Content and photos courtesy of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority
- Area: 2,040 km² (787 sq mi)
- Calling Code: +230
- Currency: Mauritian rupee (MUR)
- Population (EST): 1,295,789
- Official language: Mauritian creole, French, English
- Time Zone: MUT (UTC+4)
10 Reasons to Visit Mauritius
1. Sparkling like a gem in the southern Indian Ocean is the island known as Mauritius. Like a fantasy of endless beaches, warm winds, and blue skies, the island is known for its relaxing atmosphere and swaying palm trees, but there's much more to this special island than cocktails by the sea. The rich cultural landscape is sure to surprise and excite its visitors. The beauty of the island drew inhabitants from many countries, such as the Netherlands, Madagascar, France, England, and Indonesia, as well as the Far East. This amazing convergence of different peoples inspires a spirit of tolerance and diversity.
2. The dodo bird is quite famous for its whimsical appearance and character, but mostly for the fact that it is completely extinct. As funny as it sounds, the history and legacy of the dodo are treasured by the people of the island because the dodo called Mauritius its home when it was still around. In fact, there was nowhere else the dodo could go, being a completely ﬂightless bird. This charming history can be explored at the Natural History Museum in Port Louis, where travelers marvel at the bird's reconstructed skeleton.
3. Golf ﬁts so perfectly into the landscape of Mauritius that one wonders if the isle arose from the sea with 18 holes on it. Golf legend Ernie Els realized this when he constructed one of the ﬁnest courses imaginable at the Four Seasons Golf Club. The course is not only challenging, but offers a relaxing day's trip through sugarcane ﬁelds, sparkling coastline, wondrous lagoons, and other natural marvels of Mauritius. The course is a wonderful retreat when one has been too sedentary on the beach or needs to escape an uptight business conference.
4. Even though Mauritius seems to be one vast botanical garden, there are still almost a dozen stunning gardens and nature reserves to explore all across the island. From city center to Black River Gorge, amidst soaring mountains and dramatic waterfalls, these various reserves highlight the most stunning natural wonders of the island. Pamplemousses Botanical Garden is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere and is famous for its giant water lilies, diverse ﬂora, and a whopping 85 varieties of palm tree.
5. The intoxicating colors and sounds of the traditional Se´ga dance are not to be missed. This Creole performance happens regularly on the island and is a fusion of opera and large group choreography presented by young women in brightly colored rufﬂed skirts. The dance builds in tempo and intensity as the performance unfolds, and there is often audience participation and interaction.
6. Most travelers don't realize that Mauritius is the top sport ﬁshing destination in the world. Not only are the picturesque waters pleasing to the ﬁsherman, but those same waters are home to several varieties of shark and tuna. Although these ﬁsh are not what the hobby ﬁsherman might intend for a relaxing afternoon at sea, the sport ﬁsherman jumps at the chance to encounter these beautiful and challenging creatures. The Marlin World Cup is held in Mauritius every year, and catching a half ton marlin is just another day at sea.
7. Sugar plays an important role in the history of Mauritius and the Beau Plan sugar mill is a great spot to explore and dine. The Fangourin restaurant is a favourite amongst locals and travelers alike. Set in a garden nearby the mill, the restaurant serves some of the freshest seafood on the island, as well as delectable sweets and savouries. The restaurant and mill are excellent for weddings, parties, and business functions, or just a nice peaceful afternoon with the family. Be sure to have a taste of the Muscavdo creme brûlée, infused with rich lavender.
8. Surrounded by turquoise lagoons just across the way from Mauritius' shores is the Ile aux Aigrettes, a nature reserve restored to its pristine and original state by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. All non-native animals and plants were cleared from the little island, and now it thrives as it has for centuries past with its Kestrel and Pink Pigeon species, as well as it's giant and ancient tortoises.
9. No trip to Mauritius is complete without exploring below the surface of the turquoise waters, and diving and snorkeling are the best way to get up-close and personal with some of Mauritius' most stunning ocean life. Thanks to the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society there's a vast, protected treasure trove of coral reefs, marine life, ship wrecks, and gorgeous ﬁshes of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
10. Once one has explored all the ﬁne activities both on sea and land that the island has to offer, it's time to ﬁnally sit on the beach with a cocktail and watch the palm trees sway. The drink of choice on Mauritius is rum. In fact, sugar cane production used to be the island's greatest treasure, but now the burgeoning rum culture is superseding that. Green Island is the most famous label and the only exported brand, but the island produces an array of local, high quality labels that are available for sampling at the local bars.