Mauritius is considered a pure beach holiday destination and as so exclusive that it is only accessible to a few privileged guests. Both is not correct. Mauritius offers beautiful beaches, but there is also a lot more to discover. If you are traveling individually, you don’t have to pay more for a hotel than for one of comparable quality in Germany, necessarily.
To whom does Mauritius appeal as an individual travel destination?
For those who like tropical beaches or green mountains. For all who like going on roadtrips. For those who like animals, snorkeling or diving. And certainly for all those who are open-minded in terms of other cultures. Characterized by different cultural influences, Mauritius is a tolerant country, where different religions live peacefully together. Tolerance also seems to be an objective of politics. When we arrived at the airport, we saw a short film advertising the tolerance of Mauritius under the motto “We are all travelers”. I found this very touching and the island state likeable at the same moment..
The question is rather: To whom does Mauritius as an individual travel destination not appeal? For those who prefer cool temperatures, Mauritius would not do. Also, as an individual traveler, you have to accept that you will not only see the bright side of the country. In Mauritius, you will also find people living in poor conditions. If you have trouble confronting yourself with this, you should not travel there on your own. However, compared with many other African countries, the population is relatively well off.
We visited Mauritius in local spring. The weather was moderately warm and it was about 25 degrees Celsius. This is ideal for hiking and exploring. For a pure beach holiday I would personally prefer summertime. Even though the sea is warm all year round.
Accomodation and food beyond crowded resorts
Why have we decided to come to Mauritius? A good friend, which had visited the island with his family some months before, recommended a trip. By chance we booked excatly the same hotel he had chosen. This is probably due to its high ranking in popular booking platforms. The beautiful boutique hotel has inspired me a lot.
The Villa Anakao combines stylish, but quite relaxed elegance with Bohemian flair. I felt very much at home there. The friendly staff made vegan, but still Creole-influenced dinner possible. This meant a lot to me, because in Mauritius it can be tough as a vegan. The Indian restaurants do not always have a great choice of vegan food. In general, restaurants that are accessible to travelers seem to be rare, as tourism is still focused on the luxury resorts. In the smaller privately run hotels or guest houses (so-called Chambres d’hôtes) often dinner is served. Otherwise you can find restaurants and nice cafes in the island’s numerous malls.
Do as the locals do: Have a picnic!
If you want to immerse into the culture of Mauritius, you should experience a Sunday picnic. Picnic is an essential part of the culture. Where could you find more beautiful places for this than on the idyllic island? In one of the large supermarkets we found outdoor cutlery and other useful equipment. As a picnic place we chose the Belle Mare Beach. Here, the locals sat together in large groups to celebrate the Sunday picnic. Some even had hot food with them. The Belle Mare Beach with its turquoise-green water and a Casuarina grove, is a feast for the eyes. But the best thing was to see the Mauritians dance to the local sega music (“Mauritius Reggae”) and to Bollywood sounds.
Road and boat trips
Mauritius offers such a variety of interesting places and activities that two weeks were not enough to see everything. Nevertheless, we saw lots of great things. We traveled every day with our rental car and also made some boat trips. The south coast is ideal for impressive roadtrips. Otherwise, there is a very scenic roadtrip across the Black River Gorges National Park. Nevertheless, I recommend you to leave your car there and hike to experience the wonderful nature with its many waterfalls and magnificent views even more intensively. I loved each roadtrip but to see the island from the ocean, I liked most. The many color shades of the sea together with the green mountains form an irresistible mixture.
Visit a different dream beach every day!
In Mauritius you are spoiled for choice as far as beaches are concerned. There is actually one beach more beautiful than the other. The sand is mostly soft and white while the sea is indescribably turquoise. According to my perception the luxury resorts have the best beaches. However, in Mauritius, every beach is open to the public. We therefore had no difficulties to put down our towels next to the resort loungers. I particularly enjoyed spending a few lazy hours at the top of the Le Morne peninsula and at Trou aux Biches beach.
But don’t miss the surrounding islands! Not only boat trips of any kind (see above) are worth it. The beaches you find there are paradise-like. Be aware, however, that you will not be alone there. But you will sure manage to find a quiet place.
Experience the colorful culture and visit the capital!
Some think Port Louis could be omitted when exploring Mauritius individually. I do not share this opinion. The capital of Mauritius may not really be picturesque and surely not safe at night. But it is very fascinating and interesting to visit. In Port Louis you will see the different cultures and religions of Mauritius. Also a visit to Port Louis will give you deep insights into the history of the island. The Aapravasi Ghat in Port Louis is the second UNESCO world heritage sight in addition to the cultural landscape of Le Morne. There, in the 19th century, many Indian intendured labourers arrived. They earned very little money. This place is important in terms of the historical development of the country and its present population structure (the majority are Hindus with Indian ancestors). The various ethnic groups live in their own neighborhood in Port Louis, characterized by their unique culture. Of course, there are also the respective religious buildings. In Port Louis I saw temples, which I would have otherwise suspected in Asia rather than in Africa. People live their cultural customs. We have even been able to observe a small Hindu procession with dancing. The puja (Hindu reverence) can be seen on the river every morning. The Hindu women are dressed in particularly colorful clothes and carry baskets with sacrifices. In Chinatown, however, I have discovered Chinese street art. A must – especially for photographers – is also the old market hall of Port Louis. It is a hectic place but I think you should experience the colorful stands and the shouts of the vendors.
Other interesting places, whre you can see the history and culture of the country, are the historical colonial plantation house Eureka and the Grand Bassin. This is a lake to which once a year a lot of Hindus do a pilgrimage. Even outside the pilgrimage season you can see devote Hindus and you are also allowed to visit the temples. Above the lake is a huge statue, which is worth seeing. Around the temple and the statue you can see many monkeys. But be careful, they can become aggressive.
Wildlife Watching and Ecotourism on Mauritius
Mauritius is marketing itself more and more as an ecotourism destination. On the one hand, there are a lot of hiking trails. On the other hand, you can discover quite different animals at different corners. To meet interesting creatures, you do not even have to walk. Exotic birds were always present in our hotel and I woke up with their singing every morning. At night we even saw a fruit bat at the pool. These animals are particularly sweet. They look like little foxes with wings. I highly recommend to see the fascinating plants in the famous Botanical Garden in Pamplemousses. Here, in addition to native plants, there are also species from other regions of the world, such as huge water lily pads.
To me a very special experience was to get close to giant tortoises. They have been resettled in Mauritius and are now being looked after by biologists. On the offshore island Île aux Aigrettes one can see them in the wild and also other highly endangered species such as the Pink Pigeon or the Telfair’s skink. Most of these species are endemic to Mauritius. In Nature reserves you can also feed giant tortoises. There you can also admire some species from not too distant Madagascar as for example Lemurs .
And then of course there is the rich underwater life. Snorkeling around Mauritius was quite impressive. Around the island there are many whales and dolphins. Sperm whales live permanently off the coast of Mauritius. We visited Mauritius in the three months long season when humpback whales are seasonal guests to bear their calves in warm waters. We saw a lot of whales. There is a provider of dolphin and whale tours in Black River, who works sustainably and tries to take consideration of the animals. The topic of environmental protection and awareness is generally quite present in Mauritius. I was for example happy to see that the public beaches provide information on topics such as waste prevention.
My conclusion: Traveling to Mauritius is both relaxation and adventure and something I would love to experience any time again. If you liked my article, you might also be interested in the topic of individual travel to the Maldives.
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