By Shona 06 November 2018

My Top Things to do in Mauritius

Having just returned from exploring Mauritius, Shona has shared some highlights from her trip, including the top activities as well as her recommendations for local restaurants and luxury hotels to stay in...

How do you begin to describe to someone the sensational beauty that is the island of Mauritius when words can’t convey just how white the sand is, how turquoise the water appears to be, and how even the streets seem to come alive with their blossomings of bougainvillea, frangipani, and hibiscus? The answer is, if you really want to get to know this idyllic island, you have to experience it for yourself!

I’ve just returned from a week exploring Mauritius – and along with a few duty-free bags of rum-related goodies, an epic tan, and a full memory card of some of the best beaches in the world, I have my own memories of some superb activities that’ll help keep the winter chill at bay.

I stayed in Mauritius’ south and west, so here are some highlights among my favourite things to do and see while on a beach holiday to these parts of the island:

1) The best beaches in Mauritius

Most of the island is fringed by cotton-white beaches that’ll fill any fellow Instagrammer with envy, but these three picks take into consideration the crowds, the sunset, and the type of person to whom the beach is most likely to appeal.

 

Le Morne

The best beaches I walked along had to be around Le Morne. Yes, the sand was perfectly white, but the things that made this experience singularly special were the calm waters and the backdrop of Le Morne mountain – amazing for anyone who likes a beach with a view! Also, the western side of the island is wonderfully sheltered – this contrasts with the eastern side, which is hit by winds that calm down over the interior of Mauritius and then almost completely dissipate by the time they hit the west. To get here, access the beach between LUX* Le Morne and The St. Regis Mauritius Resort, and head south – you’ll see the coral reef, spot some daredevil kite surfers, and watch some of the local fishermen nab a tasty fish or two. I’d recommend not walking barefoot, though – best to take trainers, as some of the coral washes ashore.

Flic en Flac

This is one of the longest beaches in Mauritius, about 8 kilometres, so it’s great for those who want a decent walk. Head to the Post Office in Flic en Flac town, and then towards the ocean – here you can swim, snorkel (spotting boxfish and sea urchins), stroll, or run almost all the way south to Tamarin. When you reach the end of the sand, look out towards the bay – if you see a collection of boats nearby then you’ve spotted where the dolphins are! Usually there in the morning, the pod can number up to about forty of the marine mammals, so you have a fantastic chance of seeing them right from where you stand – although taking a pair of binoculars is also a good idea.

Alternatively, be here at sunset! The sun sets in the west, so grab a patch of comfy beach and wait until the sun slips beyond the horizon – it is spectacular with Le Morne mountain and the ocean in front of you, highlighted by the sun’s orange and pink filters. The pictures I took (right) was actually just when a ballerina was striking a few poses on the pier… that’s what I call perfect timing.

 
 

Tamarin

The south-west of Mauritius may be recognised as well off the beaten path, but holidaymakers hoping to avoid the crowds completely can head to Tamarin Beach. This is where the upmarket locals and long-term expats go for their afternoon stroll and evening sundowner. It’s also a spot where you can watch the pod of dolphins swim by, and it’s usually the fly-by location of the sea karts!

2) Where to try the local curry/cuisine in Mauritius

When you’re not dining on the 5-star cuisine offered at your hotel, take a leap and dive into the local culinary explosions that are the Creole and seafood-heavy dishes.

Best curry in Mauritius

My personal recommendation for a local curry has to be just off the Flic en Flac beach, at a tiered restaurant called Zub Express. This eatery serves a fusion of Indian, Chinese, and Mauritian cuisine, and I’d suggest immediately climbing the stairs to the rooftop and ordering a divine mango lassi to enjoy while you take in the view. Follow this with the fish coco and your choice of naan bread, and you will be in a wonderful curry food coma!

Best lunchtime spot

For a cool and popular (but only with those in the know!) lunchtime restaurant, go to Wapalapam. This is the favoured haunt of many surfer dudes and cocktail queens. I had quite a fun berry-and-mango prosecco cocktail, which seemed to include a free lolly, and some of the best salt-and-pepper calamari I’ve tasted in years. They also have a super house white wine, so maybe consider walking from your hotel in Le Morne for a spirited lunch.

Best bar with a view

Perched right on the hillside and bordering the lush Black River Gorges National Park, Le Chamarel really stands out. It is rather unique because, whereas most of the restaurants and bars in Mauritius try to take advantage of the shoreline, Le Chamarel is far away from the beach yet boasts one of the finest views on the island -  with views of the UNESCO-listed Le Morne peninsula and the Tourelle du Tamarin mountain, and all the beaches in between.

3) The best water-based activities to try in Mauritius

Surfing, fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, boat cruising, sea karting, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding… Mauritius has a never-ending list of water-based activities.

Go fishing

As the west coast of Mauritius is much quieter than the other sides of the island, it’s ideal for deep sea fishing. There are plenty of companies offering fishing excursions, including your hotel, but I was specifically advised to try a company called the Fish Whisperer. As well as inspiring this referral, the Fish Whisperer had won the Mauritius marlin international tournament, which was enough of a reference for me to book a morning expedition with them – and it turned out to be an absolute highlight of my trip!

Be warned, though – there is no budging on the 4:30am meeting at the harbour! This company wants you to have the best opportunity for catching a whopper, so you’re out on the sea at the optimum time. Within the first hour of dropping our lines, we had reeled in three big wahoos. You can catch other fish like yellowfin tuna and dorado, but I got particularly lucky with the sharp-teethed scombridae. After the sun had risen, the fish stopped biting – hence the early start –, but during this quiet time I was able to cast my eyes to the horizon, where I was rewarded with the thrill of humpback whales breaching and a brief sighting of a sea turtle – another highlight.

Learn how to scuba dive

Some of the best dive sites in Mauritius can be found off the west coast, especially for new or learning scuba divers. The sites between Flic en Flac and Tamarin offer a variety of drift, reef, and shipwreck dives, with the added bonus of dolphins or whales possibly visible during the trip. Most famous is the site known as Cathedral, which is an easy dive at 18–30 metres deep and features caverns and arches threaded with angelfish, snappers, and lobsters. Weather conditions always come into play when scuba diving, so the best approach is to have your activity arranged by your luxury hotel as soon as you arrive.

 

Spot and swim with dolphins

If you’re keen to get up close to the dolphins, climbing into a boat is your best option. The bottlenose and spinner species of the west coast use the bay between Tamarin and Le Morne as their resting ground before swimming into the deep open ocean for their daily fishing. Join up with a morning outing, and you could witness dozens of the marine mammals playing together. Although not guaranteed, your chances of seeing the resident dolphins are high.

4) When in Mauritius… stay in a luxury hotel

There are hotels on Mauritius that would stake their claim as the most luxurious properties in the world and this island is certainly luxury tourism at its best.

Of all the luxury properties in this region of Mauritius, one of the most beautiful and welcoming is LUX* Le Morne. I stayed here for two nights in a Prestige Junior Suite, and it was fabulous. From the pristine beachfront to the idyllic hammocks tethered throughout the grounds to the extensive equipment at the Boat House to the stunning spa, the hotel has a lot to offer – and I didn’t even come close to experiencing it all. I’d say that the lush, Zen, and almost abstract set-up of LUX* Le Morne is especially well suited to couples and families with older children. However, it certainly has enough breathtaking views and romantic corners for a honeymooning couple to enjoy.

If you do visit LUX* Le Morne, make sure you spend at least one evening at restaurant The Beach for its panoramas and delicate seafood, as well as an afternoon in the spa, having a back massage followed by a spot of mendi – they have a real henna artist here!

My week in Mauritius really was something special, one of my favourite holidays of all time. If you’d like to experience everything the island has to offer on your own beach break, just contact a member of the YZ team.