island, with
can watch them tucking into their weekly helping of
its corsairs, epidemics, rats, refinieries, slaving
chicken. The whole site is a joy to walk around.
We hope you’re bringing a big appetite: this island has a truly world-class line-up of restaurants and dishes to offer. One of the biggest parts of Mauritius’ gastronomic
that’s deer curry. It’s an intensely-flavoured stew of
appeal is the intense taste of the ingredients used,
venison and lilva beans, with lots of tomatoes, bay
particularly the seafood – you’ll not find fresher
leaves and an undercurrent of coriander. Heavenly,
octopus, prawns or langoustines anywhere in the
if done well. You should also try rougaille. It’s the
world. Once you’ve tried a local pineapple, you’ll
Mauritian national dish and comes in many forms,
never look at an air-freighted, plastic-encased
the best of which is the saltfish version, a top
supermarket number in the same way again.
concoction of fish, tomatoes and herbs, served with
Chances are you’ll be on half or full board at your
lots of pickles and dal. Brace your tastebuds: you’re
hotel, so you may not want to eat out a huge
going to love Mauritian food – as with the rest of
amount. When you do, though, you’ll find a host of
the island’s culture, it’s a winning mix of French,
wonderful hotel restaurants – read on for our pick
Indian, Chinese and Creole, a heady fusion of haute
of the best.
cuisine, spice and blistering tropical flavours.
You’ll need to phone in advance to make a
Over at the Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre you’ll
reservation and get your name on the security
find Le Flamboyant, a lovely modern Mauritian
gate. If you’re staying at a sister hotel (i.e. one in
restaurant where you can enjoy contemporary
the same chain) you’ll have no problem getting in,
national cuisine mixed with the occasional classic
but if you’re not they may not have space as they
French dish while enjoying views out over the infinity
prioritise inhouse guests. Still, if you book a few
pool. If you’re in the mood for something less
days in advance you should be fine. If you’re in the
formal, check out La Plage, their beach restaurant
towns or on the beach, you’ll have the opportunity
which offers dainty, tapas-style dishes.
to try some Mauritian street food. By and large
Belle Vue restaurant at Veranda Grande Bay
this is good and very cheap but you should always
does a great line in authentic local cuisine, with fine
make sure to take your cue from the locals and only
views to accompany it. And the Veranda Pointe Aux
go for stalls and vendors which have drawn a line
Biches has a national buffet restaurant at Senses
of customers – the quieter vendors are less popular
restaurant, as well as a great meat and seafood
for a reason and their nibbles may leave you with an
place at the Sandy Lane Grill.
upset stomach. You may find the menus at traditional Mauritian
Mauritian food is served at Les Pavillons at Nautile, where you eat on a delightful veranda
restaurants a little baffling, but do not worry. We
by the beach, and get a real crash course in the
advise starting out with a helping of cari cerfs –
best of the country’s cuisine. The hotel also has a
This page, left to right: Spoon des Iles at Le St Geran. Le Touessrok’s Three-Nine-Eight. Opposite page: Blue Ginger at Trou aux Biches.
good Mediterranean restaurant, Obergine, offering straightforward healthy fare. For something spicier, try Nipa, which has made a name for offering the very finest Thai cuisine: powerful and delicious curries and noodles are the stock in trade here. At La Ravanne at the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club, you’ll get smashing Creole food out under the stars: this is a taste of the very best Mauritian lifestyle. There’s also seafood on offer at the Blue Marlin restaurant, and note perfect Italian at La Palma,
‘You’ll find your attention is torn between the antics in the kitchen and the view outside, where a series of swimming pools are lit by torches’ A similarly tranquil beachside spot to Infinity
where you can choose to eat indoors or out on the
Blue is found at La Méditerranée at Beau Rivage,
where you can sit with your feet on the sand
At Shanti Maurice they run Mauritian-style
and enjoy pizzas, salads, barbecues and local
barbecues on the beach each night, where they grill
delicacies. In the same resort is Indochine, which
up meats, game and fish (the likes of snapper, tuna,
whips up a glorious Southeast Asian mix with a
prawns and sea bass), all locally-sourced, under
view of the ocean. And then there’s Le Langoustier,
the light of lanterns, right by the water’s edge, and
a seafood restaurant par excellence, where you can
with the sound of Sega music in the background.
indulge yourself on the freshest local catch.
When it comes to serious fine dining, meanwhile,
There are a series of great treats available at
they have a great option in Stars, which offers South
the Intercontinental Mauritius Resort, Balaclava
African-style haute cuisine – simple dishes using the
Fort, first among which is their Noble House
very finest ingredients.
Asian fusion restuarant, which blends influences
If you enjoy eating with your toes in the sand,
from multiple countries (hint: the roasted duck is
try Infinity Blue at the Heritage Awali Golf & Spa
particularly fine). Also excellent are Segala – which
Resort. It offers a grand mix of seafood and modern
does a particularly good line in freshly-grilled
Mediterranean food, and is guaranteed to leave you
seafood – and the modern Indian restaurant Veda.
feeling sated and relaxed. Equally lovely is its sister
There’s also first class Indian food on offer at
restaurant, Balafon – which offers multiple cuisines
Cumin At Le Meridien Ile Maurice, where the local
each night in a pretty restaurant.
spices are used to great effect. If that doesn’t appeal,
check out their beachside restaurant La Faya,
& Only Le St Geran’s Spoon des Iles, created
which does a great line in modern Mediterranean
by Alain Ducasse, one of the titans of the French
and Mauritian food, or their excellent light seafood
gourmet scene. Ducasse has put together an
restaurant, Shells, which also comes with wonderful
imaginative mix of Mauritian and European flavours
sea views as standard, before head on to the Bay
and dishes (check out the banana-leaf-wrapped
View lounge for a relaxed after-dinner coffee.
Dorado) in a gorgeous restaurant. But Ducasse is
Thai food and show cooking is the order of the
not the only superstar under their roof – at Rasoi
day at Blue Ginger at the Trou aux Biches Resort
by Vineet you can tuck in to the Indian food of
& Spa. You’ll find your attention is torn between the
Vineet Bhatia, a Michelin-starred chef who works
antics in the kitchen and the view outside, where a
magic in the kitchen.
series of swimming pools are lit up by torches. Trou
Le Barachois in the Constance Prince Maurice
aux Biches also offers Indian food, at Mayiha, which
Hotel is fabulous – reached by means of an
is ornately designed as an Indian palace and where
elongated boardwalk, it sits out in the Belle Mare
delicate cithara music forms the soundtrack to your
bay, floating on a series of pontoons. You’ll enjoy
fabulous dinner. If you’re not feeling like a big meal,
the slight rocking of your table and the easy access
then grab a seat at the resort’s Le Deck, where
to the starry night sky, but better than all this is
you’ll eat simple, delicious fare just metres away
the teeming Mauritian sealife that swishes around
from the shore.
the bottom of the restaurant, lured by the bright
When it comes to flagship restaurants from international big name chefs, you’ll love the One
spotlights that pick them out. Shoals of fish chase each other, jump up for bits of your delicious bread,
This page, left to right: Le Château; Beau Champ at Four Seasons Mauritius.
‘f you’re in the mood for a steak, head on over to the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius, and its Beau Champ restaurant ’ and generally lark about much to the amusement
and fresh seafood restaurant Tides, all of which
of the diners. The food is light, tasty French with a
have been eagerly awaited by the island’s foodies.
smattering of Creole and the seafood is wonderful. For Italian cuisine, there’s La Spiaggia at the
One final Italian option is on offer at The Grand Mauritian: Brezza, whose tables overlook Turtle
Constance Belle Mare Plage Hotel, a small and
Bay and the beach, and which has its own lounge
intimate spot offering great Tuscan classics. At the
for pre-dinner mocktails right nearby, on the
same hotel, the Blue Penny Café sticks up for local
poolside. The Grand Mauritian has also impressed
Creole food, presenting it gourmet-style in glorious,
the local market – and its international guests – with
regularly updated degustation menus which zip
its ‘Season’ restaurant where guests get up close
you through the best the cuisine has to offer before
with the chefs for a fun and tasty interactive dining
depositing you on the other side, sated, smiling and
in need of a delicious stogie from their cigar cabinet.
There are culinary treats aplenty at Le Touessrok,
The waterfalls which surround the restaurant, filling
home of Three-Nine-Eight, a three floor restaurant
it with the sounds of falling water, are definitely a
offering nine different cuisines from eight show
nice touch, too.
kitchens. Choose from Thai, Indian, Mauritian,
Another exciting Italian is to be found at the
Spanish, French, Middle Eastern, Italian and
recently-opened Long Beach Mauritius, in the form
Chinese meals, plus food from the rotisserie. Then
of Il Sapori, which puts fine Italian product to the
there’s Barlen’s beach restaurant, which offers
fore, and creates highly memorable dishes. It’s only
a fusion mix of European and Asian dishes, with
one of five restaurants at the resort – there’s also
dishes cooked on a volcanic rock grill. Finally, the
the show-cooking Le Marché, Japanese fine-diner
Safran restaurant, which looks out over Hibiscus
Hasu, contemporary Chinese restaurant Chopsticks
bay is great for Indian food.
Left: Le Flamboyant at So Sofitel Mauritius.
If you want to gaze at an Indian Ocean sunset,
romantic night, head to Le Château Restaurant
book yourself in at The Restaurant, at The Oberoi,
at Domaine de Bel Ombre. It’s housed in a 19th
Mauritius. You’ll find your table on the edge of a
century mansion surrounded by ancient gardens,
palm-thatched, open-sided restaurant lit by flaming
a mountain and a golf course. You can book up for
torches dotted about the grounds. The service is
high tea or lunch, but it’s loveliest at dinner: enjoy a
among the best on the island and the menu offers
note-perfect French meal in the main dining room,
a delightful spread of local and European food. The
decked out with antique wood-paneled walls, and
stillness of the evening is broken only by murmured
then head out to the veranda to check out the stars.
chat from neighbouring tables and croaking frogs in
It’s the ideal spot for suitors to pop the question
the middle distance.
– none but the steeliest of hearts could refuse a
If you’re in the mood for a steak, head on over to the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius, and its Beau Champ restaurant. Just on the lagoon, this
post-dinner proposal made here, particularly if the chef’s on form. Finally, if you’re dining with a group that can’t
steakhouse has three separate outdoor dining areas
make up its mind what it fancies for dinner, try
and the sort of menu that makes true carnivores
Natureaty at the Royal Palm hotel. Every night
go weak at the knees. If you’re not in the mood
it offers three separate themed menus – one
for prime rib, you can be taken over to Bambou
showcasing Asian or Mediterranean food, one
instead, which is located on the private island
which focuses on Wellness and another which
owned by the resort, and which runs a particularly
takes on a special theme or product and deals
fine tropical buffet, with entertainment from a jazz
with it imaginatively. There’s so much inspiring and
trio and some Sega dancers.
intriguing choice that everyone will find something
When you feel the need for a truly special and
Whether you’re into your golf, your watersports, your mountainclimbing or your nature-watching, you’ll find there’s plenty to fill your diary while you’re in Mauritius. The raft of activities offered to tourists in Mauritius
Bathing sign – everywhere else is prime snorkelling
tend to fall under the management of White Sand
territory. Expect to see exquisitely-coloured
Tours – you’ll probably find one of their reps in your
corals, angel fish, lionfish, clownfish, bonefish and
hotel – and they’re your best bet for heading out to
surgeonfish among dozens of others. Snorkelling
sea, offering a couple of great catamaran cruises.
off the beach at Flic en Flac is particularly brilliant.
The first is Eastern Sailing Magic, a full day’s jaunt
You’ll find that the majority of the big hotels have
along the east coast including a stop-off to check
snorkelling excursions by boat to reefs further
out Ile aux Cerfs and the Grand River waterfalls.
out at sea: if yours doesn’t, you can organise a
The second is Northern Islands Sailing, another
trip through Tropical Dream Tours in Flic en Flac
full day’s outing, including stops at Les Palisades
(453 8480) who will take you by speedboat to the
and the sheltered parts of Flat Island and Gunner’s
Aquarium site on the west coast.
Coin Island. Both cruises include opportunities for
If you’ve got your PADI you’re all set to dive in at
swimming and snorkelling (flippers and masks are
some of the terrific sites off the island, where you’ll
provided), drinks, transportation to and from your
see a whole new world of wondrous sea creatures,
hotel, and an onboard barbecue lunch prepared
including sharks, stingrays and strikingly coloured
and served by the crew.
fish. If your hotel doesn’t organise trips, try Sea
You can also hop aboard a White Sands
Urchin Diving Center (913 0208) in Flic en Flac,
catamaran for a visit to the home of a pod of
who can take you to around 30 dive sites on the
dolphins in Tamarin Bay. The dolphins are a
west coast. Each dive lasts around 30-35 minutes
delight, although sadly you can’t swim with them
and their prices are very reasonable. You can also
as they leg it as soon as you get in the water.
take your beginner’s PADI certificate with them,
There is also the opportunity for some spectacular
which will take you from swimming pool to ocean
snorkelling during the day (all equipment is
and includes four dives.
provided) and a barbecue lunch is prepared and served by the crew on board.
Most sightseeing tours will include a trip to the waterfalls at Chamarel or Tamarin. But the very
If you’d rather swim with the fishes, there’s some
best one for swimming in is at Eureka (433 8477)
fabulous snorkelling all over Mauritius, starting just
in Moka in the centre of the island. Here you’ll find
a few yards from the beach. Anywhere it’s unsafe
four smallish waterfalls in a ravine that you can
to take the plunge will have an obvious Dangerous
visit with a guide before jumping in for a swim. An
This page: Aqua activities are myriad.
‘If you’d rather swim with the fishes, there’s some fabulous snorkelling all over Mauritius, starting just a few yards from the beach’ out with a guide on Boerperd ponies for between 90 minutes and two hours, taking in the lush scenery as you trot along. There are both morning and afternoon extra bonus is the magnificent neighbouring Creole
sessions and children between 7 and 12 years old
colonial house and garden (now a museum) which
can join in as long as they have some previous riding
is open for tours.
experience. The rides can get quite dirty so you’re
A different sort of swim – one involving super-fast slides – can be had at Le Waterpark (415 2626). Located near the Constance Belle Mare Plage
advised to bring a change of clothes and a towel so you can take a post-trek shower on site. Head to Domaine de l’Etoile (433 1010) and you
Resort on the east coast of the island, it’s a small
can make your way down one of three archery
but fun affair – a couple of swimming pools, a gently
trails where you’ll be confronted by a series of
winding lazy river, a pirate ship to clamber about
3D animal models. The longest trail takes around
on and a bunch of giant slides: try the 80-metre
three hours and sees you loosing off arrows at 20
‘multilane’, which four people can slip down at the
fake beasts, while the shortest trail, with just five
same time and the Black Hole – a whizz down a
targets, takes only 45 minutes. Children under
darkened tunnel on a rubber raft.
seven are not allowed and those over seven must
Back on dry land, horseriding can be organised
be accompanied by an adult. Rates include your
at various places around the island but the pick of
bow and arrows, assistance from a coach and
the bunch is Domaine de L’Etoile (433 1010/729
lunch. You can shoot arrows at targets elsewhere in
1050) on the east coast. You saddle up and head
Mauritius but it’s nowhere near as much fun as this.
Both pages: Quad biking and the island’s outdoor pursuits.
Over at Casela Nature Park (452 0693, on the west coast near Cascavelle) you can embark on a 4x4 tour which whips you through the park and then on through the Yemen Nature Reserve. Along the way you’ll see zebras, deer, African antelopes, wild pigs and billions of birds. This safari-style trip takes two hours in a ten-seater vehicle. Casela Nature Park is the proud owner of a clutch of lion and cheetah cubs. You can stand on a viewing platform and watch them at play, walk
three hours followed or preceded by lunch. Make
in their enclosure with a guide and touch them, or
sure to bring a change of clothes (as things can get
go for an hour’s walk around the reservation with
quite mucky), sunblock and a camera to capture
two or three lion cubs. Kids who want to walk in the
the beautiful scenery.
enclosure or round the reservation with the cubs
There are a couple of ways to enjoy a bird’s
must be a minimum of 1.5 metres tall for the lions
eye view of Mauritius. Helicopter tours of the
and 1.2 metres for the cheetahs.
island are available for 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes.
The best quad biking on Mauritius is at Domaine
The Air Mauritius choppers (www.airmauritius.
de l’Etoile (433 1010/729 1050) on the island’s east
com/helicopter.htm) seat up to four. Tours can be
coast, where you zip about among an extraordinary
taken from a series of helipads around the island
array of flora and fauna, including ebony, banana
so there’s no need to travel to the airport to catch
and cinnamon trees, Java deer, wild boars and
your ride. It takes an hour to see the whole island,
monkeys. There are two trips every day – morning
but even with just 15 minutes you can expect to
and afternoon – and each lasts between two and
see mountains, jungle and picturesque swathes of
A Peter Matkovich-designed course, Golf du Château rises up from sea level into the foothills of the Black River Gorges nature reserve, giving players awesome views of the Indian Ocean from many holes, while several holes play by the Château de Bel Ombre, a magnificent colonial building. Other eye candy includes a welter of brightly-coloured flora and fauna which lines the ruggedly beautiful coastline. But if you posses an even bigger head
course. Our favourite hole? The beautiful par four
for heights, make a beeline for the factory site of
6th, which plays down a narrow valley surrounded
Saint Felix sugar estate in the south of the island
by jungle on one side and rocky scrub on the other
for an adrenaline-fueled two-kilometre trip along
with a magnetic stream crossing the hole just in
eleven swift ‘zip-lines’ – cables which you clip
front of the green.
yourself onto and slide down – at heights of around
Le Touessrok Golf Course was designed by
30 metres. The route takes you over the Rivière des
two-time US Masters champion and Ryder Cup
Galets with stunning views of sugar cane fields,
captain Bernhard Langer, and is a breathtakingly
banana plantations, verdant forest and waterfalls:
beautiful but fiendishly difficult course that everyone
book through White Sand Tours.
should play at least once. Those who have strode
Mauritius takes its golfing extremely seriously –
its fairways include Nelson Mandela. This is the
the island is dotted with courses (a frankly farcical
only course on the island that can’t be reached by
number, considering the size of the population), and if
road, meaning that you have to take a helicopter or
you’re into your game you’ve got to try some of them
a ten minute boat ride over to the delightful Ile aux
out as they’ll blow you away. You’ll always have to
Cerfs. Holes 11-13, consisting of a par five, par four
call in advance to book, and be warned that if you’re
and par three, all play right beside the white sandy
calling from outside the hotel which hosts the course
beach and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
then you won’t necessarily get a booking on the day
They are tough - but not too tough – and by far the
you want as they give priority to inhouse guests.
most beautiful holes on the course.
Below and left: The different style golf courses on offer.
‘Links Course, Belle Mare Plage Resort is beautiful, with some really wonderful holes played around outcrops of volcanic rock. The dog-leg par four 18th is also a fantastic finishing hole’ Tamarina Golf Estate and Beach Club is home to the first independent course on Mauritius. Set in the shadows of Mount Rempart, its fairways
and 13th holes which play parallel to each other down one side of the lagoon. Links Course, Belle Mare Plage Resort is
are framed by seas of natural grasses including
beautiful, with some really wonderful holes played
purple pampas, lemongrass, red grass, citronelle
around outcrops of volcanic rock. All buggies are
and vetiver. Tamarina is very welcoming to visitors
fitted with the latest GPS systems and the locker
and a real joy to play. The great views of Mount
room facilities are truly luxurious. The top holes?
Rempart from virtually every hole and the troop of
The par four 13th and par three 14th, which both
monkeys that lurk around the club’s signature 13th
require long carries over water to reach the greens,
hole make every round a pleasure.
are absolutely great. The dog-leg par four 18th is
The Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita was
also a fantastic finishing hole.
designed by the ‘Big Easy’ himself, Ernie Els. Its
Finally, there are some superb spas in Mauritius
best points? Six oceanside holes, four different
where you can get scrubbed down, kneaded up and
terrain elements (tropical ocean, forest, Scottish
pampered silly. One of island’s finest is undoubtedly
links and mountain), large fairways and the fact
The Oberoi Spa, at The Oberoi, Mauritius. It lists a
that it’s the only USGA course on the island. Plus
swimming pool, steam baths and a beauty parlour
it has a bunch of other facilities including an air-
among its top-notch amenities, but our favourite
conditioned gym, a Mauritian style clubhouse, a
element is the magnificent private spa suites,
beauty centre and a Big Easy grill.
complete with their own plunge pools. Elsewhere,
Paradis Golf Club, Le Morne, is the oldest
The Seven Colours Spa at Heritage Golf & Spa Resort
18-hole championship course on the island and
houses no fewer than 20 treatment rooms, offering a
lies in the shadow of the magnificent Le Morne
smart concept based on the seven chakras and the
mountain, a World Heritage site. Though it can be
seven-coloured earth at neighbouring Chamarel. Over
the easiest course on Mauritius, when the wind
at Le Touessrok you’ll find the quite beautiful Givenchy
blows it can be a beast. We love the par four 12th
Spa, which almost relaxes you on sight alone.
Mauritius is Magnifique
Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre An intimate getaway on a turquoise lagoon, Sofitel Mauritius Bel Ombre offers supreme luxury while celebrating the natural environment. Strikingly modern and timelessly elegant, it is a haven of peace designed by Lek Bunnag and decorated by Kenzo TAKADA. Luminous suites feature private tropical gardens and provide absolute tranquility and comfort. Bel Ombre - Île Maurice Tél. : + 230 605 58 00 – e-mail : email@example.com
A guide to holidays in Mauritius