It would be hard to imagine how to spend your days out of the water on an island completely submerged by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Especially since the island owes its reputation to its 300 kilometres coastline and placid beaches sheltered by the world’s third largest coral reef. If you are tempted by the beaches, pleasantly shaded by rich tropical vegetation, water that stays warm all year and a wide range of aquatic activities, enjoy it as much as you can.
However, if you much more of an adventurer, or you intend to invest in Mauritius and spend a lot of time there, you will surely want to lose yourself in the very natural interior of the island and live like Mauritians do. So, we’ve done the work for you, that is at least 5 things to do/see in Mauritius without the need of a beach towel. Driving and traveling in Mauritius is a real pleasure with its road network of 2066 kilometres in good condition. Public transport costs almost nothing and covers the island in full. You can also consider taxis that tend to be a bit expensive or opt for car hire in Mauritius.
- Discover the Black River Gorges National Park
If you want to find out what the interior of a tropical island looked like before the arrival of man, head to the southwest of the island. The National Park of Mauritius covers an area of more than 6,500 hectares of dense vegetation, furrowed with numerous trails that lead to the discovery of endemic plants and animals including rare birds of the island.
Wide valleys with watercourses producing lush waterfalls and thick vegetation shelter a variety of fauna and flora. If you love birdwatching, you need to see the natural park, you’ll have the chance to see nine rare bird species which only live in Mauritius. These bird species include the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, Mauritius parakeet, Mauritius cuckoo-shrike, Mauritius bulbul, Mauritius olive white-eye, Mauritius grey white-eye and the Mauritius Fody. There are several trails to discover the gigantic park and trails for hikers. If you do not want to walk, you can always visit the Gorges de la Rivière Noire and enjoy the panoramic view from the top.
- Visit the capital Port Louis
If there is one place to discover the Mauritian culture, it has to be the charming city of Port Louis. Not really known as a tourist attraction, but the course of things decided otherwise. It is a real al fresco museum to identify local culture and it must be said that there is no shortage of attractions. Le Champ de Mars located north-east of the city is the oldest racecourse in the entire southern hemisphere, a must for horseracing enthusiasts. Another attraction of the city where you can stop at any time is the esplanade of Caudan Waterfront and its hundreds of entertainments.
The heart of the city is the central market, also known as “bazaar”. You will discover a burst of colors and smells around the lively atmosphere of traders and the continuous come and go of buyers looking for the best price. The surrounding streets are animated by merchants who sell a little of everything on this island: socks, t-shirts, shoes and mobile phones, locally produced and imported food. You will surely go to the street-food section to taste local delicacies such as gato piment, dholl puri, and the local Alouda drink. The market also has a section where you can find souvenirs and other tourist products for astonishingly low prices.
- The botanical garden of Pamplemousses
In 1735, the French governor Sir Mahè de Labourdonnais had a beautiful garden built as an annex to his residence. Over the years, it has undergone many transformations and has taken the name of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam botanical garden, in honour of the first Minister of Mauritius. To date, there are more than 530 plant species gathered on a surface of 26 hectares (about 37 football fields), so bring your comfortable shoes and a great desire to walk to discover the wonders that this garden reserves.
My advice is to take an expert guide who will show you the highlights (such as the giant water lily pond, the rubber tree, the many varieties of palm trees and many other curious species). The visit will last about two hours, then rely on instinct and let yourself be guided by the smell to wander aimlessly in the alleys of this botanical paradise enjoying the air full of scents.
- The village of Chamarel
Want to discover the most iridescent place of Mauritius? It is the village of Chamarel located south of the island that will surprise you. The village has the famous Seven coloured earth of Mauritius, a colourful mystery that offers visitors a unique natural spectacle.
The soft sand and rock dunes create red, brown, purple, green, blue, blue and yellow streaks due to a chemical process that is also the basis of another magical feature of these lands: if mixed, the different shades are divide like equal poles that repel each other. In Chamarel every day, the sun enjoys shining the sand with its changing light, creating surprising new palettes, a tangible demonstration of nature as the most imaginative artist this planet knows.
- Religious monuments and the sacred lake
People of different livers coexist peacefully on the heavenly land. In cities, villages as close to the beach you will find mosques, Catholic churches, Hindu temples and Tamils. In particular, what fascinates is the Tamil religion and their temples that are true masterpieces. An explosion of colours and sculptures perfect even in the smallest details. It is impossible not to notice them and it is worth looking closely to remain astonished expressions of certain deities.
Other times like in February you’ll have the chance to see Hindu festivals like Maha Shivarathi, when nearly half of the population pilgrim to the sacred lake of Grand Bassin.