Mauritius, which sits 1,200 miles off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, is primarily known for its picturesque beaches and calm, clear water. Those these are the primary reasons people come to visit, there are so many other reasons to go. Here’s a roundup of 13 things to love about Mauritius.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
There’s sunshine year round
The sun shines almost all the time, so you can not only enjoy constant beach time, but you’ll also 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, and the southeast tradewinds keep things from feeling muggy.
The population is 68 percent Indian, but there are also Creole, Chinese, French, English and South African inhabitants. This melting pot is reflected in the cuisine and landmarks: you’ll find French dishes like bouillon and coq au vin, Chinese pagodas, and Indian temples.
It’s full of history and natural heritage
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 horse racing tracks in the world, the Blue Penny Museum (home to some of the oldest and rarest stamps), and Black River Gorges National Park.
There are lots of land-based activities
Numerous adventure companies 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.
There’s watersports, fishing and sailing
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.
You’ll love the shopping
Literally every type of shopper will be happy on Mauritius. Each village is home to charming boutiques offering local arts and crafts, and there are farmer’s markets such as Flacq Market where you can buy local fruits and vegetables. The island also caters to international fashionistas with brands like Ralph Lauren and a designer factory outlet mall. Finally there’s a beautiful shopping mall at Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis.
There’s accommodation for every budget
Mauritius is home to 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.
There’s amazing flora and fauna
Skinks, geckoes, giant tortoises, flying foxes, macaque monkeys and over 100 species of bird are among the wildlife that makes its home in Mauritius. At the Casela Wildlife Park, you can get up close and personal with lion cubs. Vividly-colored flowers adorn the island, and there are 60 different species of orchid alone. Mauritius is the world’s second largest supplier of plants and cut flowers, after the Netherlands, which makes sense considering that the country has over 700 species of indigenous plants.
The sega music is amazing
When you hear sega music you’ll 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.
It’s got the freshest seafood
Seafood lovers will be in heaven in Mauritius. The restaurants serve up some of the freshest snapper, dorado, prawns, octopus and lobster you’ve ever tasted.
Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park, in the southwestern corner of the island, is one of Mauritius’ most stunning attractions. Its 16,680 acres shelter thousands of highly endangered plants and animals, including 311 species of endemic flowering plants and nine species of birds that can only be found in Mauritius.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
This magnificent botanical garden in Pamplemousses, named after a former Prime Minister, is famous for giant Victoria amazonica water lilies, whose leaves reach up to 3 meters (10 feet) in diameter. Other highlights include the Talipot plant, which flowers once every 30 to 100 years, towering mahogany trees, and rare Latanier palms from Madagascar.
Chamarel Colored Earth
No one knows for sure how these rolling dunes just west of the Black River Gorges got their color. Some think it happened when volcanic ash deposits cooled at different temperatures; others think it’s related to differing quantities of metal oxide in each dune. Try to see them first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening, when the colors are most dramatic.
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