Mauritius has long been top of my list of favourite places to visit. Despite having travelled there a few times, as a destination it has so much to offer, that I never seem to tire of it.
This tropical Eden, located off the south-east coast of Africa, has roots that reach way back in history. History from African slaves and Indian labourers, to a legacy of Dutch, French and British colonisation.
A short flight from our South African chilly shores, delivers you to bright sunshine and a wall of welcome tropical heat. After clearing customs, a wonderful gentleman named David met us. He was our local co-coordinator in Mauritius, from Emotions Destination Management company.
Being a creature of habit and comfort, I do like to stay at the beautiful Maritim Resort and Spa on the West coast. It has a prime location, nested on a private 62 acre estate on the oldest marine reserve on the island (Turtle Bay). Here you are more likely to see a variety of aquatic life while snorkelling in the shallows of the bay, than in most other parts of the island.
This 5 star hotel has been awarded many accolades over the years, and exudes warmth and charm in so many ways. From the wonderful cuisine on offer at the 5 restaurants, to the genuine Mauritian warmth and friendliness of the staff, this hotel has it all.
The hotel has a wonderful Kids’s Club, with daily entertainment for children and teens of all ages. While I adore my 10 year old son, it is quite a treat to have him dart off after breakfast to the kids club. Here he’s entertained with the other children for most of the day. For those wanting an active holiday, the hotel has a range of land and water sports on offer: from horse riding, golf and archery to water skiing and diving!
With plenty of attractions on offer, should you decide to venture from the haven of your hotel, you will be spoiled for choice of things to do and see.
Sugar and tourism is the mainstay of the Mauritian economy, and their sugar trade dates way back to the years of slavery. Be sure to visit the former sugar factory near Port Louis, now an interactive museum that traces the history of sugar production on the island.
In the centre of Mauritius is a crater lake, Grand Bassin, reputed to contain water once brought from the Ganges. It is a sacred place of pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of Hindus.
Just off the south-east coast is Ile aux Aigrettes island. This boasts a nature reserve with many rare species, including pink pigeons, geckos and giant tortoises.
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, commonly known as the Pamplemousse Gardens are the oldest botanical gardens in the Southern Hemisphere. The gardens stretch over acres of land, and are home to more than 650 varieties of plants, among which are the famous Baobabs and the Giant Water Lilies.
The beautiful region of Charmarel has waterfalls that drop 83 metres through lush vegetation. There is also the mysterious geological phenomenon of The 7-Coloured Earth – an undulating moonscape in seven different shades. The Charmarel region is what I imagine Mauritius looked like before the boom of tourism.
The highlight for us is most definitely the “Swimming with Dolphins” excursion, in the Black River / Tamarin area. This exciting encounter with both Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins is quite magical.
Far too soon, the time always comes to go home again. Packing our bags to return home, is always the worst part of the trip. Leaving behind this beautiful, tropical paradise tugs at the heart strings, but at least we know, it is only a short flight away for the next visit ….