Mauritius sits 1,200 miles off the Southeast coast of Africa in the center of the Indian Ocean. CNN writer Tony Smart lived on the island for several years. Here are some of his favorite highlights.
The sun shines almost all year long here, so you can get clear views of mountains in the middle of the island all year long, as well as distant views into the Indian Ocean. Any season you choose to go, you’ll enjoy a tropical climate, but the Southeast trade winds keep it from feeling muggy.
The population is 68 percent Indian, but there are also Creole, Chinese, French, English and South African inhabitants. This melting pot greatly influences the cuisine: you’ll find French dishes like bouillon, coq au vin, Indian dishes like curries and chutney, and Chinese dishes like rice, noodle dishes and crispy squid.
The island is home to two UNESCO world heritage sites — Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne Cultural Landscape — as well as the colonial capital of Port Louis, one of the oldest horseracing tracks in the world, the Blue Penny Museum (home to some of the oldest and rarest stamps), Black River Gorges National Park and Casela Wildlife Park.
There are several adventure companies that lead group activities, plus any resort hotel will have its own activities staff. Land activities include horseback tours of the island, golfing on seven stunning golf courses, mountain biking, hiking and cycling.
If the gorgeous waters call your name, Mauritius offers some of the best deep sea fishing in the world — in fact, the island hosts the Marlin World Cup each year. Resorts and adventure companies offer every water sport from jet skiing to parasailing to snorkeling and scuba diving.
Literally every type of shopper will be happy here. Each village is home to charming boutiques full of local arts and crafts but also, aware of its visiting clientele, the island has a designer factory outlet mall with names like Ralph Lauren. Finally there’s the beautiful shopping mall at Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis.
The island is the home to several five-star luxury hotels, boutique hotels and budget accommodations. For boutique charm, check out Lakaz Chamarel in the Chamarel hills, with 20 spacious guestrooms and a restaurant. For luxury, book a stay at Le Touessrok, which features its own golf course, nightly entertainment and several restaurants serving cuisine from nine different countries. For those on a budget, Villa Paul Et Virginie Hotel is a quaint 12-room hotel walking distance from the beach that serves impressive food for a budget hotel.
Sitting in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the island is covered with picturesque beaches all around, and you’re never more than a short walk from the ocean no matter where you choose to stay.
When you hear Sega Music you will say, “That is pure happiness.” It’s the Indian Ocean version of calypso, and you can hear it coming from the beaches every night, where locals host bonfires and dance to live music. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your vacation.
Seafood lovers will be in heaven here. The restaurants serve up some of the freshest snapper, dorado, prawns, octopus and lobster you’ve ever tasted.
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