Mauritius is pretty far out (in the Indian Ocean), but there are regular flights from Europe, and it is well worth the time and effort to land on this divine volcanic creation to the east of Madagascar. Once you get there, no painstaking effort to maximise your enjoyment will be required, as the island nation has a robust tourist industry that is set up to make your stay smooth and free from dullness or discomfort. English is widespread – most Mauritians (not Martians, get your head out of the galactic gutter)are bilingual – but if you want to brush up on your French (or Creole), your trip here will be a great chance. Locals will love you all the more.
The Grand Bay of Mauritius.
You won’t be left in want of entertainment and cultural activities. Grand Bay, on the northern end of the island, has been accommodating tourists for quite some time, and it is also where Mauritians prefer to go for a night out on the town. The nearby Pereybere public beach is noted for its selection of shopping, dining, and pubbing in the vicinity. At Pereybere the sand is soft, the lagoon is sectioned off for safe swimming, and the beach itself is, though not vast, uncrowded and inviting. The Beach House Restaurant and Bar, owned by a famous rugby player, is a favourite of both locals and visitors, with consistently good food, a laid back environment that is satisfying as a restaurant and a bar, and great local music.
The Labourdonnais Chateau.
But the natural beauty of the island doesn’t end with the beaches, where you can talk nice walks at remember after swimming and tanning. What a must-see on the northern end is Labourdonnais Chateau. This “chateau in a natural setting” was a family home for 150 years. When it was in disrepair and need of saving, a government agency stepped in to make it an attraction for visitors, displaying the natural splendour of Mauritius, as well as some of its history and cuisine. It has been designed as a sort of mini-museum, with several themed exhibition halls accessible by the second-floor veranda. Learn about the family history, the restoration project, and the current orchards, among other things.
These fellas hang out around the Chateau.
The orchards and gardens surrounding the house are probably the highlights. Promenades were constructed so that visitors could take a leisurely stroll and discover the wealth of plants on the island. Mango trees, spice trees, and a mix of exotic fruit trees join a host of other endemic power stations. There is also a section of the orchard which produces fruits for a variety of organic Labourdonnais products, which can be sampled in tasting bar on the premises. While strolling through the gardens, keep your eyes out for the giant Aldabra tortoises that feed serenely in the area. These majestic creatures, originally from Seychelles, are among the largest turtles in the world.
You can find more turtles at the Baie aux Tortues.
Also in the area is the Bay of Tortoises (Baie aux Tortues), named after the various tortoises around, and the Balaclava Ruins. Maybe one afternoon you can walk along the bay to the ruins and explore the sea walls that tell of the island’s colonial past. The ruins are of a fortress built for the sugar empire established by the French. It’s an interesting bit of history, but it’s also an excellent photo op and place to take in the surrounding beauty, especially at sundown.
For a resort in Mauritius that is convenient to the airport, the Hilton Mauritius Resort and Spa, Flic en Flac is an excellent choice that offers decadent spas, private beach, and plenty of watersports.