Think Mauritius is only for the ‘fly and flop’ on the beach? Think again.
Sure, the endless sunshine, unbelievably perfect weather, Instagrammable calm turquoise waters and soft white sand are the usual drawcards.
‘In Mauritius, you (South Africans) can enjoy a tropical island holiday without travelling across the globe or enduring the costs of applying for a visa,’ says Antoinette Turner, General Manager Flight Centre South Africa.
‘But there is a great deal more to do on the island than just lounging on the beach all day. It’s an all-rounder destination appealing to different interests, from tiny tots and teens to adventure- and culture-loving ‘big kids’.’
There’s also plenty to add to your itinerary beyond your chosen resort.
If you’re still deciding on your June/July school holiday, book quickly for a trip to the island as accommodation and flights fill up quickly.
Ten things to do in Mauritius beyond the beach:
1. Street art
Did you know that Port Louis is home to over 70 pieces of street art? Here are some of the general areas to find these artistic treasures:
- Chinatown – The New Chinatown Foundation (a non-profit) commissioned several pieces from highly talented artists to preserve and celebrate the culture of Chinatown.
- Port Louis town centre – You’ll find three massive pieces of street art near the Central Market.
- Cathedral Square – This square’s most famous street art is a piece called ‘Under the Pavement’ by Seth GlobePainter.
- Caudan Waterfront – Visit the Caudan Arts Center Building and look near the ’Granary’ to admire the waterfront’s colourful street art.
- Victoria Urban Terminal – This terminal proudly displays a diverse collection of street art painted by several local artists.
Here’s a handy map to help you find each mural, thanks to Ventureout.com.
Top tip: Visit on Sunday when the streets are less busy and shops are closed. Or enjoy browsing and shopping on a bustling Saturday morning, followed by your own DIY street art tour in the afternoon.
2: Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel
This land-based activity in the island’s southwest is a true marvel of nature and one of the most visited attractions in Mauritius. The aptly-named Seven Coloured Earths is essentially a small area of rainbow-coloured dunes made up of sand that gives off a distinctive colourful shimmer – seven different colours, to be exact. Visit at sunrise when the coloured earth looks even more surreal, playing tricks on the eye in the shifting light.
A thrilling zip-line adventure awaits at the Vallée des Couleurs, where you can appreciate the south coast of Mauritius from the sky. Choose from zip-lines of different lengths from 500 m, 1.5 km, 1.6 km (7 lines) or 3.1 km. Kids 8 years and older can ride the 500 m long zip-line.
4. Hike to waterfalls
Did you know that there are heaps of incredible waterfalls on the island? Some are situated within easy reach, with minimal physical effort necessary, while others are hidden gems that require a more significant trek and can include canyoning and abseiling.
Some of the most famous waterfalls are as follows:
- The Chamarel Waterfalls – This waterfall is said to be the tallest single-drop waterfall in Mauritius at about 100 m high. Chamarel is a historical village on the southwest of the island and boasts various natural wonders such as the Seven Coloured Earths and Black River Gorges National Park.
- Alexandra Falls – Located in the Black River Gorges National Park and situated about 700 m above sea level, Alexandra Falls is one of the most popular nature sites in Mauritius.
- The Tamarind Falls (also known as 7 cascades) – A slightly more difficult-to-reach waterfall, the Tamarind Falls are located on the central plateau. The Falls comprise over 11 waterfalls with plenty of deep pools and multiple jump opportunities. You can reach it on a full-day or half-day trek and canyoning adventure.
5. Street food
While you can enjoy delicious food in Mauritius, from simmering Creole curries to vanilla tea, samosas and more, the ultimate culinary experience awaits on the street. Hop on an electro-bike to explore and sample local cuisine from a friendly street vendor.
Discover a culinary melting pot on a street food deep-dive in the capital of Port Louis. Expect to find flavours of China, India, France, and Creole – all influenced by the merging of various cultures on the island. Start from Le Caudan Waterfront and head into the bustling streets for deep-fried chilli bites and rotis, stopping in Chinatown for dim sum and noodles, topped off with a cup of steaming milky vanilla tea. The Central Market is also a must-visit to shop for fresh produce and become a part of the hustle and bustle.
6. Celebrate World Cocktail Day all year round
World Cocktail Day is celebrated on May 13 and since there is a special day set aside to highlight a favourite island past-time, it is the perfect excuse to indulge in some delicious cocktails all year round.
The island has a rich history of cocktail-making, and visitors can enjoy a range of locally inspired cocktails, such as the Ti Punch and the Rum Runner (be sure to visit a rum distillery – see point 8 below).
Many of the island’s bars and restaurants host special events and promotions for World Cocktail Day, providing an excellent opportunity to sample some of the island’s finest drinks all day long. After all, it’s past midday somewhere in the world!
7. Scuba dive in Blue Bay Marine Park
Blue Bay Marine Park shelters the island’s southern coast and is the perfect spot for snorkellers (particularly first-timers), divers, and families to take to the water. The extensive shallow reef and calm lagoon waters offer visibility of up to 50 m and overflow with colourful marine life. It’s the closest you can get to swimming in an aquarium!
8. Rum distillery tour
A rum tour is a must in Mauritius. Learn about the island’s history and taste the rather potent yet delicious delights of its most iconic alcoholic export. Walk the sugarcane fields, take an in-depth distillery tour led by a local guide, sample a selection of rum, and buy your favourites to take home.
9: Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park is nestled in the hills of the island’s southwest. There are over 60 km of hiking trails, panoramic viewpoints, and picnic sites. Book a guided tour to appreciate the park’s history, nature, and wildlife. Many rare and endangered species are now protected in the area’s Jurassic Park-like landscapes.
10. Botanical Gardens in Port Louis
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens (also known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens) lie about 10 km northeast of Port Louis. Created over 300 years ago by a French botanist, they are the oldest botanical gardens in the southern hemisphere. Marvel at the variety of tropical plants, many of which are rare and indigenous to the region. The giant water lilies are a highlight.
More to do:
- Visit Casela World of Adventures, an outdoor adventure park.
- Watch a traditional Sega show.
- Golf on one of the award-winning golf courses.
- Enjoy a catamaran cruise to the idyllic islet of Ile Aux Cerfs.
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