Mauritius

Though nestled up alongside eastern Africa, Mauritius is actually more influenced by its British and French ties and massive Indian workforce than by the African mainland. Here, you can enjoy a dish of curried chickpeas or a nice Yorkshire pudding on the terrace of a French caf?, sipping imported wine or a thick malty ale while listening to Cr?ole music and the conversation of locals in any number of lingoes.

Mauritius' range of visitors' facilities runs the gamut from pamper-happy beach resorts and organised excursions to locals who'll put you up in their homes and rent you their cars for daytrips. If you're looking for a lazy beach vacation, you could certainly do worse, but don't forget the rambling interior and the multicultural capital Port Louis.

Port Louis situated on the north-western coast and is surrounded by a semi circle of mountains. It is the Capital city and also the harbour of Mauritius. The city covers only 45 sq km. It is the hub of all business activities in Mauritius. When in Port Louis one would notice the past elegance through the Government House off the Place d? Armes, the Supreme Court, the Museum and also the colonial houses lodged between modern buildings.

There is a bustling market with stalls selling everything from spices to T-shirts, postcards to pareos & dried fish to jewellery. From the heights of the Fort Adeaide, now an open air theatre, magnificent views of the Champ de Mars race course, the town & the harbour can be enjoyed.

Domaine Les Pailles is situated quite close to Port Louis, it has a nature park spreading over 3,000 acres at the foot on a mountain range where visitors will be able to discover some old ways of living in an enchanting environment. On can also experience the traditional way of making sugar from freshly crushed sugarcane and see rum being distilled from sugarcane syrup.

Curepipe, at 20 km from Port-Louis, is a residential city of 75 000 inhabitants. It took its rise at the end of XIXth century, when the inhabitants of Port-Louis took refuge there, fleeing the epidemic of malaria. Curepipe is the island’s main urban centre, a pleasant town which lacks the atmosphere of Port Louis but has good shops and restaurants. 

Between Curepipe and Floreal is the spectacular Trou aux Cerfs, an extinct crater 85m deep and more than 200m wide from the rim of which one enjoys an extensive view of the island.

Quatre Bornes & Rose Hill are other urban centres with numerous shopping centres and eating out areas. Rose Hill town owes its name by the pinkish colours which takes, at dawn and at the twilight, the mountain of the Corps de Garde. It is a centre of theatrical and cultural activities.

Mahebourg is a small peaceful colonial town. It is in this bay that during three days, from the 22 to August 25, 1810, the French squadrons commanded by Duperrι, and English commanded by Willoughby, fought a duel to death. It was the only great naval victory of Napoleon.

Grand Baie lies 20 km north of Port Louis with its beautiful beaches and its deep and sheltered bay, often as calm as a lake. The town of Grand-Baie is a charming village with white sand beaches, bordered with shops, restaurants and coconuts. It is the main tourist attraction and has been aptly named the ? Mauritian Cote D? Azur ?.

Grand Baie has a host of restaurants, discotheques, boutiques and crafts work shops, self catering bungalows, hotels & beach resorts. It is also the main water sports hub in Mauritius where one can indulge in all kinds of water sports like the Undersea Walk, Semi-submersible rides, the submarine apart from a host of other water sport activities. The high class shopping arcade the Sunset Boulevard is also located in Grand Baie.

Nightclubs & Discotheques are in abundance in Mauritius. The tourist have a lot of places to explore. The Night life is very happening as one can visit gambling casinos, nightclubs, discotheques and also events organised by hotels. 

Most of the casinos are found in the large beach hotels around the island. There are however a few casinos found in the towns namely at Port Louis (Domaines les Pailles, Caudan Waterfront) and Curepipe. All the noble gambling casinos have a special atmosphere. Roulette, Black Jack and Baccara are mostly played.

In larger hotels events like sega evenings and shows of local artists are offered. The dancers will train you with practical exercises in the Sega dance.

Surrounding the island of Mauritius are emerald-blue sea waters and beautiful sandy beaches. All within easy access of the major cities, and free for all to enjoy. The following provides information on some of the most popular beaches of the island.

Baie du Tombeau : 15 minutes by car away from Port Louis. Beach overgrown with cocos. 
Belle Mare : White sandy beach with a deep lagoon at the east coast. The tourism centre extends to Trou d’Eau Douce.
Blue Bay : Long beach (Pointe d’ Esny to Pointe Corps de Garde) with white sand and crystal-clear ice blue water. Suitable for sailing, surfing and snorkeling.
Cap Malheureux : Small fishing village at the north top of the island, has an amazing view of the little islands Ile Plate, Ile Ronde and Coin de Mire. The beautifully situated graveyard and the chapel on the beach are remarkable for a photo. The name Cap Malheureux arose after the Englishmen landed secretly there on September 2nd, 1810 and expelled the Frenchmen from Mauritius.
Grand Baie : The biggest tourist centre in Mauritius with a variety of accomodations, water sports offers, shops and excellent restaurants. One also finds a choice of discotheques and bars there. Several suppliers organize tours across the island and excursions on the sea; for example going to the island Coin de Mire.
The beaches lie in a large (deep to the country outgoing bay) which are protected from wind and waves.

Primarily, Mauritius is a beach escape destination and a fine representative of the top quality of the Mauritian beach is located right at your hotel. Water activities abound, but there?s plenty to keep an active visitor engaged on land, as well.

The popularity of windsurfing and the ideal conditions for it have resulted in many competitions, including World Championships, being held in Mauritius. Windsurfing instruction is available and equipment can be hired at beachside boathouses. Sailing shoes should be worn to prevent coral cuts.

Water skiing in the sheltered waters of the reef-protected lagoons is also available with instruction for beginners.

For surfing, the Bay of Tamarin used to be popular as the rollers coursed in through the break in the coral reef. Surfing was big on the island in the 1970s, until the rising costs of airfare and accommodation drove surfers to seek bluer pastures. Now, with vacation costs back to bearable, the crowds are picking up again. 

The area around Tamarin is said to be the best spot to drop in, and the season lasts from around June to August. Many hotels provide windsurfing and kayaking equipment for their guests, and for those who prefer less strenuous activity, there’s usually a glass-bottom boat to be found. 

This is an all year round sailing location. Charter a power boat, cabin cruiser or yacht for fishing or leisurely exploration at your own pace.

And again, your hotel will be able to arrange a full yacht charter or a day sail, or whatever your preference might be. The day sails include lunch and is a wonderfully relaxing way to enjoy the water; there are also sunset cruises and starlight dinner cruises?these are very popular and advance reservation are required.

In Grand Baie you can rent a catamaran by the hour if you prefer to handle the lines and rudder yourself. Grand Bay is the main centre for yachting and the Grand Bay Yacht Club (Tel: 263 8568) has a temporary membership scheme for visitors. Sailing cruises are available on the schooner Isla Mauritia, a 19th-century, 32m-long tallship, the last existing vessel of her class, operated by Yacht Charters Ltd. is available.

Snorkelling is an incredible experience since so many fish can be seen close to the beach without even having to go by boat to the reef. Full shoe fins should be worn. Equipment, when it’s not free, can be hired. Snorkelling is excellent with over-the-side boat trips running from most major hotels and from Grand Baie beach. The best swimming beaches are all at the northern end of the island.

The deep waters around Mauritius are famous for deep sea, big game fishing. High season is from October till April. Some of the well-known fishes around Mauritius (and they are really big): Shark, bonito, tuna fish, baracuda, black marlin, sailfish, wahoo, and primarily the blue marlin.

For those of you for whom a quiet suntan on the beach is not thrilling enough, you can always try your hand at parasailing. You will be rewarded by a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the lagoon and its multifarious underwater sea-scapes. Ask the manager of the local boat-house for the update on currents and winds.

Explore the bottom of the ocean and coral reefs for some of the most colourful fish and underwater scenes. Lessons are available for those who have never dived before.Almost every hotel or resort has a dive center and snorkeling and scuba diving can be arranged at your hotel.

Diving in Mauritius doesn?t compare with other Indian Ocean sites (Seychelles or Maldives) but there is a well-known site, the ?Cathedral? off Flic en Flac on the island?s west coast.

Apart from a handful of people who arrive by yacht or cruise ship, visitors to Mauritius fly into the country. Many flights originate in France, but there are also flights from several African, Asian and European capitals as well as from the US (via Europe) and Australia. You must have a return or onward ticket before arriving in Mauritius.