Known as the star of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a gorgeous island paradise with pristine white sand beaches, dazzling blue seas and miles of unbroken coral reef. Its natural beauty also extends inland, where you’ll find volcanic peaks, glistening lakes and neat little fields of sugar cane being grown by the locals. The island has such varied multicultural influences, and this gives it a rich culture and history perfect for exploring. But it’s just as easy to relax, as holidays in Mauritius also offer some of the world’s most luxurious resorts with excellent facilities, including restaurants from Michelin starred chefs and luxurious spas to be pampered in.
The island’s capital, Port Louis, is an eclectic city reflecting the diverse cultures and ethnicities that have shaped modern Mauritius. A great place to start is the Caudan Waterfront area, with its excellent selection of restaurants, bars and shops. The central market is also a brilliant place to pick up gifts or souvenirs to take home. Local tea, coffee, rum and spices are all available from friendly locals who are keen to bargain for the best price. You can also buy exquisite woodcarvings and colourful straw bags and textiles to take home.
As well as having beautiful beaches, Mauritius’ natural landscape, rich in an incredible variety of plant and wildlife makes it a great choice for a 5 star holiday. The best place to see some of the indigenous plants is at the Pampelmousses Botanic Garden, where the centrepiece is a pond filled with the giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies. These striking plants unfold within a few hours from their prickly furry centre to form a leaf that can measure up to 2m in diameter. Their attractive flowers are also well-worth seeing, as they are coloured white one day when they are open and red the next when they are closed. They are also strong enough to carry a 40kg weight and are said to be the largest lilies in the world!
Mauritian food is influenced by the melting pot of the cultures and the people who have settled here over the years. Of course, much of the local diet is centred on the freshly caught seafood, which is best grilled at a beach barbecue whilst watching the sunset. You can also sample a fantastic range of street food with Indian, Asian and French Creole influences available over the island. Look out for Dhal Puri, a delicious flatbread with a filling of cooked yellow lentils, which is the staple street food across Mauritius. You fill the puris with a variety of curries and chutneys, and eat it standing on the street watching the world go by.
Pick a resort on the island’s west coast, and you’ll be close to the island’s bustling capital, Port Louis. This will give you the best of both worlds – utter isolation and relaxation when you want it, but with the chance to explore the island’s local culture and fabulous shopping when you need a break from your sun lounger. Sugar Beach resort in Flic en Flac on the west coast is an elegant colonial plantation house with a contemporary twist. Mauritius’ East Coast combines spectacular coastline and resorts with first class service, so it’s perfect for a more romantic getaway - try the LUX* Belle Mare with its spacious suites and villas. Bel Ombre is another great option for a luxury holiday located on the island’s more dramatic southern shores, and its proximity to the spectacular open nature reserve set on an old sugar plantation makes it the perfect base to get out and explore Mauritius’ natural wonders.
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