Mauritius is a fascinating, world-in-one-island slice of paradise.
Its very name of conjures up images of tropical luxury and stupendous
extravagance. While in many destinations famed for cobalt-blue seas,
white sandy beaches and luxury hotels, you may eventually find yourself
wishing for something to do besides sunbathing and swimming, it’s
often hard to know what to do next in Mauritius. The island is loaded
with historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and
almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind
of beach and pool. But perhaps its single biggest asset is the relaxed
charm of its warm and welcoming people.
Lacking a Flic en Flac or a Grand Baie around which infinite numbers
of postcard stands, takeaways and souvenir shops can grow up, the
east coast of Mauritius feels enviably untouched by mass tourism,
which is fantastic as the island’s very best beaches are to
be found here – both long stretches of deserted public beach
and equally impressive sands behind the elegant gates of five-star
hotels. East Mauritius is definitely the most exclusive side of the
island and the congregation of luxury hotels around Belle Mare attracts
the kind of crowd likely to take a helicopter transfer from the airport
when they arrive. However, relaxed Trou d’Eau Douce has retained
the feel of a sleepy fishing village despite rubbing shoulders with
grand hotels and being the starting point for the country’s
favourite boat excursion – the Île aux Cerfs. Trou d’Eau
Douce also provides the only good source of budget accommodation
in the area, and is a good place to base yourself, with plenty of
eating, sleeping and activity options.
Flic en Flac & Around
The wonderfully named town of Flic en Flac marks the beginning of
a superb stretch of beachy coastline that runs down on and off to
the very southern Le Morne Peninsula. However, unless you’re
staying in one of the many high-end hotels, you may feel a little
cheated of the tropical paradise promised by the postcards. Development
here is in overdrive with the result today being that Flic en Flac
has lost its charming village feel and is threatening to become one
long strip of hotels, expensive restaurants and souvenir shops. The
beach, while gorgeous, can be litter-strewn in places and heaving
at weekends when it plays host to throngs of locals from the central
highlands who descend en masse for picnics by the sea.
Grand Baie was once called De Bogt Zonder Eyndt (Bay Without End)
by the Dutch in the 17th century.
Now frequently referred to as a resort and famous for its nightlife,
Grand Baie is actually a surprisingly cosmopolitan and classy town,
and although it’s the centre of northern Mauritius’ tourism
industry, it can hardly be written off as a mere resort.
Indeed, its beach is mediocre and its eponymous bay crowded with
fishing boats. But despite this, many people prefer to eat, shop
and go out in Grand Baie itself for the variety and quality on offer,
and make day trips instead to the surrounding villages to enjoy good
Northern Mauritius offers a huge amount to visitors; while its spectacular
beaches have inevitably lead to heavy development it’s never
hard to get away from it all and discover areas that remain largely
untouched by mass tourism. Grand Baie is the centre of the country’s
travel industry (although it’s increasingly finding itself
challenged for that status by Flic en Flac) and boasts Mauritius’ best
nightlife, some of its most excellent restaurants and shopping. The
small villages around Grand Baie, Trou aux Biches, Mont Choisy and
Pereybère are growing at an incredible pace and all have wonderful
beaches to enjoy, making them other obvious attractions in the region.
The lagoon, sheltered from the prevailing winds, offers a host of
water sports and is particularly good for snorkelling and diving.
With its spectacular setting beneath the impressive mountain peaks
of Le Pouce and Pieter Both, Port Louis makes an impression on anyone
arriving on the main road from the airport – descending from
the Central Plateau into the hectic city centre with the Indian Ocean
spread out in a perspective-defying frieze above the city is a wonderful
Despite being the national capital, the main economic hub and the
biggest city in the country, Port Louis occupies a rather strange
place in the psyche of modern Mauritius. Its low-lying position has
historically made it an undesirable locale, with disease in the 18th
and 19th centuries frequently devastating it, meaning that the professional
classes have traditionally lived outside the city, particularly in
the Central Plateau towns of Rose Hill, Moka, Vacoas and Quatre Bornes.
This trend continues today, to the extent that Port Louis (the final
s is usually silent, although many Mauritians pronounce it when speaking
English) can sometimes seem like a city without a middle class, without
a centre and a ghost town after dark.
The dramatic mountain outcrops that suddenly shoot up along the
otherwise flat landscape as you head south along the western coast
of Mauritius are home to one of the fastest-growing regions for tourism
in the country. Flic en Flac, which is currently experiencing the
biggest building boom of anywhere on the island, will be giving Grand
Baie a run for its money very soon as Mauritius’ tourism capital.
Maurituis Resort Accommodation
Click here for a list of resorts in Mauritius.