Top ten reasons to spend your new summer holidays in Mauritius

A jewel in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is most people’s idea of paradise. But while the beaches are idyllic and the food divine, the tropical island has many other delights to offer. Here are the top ten reasons why you should visit Mauritius.

1. The climate

Thanks to its tropical climate, Mauritius weather is warm all year round, never dropping much below 22oC in the daytime and 18oC at night. You can expect the average amount of sun to be between six and eight hours a day, and a water temperature of 24-28 oC. The best time to visit Mauritius is from May to December when the weather is cool, dry and sunny. Peak season is actually during January and February but these months are the hottest and also the most humid.

2. The beaches

When considering things to do in Mauritius, laying on a beach, coconut water in hand, must be near the top of the list. Whether you just enjoy listening to the lapping of the waves in the turquoise waters or prefer more thrilling activities on the water, there are over 160km of beaches to choose from. Trou aux Biches features flat, shallow water and a nearby reef that’s ideal for snorkelling, while the small island of Ile aux Cerfs boasts some of the most romantic hidden beaches in the world. But for sheer beach beauty, head to Belle Mare Plage, a 10km-long pristine white sand beach that attracts sunbathers, snorkellers and divers in equal number.

3. The culture

Mauritius is a curious blend of different cultures, creating a diverse population. For a sense of its history head to the capital Port Louis, which was used as a harbour when the French first landed in the 17th Century, and wander around the old spice shops and colonial buildings. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Central Market, with its vast array of fruits and vegetables, as well as textiles, street food and, of course, rum. This is also the best place to try some of the food, a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian influences.

4. The food

Mauritius food is among the most diverse in the world, with influences coming far and wide from India, China, Africa and France. Wander down the streets of Port Louis and your senses will be overcome with the sights and smells of dishes from fish vindaye, a traditional seafood dish featuring fried, pickled fish, to bol renverser (upside down bowl), a multi-layered creation with stir-fried vegetables and chicken topped with a fried egg. After, try the tropical fruit salad featuring the traditional pineapple, mango and lychee but with tamarind sauce and a sprinkle of chilli salt.

5. The golf

Golf is one of the most popular sports in Mauritius and has been played here since 1902, when the first golf club was opened by members of the Royal Navy. These days there are a dozen world-class golf courses on the island, ranging from the Paradis, which sits under the iconic Mourne Mountain beside a crystal clear lagoon, to Berhard Langer’s Ile aux Cerfs Golf Course. Set on a small island, Ile aux Cerfs takes golfers past sandy white beaches and lush mangrove forests to give a visually stunning golfing experience.

6. The festivals

With a number of cultures and religions on the island, such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism, Mauritius has a range of festivals held throughout the year that are fascinating to watch and take part in. The Chinese New Year is celebrated with parades of dancing dragons and lions, as well as a stunning fireworks display, while Diwali is celebrated during early November with the main streets decorated with strings of lights. But the biggest festival on the island is Maha Shivaratri, the largest Hindu pilgrimage outside India. The three-day festival sees thousands of Hindus travel to the lake of Grand Bassin to sanctify themselves in its water.

7. The natural environment

The tropical climate and diverse landscape of Mauritius means there’s a large range of natural environments to explore. With over 12 nature reserves and botanical gardens, as well as huge areas of tropical forest hiding magical waterfalls, the island holds a series of delights for the nature lover. Indeed, one of the top attractions in Mauritius is the Chamarel Waterfalls in the south west of the island, a 100-metre-high natural wonder set against a backdrop of mountains and lush forest. But if it’s wildlife you’re after, the animal sanctuary of Ile aux Aigrettes gives you the chance to get close to species such as kestrels and giant tortoises, while a variety of whales can be found a short boat ride from the coast between July and November.

8. The coloured sands of Chamarel

As one of the main tourist attractions in Mauritius since the 1960s, the coloured sands of Chamarel attract thousands every year to gaze upon this unique geological phenomenon. The area of sand dunes comprises sand of several different colours, from red and violet to blue and purple, created by the tropical conditions washing out certain elements of the sand. What remains is a fascinating kaleidoscope of colours formed into beautiful patterns from the rain – a formation that still intrigues geologists from around the world today. The best time to see the sands is sunrise, when the light bounces off the dunes to create a spectacular light show.

9. The sweet treats

Sugar is one of Mauritius’s major export goods, and it remains a central part of the economy – and diet – of the island. Desserts are big news for fans of Mauritius food and traditional puds such as sticky banana tart or sweet potato cakes filled with freshly grated coconut are well worth trying. Of course, one of the by-products of sugar production is rum, and you can visit the rum distilleries at Chamarel, St Aubin Rum Estate or L’Aventure du Sucre for a tour of the distilleries and a sample of what are known as some of the best rums in the world.

10. The islands

Mauritius is surrounded by a number of smaller islands, and there are plenty of boats and ferries that take regular trips out to allow visitors to take in the breathtaking scenery and hidden beaches to be found on each one. Some of the more well-known islands include Ile aux Cerfs, Ile aux Aigrettes, Ilot Gabriel, Ile d’Ambre and Ile au Ronde, all with memorable snorkelling and diving sites, as well as incredible waterfalls to be found. But for blissful isolation, head to Ile aux Fouquets, a small five-hectare island at the entrance of Grand Port with its own fortification and lighthouse.

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