Travel
Mauritius, more than just paradise island
October 30, 2013
12

My Mauritius trip was so awesome, I don’t know where to start!  I know I’ve been scarce lately but my laptop gave up the ghost, and I finally got a new one. So what if it’s second hand, at least its a Mac, so I can finally call myself a real freelancer 🙂

Its been a while since my teaser to my Mauritius adventure, and what an adventure it was.  Even though I’ve visited Mauritius twice before, this last trip got me seeing and doing so much more than my previous visits. This was my first big international blog trip, and I really packed in a lot in my seven days there.  There wasn’t much time for lazing on the beach unfortunately, or sleep for that matter.

We did make time for some cocktails in the water though 🙂  This is our #MyMauritius blog crew on our last day on the island. It really was paradise!

Mauritius Island Paradise

White sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and sunny skies were in abundance. What I did discover though is that Mauritius has so much more to offer than just beach resorts. It really is rich in culture, scenic beauty and has a abundance of adventure activities to keep you entertained.  Here’s some highlights of my trip via Instagram and a great little teaser video by Caspar Diederiek @Storytravelers.

One of the best assets of Mauritius, is its accessibility to South Africa. Just a 4 hour flight away from Joburg, you can even hit up the island on a long weekend, though I do recommend you stay longer. Its also really cool that Air Mauritius fly direct from Cape Town and Durban, so its pretty much accessible to most South Africans. If you’re not from South Africa, Mauritius is an easy add-on to a Southern African trip, and offers a completely different experience from South Africa. There are also direct flights from Air Mauritius’s Paris hub.

air mauritius

I had a super comfy flight with Air Mauritius, with excellent service from the staff. The flight was full of school boy rugby players off to Mauritius for a rugby sevens tournament. Who knew Mauritius was a sports tourism destination? The four hours flew by and I even had time for a quick nap to recharge. On arrival I was  impressed by the slick new airport terminal, with vertical gardens making it much greener than your average international airport.  Customs and immigration were quick and easy. No visas required for South Africans here!

I was picked up by my tour company, Coquille Bonheur, who were the perfect hosts during my week with them. On arrival at my hotel, St Regis, I headed straight to dinner at Simply Asia, one of the hotels six restaurants for an Indian fine dining feast. My starters were pan seared scallops with cauliflower purée, and mains were seared duck breast, cabbage and vermicelli foogath, with Chettinad sauce.  Dessert was a culinary delight – a  litchi infused, melt-in-your-mouth soufflé. What a way to start my Mauritian food adventure!

Mauritius rhum

 

My first night in Mauritius, I realised that Mauritians are serious about rum! This vanilla rum was my first taste of the sweet liquor, so good! Sugar cane is an important export for the island, so it’s no wonder that rum is popular. Not being much of a rum drinker, apart from the odd mojito, I was impressed by the flavourful sweet Mauritian rum, which worked well as a post dinner digestif. The Chamarel spiced rums are the boss, though every Mauritian seems to have their own recipe for spiced rum. I’ll be sharing one that I got from my tour guide in a coming post.

Besides the popular pina coladas and mojitos, Mauritian barmen all try to out-do each other with exotic rum cocktails.  When my kite-surfing lesson got cancelled due to lack of wind, I found myself with a few hours to spare. So I headed down to the pool, where the barman quickly convinced me that he had invented the perfect morning cocktail. I don’t recall what it was called but it was green and coconutty and laced with rum… perfect for a hot morning lazing by the pool. It was fresh and barely tasted boozy, so I didn’t feel too guilty enjoying a cocktail before noon 🙂

Emeraud Hotel Mauritius

 

Of course, the beaches in Mauritius are amazing! White sand, turquoise blue waters and palm trees galore. Even though I’d been to the island before and  seen all the brochures, it’s still takes your breathe away at how idyllic it is. If you get off the main resort stretches, its easy to find a beach with hardly anyone on it.  This is Belle Mare, the beach outside the Emeraude Beach Attitude hotel.

 

emeraude beach attitude mauritius

 

What I enjoyed about this Mauritian trip, was getting the opportunity to explore a few of the islets surrounding Mauritius. The Islets of Mauritius include nearly a hundred tiny islets and rocks scattered around the coast many of which are perfect for little excursions. You can explore these by your choice of sea vessels – catamaran, speed boat, sea karts and kayaks are just some of the options.

Ile aux Cerfs, Ile aux Aigrettes, Ile d’ambre, Ilot Mangenie, Ile des Deux Cocos, Gabriel Island, Coin de Mire, Flat Island and Benitiers Island are some of the surrounding islands to discover secluded beaches, tropical forests and snorkel the coral reefs.  One of my day-trips included visiting the idyllic Ile de deux Cocos, a private island just off the main island. The island is operated by Lux Resorts, and houses a quirky Moroccon themed villa. The island can be hired out for functions, or tourists can just visit for a romantic lunch. It was like being in my private little paradise. This was the view from the mainland at the pier of Ile de deux Coco…

 

ile de coco

 

I also got to visit Ile aux Aigrettes, a protected nature reserve  where indigenous flora and fauna are being preserved and studied. I got to learn about the endemic species and Mauritius most famous bird – the  dodo. There were loads of super-chilled giant tortoises munching around and we even saw some endemic birds, including a rare pink pigeon.

 

Ile Agrittes

 

Creole culture is definitely a highlight of Mauritius. All the resorts  have some sort of sega dance show where the tourists are taught a few of the hip swaying moves to the beats of a ravan drum and Creole singing.  Though this can sometimes seem like commercialised culture, I quite enjoyed our initimate beach sega dance session where we were taught to play the ravan (traditional drum) and move our hips in true Creole fashion. Fun times.

[KGVID]http://www.mzansigirl.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/IMG_8194.mov[/KGVID]

Another highlight of Mauritian culture are the many colourful temples adorned with Hindu deities. This pic was of the local temple in Goodlands. Though I didn’t have a chance to visit any temples on this visit to Mauritius, I would love to come back during a Hindu festival such as Diwali or  Thaipoosam Cavadee.

temple - Goodlands, Mauritius

 

For a tiny island of only 1 million people, Mauritius has an fantastic food culture influenced from its diversity of inhabitants. The Creole, French, Chinese and Indian cuisines have adapted to create an authentically exotic Mauritian cuisine. Delectable local dishes can be found everywhere. I enjoyed the most magnificent seafood, Creole and Indian curries, and even samosas and dhal phooris from street food vendors.

If you’re a foodie, you will love Mauritius. And if you’re a chilli lover like me, you’ll be in chilli heaven. Mauritians love their chilli even more than their rum. Every restaurant has its own chilli paste condiment to add some zing to your food.  Mauritians are definitely serious about their spicy condiments.  Yumness.

mauritius food

 

Another food that Mauritius is crazy about is coconut. A yummy coconut chutney is usually served as a condiment to meals, and sweet fresh coconut is to be found everywhere – from the breakfast table, to coconut infused dishes and cocktails as well as beachside stalls. So good. Here’s a pic of coconut art that was served to me as part of a fruit platter…

 

coconut art Mauritius

 

I won’t go into too much details on my adventure activities in this post, as it will be a spoiler for upcoming posts. Highlights for me were my stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) lesson at Tamarin Bay Surf School and sea-karting the lagoon of Benitier’s Island – don’t worry, I didn’t know what sea-karting was either until I did it! All I can say that it was more fun than I could have imagined!

Looking back on my Mauritius trip, what I will miss most about Mauritius is the friendliness of its people. Wherever I went people welcomed me with open arms, proud of their country’s progress and eager to share their culture and beauty of their island.  A few even mistook me for a local – my lack of French quickly cleared that up 🙂 The other thing I will miss about Mauritius are the island sunsets – simply  breathtaking.

 

mauritius sunset

 

My week in Mauritius was nothing short of awesome. Even though we packed a  lot in, I still feel like I’ve still got so much more to discover on this magical island. As South Africans, I think we’re lucky that Mauritius is so close to home. I think that its a destination we can form a relationship with, returning time and time again not only to experience its wonderful beaches, but also to appreciate its rich culture.

 

Mauritius fun

 

 

 

Note: The #MyMauritius blog trip is created and managed by iAmbassador and AHRIM in association with the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Air Mauritius. MzansiGirl maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

 

About author

Meruschka Govender

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There are 12 comments

  • Di Brown says:

    Informative. I always associated Mauritius with beaches and golf, and thought no further than that. The culture and wildlife sounds very tempting.
    Thanks for a great post.

    • mzansigirl says:

      Hi Di! I think its because we are just sold the beach resorts more than the actual destination and its many cultural offerings. Just like SA is more than just safari, Mauritius is much deeper than just beach 🙂

  • Kate says:

    Looks like it was such an awesome trip! You’ve made me want to go back, and I totally agree that it’s a destination that South African can return to again and again!

  • Andy says:

    Great post… Next time you come around feel free to pay me a visit.. Would love to show you some uniquely Mauritius stuff.

    • mzansigirl says:

      Thanks Andy! Thanks so much for your kind offer. Not sure when I’m returning, but would love to discover more unique stuff. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface.

  • Elly says:

    Great! Thanks for sharing with us such lovely and great adventures and exploration. It was a journey and a half i guess.

  • Hey M,

    Cool article, looking forward to the rest in the series.

    I’ve never been, but my perception of Mauritius has been ‘expanded’ quite a few times of the past year or so (in positive ways). This piece has contributed to that.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • mzansigirl says:

      Thanks Peter. I think its just that all the marketing material we’re fed is that Mauritius is just about its beach resorts. The cool thing about this trip is that even though I stayed in many places I spent most of my time out of the resorts getting to explore the island. Sadly so many tourists hardly even get out of their resorts to experience the real Mauritius.

  • Couldn’t have agreed more- I was surprised by just how much Mauritius had to offer on the cultural and culinary fronts. We had an amazing week there as well.

    Bruised Passports recently posted:
    http://www.bruisedpassports.com/wheres/the-street-food-of-mauritius

  • ali khan says:

    it so nice city of mauritius ha

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