Mauritius. The name conjures images of…. what exactly? Burly sailors with empty stomachs brandishing heavy, wooden clubs they slap into the palm their hands while looking at the curious dodo birds? Pirates and convicts and naval battles? White sand beaches? A luxury travel destination? Precisely.
The island nation of Mauritius is fairly little-known to much of the world, but such a place does exist. Mauritius has a tropical climate and that there was once a large flightless bird that was endemic to the island. Geographically-speaking, Mauritius is part of Africa, being located off the Southeast coast of the continent and just East of Madagascar. Tropical to near-tropical on the coasts — and changing into cooler, temperate climates in the mountains and forests — and having a highly-varied culture and population, there’s a little something for everyone on this gem of the Indian Ocean.
Most people will arrive on the island through Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (or SSR International Airport for short), in the capital city of Port Louis. Being that Mauritius has a thriving tourism trade, Port Louis is very well developed with excellently run hotels and excellent, first world, infrastructure. Make sure to spend some time exploring the city and check out some local culture.
If you have time, be sure to check out the Port Louis Market, where people from all over the country come to do their shopping. Here you’ll find everything from some of the freshest fish you’ll ever have, to clothing that is either made locally or imported from China and India at amazing prices. Then, take a stroll along the Caudan Waterfront shops, mingle with the locals and soak in your surroundings.
If you’re looking for a little nightlife and fine dining, head over to Grand Baie. One of the first places on the Island to experience a tourism boom, Grand Baie has a host of superb restaurants, trendy nightclubs and charming watering holes. The public transportation to and from here is good, and Grand Baie is not a bad place to base yourself out of when visiting.
When you think of the world’s best beaches, what comes to mind? Hawai’i? Cancun? Phuket? Mauritius has received the award of “World Leading Island Destination” from the World Travel Awards, for the third time in 2012. Now, if that wasn’t enough to warrant a visit, the title of World’s Best Beach was given with that of Trou aux Biches, beating out every other beach on Earth. Palm trees, coral reefs, white sands – Mauritius has it all.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mauritius was all about its magnificent beaches. Truth is that there is far more to do than lounge around on the beach, sipping cocktails with little umbrellas in them and snorkeling on the reefs. When you – somehow – tire of doing that, or realize that you should see more of what the island has to offer, rent a bicycle from one of the many rental places and take a trek through the mountains inland. The inland forested mountains, with clear views across the whole of the island, make for one of the most memorable bike rides you will ever have.
There has never been an instance of someone sitting around, scratching their head, wondering why Mauritius is one of the top travel destinations in the world and why it has won so many awards. A destination that while similar to other islands, is peerless amongst them. Mauritius is a paragon of excellence in travel. Even the prevailing winds are thankful to have graced the island as they flow over it from the sea to the forests and mountains and back out to sea again.