Mark's Mauritius Adventure!
I have recently been lucky enough to visit the incredible island of Mauritius for the 5th time and I can honestly say it just keeps getting better and better. My latest visit was on a personal holiday, but I did manage to squeeze in some work while I was there too – it would be rude not to! In this blog I highlight some of my favourite things to visit in Mauritius for families and couples alike and I also highlight some personal favourites of mine when it comes to both affordable luxury and higher end luxury hotels to stay in when you visit this incredible island.
When to travel to Mauritius
Mauritius is essentially a ‘year round’ destination, which means you could travel there all year round and be very unlucky not to have some fantastic weather on your holiday! Mauritius has two main seasons;
November-April is classed as their ‘high season’ when the weather can reach averages of 31C. This tends to be the hottest and most humid time of the year, and you often get short and sharp bursts of rainfall that could last a few hours, but once this subsides the weather returns to beautiful blue skies and glorious sunshine.
May-October is classed as their ‘low season’ with cooler weather, although day time temperatures rarely drop below 24C on average. The low season in Mauritius tends to offer slightly cooler temperatures and is also the dryer time of year to travel, although, bear in mind that it is a tropical island and therefore you will still likely have some rain during your holiday. This time of year tends to suit families better, the cooler temperatures are much more comfortable for those travelling with younger children that want to be in the pool and the sea all day long!
Things to visit, see & do in Mauritius
Many people think that Mauritius is just a beach destination with some stunning beaches, crystal clear waters and all-inclusive hotels, but this really isn’t the case! Mauritius has so much to offer, whether you are a couple or a family, there are plenty of things to get out of the hotel and discover on the island, and I’ve listed a few of my favourites below!
Casela National Park
I love it because
There is something for everyone, it is great value for money and the experiences available can add something extra special to your holiday.
Casela national park is a great place to take the family! The park itself is over 250 hectares and offers something for all ages!
A personal favourite of mine here is the walking with lions experience. This is a 45 minute nature walk with two lion cubs (under the age of 2), although, they are almost fully grown cats! The group size is no more than 12 and offers a unique way to get up close and personal with big cats. There is also a photographer and videographer following the group round the nature walk, snapping those perfect postcard pictures for purchase after the walk. Participants are allowed to take photos on their own cameras too. I have experienced this twice and can honestly say that the lions do not look malnourished or mistreated, they are bred in captivity with the longer goal of putting lions back in the wild.
Another fantastic experience here is the quad-bike safari. You can have one or two to a quad, and you get to follow a nature trail around the park seeing all sorts of wildlife including zebra, antelope and ostriches among many others! There is also some excellent stops for photo opportunities of the island!
Ile Aux Cerfs
I love it because
Take a boat trip from your hotel to this private island and experience the secluded beaches for a more romantic feel on your holiday. Snorkelling is also excellent.
Ile Aux Cerfs is a privately owned island off the east coast of Mauritius. It is a beautiful spot to spend a day lazing around on a small secluded beach, go for a short walk around the island or sit with a drink while your order of lobster cooks on the beach bbq! This is a half or full day trip to this private island. Dependent on where you are staying, the time to get to Ile aux Cerfs varies, however, it is accessible by boat from most parts of the island and usually takes up to approximately 40 minutes to get there. This excursion is sold by most excursion providers on the island and there is plenty of availability.
I love it because
It is Mauritius’ capital city, it is an eclectic mix of old and new and the old market is an excellent experience.
Port Louis is Mauritius’ capital city, best known for its French-Colonial style, and it is a bustling city of old a new experiences. The Caudan Waterfront is a lovely place to stroll around some outlet shops, such as Armani Exchange and Oakley, as well as a great place to sit in one of their café’s and watch the world go by around you.
The old part of Port Louis is a stark contrast. The market is an excellent experience, as far as the eye can see there are stalls selling everything from super soft pashminas and wooden sculptures to fresh fruits and spices for food. It is a ‘must do’ for anyone visiting Port Louis, although I highly recommend utilising a guide to take you through the market so as you don’t get lost, or ripped off if you are haggling with a merchant.
I love it because
The small boutique shops of crafts and clothes are brilliant for a short stroll before sitting at the oceans edge in the harbour having a coffee or a nice cold beer.
Grand Baie is excellent for those staying in the north of the island and looking to get out for half a day to explore. Grand Baie’s small fishing harbour is a lovely place to sit and watch the fisherman come in with their catch of the day, or the leisure boats going in and out.
Set back from the harbour there are plenty of small boutique type shops, perfect for a wander. You can pick up anything from a one off outfit to bric-a-brac type presents to take home for loved ones. There is more to Grand Baie, with shops and restaurants etc but the fishing harbour is a lovely place to explore for half a day, no more.
Where to stay in Mauritius
The old adage of ‘West is best’ tends to fit the bill for Mauritius too. I have been lucky enough to tour around the entire island, and there are fantastic beaches and snorkelling to be had pretty much island-wide! Dependent on if you are travelling with family, or a couple, there are recommended places to stay and also at certain times of year, so I have tried to give as best of an overview as I can below;
The East coast of Mauritius is lovely, with arguably some of the nicest beaches and best snorkelling spots anywhere on the island. I would recommend staying on the East Coast any time between September and April, you will get spectacular sunrises (if you want to get up that early for them!) and you will also have a light breeze while laying on your sunbed looking out to the beautiful Indian Ocean.
Between May and August the tradewinds from the East tend to make the whole of the East Coast quite windy, and it does impact the temperatures which are, already, on the milder side at that time of year. It can get quite blustery and make sitting out on the beach a little testing, which is why we recommend the West Coast more.
The West coast of Mauritius is virtually a safe bet all year round. Thanks to a mountain range running vertically through the centre of the island, it acts as a natural shield against the breeze/winds from the East Coast and it also helps to keep the West Coast the dryer side of the island too. On top of this, the west coast gets some of the best sunsets that I have ever experienced, and that is a massive tick in my book. There are also some fantastic beaches along the West coast, but one of the best beaches on the island has to be Trou Aux Biches, towards the north but still on the West coast. The powder white sand and crystal clear water attracts the locals to this public beach as much as it does the tourists.
Also on the West coast you have Le Morne peninsula, which is another spectacular stretch of beach, essentially situated on a large sand spit down in the South West of the island
There isn’t a great deal of choice on the North Coast in the strict sense of the word, simply because of the natural shape of the island. A lot of the hotels tend to be situated North-West, in the Grand Baie area, or in the North-East and still classed as ‘East Coast hotels’.
Much like the North, there concentration of hotels doesn’t tend to be focussed along the south coast of the island. Although, there are several hotels that I would highly recommend which I will come on to in the next section.
What hotels I can recommend in Mauritius
Shandrani Beachcomber, South/South-East Coast
I love it because
Shandrani is a spectacular hotel situated on a marine park, which means the snorkelling and glass bottom boat trips from the hotel (included) are a spectacle to behold! The water sports here are also a personal favourite with water-skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kayaking and many more all included in the price of your stay.
The hotel is situated in the South East of the island, although it is still sheltered from the Tradewinds mentioned earlier in the blog. The hotel is due to be refurbished later in 2020, but the hotel itself is fantastic and the staff cannot do enough for you. There are a choice of 3 beaches, 2 pools, 4 restaurants plus bars and a pitch & putt course to keep you entertained. It is also only a 10 minute road transfer from the airport, so very conveniently located. I can highly recommend eating in the Teak Elephant restaurant, an Indian eating experience in a lovely setting for a couple.
Victoria Beachcomber, West Coast
I love it because
The Victoria Beachcomber is set on arguably one of the better beaches on the island. It sits on the west coast and boasts some of the most picturesque sunsets I have witnessed. The rooms are large and excellent in catering for larger families with their family units. The hotel is all inclusive so families also benefit from not having to spend out loads on ice creams and drinks all day long! There is a brilliant children’s club at Victoria Beachcomber which we have only ever heard good things about.
With the addition of ‘Victoria for 2’, the new adults only wing of the hotel, it ticks a lot of boxes. There are now swim up rooms on offer at Victoria for 2, along with a swim up bar and an adults only grill restaurant. The Italian restaurant, La Casa, is a personal favourite of mine here. The pasta dished served in this restaurant will challenge anything I have tasted in Italy – especially their carbonara!
Maritim Resort & Spa, West Coast
I love it because
Similar to Victoria Beachcomber, the Maritim sits on virtually the same strip of coastline on the west coast, so it still offers unrivalled sunsets on clear days. This hotel has a very homely feel to it, the rooms are a good size, although the lead in category could do with some refurbishments in my opinion. The public areas are all excellent though, they have some lovely settings for their bars and restaurants looking out into the idyllic Indian Ocean. I was lucky enough to visit this property on a recent holiday for a look around, and the hotel provided a beautiful lunch in a beach setting which was a lovely romantic setting for a meal. The beach here is, again, fantastic for snorkelling from the beach but also has an array of watersports available for the active minded among you.
Nightly Entertainment in Mauritius
Traditional cuisine in Mauritius is inspired by French, Creole, Indian and Chinese. Mauritians tend to eat a lot of fish as the Indian Ocean is so richly populated, and they make some very tasty fish curries with rice and vegetables. Mauritius is great at catering for everyone, from fussy eaters to children, they are very accommodating and nothing is ever too much trouble. A personal favourite of mine is their ‘Fish Vindaye’, which is essentially a fish curry, generally not too spicey, but very tasty, especially with their fresh fish! Another tasty dish is a Bol Renverse, which is similar to that above, a mixture of fish or meat with rice and vegetable but it is also then topped with either a fried egg or, more often, and omelette.
There is a great nightlife scene in Mauritius for those looking for it, however, I would say that it isn’t necessarily the ‘done’ thing. If you are looking for buzzing nightlife, bars & clubs etc then Mauritius isn’t necessarily the destination for you. Yes, there are some nice bars but I wouldn’t class it as a ‘party’ destination. Mauritius tends to be geared more towards dining in restaurants at the hotel you are staying in, or, other hotels nearby for example. The night-time entertainment is usually something a little more laid back, put on by the hotel, maybe saga dancing show, a singer/pianist or something similar.
If you are looking for something special to do one evening I can highly recommend the sunset cruise excursions! This is a very lovely way to spend a few hours on a boat, with a drink in hand and maybe some snacks, watching the most beautiful sunsets. The boat trips will usually start around 4-4:30pm (because the sunsets usually around 6pm in Mauritius), and will often last for approximately 3 hours. So you would still have time for a late dinner if you wanted to.