Being an island, beaches first come to mind. While it is true that there are many fantastic beaches around the coast, your sight-seeing and relaxation holidays can be more diverse than this. Here is a little taster of things you can do in Mauritius beyond the beach.
Pamplemousses Botanical Garden
Although your child might not be able to climb on tortoises, your family will be able to appreciate the biodiversity of the island at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden in the north. Within the garden reside centenary tortoises and deer which you will be able to touch. There are a number of rare plant species throughout the vast garden; you can find giant water lilies measuring between 1 to 2 metres in diameter. It is said throwing a few coins in the pond will bring you luck and judging by the amount of coins, this is a strong belief! It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer size and diversity of the garden and if that happens to you, you are recommended to use the services of one of the official guides of the garden.
Black River Gorges National Park
If you seek a wilder side to nature, then head deep into the country to the Black River Gorges National Park. This is the only vestige of the country when it was populated by dense forests throughout. The highest peak of the country is Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828 m and is found within these gorges. You can find a guide to take you around and it is strongly recommended to do so as you can get easily lost! Because of the high ground, rainfall is frequent and the humdity is high, leading to a lot of buzzing mosquitoes so cover yourself well and wear plenty of mosquito repellant.
Casela Nature Park
For those who prefer their green space more organised, Casela Nature Park will delight them and children. Casela near the west coast has a collection of animals with a particularly extensive one of birds. You can take a safari tour and meet zebras, ostriches and wild pigs. Lions and cheetahs are also present at Casela but safely behind bars although it is even possible to get inside the cage and play with the lion cubs. Don’t be mislead by the word cub as a 6-month old lion cub is much much bigger than any dog.
No stay in Mauritius would be complete without souvenir-hunting to show off or give away to others back home. For local souvenirs, try the market in Grand-Bay or Port-Louis Market, the biggest market in the island. You will find plenty of straw hats and baskets, cheap and colourful jewelleries and post cards. For more upmarket shopping in Port-Louis, leave the market behind and make your way across the road through the underpass to Port-Louis Waterfront.
Port-Louis Waterfront is next to the Caudan Waterfront which was built slightly earlier in the 90s. Prior to that, this whole waterfront used to be the harbour. Now in its place is a sun-baked esplanade with bright buildings at both ends housing air-conditioned shops and restaurants. Office workers in the capital love to hang out there during their lunch hour; students like to spend a day there during their holidays and go to the cinema; but most of all, for tourists, this waterfront setting makes for a perfect holiday snap with the sea as background.
Some attractions and activities will depend on the time of the year; for example, it is best to go hiking in the cooler months and marlin fishing is best done over the summer. Check out the best time to visit Mauritius.