MAURITIUS

An exotic and explosive encounter

between Africa, India and the ocean

> 1½ months across Mauritius <

When not traveling overland, we’ve gotten used to spending time in airports; then why not also spend time gazing into flight departure screens to unravel where you could potentially go, and how different regions are connected by air transport? On our first trips to India there was one far-flung destination, which always seemed to be directly connected to the major Indian hubs, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and so on: the island of Mauritius. Remotely positioned off the Southern part of Africa, but more connected in many other aspects to the Indian “motherland”. In our early twenties we were lucky to feel the bite of the travel bug from India, and getting hooked we wanted to experience India’s alluring and many different cultures outside the subcontinent. There were indeed many cheap flights from India to Mauritius, but anyway we ended up coming to this paradisiacal island all the way from Europe.

 

Besides a multifaceted connection to India, Mauritian culture is actually defined as being Creole: A unique blend of African and Hindi culture along with the historical influence from merchants and sea traders since the island was a key stopover on the trade routes between Europe and the Orient. This maybe explains why the islanders are so welcoming and appear with open attitudes. Or maybe the friendliness that we felt was partly explained by our newborn babies that we took along our travels. By coincidence, we actually got each of our first-born child within a few weeks time, and by another coincidence both of us ended up spending our separate paternity leaves on Mauritius.

 

Mauritius is a beautiful island cast is vivid natural colors. Picture-perfect beaches and coral reefs virtually surround the small-sized island, and it has a varied interior topography made of small mountains spread in between the pastoral landscapes of crops and small villages. Our travels in Mauritius essentially covered the entire island, from the swanky South coast, over the diving and sailing mecca of the East, to the more rural and relaxed North. It was a real treat and overall a great stay for slow beach days, easy traveling, and many different water activities. We even did a hop to its much more isolated neighbor, the island of Rodrigues; this small isle will however, due to its uniqueness and overall different experience, be covered in a separate post (se elsewhere in our Island pages).

For more exotic adventures in the Indian Ocean islands check our travels to La Réunion, the Seychelles, the Maldives, and Rodrigues island

 

 

Selected pics:

Location of Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Location of Mauritius, Indian Ocean

Just on the old trade route between Europe and Asia

Hindu temple, Pereybère village
Hindu temple, Pereybère village

Even though mosques, churches and Hindu temples can be found within a stone's throw of each other in many parts of Mauritius, over half of the population are Hindu, all of whom are Indian origin. Since we love the Indian subcontient we were also attracted by the many beautiful temples on Mauritius. In our experience, the most "Indian" part of the island is found in north-east around Goodlands.

Kids playing in outside Mahébough
Kids playing in outside Mahébough

All of Mahébough seemed like a big backwater village and the days of being a busy port was clearly a thing of the past. The entire bay offered a beautiful bay of fishermen on the job, while kids were playing in the trees and lagoon. Most seemed to live in a grid of dilapidated builings. It was very charming and we often went into Mahébourg to buy water, snacks etc. The monday market near the waterfront is very good with several steaming food stalls and textile sellers.

Local fishers in Mahébourg bay
Local fishers in Mahébourg bay

During the more cool mornings we would often stroll along the beaches and small villages around Mahébourg. Around Pointe d'Esny and Blue Bay we saw many fishermen early in the morning, enjoying the breeze and view towards Île aux Aigrettes and Île des Deux Cocos. We went snorkling off the coast of the former island, which gave access to a reef in good shape. There are giant Aldabra tortoises on the island, too. The latter island was good for lazing on the beach.

Grand Gaube bay on the north coast
Grand Gaube bay on the north coast

Along the north-east part of Mauritius we saw several deserted beaches and beautiful bays. Often these were empty except from the occational kite-surfer.

Girls at Cap Malheureux
Girls at Cap Malheureux

These three Girls were collecting mussels along the beach in front of our bungalow.

View towards Lion Mountain, 480m
View towards Lion Mountain, 480m

Immidiately recognisable from its sphinx-like profile, this peak offered good hiking along the "lion's back" to finish at an impressive viewpoint. It took 4 horus return. The trail was behind the police station in Vieux Grand Port, and it was easy to follow.

Another beautiful Hindu temple
Another beautiful Hindu temple

East coast Mauritius

Belle Mare beach hike, East coast
Belle Mare beach hike, East coast

Eastern Mauritius is know for its superb, long white beaches and great diving on the barrier reef. We stayed there a week and used it as a base to explore the whole east coast and in-land mountains.

View to Palmar Beach, East coast
View to Palmar Beach, East coast
Evening foortall tournament
Evening foortall tournament

Near the sleepy fishing Poste de Flacq the locals started a small football game every evening, and we joined in. The winners price was shared with everyone on the beach: A magnificent sunset

Sailing trip to Île aux Cerfs
Sailing trip to Île aux Cerfs

We joined a sailing trip on a catamaran from Blue Bay to Île aux Cerfs off the east coast and did lots of snorkeling along the way on the reefs. The island's best beaches and reefs line the eastern coast.

Enjoying life aboard, Île Camisard
Enjoying life aboard, Île Camisard
Arrival at Île aux Cerfs
Arrival at Île aux Cerfs

This island simply offers killer looks: perfect, gin-clear waters and white sand beaches. The island offer 4km of beaches, so it was easy to get away from the crowds simply by walking away from the piers where all are dropped off.

Lovely beach on Île aux Cerfs
Lovely beach on Île aux Cerfs

We spent a full day here simply relaxing and snorkeling off the coast.

Circumnavigating Île de L'Est
Circumnavigating Île de L'Est

One day we walked around the northern island of Ile de L'Est in the Île aux Cerfs island group. We had most beaches entirely to ourselves.

Hindu temple in Belle Mare
Hindu temple in Belle Mare
Jardins de la Compagnie
Jardins de la Compagnie

We went through Port Louis a few times to buy groceries. It has some nice markets and gardens well worth exploring.

Diving trip to Coin de Mire cliffs
Diving trip to Coin de Mire cliffs

Off the coast of Cap Malheureux at the northern edge of Mauritius are some stunning islands, including Coin de Mire with its dramatic slopes. We did a good diving tour to the islands which gave access to excellent walls and drift diving. The sits had tons of fish lfe, and at Île Plate that was an eerie concentration of blacktip sharks numbering about 15-20. Currents was a bit tricky.

Walking towards the dive boat...
Walking towards the dive boat...

... at Belle Mare beach. We had several good dives in the area, incl. Passe de Belle Mare, a passage on the barrier reef with strong tidal currents which meant many pelagics including grey reef sharks and bull sharks. The underwater seascape was also a draw: Chasms, coral valleys and a few walls.

Chamarel's "Seven Coloured Earth"
Chamarel's "Seven Coloured Earth"

During a hike into the Black River Gorges NP we visited Chamarel's coloured earths, where we had lunch. Numerous trails crisscross the national park, but finding way was easy. We also saw a beautiful waterfall inside the park near the coloured earths.

From Belle Mare to Trou d'Eau Douce
From Belle Mare to Trou d'Eau Douce

We walked along the beach to Trou d'Eau Douce, a small fishing village on the edge of a turquoise bay in Eastern Mauritius. It's a breathtaking place with its dazzling turquoise lagoon and its beautiful beaches of pristine white sand. From this village we also took several trips on yeachts to the Île aux Cerfs islands situated in the expansive lagoon.

Séga dance in La Gaulette
Séga dance in La Gaulette

We saw a few séga performances during our stay. Originally conceived by African slaves, séga is a powerful combination of drum play and dance. It can be extremely erotic.

Beach hawker, Poste Lafayette
Beach hawker, Poste Lafayette

On Eastern Mauritius, a place with many posh and exclusive hotels

Sailing in the largest lagoon
Sailing in the largest lagoon

The sailing around Trou d'Eau Douce in the largest lagoon of Mauritius is a great experience. With the old trade winds that often hit this coastline of the island we could gain good speed while having great views to the spectacular greenish and mountaneous interier of Mauritius

The wild and remote south Mauritius
The wild and remote south Mauritius

Le Morne is a rugged mountain (556m) that juts into the Indian Ocean in the southwest of Mauritius, and also the name of the peninusla on which the green and rugged mountain rises from. The area isvery beautiful with a clear lagoon sheltered by a long coral reef. This shot was from an early morning walk around the peninsula

Le Morne Beach, South Mauritius
Le Morne Beach, South Mauritius

The huge monolithic mountain, Le Morne Brabant, is a UNESCO site, known in the early 19th century as a refuge for runaway slaves. After the abolition of slavery in Mauritius (year 1835) a police force traveled there to inform the slaves that they had been freed. However, the purpose of the expedition was misunderstood and the slaves jumped to their deaths from the mountain.

6 AM fishing at Île aux Benitiers
6 AM fishing at Île aux Benitiers

The region around the Benetiers island in the very South of Maurtius is a fishing ground of locals.

Séga dance in Mahébourg
Séga dance in Mahébourg
Sunset from Le Morne beach
Sunset from Le Morne beach