This luscious oasis in the middle of the balmy Indian Ocean is all of the good, tropical things in this sweet life. With some of the most spectacular sandy beaches I’ve laid my short-sighted eyes on, sweet street side stalls selling roti for far less than a buck and an impressive array of natural delights, Mauritius is a hard place to have a stinky time in.
With four days, a maroon coloured rental car reminiscent of your older brothers first car and a staggered skip in our step, we hit the safe Mauritian highways baby! Renting a car made seeing this special part of the world all too easy and gave us the opportunity to open our minds to the niche world of experimental Bollywood radio music – as wonderful as it sounds, trust me.
A French speaking nation with a huge Hindu population, this eclectic mix of cultures means you’ll get a little bit of everything here. We visited in February, coinciding with Maha Shivaratree, a massive Hindu festival celebrating their gal Shiva. We saw a heap of loud n’ proud Hindu’s building spectacular Shiva shrines, lobbing them on their backs and blocking traffic as they walked these illusory statues to the festival – many of which, apparently take days. Add scorching heat, lots of traffic and two ignorant Australian tourists blasting Bollywood music from their rental car to the mix and Jesus Christmas do we have a sight to see.
With a few recommendations to check out the bustle of Port Louis, the big smoke of Mauritius, we spent a few hours walking through clusters of food markets in the city. With a big CBD feel to the place, the main attraction appeared to the be many food markets, the Port Louis Central Market being numbero uno in size and intensity.
I had the best roti of my sweet n’ savory life in a food market next to the Les Jardins De La Compagnie (a park, a real pretty park for those playing at home). The store is easily identifiable by the enormous line of locals and the all-female team behind the curried goodness. I paid $2 for three roti’s and have never felt more certain about a life decision ever. Try a tamarind juice at the drink stand too, sweet, sticky and a total tastebud tickler.
Our favourite part of the island, the West side baby, was a beach goers haven. With Flic En Flac and Le Morne the crowning coastal jewels, there is something for everyone here. If you’re after a greasy seafood meal or a touch of retail therapy post dip, Flic En Flac is the beach for you. With a heap of things to see, do, eat and places to stay, the Flic is a tourist-friendly spot for large and little kids.
Le Morne, named so after the picturesque and apparently “hike-able” mountain range acting as a backdrop to the waves, Le Morne was our favourite spot to flip some pages, grab a coconut soft serve and damage our skin with the strong rays. Absolute perfection. A quieter alternative with fewer spots to eat and see, this place is for professional beach goers only.
Spoilt for choice when it came to jazzy accommodation options on the island, we ended up splitting our time between Vanilla Village in Grande Rivière Noire and Chazal Eco Tourism in Chamouny. We wholeheartedly hearted Vanilla Village for comfort, location and just about everything else.
Self-contained, equipped with a nifty kitchen, air-conditioning to cool even the hottest creature (did someone say my name? My name is hottest creature) and amazing grounds, this place was ace. A quick drive to our beloved beaches, in close proximity to ATM’s, saucy local restaurants and this joint even has a bakery on site – Lordy!
On the list of natural marvels is the ever popular Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths, a true eye sore. A big, gorgeous mound of mutli-coloured volcanic sand from squillions of years ago – are you sold yet? Well, I’ll generously add to this lousy sale pitch that the ticket includes access to a few other spiffy sites in the nature park – waterfalls included. Nifty, huh?
After a few luxurious nights at Vanilla Village we migrated South and found ourselves staying at the stunning Chazal Eco Tourism. A glamping type tent lodging in the secluded jungle of Southern Mauritius. With a fresh water lake for swimming, some of the most beeeeautiful scenery I’ve ever had the pleasure of being amongst and amazing staff to cater to all of your selfish, greedy desires, this place is utter paradise.
My hot tips for Chazal Eco Tourism – don’t take the long dirt road drive to camp in the dark or with me at the helm of the ship (drive as poorly as I spell) and shower in the day light hours. The overly friendly bugs of Mauritius really couldn’t get enough of me during that late-night shower.
Casela Nature Park is one of Mauritius most popular attractions with the place a lively hybrid of a zoo, amusement park and safari all rolled into one streamlined fun sandwich. There are a number of experiences and activities you can purchase like walking with the lions, giraffe feedings and zip lining.
We hearted the quad bike safari and had the dang good fortune of having a solo tour with a legendary guide, Shane. My recommendation would be to lock in the two-hour over the one, snag a tandem quad and take some cash with you so you can tip your lovely guide.
If you have the time check out the west side of the island sign yourself up for a cruise over to Flacq markets and check out the bustling array of local food stalls. Quite a surreal and overwhelming experience but bloody cool, grab some fresh mangoes, Indian sweets and a bowl of noodles or three.
While you’re down there hit up Salt of Palmar, the fancy pants resort we couldn’t extend our budget to but needed to experience. We settled on a lunch there and scoffed the tofu and soba noodle salad, falafel pita, enough coconut bread to feed a starving me and a smoky, caramelised banana dessert. Mhmmmm.
Food recommendations for Mauritius? Eat all of the banana pie you can find, stop at every single roti stand ever and if you don’t gorge yourself on all of the samosas, I will find you and I will spit on you. Aggressive, I know but necessary. Enjoy you gorgeous lot, Mauritius is nothing but fun in the sun goodness.