An emerald-green gem of an island-paradise lying some 1,200 miles off the east coast of Africa and riding the tropic of Capricorn is one of the most exclusive and multi-faceted holiday destinations in the world.
It’s location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe has created a fusion of cultures that is reflected in the excellent cuisine, superb hotels and the highest service standards. The multi cultural identity this island is due to its unique mix of French style Creole exuberance, Indian elegance and Chinese cuisine.
Mauritius is the most accessible island in the Indian Ocean, boasting as much tropical paradise as Maui or Martinique and, better still, offering it at a bargain price. Though nestled up alongside Africa, it’s actually more influenced by its British and French ties and massive Indian work force.
English is the official language. The most widely spoken languages are French, Creole, Hindi and Bhojpuri. Urdu and Chinese are also among the languages spoken.
The island is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs. The resulting lagoons are full of marine life and are ideal for diving. The beauty of Mauritius lies in its white sandy beaches, tranquil lagoons and a magnificent mountainous interior, with rolling fields of sugar and tropical gardens backed by jagged mountain peaks and the Indian Ocean shimmering over coral reefs. There’s also a vibrant nightlife, superb shopping and some truly world-class resorts with all the sports, leisure and recreational facilities under the sun
Society & Culture
The country’s population density is one of the highest in the world. The majority of the island’s inhabitants are young. The capital, Port Louis, is the largest city. The rate of population increase grew to between 3 and 4% in the 1950s, resulting, in large part, from the elimination of malaria, higher living standards, and improved health care. Worried that such high growth rates would impede the island’s development and tax its resources, the government and private groups instituted extensive family planning efforts. Family planning services, which promoted natural techniques of birth control, reduced the country’s birthrate significantly. Abortion is illegal, but a Mauritian family planning official has estimated that there is one abortion for every live birth.
The island had for a long time remained unknown and uninhabited. It was probably visited by Arab sailors during the Middle Ages, and on maps of about 1500, it is shown by an Arabic name `Dina Arobi’. The Portuguese sailor Domingo Fernandez Pereira was probably the first European to land on the island at around 1511. The island appears with a Portuguese name `Cirne’ on early Portuguese maps, probably because of the presence of the Dodo, a flightless bird which was found in great numbers at that time.
It was another Portuguese sailor, Don Pedro Mascarenhas, who gave the name Mascarenes to the group of islands now known as Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion. The Portuguese did not stay long as they were not interested in these islands.
After a brief Dutch settlement, French immigrants who came in 1715 named the island Île de France and established the first road and harbor infrastructure, as well as the sugar industry, under the leadership of Gov. Mahe de Labourdonnais. Blacks from Africa and Madagascar came as slaves to work in the sugarcane fields. In 1810, the British captured the island and in 1814, by the Treaty of Paris, it was ceded to Great Britain along with its dependencies.
Indian immigration, which followed the abolition of slavery in 1835, rapidly changed the fabric of Mauritian society, and the country flourished with the increased cultivation of sugarcane. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 heralded the decline of Mauritius as a port of call for ships rounding the southern tip of Africa, bound for South and East Asia. The economic instability of the price of sugar, the main crop, in the first half of the 20th century brought civil unrest, then economic, administrative, and political reforms. Mauritius became independent on March 12, 1968.
The effects of Cyclone Claudette in 1979 and of falling world sugar prices in the early 1980s led the government to initiate a vigorous program of agricultural diversification and develop the processing of imported goods for the export market. The country formally broke ties with the British Crown in March 1992, becoming a republic within the Commonwealth.
In addition to sugarcane, textile production and tourism are the leading industries. Primary education is free, and Mauritius boasts one of the highest literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Feb. 2002, Mauritius went through four presidents in succession. Two resigned within days of each other, each after refusing to sign a controversial anti-terrorism law that severely curtailed the rights of suspects. The law, supported by the prime minister, was ultimately signed by a third, interim president. At the end of February, a fourth president, Karl Offman, was elected by parliament.
In Oct. 2003, Paul Berenger, a white Mauritian of French ancestry, became the first non-Hindu prime minister in the history of Mauritius. Berenger and the previous prime minister, Anerood Jugnauth, formed a coalition during Sept. 2000 elections. Under their agreement, Jugnauth served as prime minister for three years and Berenger assumed the prime ministership for the remaining two years of the term. Jugnauth then became president in 2003, and in July 2005, Navin Ramgoolam, prime minister from 1995 to 2000, again assumed that office.
The wonderful Pereybère public beach is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs. Balaclava Ruins
A few metres away from Baie aux Tortues, which 17th century sailors named after the many tortoises in the area, the ruins of the old Balaclava estate can be found. Visitors will be able to see the sea walls, whose initial foundations were laid down by Mahé de Labourdonnais.
The Triolet Shivala
The longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.
The Labourdonnais Orchards
Visitors will discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.
Flacq is one of the most important villages in Mauritius. This meeting point for inhabitants of the East boasts the country’s largest open air market. The extremely colourful market attracts a large number of people.
The Waterpark Leisure Village
A place to enjoy unforgettable moments, sliding on the giant chutes, with family or friends.
Ile aux Cerfs
Ile aux Cerfs is a paradise for water sports and has the most beautiful beach in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape.
At Vieux Grand Port, the oldest settlements in Mauritius, you can see the ruins of the first Dutch fortifications.
Ile aux Aigrettes
Owing to the remarkable work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund, the island has become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species. A few of the world’s rarest birds, including the kestrel, can be seen there. You can also discover the extremely rare Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise.
Mahébourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Decaën
Domaine du Chasseur
Nestling in the Anse Jonchée hills, the Domaine des Grand Bois has splendid hunting grounds covering an area of 900 hectares. Stags, monkeys and boars live amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the hillside.One can watch a few species of endangered birds, including the kestrel. The Domaine contains four thatched-roof bungalows and a restaurant with a panoramic sea view. Take an opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal of venison and seafood.
This is a small seaside resort along the rugged coast of the Savanne district. A famous feature here, is the garden overlooking the sea and named after Dr. Charles Telfair. A popular viewpoint is found at the southern end of the village, right on the cliff top: Gris Gris.
A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash. The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty. Some have been recently created in the Chamarel Village where you can enjoy the taste of typical Mauritian cuisine.
Owing to the exceptional high level of sunshine the district receives Tamarin is naturally the heart of salt production in Mauritius.Casela Situated in the Rivière Noire district, the bird park stretches over 25 hectares and contains more than 140 bird species from all five continents. Other attractions include fishponds, tigers, tortoises, monkeys, deer and orchids.
L’Aventure du Sucre
Visit an interactive and ultra modern exhibition situated at the heart of an ancient sugar mill and discover the fascinating history of Mauritius and its sugarcane adventure exposed over 5000sq meters. The tropical boutik will tempt you with its unique gifts, souvenirs and tasting of special unrefined sugars as well as local rum. Do not miss the opportunity to relish authentic Mauritian cuisine with refined flavours at the “Le Fangourin” restaurant.
Black River Gorges
This national park of 6,574 hectares was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius’ remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species. A trail leads from the Pétrin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area. orchids.
An old Creole residence built in 1830, Eureka is an essential place to visit during your stay in Mauritius if you wish to immerse yourself in tropical sweetness.
Windsurfing and Kayaking
Many hotels provide windsurfing and kayaking equipment for their guests, and for those who prefer less strenuous communing, there’s usually a glass-bottom boat to be found. For Jules Verne fans, lead-booted, bubble-headed ‘undersea walks’ can be arranged near Grand Baie reef, as can a ride on La Nessee, a semi-submersible boat – sort of like a submarine – that allows a close-up tour of the reefs without the nuisance of getting wet.
Surfing was big on the island in the 1970s, until the rising costs of airfare and accommodation drove surfers to seek bluer pastures. Now, with vacation costs back to bearable, the crowds are picking up again. The area around Tamarin is said to be the best spot to drop in, and the season lasts from around June to August.
Diving & Dive Trips
Mauritius offers shallow comfortable dive sites for beginners. For the more experienced divers; walls, rock formations, caverns and wrecks are on the list of dive sites to visit. Dive trips are offered from the dive centers around the island according to schedule.
With over-the-side boat trips running from most major hotels and from Grand Baie beach, Snorkeling is quite good from the beaches. However, the best snorkeling is on the reefs from over-the-side boat trips. The best swimming beaches are all at the northern end of the island.
Deep Sea Fishing
Mauritius is a paradise for deep-sea fishing. Species include the blue or black marlin, all types of sharks, yellow tuna, the Bonitos, the ‘emperor’, the ‘pélerin’, the ‘bécune’ or the barracuda. Overall, October through April is the best time to sink a line, though there are fish to be caught year round and the wahoo don’t start biting until September.
Hiking & Trekking
Though Mauritius is promoted primarily as a ‘beach’ destination, the attractions of hiking and trekking through the interior are legion. For lowland walking, take into account the heat and humidity. For highland treks, come prepared for rain at any time of year, especially from October to March. The Réserve Forrestière Macchabée and Black River Gorges National Park provide the bulk of the wild walks on the island, though there are some fantastic short-but-strenuous hikes in the hills around Moka Town. Curepipe, atop the plateau, is the best place for trekkers to stock up before a trip. Caving enthusiasts will want to visit Caverne Patate on Rodrigue.
Mauritius is a real paradise for those who want to enjoy the sea or just to soak up the sun. Some of the island’s finest public beaches are listed below
Grand Bay: One of the best areas for sailing, windsurfing and water skiing.
Pereybere: This remarkable small cove half-way between Grand Bay and Cap Malheureux is one of the finest bathing spots on the island.
Belle Mare: Miles and miles of white and spotless beaches from Belle Mare to Trou-d’Eau Douce
Blue Bay: One of the most popular bathing spots in the South East of the island and is also an ideal spot for windsurfing and sailing.
Le Morne & Tamarin: Offer kilometres of beaches for bathing and are very popular for surfing.
Flic en Flac: White beaches fringed with filaos or Casuarina trees.
Several hotels in Mauritius have excellent golf courses. There are instructors to attend to customers’ needs including private tuition. The most spectacular golf course of Mauritius is probably Le Touessrok Golf Course. It is on its very own tropical island, fringed by white sands with a backdrop of green mountains – truly one of the world’s great golf settings. All 18 holes have views of the ocean. There are nine lakes in all, with a number of holes requiring tee shots across sea inlets to the fairways. Bernard Langer has designed the course to challenge advanced players, while remaining exciting and playable for recreational golfers.
Mauritius offers several world-class items. Visit some of the spas and with the capable hands of expert therapists, these spas are now regarded as a must on the tourist itinerary. The islands most famous spas include Le Saint Géran, the Royal Palm, Hilton, Prince Maurice, Beau Rivage, Oberoi, The Residence, Sofitel Imperial and Dinarobin hotels where holidays also mean fitness and enlightened senses.
Mauritius harbors approximately 900 species of plants of which 311 have been identified as being endemic. Out of the 311 species, 113 are classified as endangered and some are threatened. Several alien species reported to have been introduced in Mauritius are a direct threat to the endemic plants. Some of the important ones are:
(a) Chinese guava Psidium cattlelanum, perhaps the worst weed in the Mauritian upland forest. Its fruits are eaten by deer, pigs and monkeys and proved to be very effective dispersal agents.
(b) Privet Ligustrum robustum var. Walkeri Privet has spread rapidly in the moist upland and areas of Mauritius.
(c) Travelers palm Ravena, madagascariensis, large areas can be found by river banks and on hill sides in humid areas.
(d) Vieille fille lantana camara, species is found in the drier forested areas.
A large variety of wild fauna species was introduced by the settlers including the macaque monkey, wild pig, brown rat, hedgehog, hare, wild rabbit, Java deer, mongoose and Indian wolf snake.
The Black River Gorges National Park
The first National Park of Mauritius and extends over an area of 6,754 hectares which represents about 3.5% of the island’s area and is situated in the South West of the island. It harbors more than 300 species of flowering plants and 9 species of endemic birds.
Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary
Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary (RTRBS) is the largest estuarine delta in Mauritius covering about 26 hectares and is an important ground and refuge for migratory birds in Mauritius. Every year several hundreds of birds migrate from the Northern Hemisphere as far as Siberia to escape the rigorous winter months prevailing in the North to come to take refuge in this sanctuary.
Honeymoons & Weddings
Mauritius is definitely a very special place to spend your honeymoon or exchange your wedding vows with every hotel on the island offering extensive wedding and honeymoon packages. They can also help you organize every single detail of the ceremony. Everything is possible! You can choose to have an intimate, private occasion or a more adventurous way of exchanging vows. On a sunny beachside, under the sea or in the sky, Mauritius will transform your wedding or your honeymoon into an unforgettable moment.
Belle Mare Plage Resort Hotel
Situated directly on one of Mauritius’ loveliest sandy beaches on the east coast and set in well-tended tropical gardens of almost 20 acres and 158 acres for the golf course. The beach is protected by an offshore coral reef making ideal for swimming or water sports. Offers an extensive array of amenities and is an ideal location for a relaxed and sporting holiday with high standards of cuisine and comfort in Mauritius. All 56 Comfort rooms, 60 Clubrooms and 6 Deluxe Suites are comfortably furnished with terrace or balcony, with the 92 Prestige rooms being more spacious and having separate bath and shower with an extra sofa bed and enjoy sea view.
Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa
On the western shore of the Island of Mauritius, protected by the lagoon, nestles the 5-Star Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa, the latest Palace of Mauritius steeped in fragrances of sugar cane and Creole spices of Mauritius. The 5-Star Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa is perfectly integrated into its lush surroundings of luxurious vegetation bordered by white sandy beaches of Mauritius. The Resort features 193 rooms including 18 suites. All rooms offer the very best in comfort.
Merville Beach Hotel Mauritius
In an ideal location on Mauritius, the Merville is a special, superior medium class hotel with a lively informal atmosphere – a firm favourite with Kuoni clients. Merville Beach is situated on the north west coast about 60 minutes from the airport. The lively resort of Grand Baie is just ten minutes walk away.
One&Only Le Touessrok
Spacious and light accommodation is presided over by graceful palms, fragrant frangipani and colourful bougainvillea. Little touches of contemporary genius and private views of the sparkling Indian Ocean enliven each personal sanctuary…a fashionable Mediterranean-style village, where cool modern elegance meets the vibrant colour of Mauritian culture – chic playground of love and life. Accommodation includes 68 Deluxe Rooms, 91 Junior Suites, 34 Junior Suites, 6 Ocean Suites, The Royal Suite and 3 new three-bedroom Villas.
Royal Palm Hotel
In the heart of the Indian Ocean, on the protected North West coast of Mauritius, lies Royal Palm, a magical boutique-hotel, a place of sheer beauty, home to peace, excellence and luxury. An uninterrupted stretch of immaculate beach and the finest lagoon of Mauritius compose the sumptuous environment of this exclusive hotel. The architecture, a boutique-palace that spells luxury, intimacy and confidentiality but yet feels like home. The most prestigious address of the Indian Ocean…a world like none other.
The Residence, Mauritius
The Residence Mauritius is an oasis of elegant luxury with ocean views that stretch to infinity, majestic tranquility and exotic harmonies of form, shades and moods. The long view down the beach expands to 2/3 mile and the palm-fringed gardens offer a shady retreat. The decoration of 151 oversized rooms and 20 suites is an inspired blend of sobriety and elegance. Each of the luxurious rooms has balcony, patio or terrace. The bathrooms are equipped with bathtubs and separate shower cabins.
The Sands Resort
An earthly wonder of sand and sea meet at The Sands at Grace Bay Beach, a 116-suite luxury resort nestled on the world-famous Grace Bay Beach of Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands British West Indies. Oversized balconies complement large, graceful suites and offer space for quiet daydreaming, fine dining and family play. Soak in the sounds and sights of our island’s turquoise heaven. Located only 80 minutes by air from Miami, The Sands at Grace Bay feels like a world away. The perfect beach, spectacular views, spacious and beautifully appointed suites make The Sands at Grace Bay the perfect combination of seclusion and sophistication.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa
NEW! Open 2005…An exclusive resort hideaway, where service, hedonism and tranquillity are taken to new heights of excellence. The sheltered west coast the backdrop of rugged mountains complements the crystal clear ocean and sandy beach. An exclusive haven of solitude and luxury spread over 27 scenic acres. It overlooks the serene, blue waters of Tamarin Bay at Wolmar Beach, Flic en Flac. The impressive design combines French colonial, Indian, Arabic and African elements, resulting in a fresh yet opulent atmosphere. There are 65 expansive villas to choose from, each boasting a private pool, luxurious living area, large bathroom with open garden showers, and al–fresco lounge. The spa offers heavenly treatments that will leave guests feeling refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated. The food experience includes casual relaxed meals and formal fine dining.