Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is know for its sparkling crystal and turquoise waters. The contrast of colours, cultures and tastes makes the island a location for an unforgettable holiday. Mauritius offers the opportunity to unparalleled luxury, a level of refinement that is ahead of many other other tropical holiday destinations. Mauritius was named after Dutch Prince Maurice Van Nassau.
Mauritius’ white beaches are protected by a coral reef barrier that encircles almost all of the coastline, with the exception of the southern end, where it falls away and where wilder waters and dramatic cliffs can be observed. From the northern plains, the land rises to a central plateau dotted by lakes and extinct volcanic craters. A few uninhabited islets area are scattered around the main island.
Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, was founded by the French governor and colonist Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais in 1735. Situated on the north-west coast, Port Louis is the business and administrative capital of Mauritius. Packed with office-workers during the day, it quickly quietens down after office-hours allowing visitors to enjoy a night out along the famous Caudan Waterfront.
The south reveals a dramatically different landscape from the rest of the island: one typified by high cliffs in places that are battered by waves. These are created where the protective barrier of coral reef that surrounds Mauritius falls away on the seabed, so leaving the coastline exposed to a punishing Indian Ocean. But the south is not singularly about cliffs and rough waters. Further round the coastline, heading westwards, are an array of beautiful beaches and top-rate hotels and resorts, in up-and-coming areas such as Bel Ombre.
The eastern coastline of Mauritius is comprised of exquisite coves and emerald lagoons, permanently enhanced by a cool sea breeze: life goes by at a slow pace in the east whether you’re a member of the fishing community or a holidaymaker. Situated between the mountains and the sea, the east is characterised by charming little villages with poetic names like Petite Julie, Mare d’Australia and Queen Victoria. It also plays home to some of the country’s best beaches, including Belle Mare, where you will want to spend hours basking in the sun, glorying in the sight of the long stretch of white sand.
To the west and south west of Mauritius off Tamarin Bay or Flic en Flac, heading in the direction of Île aux Benitiers, you can see the dolphins that come to these waters to rest and breed. The Morne Mountain, with its historical links to slavery, can also be found in this region –as well as some fine hotels known for their wide choice of watersports. Slightly inland, in the hills around Chamarel, is the rum distillery that bears the name of the village. Here, you can learn about rum production and taste some of the delightful produce.
Inland & Central Plateau of Mauritius is the ‘highlands’ where you will discover the island’s four other major towns. In Quatre Bornes, head for the local market if you want to do some bargain-hunting. In Curepipe, where it is generally cooler than elsewhere on the island, try visiting the botanical gardens. In the early evening the gardens of the Plaza — the municipal theatre of the town of Rose Hill — fill up with families who come to relax and enjoy an ice–cream. This is a heart-warming sight definitely worth beholding. Vacoas, meanwhile, is most renowned for its Gymkhana Golf Club the oldest in the southern hemisphere.
Mauritius Tourism www.tourism-mauritius.mu