Mauritius is called a paradise for some reason. And we knew the moment we drove to our hotel from the airport, driving between the vast sugarcane fields and cloudy blue skies above us, that I’ve found my kinda holiday destination away from humid Dubai when it was fuming in the month of August. It rained every morning, with ample warmth from the sun during the day to swim and chilly evenings for long walks – what else would a desert dweller ever need! Exchanging the colonial rule from Dutch to French to the British before gaining independence in 1968, Mauritius is a blend of different cultures {including a lot of Indian influence}, evident in the people of their country, their food and their living.

While the island have the most gorgeous beaches, there are tons of eccentric things to do in Mauritius, both for honeymoon-ers and families. We booked our flight and accommodation package from Emirates Holidays {highly recommend for your next holiday} and worked on an entire itinerary researching through sleepless nights ourselves. And it was so worth it! We had 8 days in Mauritius, and we wanted to make the most of it, with the idea of  keeping it entertaining for Little A and relaxing for us. The visa for Mauritius is super simple and the country offers a 90 days visa-free stay to passport holders from many countries, including Indian {check here to know if your passport falls under this list}. The officials at the airport were very friendly and welcoming and we were just required to fill in two forms on our arrival. After completing all the formalities, we were jet set go from day 1. Our hotel was put up in the North of Mauritius, so we’d travel for approximately 30 to 40 minutes each way to visit places in South, East and West; but that is a precise travel time on any corner of the island you stay. Doing your homework well in renting a car or hiring a driver beforehand is what I will highly endorse as we had a terrible time with a guide we hired before landing, however were lucky enough for a driver who stepped up and made our trip memorable. 

Grab your cup of tea and read along this entire post, if you are planning to travel to Mauritius in the near future. It’s going to be long but I promise you to be worthy enough to put your itinerary in place before you fly to this coveted destination.

Stay at Le Meridien Ile Maurice.

There are no dearth of hotels in Mauritius, fitting into the need of every budget. Not saying that you need to follow, but we book our hotel stay purely on our gut feeling. We browse through the hotel’s website – the activities it offers, restaurants, rooms and their picture gallery (totally absurd, I know, but this is who we are). What we particularly loved about Le Meridien is that it is a global brand and also has a few water sport activities on their beach {both complimentary and paid} that we could book from the hotel itself on our arrival. We booked half board with the hotel which we realized was the best thing we could ever do. Because once we were back in the hotel after a day of sight seeing, we’d unwind for the dinner in the property itself that was tucked away in Northern interiors. Wait for a whole blog post on our stay at the hotel!

 

Try unique water sports.

The sprawling coastline of the island offer variety of water sports and activities including underwater sea walk, parasailing, scuba diving, wind surfing, whale watching, glass bottom boat ride, kayaking, etc. Most of these were kid friendly that Little A could do as well. Husband and I aren’t great swimmers and went off beat with an inclination to go for an under water sea walk {luckily, you don’t need any swimming skills for this}. It was a little scary at the beginning, but worth it. This gave us the best under water sea experience, walking on the sea floor with corals around us and beautifully patterned fish swimming past us. It was awe-strucking, if that’s ever a word! Little A was thrilled to know that he would be permitted for para sailing (along with me) and it was an amazing experience soaring high above the endless Indian Ocean!

 

Eat local.

One of the best ways of experiencing local culture is trying traditional food that is largely connected with country’s heritage and by talking to it’s people. Mauritian food is  a unique mix of Indian, Creole, French and Chinese influences. Stop over at stalls that sell dhal puri and sugar cane juice and enter into colorful restaurants off the tiny lanes to savour Mauritian delicacies. Since we stayed on half board, our dinners were at Cumin for Indian food, La Faya for French and Shells for Mauritian at Le Meridien Ile Maurice serving some of the most delicious and incredible experiences.

For lunch, however, I’d highly recommend the following restaurants – 

Langouste Grillée – Along the beach road at Pointe aux Piments, about 5 minutes drive or a 15 minutes walk from Le Meridien, is a warm and cosy cottage turned restaurant run by a husband-wife duo. Even though it was way past lunchtime, we were welcomed with smiles. It is one of those places you want to savour the ambiance, experience local hospitality and discuss many food options. We ordered two dishes of shrimps – one in butter sauce and the other with curry which came with rice and salad. Pretty much homely comfort food that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Or is the kind of rapport that you make with your customers that make them feel so familiar?

Mich Resto – The restaurant is located just on the same road to the waterfall and 7-colored earth and serves some delicious Creole cuisine. The curries are comforting with great Mauritian folk music playing at the background. Certainly my kinda place to hang out!

 

Visit sugarcane fields.

One of the very first thing you’ll notice as soon as you land on the island are vast stretches of sugarcane fields. Sugarcane has a long history in Mauritius dating back to the 17th century that we learned from our driver – and is basically a primary crop. So while there, make sure you wander through the fields while you can and sip on some delicious freshly squeezed sugarcane juice at Siro Pike at Le Caudan Waterfront.

 

Explore the beaches.

Everyone knows Mauritius is known for its pristine beaches, so it is literally unfair to miss that out from this list. Clear blue turquoise water, white sandy beaches with coconut trees dotting along the shore makes it a dreamy tropical holiday. Most of the public beaches in Mauritius are safe for swimming, ideal for coastal walks and sightseeing. 

 

Hang out at Le Valle des Couleurs (Casela World of Adventures).

While researching on places to visit in Mauritius, Casela World of Adventures topped our list for a variety of attractions it has to offer. General admission to the park allows you inside a bird’s park, tortoise pen, giraffe realm, animals feeding (you’ll have to purchase the food inside), avalanche mine, tour in a  safari bus, etc., however the real fun lies in additional extras like zip lining, walk on a Nepalese Bridge above the jungle ravines, quad safari on a rugged plateau exploring zebras, tortoises and ostriches and discovering waterfalls and panoramas mountainous areas along the way. We did them all (with Little A included for every activity) and all of these experiences were incredible to say the least. We couldn’t make it to Chamarel on time but luckily saw a glimpse of seven colored earth at Casela itself while on a quad safari. If you love adventure, a visit to Casela is going to be a highlight of your holiday. Come prepared with hats and water to keep yourself hydrated.

 

Cruise on a catamaran.

We were highly contemplating a cruise but finally gave in on a day before the last of our trip. And so glad we did! We met Anthony on the beach at Le Meridien, who runs water sport activities on the beach, and he guided us to his friend who organizes a group catamaran cruise. We started in the morning from Grand Baie and returned back to the beach late evening.  If you think cruises are only for the couples, I’d urge you to think again. We had a few kids on the catamaran including Little A and by what I could say of my water baby, he enjoyed to the fullest! While Ile Aux Cerfs is highly overrated and we did go there albeit only were welcomed to beach views and expensive water sports. With old school songs in the background, fresh seafood lunch on the cruise, soaking up some sun on the deck, choicest of drinks available at your disposal from an open bar, snorkeling/swimming in the middle of the ocean and a halt at a mysterious unspoiled coastline of the island; it’s a party you wouldn’t wanna miss!

 

Absorb the daily life of locals at Port Louis central market.

To really get to know the local life of people in Mauritius, take a trip to it’s vibrant capital, Port Louis. The market is buzzing with culture, heritage and it’s unique charm. The narrow streets are separated with street vendors selling everything under the sun. Compared to the touristy destinations of the island, this is not as pretty but as real as it can get and one of the travel experiences you should add to your list. There was lot of fresh produce of offer and we relished oranges and guavas from the market.

 

Spend a day visiting Citadel Fort and Le Caudan Waterfront.

 We combined the history and modern civilization of Mauritius in one day since a visit to each doesn’t take more than a couple of hours. Perched on top of the hills, Citadel Fort/Fort Adelaide is a spectacular heritage monument giving you a 360 degree view of the island, breathtaking views of Caudan waterfront and an enormous Indian Ocean. The place is typical touristy but if you a sucker for impressive city views, you’ll love Citadel Fort.

Coming from one of the best shopping destinations, shopping at Le Caudan was never our idea besides to see the French connect the colonial past of the island. The waterfront market has enough options to make the most of your time giving you a good perspective of the harbor. As soon as we entered the open pedestrian alley of the mall, we were greeted with a cute and colorful surprise. Colorful umbrellas floating above this lane and a glass of sugarcane juice at Siro Pike are not to be missed.

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