Honeymoon or holidays, everything you need to plan your perfect trip to Mauritius.
Mauritius is a world famous destination for everyone seeking lots of sun, warm weather, and pristine beaches. The former English Colony has, however, much more to offer than just being the perfect place to get a tan and sip on rum cocktails. Here are my personal favorite 16 things to do in Mauritius:
#1 See the Chamarel Waterfalls in Mauritius
Chamarel is a little village in the south-east of Mauritius. It is famous for the Seven Colored Earths, for its Rum, but especially for another spectacular highlight: the Chamarel Waterfalls. When a graphic designer is looking for a beautiful tropical waterfall to put in an advertisement, there is a high chance he will actually stumble over a stock photo of this waterfall. Here, the St. Denis River cascades more than 83 meters down into the verdant jungle of Black River Gorges National park. A breathtaking view you don’t want to miss on your trip to Mauritius!
#2: Go to the beach
Okay, I know this stating the obvious, but you really have to go to the beach. Mauritius has some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world. Like Trou-aux-Biches on the northern coast of the verdant island (this one actually got an award at the World Travel Award 2011). But you really should try and see more of the island, even if your Hotel offers a nice beach already.
I recommend Îles aux Cerfs on the east coast (seen above). It’s a truly stunning island with a spectacular beach! Since it’s not even 500 meters away from the mainland, getting there will prove no problem for you. As a general rule, you will find the best beaches on the north or the east coast. This is where most true luxury hotels are located as well.
#3 Go snorkeling in Mauritius
Watersports are an obvious thing to do in Mauritius, but I have to put in on the list anyway. Mauritius is truly unique when it comes to snorkeling – and not only because of its turquoise waters!
The whole island is surrounded by one big coral reef! So when you go into the water directly from the beach it will be very, very warm. The reason: roughly 500 meters further outside will start the coral reefs. It protects the whole island from storms and from big waves in general – not unlike a big cushion. So the water close to the shore will be very calm and thus very warm. But back to snorkeling! The reef is mostly intact and since there never was any heavy industry on Mauritius there is no pollution either.
Since Mauritius is quite an expensive destination, the reefs did not suffer from too much tourism (yet). So you will be able to see colorful fish in their thousands, turtles or manta rays, small sharks, moray eels and so much more. No need to go scuba diving really – all the main highlights can be seen a couple of meters below the surface. It’s truly amazing and there will be plenty of boats that will take you out to a good spot on the reef. In fact, it is highly likely that your hotel will be able to provide this service.
#4 Visit Ile aux Aigrettes
Mauritius is home to many endemic species. Most famous of them all is probably the now extinct Dodo. But species like the Pink Pigeon or the Mauritius Fody also come in mind. You can see these in a unique wildlife reserve on the Ile aux Aigrettes. This is a protected island of roughly 27 hectares. Scientists try to re-create a reserve that showcases how Mauritius would have looked like without the heavy deforestation and the introduction of foreign species like rats and cats.
With success! You can visit this unblemished green gem on a guided tour that will last about 2 hours. They also allow custom-tailored fauna tours if you are particularly interested in birdwatching or photography (here is their official website where you can book tickets).
#5 Visit the Seven Coloured Earths
In the south of Mauritius, you will find an amazing geological formation and a major tourist attraction. Deep down in the Chamarel plain visitors are able to see the Terres de Sept Couleur – or Seven Colored Earths how it is called in English. The eons past and heavy rains uncovered a small patch of earth that comes in multicolored hues. Red-brown, violet or blue – you can see it all in those dunes! The most amazing fact: apparently the heavy volcanic sand is mostly resistant to further corrosion – even the torrential rains on the island don’t wash it away.
#6 Explore the botanical garden in Mauritius
In the town of Pamplemousses, near Port Louis, you will find a remarkable botanical garden. The official Name is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden but everyone seems to call it Pamplemousses Botanical Garden. Let that detail not bother you! Go there to see the truly impressive ponds full of water lilies and specimens from all over the world that thrive in the warm climate of the island. It’s one of the most amazing places to see in Mauritius’s North.
#7 Go hiking in Mauritius Mountains
I admit this item on my list of things to do in Mauritius is a bit exotic. Few tourists will come to the island because of its mountains. People into hiking usually drop out at La Reunion just a couple of hundred kilometers further east where way higher mountains can be found. Nevertheless, Mauritius also has quite a lot of mountains to offer as well.
If you got the spare time and the constitution to make the rather difficult ascend in the tropical heat, you might consider going hiking. The view from above will be more than a reward for the struggles to get up. Note that there are very few mountains with an actual hiking route on the island. As the weather in Mauritius is usually spectacular, you got that part on your side, though!
#8 Get up high in the air
Okay, I guess I couldn’t convince you to go hiking. But Mauritius certainly is an island with quite a spectacular landscape: high mountains, green plains, white beaches and blue water. If you can afford it, you should definitely consider getting up in the air for an overview! Your other alternative would be helicopter tour around the island. The view from above will be truly breathtaking!! Expect prices in the range of 500 US-Dollar per half an hour.
My personal recommendation: The helicopter can pick you up directly at the airport. Most luxury hotels will have their own helipad. Since travel on the island is rather slow, this will combine a view to remember with fast access to your hotel. Since you would have to arrange for a limousine to pick you up from the airport anyway – why not invest that money into a helicopter flight? (This obviously only works if you arrive or depart during the daytime) Air Mauritius offers transfers, but also some private companies, as far as I know..
#9 Do some water sports in Mauritius
I already mentioned the protecting coral reef. This has another big benefit. The see directly around the island (so in between shore and reef) will be very calm with only shallow waves. At the same time, there will usually be a constant wind offering a welcome cooling effect. This creates ideal conditions for any water sports activities like wakeboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing and especially kitesurfing. So you should definitely do that there.
If you don’t know how yet – get a coach! Most of them will be quite experienced with beginners and will bring you on the water in no time. Expect muscles aches as your reward, though! Also, know that the water sports activities prices aren’t especially cheap. A couple of hotels in Mauritius offer all-inclusive packages.
#10 Go see the giant tortoise in Vanille Crocodile Park
In the south of Mauritius, near the River Anguilles you will find the Vanille Crocodile Park Mauritius. Part of this zoo (that is what it is more or less) is a big reserve housing hundreds of Aldabran giant tortoises. You can actually walk freely among them, watch them and even pet them. Probably nowhere else in the world you will be able to see so many of them and get so close (maybe with the exception of the Seychelles). This unique experience should definitely be very high on your list of things to do in Mauritius!
#11 Go to a market
I am usually no big fan of markets. In Thailand, Turkey or Tunisia markets are synonymous for cheap trinkets, fakes, and scamming tourists. Luckily the full hammer of the tourist industry is yet to leave its final mark on Mauritius. So you can actually still find a few markets that still only cater to the needs of the locals. I personally recommend you to go to the market in Centre Flacq. The market will be opened every Sunday and Wednesday. It consists of a huge labyrinth of booths that are so close together that they form one big ramshackle mall.
Don’t be afraid to get in. The locals are friendly and not in the least intrusive. Here you can really get an authentic souvenir. Local clothes, pottery, baskets, dishes, accessories, shoes, and groceries – there really is nothing they don’t sell. Adjacent to the market are also food stalls and a kind of luxury mall (or what passes for luxury shops for the rather poor Mauritians). I found the actual market much more interesting.
#12 Visit the Blue Penny Museum Mauritius
Located close to the harbor of Mauritius’ Capital Port Louis you will a small museum called Blue Penny Museum. The name alludes to its most famous exhibit: The Mauritius “Post Office” stamps. Those are one of the most famous stamps in the world, if not THE most famous stamps. It’s one of the must-see attractions in Mauritius for sure.
The museum also offers nice insights on the history of the island. The English and Dutch colony, work on the sugar cane plantations and the abolition of slavery are all there for you to learn about. It may not be the most spectacular Museum in the world, but it is very well curated. Be aware though that the Blue Mauritius is not on display the whole day due to conservative issues. (Make sure to check the official website of the museum in advance)
#13 Visit Ganga Talo – the sacred Hindu Pilgrimage Site
48 Percent of all Mauritians are Hindu. So perhaps it is no wonder that the biggest Hindu festival outside India is held on the island. Located around a huge crater lake called Ganga Talao (or Grand Basis) is a very scenic temple dedicated to Shiva. Each year around February to March (on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha) half the island will make their way (on foot!!!) to the sacred site. The most prominent highlight is a 33-meter high statue of Shiva along with the ceremonial road to the Grand Basin. Quite a sight and worth a visit!
#14 Visit Port Louis, capital of Mauritius
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. Here is where the government is located and most people live. It has a thriving port with an active city life. Visiting Mauritius make sure to drop by! There are quite a few interesting markets and restaurants. Don’t expect an international megalopolis, though. Other than the Blue Penny Museum there are only a handful of museums (like the Natural History Museum and the Mauritius Photography Museum) – none of them truly noteworthy. Rather go to the city to get a feeling for the rich creole culture and the colorful people.
#15 Go see an old crater
Like most islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a product of an ancient volcanic eruption. None of them is active anymore. However, you can still see a lot of old craters around the islands. If you got the chance – make sure to drop by!
#16 Watch a sunset
Oh, and before you leave Mauritius, make sure to see at least one sunset. The tropical flora and the pristine beaches will create a truly romantic setting. Either for having a private dinner or just for taking the usual pictures for your photo album.
So that’s it! That was my list! There are probably much more things to do on the island of Mauritius. In fact, on my last visit, I didn’t limit myself to the list above. Some tourists might be on a tight schedule, so I tried to focus on the highlights. That being said: If you got any questions regarding other activities on this beautiful tropical island, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
If you liked Mauritius, you might want to check out my travel guide to Koh Yao Noi in Thailand – another spectacular paradise island.