Bewitching Mauritius ticks all the boxes for a tropical escape with dazzling beaches, sparkling lagoons, lush forests and volcanic hills. If that’s not enough to get you packing, there are some surprisingly affordable luxury hotels, fascinating culture, a superb climate and tantalising cuisine all wrapped up with laid-back Creole charm.
For those who seek nothing more than sun, sand and sea there are fabulous beaches island-wide. The greatest concentration are in the north and include the sheltered waters of lively Grand Baie. Watersport enthusiasts will find plenty of options, including sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing and Grand Baie is also the departure point for deep sea fishing trips and boat excursions to nearby islands including Flat Island, Round Island and Serpent Island. There are a great selection of shops and restaurants along with the island's best bars and nightclubs.
Close by is the sleepier village of Grand Gaube which has small bays and rocky headlands forming a stunning coastline. Turtle Bay, on the northwest, has an idyllic white sand beach surrounded by a coral reef which is home to turtles and numerous brightly coloured fish, so ideal for snorkelling and diving.
The east coast is famous for its irresistible stretch of pristine beaches, none more so than Belle Mare whose seemingly endless powdery sands are fringed on one side by shady casuarina trees and edged by the lagoon on the other. All manner of land and water activities can be found, for those so inclined, including golf, tennis, parasailing, snorkelling and glass-bottom boat safaris. There's not really a shopping scene at Belle Mare, but visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, with several bars and restaurants within the luxury hotels bordering the beach. Offshore is the stunning island of Ile aux Cerfs, which is reputedly home to the most beautiful beach in Mauritius and makes for a great day trip.
Close to the historical village of Mahebourg on the south east coast is where Preskil Beach Resort enjoys an idyllic setting on a natural private peninsula, with views across to L'ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve and nearby marine park of Blue Bay, which has the island's best underwater scenery and is an ideal place to snorkel.
Bel Ombre on the southwest is Mauritius at its authentic best. Scenery is certainly a highlight here with the glorious sandy beaches resting in the shade of coconut trees and mountain foothills while sugar plantations point to the colonial past. Nature lovers may wish to visit the nearby Black River Gorges National Park, famous for its waterfalls, vistas and rare forest. Hikes are available that take you into the heart of the indigenous forest, which is home to over 300 species of native and endemic flowering plants and nine rare bird species.
Once a small west coast fishing village, Flic en Flac has grown into one of the hottest beach resorts in Mauritius. The long beautiful white sand beach is protected by a lagoon that makes it perfect for swimming and watersports, plus there are some great dive sites too, including caves and wrecks. There are plenty of little souvenir shops and stalls along the beach, a large selection of restaurants, a number of popular bars and even a casino.
Port Louis, the island's capital, is well worth a visit. Stroll around the many well-preserved historic and colonial buildings, enjoy the buzz of the bustling markets and don't miss Pamplemousse Botanic Gardens, now officially called Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens, which lie just outside the city. Regarded as one of the best botanical gardens in the world, there are more than 650 species of exotic flowers to be seen.
For honeymooners, Mauritius offers both the Honey and the Moon. Honey represents the pampering, the cocktails, the fine dining during sunset, whereas The Moon represents the adventure, the exploring and the embracing of the outdoors and the culture.
GMT +4 hours
Mauritius is approximately 12 hours (non-stop) from the UK.
January to April brings hot, humid weather as well as short heavy downpours. May to August are the ‘cooler’ months with temperatures around 25ºC while September to December brings higher temperatures and low humidity. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the east and the south.