Mauritius is a volcanic island located 1, 132 km away from Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. Rightly quoted as the paradise island, Mauritius is usually praised for being a haven for honeymooners and beach lovers, yet so much is awaiting to be explored.
Being of a volcanic origin, this 2,040km2 island features incredible and serene pristine beaches, magnificent roaring waterfalls, rugged canyons, plunging cliffs, nature reserves, and exceptional geological sites. Aside from the main island, you can always explore the surrounding virgin islets.
While visiting Mauritius you will come across a diverse culture which is due to the past colonisations, slave trades and indentureship that occurred between the 17th and 20th century. The Mauritian people are known for their friendly hospitality and typical Creole culture especially the cuisine, folkloric music and dance which will definitely captivate you.
Now that you have already made your decision to visit Mauritius, it is crucial to plan your vacation.
We have compiled some of the must visit places in Mauritius below:
Far from the stereotypical image of Mauritius, notably the white sandy beaches with turquoise blue waters and casuarinas trees, the Rochester Falls is another aspect you need to discover. Tread lightly, breathe the fresh air and immerse yourself in the midst of the luxuriant reserves surrounding the iconic Rochester Falls, located in the the Savanne district of Mauritius, just some 2.5 kilometers away from Souillac (South of Mauritius).
The Rochester Falls is the widest waterfall in Mauritius. It is set in an isolated, wild and lush green area where you can find unique and dramatic cliff faces which have been transformed into jagged rectangular blocks by the force of powerful water over the past hundreds of years.
The cascading waters tumble from a height of 10 meters through the rocky beds of the Savanne River and form a thick foam. Mesmerizing as it may seem, this spectacular spot serves as an ideal spot for a quick refreshing plunge or a small picnic break.
The breathtaking scenery, cascading waterfalls, pools of clear water and luxuriant greeneries surrounding the region, make it not only a wonderful site to see but also a relaxing experience. You might also meet some daring and adventurous locals who are willing to jump from high above the cliffs into the pool of water.
Black River Gorges National Park
Another spectacular nature attraction is the Black River Gorges National Park which is the largest protected native forest. It covers an area of 67.54km2; 2 % of the thick native forests and rolling hills of the south-western part of Mauritius.
While strolling in the midst of nature, this green area will fill you with a sense of serenity and peace. This nature reserve provides over 50 km of trails where you can trek and explore the rich and diverse flora and fauna of the island. The enchanting, wild expanse of thick forest is home to over 300 species of flowering plants and nine species of birds unique to Mauritius, including the famous pink pigeon which is staging a very gradual comeback from the brink of extinction. Some endangered bird species include the Mauritius kestrel, the echo parakeet, the pink pigeon, Mauritian flying fox, Mauritius bulbul, and Mauritius olive white-eye. You might also find the introduced wild boar, macaque monkeys, and deers wandering in the wild nature.
As you keep exploring you will find spellbinding waterfalls, pristine rivers, picnic areas, wide canyons and dramatic mountain ranges, which create panoramic views altogether. You can drive or take a bus through the park and stop to contemplate great views along the way but the best way to see the park is on foot. There is a network of hiking trails and reliable maps are also available at the information centres before setting off. You can even hire a guide, if needed, at the visitors centre.
Seven Coloured Earth Of Chamarel
One of the unique and most captivating geological sites on the island is the Seven Coloured Earth of Chamarel which is about 283 meters above sea level, in the southern part of Mauritius. This stunning geological formation of soil is a natural phenomenon created by basaltic lava.
The soil is of unusual nature since it is found in different shades of colours due to the decomposition process of volcanic rocks. Here you will witness the glowing hillsides of red, violet, green, blue, purple and many other colours. This geological formation still intrigues many people as the colours never erode despite adverse weather conditions.The property has an enclosure just below the coloured earths, where tortoises are kept.
You can enjoy the beautiful view of the coloured earth protected by the wooden fence. There are also nearby curio/ souvenir shops in the area that sell small test-tubes filled up with the coloured earth. It is believed that if you mix the different coloured earths together, they will eventually settle into separate layers. Have a pleasant visit walking around the beautiful lush surroundings and don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby and spectacular Chamarel waterfall which plunges down from a height of over 85m in a single drop.
Ile Aux Aigrettes
Ile aux Aigrettes, a tiny coral island (26 hectares) just off the Southern Coast of Mauritius is a nature reserve and sanctuary of exotic and indigenous species, under the supervision of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
The island is a natural museum and home to many endemic and native animal and plant species.
Its flora is mainly composed of coastal ebony forest and strand scrub vegetations.
There are 97 known introduced plant species on the island, and 28 are considered as major weeds.
Pink Pigeons, Mauritius Fodies and Mauritius Olive White-eyes have also been reintroduced, along with the Aldabra Giant Tortoises (to replace the extinct giant tortoise species once found here).
The beautiful endemic Ornate Day Gecko, Phelsuma Ornata still occupies the island naturally.
Captive Mauritius Fruit Bats can also be viewed on the island for educational and awareness purposes. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation solely manages and conducts tours. The usual tours take between 1½ and 2 hours and start from Pointe Jérome, around 250m south-east of Le Preskîl hotel. Longer ‘eco tours’ of 2 to 2½ hours are also available. These allow you more time on the island and let you meet some members of the scientific teams working there. Tours involve a good deal of walking; wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat, sunscreen and water. At the end of the tour you can visit a small museum and shop.
Le Morne Peninsula
While heading to the Southern Coast of Mauritius, you will find yourself in a secluded area, close to the pristine nature where the landscape is totally different from the rest of the island.
There you will soon spot Le Morne Brabant which is a UNESCO World Heritage site for Mauritius’s cultural and historical legacy. It used to be an escape haven for the runaway slaves dating back to the 19th century during the colonial era. It is said they gave up their lives since they preferred death over slavery.
You will certainly be mesmerized by the scenic natural views such as the beaches, the tropical green vegetations, and the local rustic fishing villages.
The majestic Le Morne Brabant has a summit of 556 metres (1,824 ft) above sea level complementing the beauty of the region. Beaches over here are ideal for swimming as the water is shallow and suitable for children and even for non-swimmers. The reef in front of the beach makes the area popular for snorkelling. You may also practice kitesurfing as lessons are provided in the area.
People living in this remote area are very friendly and welcoming. Get a taste of the local food at the numerous street food stalls or restaurants. You will not get disappointed by the various options of accommodation such as apartments, studios, villas and hotels, which are exclusively available at Le Morne. Most of the luxurious hotels are nestled on the beautiful beaches, offering quality accommodations with a sophisticated ambiance such as LUX Le Morne, St Regis, Paradis Resort Golf & Spa, and Dinarobin Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa.
Mauritius Botanical Garden
One of the most popular attractions in Mauritius is the historical Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden which is located in Pamplemousses. The botanical garden is considered as the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere.
This awe-inspiring garden was founded by Pierre Poivre in 1767, and covers an area of around 37 hectares.
The centre piece of the garden is a pond filled with giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies, native to South America.
The garden has a range of species and a unique collection of 85 varieties of palm trees from Central America, Asia, Africa and the islands around the Indian Ocean.
Some of the more prominent species are the stubby bottle palms, the tall royal palms and the talipot palms, which flower once after about 40 years and then shortly die.
Other palm varieties include the raffia, sugar, toddy, fever, fan and even sealing-wax palms.
Another highlight is bird watching for the crimson hues of the Madagascar fody. There are captive populations of deer and around a dozen giant Aldabra tortoises near the park’s northern exit.
Underwater Waterfall Mauritius
Another exciting spot not to miss while visiting Mauritius is the phenomenal Underwater Waterfall which is one of the most unique geological formations in the world. Located at the southern-west tip of the island near the UNESCO World Heritage site of Le Morne Brabant, this dramatic and out of the ordinary illusory underwater waterfall offers an outstanding bird’s eye view.
The mystery behind this fascinating phenomenon is actually a spectacular optical illusion– where there is no underwater waterfall but there simply seems to be one. This can be explained by the fact that Mauritius was created around 8 million years ago compared to its surrounding islands like La Reunion and Rodrigues. These islands were formed by volcanic eruptions to form what is now known as the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. The islands sit upon one of the largest Submarine Plateaus (Ocean Shelf) in the Indian Ocean, no deeper than 150 meters below sea level. On the shelf’s edge, there is a ‘drop-off’, plunging down to over 4000 meters deep, into the abyss.
Due to this formation, sand from the nearby beaches is forced off the plateau by oceanic currents, thus giving the impression of water falling. This site is best viewed from an aerial perspective, such as from a helicopter.
Ganga Talao-grand Bassin
Ganga Talao is Crater Lake located in the southern part of the island more precisely in the Savanne district. Ganga Talao is considered as a sacred lake by the Hindu devotees in Mauritius. It is indeed an oasis of peace which alongside offers panoramic views.
This breathtaking spiritual site inhabits marine creatures including, fish and huge eels found in the lake, surrounded by temples, endemic trees and plants, and animal species. A true feast for the eyes!
Witness the cultural side of the temples, depicting various Hindu gods and goddesses. You will easily spot the magnificent statue of Lord Shiva, with a jet of flowing water sparking out of his matted hair.
It is recommended to visit the Hanuman temple on the top of the hill found at the lake. There you will enjoy a truly fantastic view of the whole place. Bring along some bananas to feed the lovely and curious monkeys on your way.
La Vanille Crocodile Park
If you wish to spend a fun time in the company of some fascinating animals then head over to ‘La Vanille Crocodile Park’ which is home to the second largest crocodilian and one of the largest tortoises in the world. La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes Nature Park invites you to discover its unique park (3.5 hectares) through its animals, lush and exotic vegetation, insectarium and museum.
The reserve is located the Southern part of Mauritius near the ‘Riviere des Anguilles’.
Discover this impressive nature park with your family for an amazing experience where you can have a leisurely stroll around the park consisting of a wide range of awe-inspiring animals.
Including monkeys, eels, wild boars, bats, iguanas, and deers, a spectacular aquarium, children’s corner, and a lush green garden.
On top of that you will get to see over 20,000 species of insects! Do not miss to visit the world’s largest private collections of magnificent butterflies!
Besides contemplating the beauty of the fierce crocodiles, take the opportunity to taste their meat at Le Crocodile Affamé restaurant which is part of the reserve. The restaurant offers you a pleasant setting surrounding nature.
Château De Labourdonnais
Learn a little of the Mauritian History by visiting the 19th century Château de Labourdonnais found in the heart of a magnificent natural estate at Mapou. This majestic mansion was built in 1859 by the influential Christian Wiehe, but was later, in 2006, restored by Jacques Wiehe, a professional architecture.
Located in the midst of a vast area of orchards and gardens, the Château comprises of colonial architecture, designed in a neoclassical Italian style, but also influenced by Victorian and Napoleon III style. Besides appreciating the historical heritage inside the great mansion, you can also enjoy a stroll through the luxurious gardens and orchards which consist of endemic plants.
The orchards cater fifty varieties of hundred-year-old mango trees, spice trees such as nutmeg and clove, as well as several exotic fruit trees such as the ‘pomme jacot’, the sapote, the jamalac and the Kythira plum. Along your way, you will also get to meet the giant Aldabra tortoises in the park.
You will also find some activities such as the production of rum, and a range of natural fruit flavours without artificial colouring or flavouring, including jams, fruit jellies, fruit juices and sorbets. You will also get the chance to taste products from the distillery or the orchards.
Ile Aux Cerfs Island
Tucked away in the secluded Eastern Coast of Mauritius, the renowned Ile aux Cerfs Island or literally known as Deer Island is a haven of relaxation, fun and entertainment.
The island is spread over lush vegetation of 100 hectares and is visited by tourists and locals due to its sandy beaches, beautiful lagoon and wide range of activities.
Known also for its snorkeling areas, Ile aux Cerfs has beautiful coral reefs, teeming with vibrant marine life where you can enjoy the rich underwater world.
You do not have to be a good swimmer or diver to discover the realm of the marine ecosystem.
You can try the underwater sea walk where you will have the chance to feed the beautiful fishes.
Or simply try the thrilling parasailing experience to enjoy the bird’s-eye view of the incredible island and turquoise lagoon.
The island also consists of many facilities such as small markets, bathrooms, restaurants and also a five-star golf course designed by the famous golf player Bernhard Lange. The course covers 38 hectares on the southern half of the Ile aux Cerfs Island with the holes snaking up and down the length of the island, boasting of naturally undulating topography, volcanic rock outcrops, lakes and gullies, and a variety of tropical trees and plants.
The Central Market
The ‘bazaar’ (or central market) is located near the harbour on Farquhar Street. It opens everyday from 6.00am.
In the colourful and bustling central market everything can be found, from food to clothing. In summer, it is advisable to visit the market early to avoid the crippling heat.
The market is divided into the vegetable, fruit, meat and the craft sections. A variety of tropical fruits, local food and crafted objects are sold at affordable prices. Calling out to passing customers, the vendors offer a wide variety of products and if you have good bargaining skills, then you are in for a treat. There is also an area where local snacks and drinks such as dholl puri and alouda are sold. If your stomach is sensitive then it is recommended not to try them. As you stroll around you will encounter many shops selling an eclectic range of interesting items such as clothes, hats, bags, accessories, souvenirs and many other items.
Casela World Of Adventures
Nestled majestically in the verdant Yemen Reserve in the Black River district, this glorious nature and animal park is a must see place in Mauritius.
Spread over 250 hectares of rugged terrain, lush forest, scorched-earth safari and breath-taking gorges.
The Casela Park hosts an eclectic range of indigenous and exotic species.
Such as Java deer, wild boars, hares, macaque monkeys, big cats, rhinos, giraffes, camels, zebras, ostriches, mongoose and fruit bats.
As well as ebony, pink pepper plants, and the list is just endless.
Here, you will have the privilege to discover a whole new world of the mountain, nature and safari kingdom.
Besides, encountering the fascinating animal species, you have the choice to plunge into the world of adventures through various adrenaline-packed activities like a Safari Quad Biking, photo-safari with the big cats and African mammals, canyoning, zip lining, the Nepalese bridge, toboggan slide (adults and children) and 4D Cinema to discover the natural science and history of Mauritius.
Eureka Creole House
The Eureka House is a unique historical site which attracts many visitors. This Creole mansion dates back to the 19th century and was owned by both British and French aristocrats. The colonial house is located at Moka in a magnificent garden surrounded by waterfalls of Moka River and the Moka Range. The Creole mansion was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1986.
By visiting the mansion you will discover the antique interior décor which reveals the well-preserved furniture made with ebony and mahogany, finely painted chinaware, old ceramics, books and rugs, and photographs of daily life. The mansion consists of 109 doors, which includes 14 rooms featuring antique furniture, and Kashmir carpets hanging on the wall.
There are areas dedicated to music, art, antique maps, Chinese & Indian house wares and quirky contraptions like a colonial-era shower. Visitors can also stroll through the immense garden of the Eureka House. Besides the museum and part of the ravine that has been transformed into a restaurant, the Maison de l’Étoile is another jewel of heritage. The Maison de l’Étoile features an open veranda with mountain views, and a large living room with fireplaces.
The 19th century immigration depot is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has a historical and cultural value to the Indian Diaspora in Mauritius. The Aapravasi Ghat is a historic complex of buildings located on the seafront of Port-Louis. It consists of the partial remains of three stone buildings built on the spot of an earlier depot site. It has an entrance gateway, a hospital block, remnants of immigration sheds, and vestiges of the service quarters.
The complex represents the beginning of the Great Experiment initiated by the British Government, where nearly half a million Indians were housed between 1834 and 1920. They were the first “indentured” labourers, brought to Mauritius by the British Government to work on sugar plantations after the abolition of slavery.
The highlight of the site is the Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre, which also hosts children activities. To get into the depth of the Mauritian historical and cultural legacy, a visit to the Aapravasi Ghat is recommended.