Mauritius - top 10 places to visit on paradise island
If you read my previous blog post 'Why should you buy a plane ticket to Mauritius right now' (link here if you didn't) you know that I would recommend visiting this beautiful island in a spare of a moment. And if I convinced you to buy that ticket, now I need to tell you what you cannot miss. This article will complement what I have already mentioned in my previous one.
Mauritius is a island of natural beauty and a lot of the places I will recommend here are Mother Nature wonders. In no particular order here is the list of places you cannot miss on this beautiful island:
Photo: Seven Coloured Earth - Chamarel Estate
1. Seven Coloured Earth - a beautiful display of sand dunes in 7 different and distinct colours. The actual coloured earth is fenced off letting you admire the beauty of the earth but you cannot walk on it. You're still able to have a great photo and walk around the area to admire the colours from different angles and perspectives. It does look different from different spot. Adjacent to Seven Coloured Earth is a small area where giant turtles are relaxing and are watched by a guard so that no one disturbs them. A great place to snap a photo of them knowing you're not harming the animals in any way.
2. Chamarel Waterfall - is a 90 meter tall twin waterfall that can be admired from two viewing decks. The upper deck gives better view in my opinion so head there first (when yo arrive you will see the base deck first). The waterfall is enormous and I am not sure if you can get to the base but the visibility from platforms is great.
Photo: Chamarel twin waterfall
3. Rum plantation - it is a part of the Chamarel Estate and displays the process of rum production from start to finish with some tasting too. The estate area is also known for locally grown Arabica coffee which only provides supply to the island and is not exported.
4. Grand Basin & Alexandra Waterfall - Grand Basin is considered most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius, it is a large lake formed out of a crater, with several colourful temples and statues of Hindu gods, make sure to climb up the adjacent mountain and admire Monkey temple and vast views over the basin. There's an interesting history of the Basin, be mindful that this is a place of annual pilgrimage for all Hindu living on the island so check this before your travel if you do not want to be part of this event. You will be welcomed by 40 m high god of Shiva on the parking lot which is quite impressive entrance to the complex.
Just 5 minutes drive away from Grand Basin is a picturesque Alexandra Falls with great views of the vast mountains of Mauritius.
Photo: Grand Basin - statues of Hindu gods
All the above locations can be found in Rivière Noire District, which also covers a park under the same name. The above first 3 mentioned places can be found on Chamarel Estate, then Alexandra Waterfall and Grand Basin will be approx 40 minutes drive away. So you can plan your trip with either starting at this location or be there just before closing. Nearby Alexandra waterfalls you will find few of the local shoppers selling local products, coconut water and all the touristy bits including t-shirts and fridge magnets. It is a good place to shop if you are interested and the prices are decent.
5. Port Louis with its Caudan Waterfront which is a meeting place for locals and lovers alike. It also has a great shopping centre if you are interested in buying something local (there's a part of the mall that has shops with local arts and crafts which was recommended by our local guide. He advised that it was cheaper than on the market and better quality - and I think he was right). You must visit the food and veg market which is a great show of daily life of capital city inhabitants. Of course there are stalls catering for tourists, but you can also get spices, tea, and delicious local fruit (and giant avocados)
Photo: The panorama of Port Luis - capital of Mauritius seen from fort Adelaide
There are many historical buildings to visit on the waterfront, including the Blue Penny Museum, The Stamp Museum, and the Mauritius Natural History Museum. A visit to China Town is always a must as you can see how Chinese culture blended with Mauritian. Another point worth seeing in my opinion, is the fort Adelaide which overlooks the city and gives you panoramic views of the capital. You can also visit horse race track that is the biggest in the southern hemisphere. It is also visible from the fort. The race track is a huge attraction among locals so if you want to join in the fun make sure you're there on Saturday between November and March.
6. Botanical Gardens - situated 15 miles north west from Port Louis, these beautiful gardens with over 26 different types of palm trees from around the world probably boast the biggest variety and collection of them on Earth. I would suggest you hire a guide to walk with you around the park and explain as well as show different types of palm trees and where they are located in the garden. There is a Talipot palm tree that blossom only once every 40 years and then dies maybe you will get lucky to see that. We were lucky our local driver was able to be our guide so it was super cheap at 25 rupees a ticket for him, otherwise it is around 200 rupees which is still not bad! Another attraction of the gardens are giant water lilies. They are spectacular and their grandeur cannot be catch on the photo - you just need to see them.
Photo: Botanical Gardens in Mauritius with 26 types of Palm trees
7. Beaches of the north of island - these beaches are favourite among locals and tourists alike. They are sandy, wide and seem like they never end. You can find a spot where you have food trucks available and you can enjoy lovely meal on the beach. We stopped at the beach just after Grand Baie and it had all food truck, coconut water vendors and wide beaches. You can rent loungers and umbrellas f you wish or just bring your towel.
8. Stop by at Grand Baie (Bay) - considered by Mauritians as their equivalent of Saint Tropes is a favourite place to hang out. It certainly has more of a western feel, with lots of boho boutiques, villas for rent and surf shops. I did not find it to wow me, but it was a nice place to see even if for a short while. You can observe local life here where people play cards in the shade of trees.
Photo: The view of Le Morne from Benitieres island
9. Go for a boat trip to see the dolphins, and see Le Morne from the sea side. Luckily a lot of beautiful sea animals can be seen around Mauritius, the most popular being dolphins and whales. Mauritius is protected from the sea by coral reef which can be gorgeous if you are in the right spot. There are many companies who will offer a boat trip with possibility of seeing those creatures in their natural habitat. While you are on the boat trip you will probably see Crystal Rock which is quite a pride among boat owners and fishermen, you will also be able to admire Le Morne from the sea which is just stunning. In front of Crystal Rock there's a small island called Benitiers where you will be most probably taken for a beach lunch if you are part of a boat trip of any sort, and while you enjoy the BBQ you can admire Le Morne in the distance. There will be rum and music and a coconut water sellers, and sellers of local crafts of all sorts, overall a great day to have.
10. Ile au Cerf (recommended by everyone to see) but I have not made it there. However, there was a young couple at our hotel who went there and they said they regretted going. They thought it was too commercial, with people trying to sell you something all the time. There was no much shade if you wanted to be in shade and loungers to relax on. Again I haven't been so I cannot recommend but just giving you the opinions I gathered myself.
11. Giri Giri view point - in the South of Mauritius this is a view point where you can admire beautiful sea and waves crushing the rocky parts of the beach. Quite a scenic place to have lunch or ice cream and admire the beauty of the ocean. You can sit on top of the cliffs or just walk down the beach. Just a nice place to go if you are in the area, not necessarily just to go there as a final destination.