Ten experiences in Mauritius that you must not miss

When you think of Mauritius, you think of Mark Twain. It has been attributed to the author who apparently said that  “Mauritius was made first and then heaven. And heaven was copied after Mauritius.” However, it is now believed to be a bit of an exaggeration. Nevertheless, Mark Twain, who was in Mauritius in the 19th century did admit that Mauritius is indeed charming, with magical landscapes. He may not be like most tourists be focused on things to do in Mauritius, but he did admit that he was smitten by the island. I stumbled upon the following excerpt from his journal.

things to do in Mauritius

April 23, 1896 

What there is of Mauritius is beautiful. You have undulating wide expanses of sugar-cane—a fine, fresh green and very pleasant to the eye; and everywhere else you have a ragged luxuriance of tropic vegetation of vivid greens of varying shades, a wild tangle of underbrush, with graceful tall palms lifting their crippled plumes high above it; and you have stretches of shady dense forest with limpid streams frolicking through them, continually glimpsed and lost and glimpsed again in the pleasantest hide-and-seek fashion; and you have some tiny mountains, some quaint and picturesque groups of toy peaks, and a dainty little vest-pocket Matterhorn; and here and there and now and then a strip of the sea with a white ruffle of surf breaks into the view. That is Mauritius; and pretty enough.

But Mauritius is more than just a pretty island with picture postcard views. Personally, for me, it’s the land of colours, be it the blinding green of the dancing sugar cane stalks, the teal-turquoise hues of the ocean bordered by the emerald-tinged palm trees, or the vivid ochre and brown cliffs and volcanic rocks adding a formidable touch to the island. This is where the earth dons over seven shades and sometimes even twenty-three hues,  while the cherry on the top is the vivid and vibrant rainbows crisscrossing the skies. Even the ominous storms add a dramatic grey tinge to the skies.

things to do in Mauritius

Mauritius’s story is one of the volcanic eruptions and continental drifts that led to the creation of lagoons and lakes, reefs, and cliffs. The entire island tells a story of natural wonder and phenomena and there are several fascinating things to do in Mauritius for travellers.

Mauritius packs within it several experiences for the discerning and intrepid traveller. Heritage and cultural immersions, hikes into national parks, golf vacations, family excursions, foodie jaunts, island hopping, and many more besides picture postcard beaches, water sports, cruises, and scuba and snorkeling expeditions are some of the places to see in Mauritius. Here are my recommendations on ten experiences and things to do in Mauritius which includes both offbeat and tourist places of Mauritius .

things to do in Mauritius

Head to Chamarel for some rum and adventure

Chamarel is a lovely hamlet located in the Black River District in South West Mauritius and it is often referred to as “The Valley of Blacks or the amphitheater of abrupt rocks. ” Named after the French brothers, Toussaint-Antoine et Charles-Antoine de Chazal de Chamarel, the hamlet was once known for the sugarcane, cotton, coffee, and indigo plantations. There is also an Ebony Forest, a reserve that has been restored and is home to some of the endemic bird species like the Pink Pigeon. Chamarel also has coffee plantations and you can try the coffee at some of the coffee shops.

things to do in Mauritius

Chamarel is also where the earth turns into a rainbow. The Seven Coloured Earth Geopark is one of the most sought-after attractions where the earth is painted in vivid shades and the sand dunes are tinged with red, brown, blue, purple, yellow, violet, and even a bit of green.  Feast your eyes on the surreal landscape and then head to see the enchanting waterfalls. The weathering of the basalt rocks and their decomposition led to the residue of iron and aluminum oxides on the rocks. The chemicals blended with the sands giving them multi-colored hues.

things to do in Mauritius

Chamarel is one of the tourist places of Mauritius and it offers several experiences including rum tasting. The popular haunt is the Rhummerie, where you can take a tour and watch how rum is distilled here in the traditional way besides indulging in some tasting of exotic flavors. The Rhummerie also has a lovely restaurant where you can enjoy delicious food.

Chamarel is also flanked by the Black River Gorges National Park and there are several hiking trails that take you into the heart of the woodlands. Chamarel definitely ranks in one of the top places to see in Mauritius.

Take excursions around the Bay of Mahebourg

Mahebourg is a charming seaside town located in the southeast of Mauritius founded in the 19th century by the French and named after their governor Mahé de Labourdonnais. The Mahebourg waterfront is an iconic attraction and there are picturesque beaches here too. The museums and markets are fascinating and the town itself has an old-world charm about it. One of the top things to do in Mauritius is to go on cruises and I would recommend two specific excursions off the coast of Mahebourg.

things to do in Mauritius

Head to Point Jerome and board a ferry to Ile Aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve to get a glimpse of the original topography and biodiversity of Mauritius before the Dutch sailors arrived. A conservation story unfolds here in this reserve as you get to meet giant Aldabra tortoises who have bred here and pink pigeons and other avifauna who have been reintroduced here. Don’t forget to say hello to Big Daddy, a century-old giant tortoise that has made this island his home.

After the nature walk, cruise away to Ile Aux Fouquets or Phare, also known as Grand-Port lighthouse in the 19th century. It is abandoned today, but the ruins tell many a historic tale. It is definitely one of the fascinating places to see in Mauritius.

Discover the sweet history of Mauritius at L’Aventure Du Sucre

Mauritius had a very sweet history as its very identity can be traced to sugar and sugarcane. L’Aventure Du Sucre, an interactive museum is referred to as a “temple for sugar.” and it is one of the top tourist places of Mauritius. Located in an old sugar factory, the museum showcases how sugar is very much in the origin story of the island, leading to a cultural ethos and evolution. The setting itself gives you a sense of a bygone era as you. Even the machines and the old railway engine evokes an old-world charm.

Set amidst 6000 sq meters, there are over 10 sections that start with the history and the transformation of sugarcane to juice and from juice to sugar and eventually rum. You can get to taste varieties of not just rum but also try different types of sugar. The adventure does not end here. The museum is located in one of the oldest villages of Mauritius at Pamplemousses, known for its beautiful Botanical Gardens. You can also potter around Pamplemousses where Governor La Bourdonnais built his mansion. Time literally seems to stand still out here in this idyllic hamlet. Do add it to your list of favourite things to do in Mauritius.

Say cheers to Takamaka Lychee Wine

This was one of the most delicious experiences on the trip as I didn’t expect to drink lychee wine in the land of spiced rum. The boutique Takamaka Winery is a boutique winery that prides itself on making wines with handpicked lychees grown in Mauritius. The experience is youthful and vibrant as they start with a cheeky disclaimer – “Don’t ask us about ancestral traditions – we don’t own a château, we don’t operate any vineyards, we don’t even work the grapes..”

things to do in Mauritius

The winery is however charming and they explain the process as you go on a quick tour. The oenologist, Alexander Oxenham joins us as he shares his s passion with us, adding that he wanted to “write oenology differently.” And you can feel that flavour in the wines – the off-dry citrusy lychee white Aquarel, the salmon-tinged smooth and balanced rose with flavours of strawberries, the sweet Eclipse with notes of peaches and flowers, and the candied flavoured Icone. You can’t miss this unique winery even if you are not into wines.

things to do in Mauritius

Experience the Chateau way of life

The Chateaus of Mauritius are more than just symbols of the colonial heritage of the island.  When you visit the iconic Chateau de Labourdonnais, the 19th century home of a Mauritian family who had lived here for 150 years, you step back into the bygone era and relive the traditions. Located in the north, the chateau tells a story of restoration and conservation and a tour is one of the recommended things to do in Mauritius. It also includes an immersive experience of the art and architecture besides exploring the natural heritage.

The tour also includes the rhummerie where you can indulge in some rum tasting, besides jellies, jams and juices. The sublime garden around the estate with the historic old trees is an experience by itself.  And while you enter the magical world of the past, you can also see giant Aldabra tortoises enjoying their moment in the sun.

Discover Port Louis

The capital town of Mauritius has a colonial hangover around it as it was essentially founded by the French and one of the attractions is Fort Adelaide. Even today the harbour is a remnant of the old settlement. The town is filled with tourist places to see in Mauritius but there are a few hidden nooks as well. The city centre is around the Caudan Waterfront, with its food court, commercial complex and craft markets. One of the buildings here is the heritage luxury hotel, Le Labourdonnais.

However there are several things to do in Mauritius and you will find many monuments, museums, and markets that you can explore. Besides the Aapravasi Ghat, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, you can also visit the National History Museum, the present home of the dodo and the Blue Penny Museum, and the Postage Museum where you can see some of the oldest stamps. The Central Market is one of the main markets of Mauritius which is vibrant and colourful. You can also visit one of the oldest horse racing tracks that can be found at Champ de Mars. Your Mauritius itinerary is not complete if you do not visit a local temple here. There are also several old cathedrals, churches, and mosques as well.

A picture postcard comes alive at Maconde

If you are wondering why you need a viewpoint when every bit of Mauritius is a glossy picture postcard, then you haven’t been to Maconde. Located in the South of the island, the quaint village of Baie du Cap, Maconde is located on the steep curve of the Baie Du Cap Coastal Road which is ranked among the top 10 beautiful roads in the world. But the view up is even better,

things to do in Mauritius

It could get very windy as you climb up the narrow steps of the rocky cliff but the oceans with their multi-hued shades bordered by the emerald-tinged forests and mountains are just incredible. Maconde originated from the slavery era when the Makonde tribes from Mozambique came apparently to this village for refuge.  If you have the time, then go for a drive along the meandering coastal route, soaking in the views. Definitely one of the top things to do in Mauritius.

Relive the dark historical era at the Slave Monument

Located at the foot of the towering Le Morne in southwest Mauritius, the Slave Monument is a throwback to the dark slavery era which dominated most of the colonial rule in Mauritius. The formidable cliffs of La Morne have long since been the refuge of slaves as many escaped and lived in small settlements inside the caves. But they are shrouded in tales of desperation and sorrow as many of them have jumped to their death here than be dehumanized by slavery.

Another darker story tells you about how several men and women, who were runaway slaves were hiding here and seeing British troops coming in, they committed mass suicide. The tragedy lies in the fact that the troops were arriving in hordes to announce the end of the slavery era. However the monument set amidst lush greenery with carvings is a symbol of their sacrifices and La Morne Cultural Landscape is a World Heritage Site as well, paying tribute to their travails and struggles.

See a rainbow on earth at La Vallee des Couleurs

The earth here showcases more colours than it does in Chamarel and on a good day, you can even see 23 shades all blended with each other. But LVDC as it’s called offers more than just vibrant hues. If you like adventure, this is the place to be. One of the top things to do in Mauritius is to try ziplining or quad biking. You can also drive around the rugged valley, lose yourself in many hues and chase waterfalls.

things to do in Mauritius

LVDC is located in  South Mauritius and is one of the most popular tourist places of Mauritius. There are also activities for kids besides cafes and restaurants. You can spend almost an entire day here

things to do in Mauritius

Visit the divine Grand Bassin

A trip to Mauritius is not complete without a visit to the massive crater lake located right in the heart of the island. The Grand Bassin is more than just a lake though. It is a sacred reservoir for the Hindu community of Mauritius and is referred to as Ganga Talao. There are temples dedicated to Shiva and Shakti and the statues are about 108 feet tall. During the festival of Shivaratri, thousands of Hindus throng the lake and pray to the deities all night. It definitely lends a divine aura to the island.

things to do in Mauritius

There are many more tourist places of Mauritius waiting to be explored and you would need at leasr a week to experience the top things to do in Mauritius and also soak in the island way of life. What are your recommendations on some of your favourite places to see in Mauritius . Leave a comment here

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