Immerse yourself in the true history, cultures and people of the island - beyond just beaches (although they play a big part!).
Highs & Lows
Hike up Le Morne Brabant for an amazing view of the "underwater waterfall". Also, street food. Get into it.
Public transport can be a little limiting.
Mauritius is a jewel in the Indian Ocean best known as a romantic beach destination, and with good reason. Beyond that though, the people of the island and their unique mix of cultures and histories are what really make Mauritius. This itinerary is a great introduction to the soul of the island.
There’s some city and beach life, food and rum to enjoy and cultural influences from China to Mozambique to France to India all merged into the Mauritian identity.
I recommend at least a week in the country to get a feel of different sides of the island – even if you stay in one place every night, no two points are further apart than a 2-hour drive. Day trip heaven.
Le Morne village is one of Mauritius’ most significant testaments to freedom and resistance. Best known for its idyllic beaches and striking mountain right at the edge of the island, the area is definitely a top tourist attraction for many reasons.
There is the famous hike up Le Morne Brabant, a majestic basalt mountain which served as a refuge for escaped slaves who marooned on the rugged terrain for years. The hike is a challenging and scenic 3-4 hours all the way to the top and back down, best started by 10am to escape the heat of the day. The highest point is marked by a cross and a view over the “underwater waterfall” on a clear day.
Take some time out to stroll around the area or the beach and chat with whoever you find, enjoy a dip in the clear ocean and grab a bite at the many beach-side restaurants serving up fresh seafood and Creole specialties.
Port Louis is the island nation’s capital and definitely gets overlooked in spite of fascinating cultural sites both historical and contemporary, great dining on and off the street and the natural cool pace of a port city.
Chinatown was a definite highlight, the traditional gate being right on the same street as a mosque which I found to be a unique touch that fits Mauritius’ vibe. Take a stroll for charming murals and some lovely unassuming Chinese restaurants to dip into.
Sites near the Caudan waterfront area like the Appravasi Ghat Heritage Site and Blue Penny Museum give an insight into some of the human history of the country from Indian labourers arriving in Mauritius at the former, and exhibitions around art and culture at the latter. You may even catch a live musical performance at the waterfront.
Port Louis is a great base to go on day trips to many parts of the island being right in the middle of the West coast and well connected by public transport and of course the national road network.
This was one of my first real experiences hearing about all sides of Mauritius' history and heritage, and how it all played into the country's sugar industry. The on-site museum dives into the story of sugar cultivation and the enslavement of people of East African and South Asian origin, the descendants of whom now make up the majority of Mauritian people.
I particularly enjoyed the cane-cutting session with our guide Alain, whose father and grandfather worked as labourers in sugar cane plantations like himself. The compound is also home to an operational sugar factory as well as having replicas of old equipment in and out of the museum.
Following that was the fantastic rum tasting and cocktail-making session with plenty of quality options to buy and take home! The restaurant is worth checking out for lunch or just a decadent dessert as well.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
I would absolutely spend more time exploring the interior of the country more for more nature and hikes - it's also cooler (if a little more rainy) in areas like Curepipe.
Anything go wrong during the trip?
I hopped on the wrong bus at Curepipe station and would have been headed to the opposite direction had the lovely station master not come to my rescue! Feel free to ask any of the ticket officers exactly which bus to get on to go where - you can pay for most trips with cash once you're on the bus.
Give as much street food a go as you can! I enjoyed dholl puri, gateaux piments and dumplings (Chinese-style) the most.
Pack a combination of light and waterproof clothing, particularly if you'll be spending time inland.
Download the app Yugo - Mauritius' home-grown cab-hailing app for quick trips. There are also plenty of fantastic car rental or private transfer providers on the island for more flexibility. If you're feeling more adventurous or spontaneous - look up the bus schedules on ntcmauritius.com and mauritius-bus.com.