Mauritius

What to do in Mauritius?

Introduction

A lot of people who are not interested in beautiful beaches and turquoise waters might ask: What to do in Mauritius? When I had finally booked my dream holiday to Mauritius, 1 week in a beach resort, I also wondered: What ELSE to do in Mauritius? I felt it would be a wasted opportunity to NOT visit more while being on the island, so I quickly changed our return flights for 1 week later and then started researching. Wow! I could find so many things that I wanted to do in Mauritius during that one week. Some careful planning would need to be implemented.

In August 2017 my then 4 year old daughter and I jetted of to the paradise island of Mauritius. We still talk about it almost each day and this holiday to Mauritius definitely is in our Top 3 of holidays so far. Check out some of our photos here. And follow THIS link to decide what is the best place to stay in Mauritius.

So What to do in Mauritius if you don’t want to chill on one of the beautiful beaches?

Check flights with KLM to Mauritius HERE.

Here is the list of things to do in Mauritius that we managed to do in just 1 week.

A visit to the beautiful botanical gardens of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam

We LOVE the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town so when I found out about the botanical gardens in Mauritius I immediately knew that I wanted to visit them. Of course it was a completely different experience but spending time in gardens with beautiful trees, rare flowers and often beautiful water features is simply good for the soul, body and mind. As soon as our rental car was delivered with GPS, the first stop we made was the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens in the north of the island, close to the Club Med where we had stayed.

 

Kids under the age of 5 go for free and for adults it is 200 Rs. The best thing we did was get a guide just behind the entrance of the garden. They wait for you there. I paid ZAR 50 because I didn’t have enough in Rs. We joined a small group and the guide took us through the whole garden explaining many interesting facts quickly in both French and English. She was truly amazing! She also took the time to take pictures from everyone and she explained how to take a vertical panorama when we reached very high palm trees. I had never even heard of it. My absolute favourite part of the garden was the pond with the massive water lilies that can get as big as a diameter of 2 meters. Truly magical.

BOOK A CAR WITH A DRIVER HERE and see all the sights have 0 stress! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

A full day catamaran cruise from Grand Baie can be booked here. What better than to spend the day on the sea??

L’aventure du Sucre

I didn’t quite know what to expect from this museum and my assumptions were a bit wrong when I thought it would only be nice for Rosie because it includes tasting different types of sugar. This museum was excellent and exceeded all my expectations. It gave a wonderful overview of not only the history of sugar in Mauritius but all history in general. It was very well organised, well laid out and a lot of space for kids to run around which is needed when travelling with a 4 year old. There were also small details specifically aimed at children, like a box that Rosie could look through and colourful steps on the floor to follow. Needless to say, we enjoyed our visit to this Mauritius Tourist attraction

The 7 Colours Earth in the south west, click here to book a 10 hour tour which included all the highlights in this area.

A trip down to the southwest of the paradise island of Mauritius brought us to a very interesting part, the Chamarel plain of the Rivière Noire District. I miscalculated how far the drive was so we arrived a bit late to fully enjoy and explore all the things to do. It felt a bit as: ok we ticked the box… LOL. Anyway, the 7 colors earth must be one of the most popular Mauritius attractions to visit because we ran into many tour operators and groups that were visiting the site. We arrived quite late in the afternoon and just walked along the pathways and looked at the colors from different sides. We didn’t have time anymore to also go the waterfalls and visit the other aspects of the park. It is probably much better and much more organized if you just book a tour. I know that from being a guide in South Africa myself. It takes careful planning to do as many things as possible in a day (if you like to see and experience a lot so the next day you can chill again on the paradise island of Mauritius, just saying) so to do a well planned tour you can include many different highlights.

The Grand Bassin

Another thing to do in Mauritius is a visit to the Grand Bassin. Not sure how exactly to describe it but it is a Buddhist lake surrounded by a garden with statues and it is the most important pilgrimage place for Buddhists in Mauritius. I once experienced a 10 day silent Buddhist retreat in Thailand and since then I (try to) adhere to many of the learnings. I was extremely looking forward to spend some time in this interesting Mauritius place of interest, just to wonder, wander and ponder around the lake while reflecting on my life with Rosie. Unfortunately the weather turned against us. It was miserable, cold, wet and misty so we didn’t see that much of the site and left again after 10 minutes. The big statues looked a bit scary for Rosie so she just kept pulling my arm, I want to go mommy. So not much pondering and wondering for me. Another time. Because there WILL be another time we go on holiday to explore more points of interest on Mauritius.

Bois Cheri on the tea route in Mauritius

Now that we couldn’t spend so much time at the Grand Bassin, I looked up some other places to visit in Mauritius in the area of the Grand Bassin. Grand Bassin is situated in the secluded mountain area of Savanne about 550 meters above sea level. Checking out the GPS, I found Bois Cheri as part of the tea route in Mauritius, only about 5 km away, a 6 minute drive! How lucky were we! We were hungry by now and the beautiful tea estate boasts a lovely restaurant with fantastic food. Rosie was now totally into prawns so the Mauritian prawn curry was a big success. We sure love our food… The panoramic views from the restaurant were breathtaking as the sky was trying to clear a little. Again I pinched myself how lucky we were to make this incredible trip to Mauritius, an island that we both totally fell in love with. We enjoyed our lunch and then did some shopping for tea to bring as presents for our friends back in South Africa. Vanilla tea is still my favorite, oh and of course the vanilla gin…

Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius

The capital of Mauritius is Port Louis which is fun to visit for a day. I love exploring markets although with a small child I tend to also be a bit nervous to lose her in all the commotion. The Market of Port Louis is not that busy though and we enjoyed wandering around a bit and have a delicious roti. We just choose the stall with the longest queue to ensure that we were buying good quality food and gosh the local market food is so cheap. I don’t think it was even a euro per portion. And it was freshly made, delicious and not too spicy, just full of flavor. My then 5 year old enjoyed it too. Le Caudan is the Waterfront area in Port Louis with nice shops and a lovely play area. We spend most of the time at the play area as you can imagine. Rosie is not much into shopping. I always like to buy 1 or 2 local things when I visit a new country. Cherry on the pie was meeting up with Rosie’s Mauritian teacher who was on the island then as well. I truly think that it was Rosie’s highlight of our Mauritian Holiday.

Meet local Mauritians

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to meet local people so somehow this needed to be included on our what-to-do-in-Mauritius list. First of all we needed to meet Soraya, Rosie’s teacher here in Cape Town. Rosie was very disappointed when Soraya was not at the airport when we arrived at 11pm in the evening at the airport in Mauritius. I had to laugh and explain that we would meet her later in the week. A good way to meet local people when traveling is of course to book accommodation via airbnb. I found 2 places that had my interest. One was because it was a family with small children and the other one was situated close to the airport which would come in handy on our day of departure. Air Mauritius flies out at 9am to Cape Town. Both places were lovely and we enjoyed our stay there. The family we stayed with made an effort to celebrate Rosie’s birthday and even bought a cake for her. It was so cute. The other airbnb which was situated in Mahebourg was run by a lovely couple who simply enjoyed having people around, like true airbnb hosts and one night we were invited to a Mauritian curry cooking class at their home next door. It was lovely to hear Rosie babble away in French with both of them.

 

A stay in Mahebourg

Our stay in Mahebourg was lovely although the city is not a major tourist attraction for Mauritius. It is really a great place if you would like to go off the beaten track in Mauritius. I found a nice airbnb just by the sea and from there we explored the east coast of Mauritius and spend a lovely day at the colorful Friday Attitude Beach Resort in Trou d’eau Douce. The drive there was a treat, a scenic drive along the beautiful coast traversing through small villages. Mahebourg itself actually boasts one of the most beautiful public beaches: Blue Bay and on our way back we stopped there and ran into our fellow airbnb guests. We also found a very nice ice cream truck so it was a win-win. A walk along the beach front of Mahebourg really took me back in time and because these were our last days on Mauritius, we got a little bit sad.

If you’re looking for a well organised excursion of the Mahebourg area, look no further and book it HERE.

A great excursion from Trou d’eau Douce is an visit to Isle aux Cerfs which includes a Mauritian lunch. Book it HERE! 

Some practical advice when traveling to Mauritius

One thing I regretted was not getting a local SIM card. We arrived very late at the airport and when I went to the shopping mall in Grand Baie I didn’t have my passport with me which was necessary to buy the SIM. I then just left it and it became too much of a mission to organize myself. Although the car was delivered with a GPS I would have preferred to use Google Maps on my phone which now was not possible. Just because I’m more used to it I guess and I prefer the functionality. Someone did point out the maps.me app which is for free and doesn’t need WiFi or data so towards the end I tried to use that.

Roads are quite congested in the urban areas so a 25 km drive can easily become a 1 hour drive. Please be aware of that.

Credit cards are widely accepted everywhere and at Le Caudan there’s a good foreign exchange office. Somehow I didn’t find a lot of ATMs with the international Cirrus sign so I could not really use my bank card.

I felt safe on the island all the time and never had any weird or scary encounters with people. I totally loved the fact that people from all walks of live seem to live peacefully next to each other. We saw Hindu temples next to Catholic churches and places of worship. People from all colors and cultures. In that regard it was also a paradise island. We have very very good memories that we will treasure for ever and hopefully will add more to them on our next visit.