A quick guide to Mauritius: the four corners of the island
Mauritius is an orbicular island with roughly the same surface area as Sussex, ringed by white sand beaches and an interior penetrated by verdant peaks. The island’s culture is heavily influenced by the legacy of traders and colonialists who first discovered the island’s bounty in the 16th century, including the poor dodo to its eternal demise. Named after the Portuguese word for fool, “doudo” this flightless bird the size of a turkey was endemic to Mauritius and thrived on the island until devoured by hungry sailors as they made landfall for the first time in months. Every corner of Mauritius has something unique to offer so in this blog we give our recommendations for places to stay, day trips, where to eat out and the many natural wonders to explore.
The north of Mauritius is renowned for the warm welcome it affords visitors and for a range of natural features - such as wonderful tropical beaches, and local activities - such as water sports, shopping or cycling, that provide the basis for an excellent holiday. Visitors to this part of the island can also enjoy the cultural heritage, a number of historical sites, and local cuisine served ‘street style’ or in friendly restaurants.
North Mauritius is best for:
- A beautiful coastline that extends all the way from Pointe aux Piments to Grand Gaube.
- The Pamplemousses Botanical Garden with its wonderful array of tropical plants.
- Nightlife which is particularly good with plenty of nightclubs, bars and restaurants in the Grand Baie area.
- Mauritian heritage is well represented in the north with a variety of monuments and buildings dating from the colonial era.
- The shopping in Grand-Baie where you can pick up clothing, accessories, handicrafts and also wander around the local bazaar.
Our recommended hotels in North Mauritius
Our top pick - Nestled in a coconut grove on the waterfront, 20 Degrés Sud is an elegant boutique hotel with a small private beach. Great views of Grand Baie and easy access to the local scene, make it a true little gem.
Top choice for families - LUX Grand Gaube is a retro-chic secluded retreat and is an excellent choice for families. It has kids and teens clubs and offers delicious and nourishing menus designed for kids. Plenty of adventure and activities assure, your little one will be entertained and well-looked after.
Top choice for luxury - The Oberoi is a beautiful beachfront resort with luxury pavilions and villas, fine dining, and first-class service. An excellent choice for sophisticates and luxury seekers.
Best beaches in North Mauritius
Beaches along the north coast of Mauritius have an excellent reputation for their fine white sand and warm waters, shady Casuarina trees and opportunities for sunbathing, swimming and trying out the local water sports. The following are our pick of the bunch:
Mont Choisy – To the west of Grand Baie lies the long beach of Mont Choisy where you can find a relaxed atmosphere and more of a traditional fishing village vibe than other more popular beaches elsewhere on the island.
Trou aux Biches – A few kilometres south of Grand Baie, the relaxed resort of Trou aux Biches provides a tree-lined beach and a stretch of the coastline that is home to some high-class hotels and restaurants. This area is a hotspot for a range of water sports, deep sea fishing and activities in the lagoons.
Eating out in North Mauritius
As with elsewhere on the island, the north of Mauritius provides wonderful opportunities for dining out and trying either the indigenous Mauritian cuisine or a wide range of international food served up by family run restaurants, local hotels or street vendors. Grand Baie is the epicentre for culinary activity in this part of the island and here you might like to try the Banana Beach Club & Gourmet Grill for a mix of Mauritian and international dishes. Elsewhere the L’Atelier Restaurant which offers fusion food (Mauritian & International) at Grand Gaube, and Le Pescatore which serves top notch fish dishes at Trou aux Biches, both come highly recommended.
Things to do in Northern Mauritius
- Discover Pamplemousses – A ‘must see’, if you visit the north of Mauritius, is the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, otherwise known as the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Garden, which is located in Pamplemousses. This superb garden was created in the 18th century and showcases the unique flora of Mauritius including the Talipot – a tree that blooms every 30-80 years, and then dies!
- Visit the church of St Francis of Assisi - Close to Pamplemousses you can see the oldest church on Mauritius - St Francis of Assisi - which was founded in 1756, and has unique architecture and some vestiges that relate to the colonial period.
- Try out the aquatic activities - The north of Mauritius is famous for its water-based activities. Sailing, kite surfing and windsurfing take place in and around Cap Malheureux and Anse La Raie. Elsewhere you can enjoy a less hectic activity by taking a catamaran, or motorboat, cruises around the northern islands, with stops at sea to dive / snorkel or watch the dolphins.
- Mauritius Aquarium - found at Pointe aux Piments, the aquarium will appeal to young and old alike. Here there is a collection of 200 marine species and children can interact with selected species in a designated pool.
- Cycling – Get to know more about the north of the island on a cycling trip. Taking the coastal, or inland roads, you can discover more about the local communities and their way of life.
Best time to visit Northern Mauritius
The best time to visit the north of Mauritius is between September and December when air temperatures are warm, the skies are predominantly clear, and the trade winds are light. The months of March, April and May are also a good time to visit with warm weather and calm seas predominating, but at this time humidity is high and you might get the odd shower. From June until August the trade winds become stronger and cooler from the south and east, which make the north coast good for days on the beach and al fresco activities in the evening. These are also the driest months of the year in Mauritius, which mean less mosquitos and the best conditions for activities and exploring the interior.
WEST COAST MAURITIUS
Known as the ‘sunset coast’ for its stunning sunset views, the West Coast of Mauritius takes in the bustling capital Port Louis, along with an array of beautiful white sand beaches, isolated Creole villages, and some of the island’s most dramatic coastal scenery. There is something for everyone here - Flic en Flac is great for families and divers alike; those looking to get away from the beach and see some more rugged scenery can head to Le Morne Peninsula and Tamarin Falls; and luxury seekers will love the hotel options around Balaclava and Turtle Bay.
West Coast Mauritius is best for:
- Food, history, and culture in the capital Port Louis
- Diving and snorkelling off the coast at Flic en Flac
- Spot dolphins in Tamarin Bay
- Dramatic scenery and hiking at Tamarin Falls and Le Morne Peninsula
- Incredible sunset views from any of the West Coast beaches
- Family holidays at Flic en Flac
- Living the high life at one of Balaclava’s luxury resorts
Our recommended hotels on the West Coast of Mauritius:
Our top pick: Occupying one of the most idyllic locations on the island, right at the foot of dramatic Le Morne Brabant, lies LUX Le Morne. This firm favourite of ours is renowned for its exceptional service, long stretch of perfect white sand beach, unbeatable sunsets, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some dolphins!
Top choice for families: Sands Suites Resort & Spa is located on the white sands of Flic en Flac Beach, with fantastic views of Tamarin Bay and Le Morne Brabant. This family friendly resort has a multitude of activities to suit all ages. Suites are bright and spacious, and their deluxe interconnecting rooms are ideal for families. Guests also have access to the bars, restaurants, and kids club at the neighbouring resort Maradiva.
Top choice for luxury: Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa is a luxurious privately owned all-villa resort, inspired by its Indian heritage. Each villa comes with a private pool, and you will be looked after throughout your stay by your very own butler. Located at the southern end of Flic en Flac Beach, this is the perfect spot to get away from it all on a luxury romantic getaway.
Best beaches on the West Coast of Mauritius:
- Flic en Flac – The most developed beach on the West Coast, with a family-friendly vibe and a fantastic range of accommodation and dining options. The beach is sheltered from the winds, making it one of the best beaches in Mauritius for aquatic activities such as swimming, diving, snorkelling, and kayaking.
- Tamarin Bay – Located just to the south of Flic en Flac, Tamarin Bay is less sheltered so is not as good for swimming, but this is one of the best places in Mauritius for surfing and bodyboarding. A pod of wild dolphins resides in the waters just off the bay, so Tamarin is the jumping off point for dolphin spotting cruises.
- Le Morne Beach – Jutting out of the southwest tip of Mauritius, the less developed Le Morne Peninsula features an uninterrupted 3km stretch of perfect white sand beach, overlooked by the island’s highest peak – the UNESCO Heritage Site of Le Morne Brabant. This area is occupied by some of the island’s most exclusive luxury resorts.
- Turtle Bay – Located to the northwest, this secluded sandy bay is a haven for luxury resorts. Benefiting from a quiet and sheltered location but also with easy access to both Port Louis and Grand Baie, this is a great choice for those who are looking for peace and quiet but still want to be close to the action.
Eating out on the West Coast of Mauritius
Mauritian cuisine reflects the varied blend of cultures which make up this island nation, and no place is better to experience this culinary mixture for yourself than the capital city Port Louis. Great street food can be found in Chinatown and the central market, and there is a selection of local and higher end restaurants showcasing the best culinary traditions of Mauritius. Elsewhere, you will find plenty of dining options along Flic en Flac Beach, and an increasing number of trendy bars and restaurants around Tamarin Village.
Things to do on the West Coast of Mauritius
- Gain a better understanding of the island’s varied cultural heritage and sample some amazing food on a guided Creole food adventure in the capital city of Port Louis.
- Wild dolphins reside off the West Coast around Tamarin Bay and Le Morne Peninsula. Take a dolphin spotting cruise out to the waters of Tamarin Bay and see them in their natural habitat. This excursion also includes a picnic lunch on a deserted island beach.
- The UNESCO Heritage Site of Le Morne Brabant dominates the landscape in Southwest Mauritius. The peak can be viewed from anywhere on Le Morne Peninsula, but those who wish to get a closer look can tackle the hike to the summit. The trek to the halfway point is fairly easy and many people choose to turn back from here, but the final section requires a specialist climbing guide and a good level of agility and fitness. The views from the top more than reward the effort!
- The Tamarind Falls are one of Mauritius’s top scenic spots, and shows you a side of the island away from the beaches and resorts. This is a challenging but rewarding hike taking you through the forest reserve, past a series of cascades, with opportunities for wild swimming en route.
Best time to visit the West Coast of Mauritius
The West Coast is generally warmer and calmer than the East of the island, meaning this is the side of choice for those looking for a peaceful and sunny beach holiday. Temperatures are at their hottest during the island’s summer months from October to April. The North and West Coasts are more sheltered than the South and East Coasts during the windy season from June to September, making the beach areas of Flic en Flac and Balaclava ideal for family summer holidays.
EAST COAST MAURITIUS
The East Coast of Mauritius is both rugged and beautiful, with long stretches of white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons and cliffs overlooking picturesque coves. This corner of the island has some of the most interesting places to discover, and varied activities to do, so it is a great choice for those who like to explore and get immersed in local life.
East Coast Mauritius is best for:
- Picturesque coves and white sand beaches
- Historic port town of Mahebourg
- The idyllic offshore islands of Île aux Cerfs and Île aux Aigrettes
- The charming village of Trou d’Eau Douce
- Active travellers looking to explore
Our recommended hotels on the East Coast of Mauritius
Our top pick: The charming boutique hotel La Maison d’Été is one of our favourites on the East Coast, offering good value for money. It is a perfect hideaway with a great location, set on a quiet beach, with easy access to the east coast’s many places of interest.
Top choice for families: Preskil Island Resort is our favourite family-friendly resort, located on its own private islet. Designed in a Creole style it has a well-equipped kids club, stacks of activities and calm shallow water from its white sand beach.
Top choice for luxury: Set on an exclusive private peninsula, One&Only Le Saint Geran is one of the finest luxury hotels in Mauritius. You can expect outstanding service, an excellent choice of restaurants & bars; and over a mile of private white-sand beach.
Best beaches on the East Coast of Mauritius
The east coast of Mauritius is blessed with many fine beaches in various shapes and sizes. The long white sand beach of Belle Mare is considered to be one of Mauritius’s best beaches. If you’re looking for a paradise island experience, take a day trip out to the Île aux Cerfs which is ringed with dazzling white sands and calm turquoise water that makes it an ideal spot for water sports.
Eating out on the East Coast of Mauritius
Located near Mahebourg’s historic harbour, Le Bazillic is a quirky local restaurant with a varied menu that includes local seafood, noodles and steaks. For a cheap and cheerful seafood lunch with the locals in Mahebourg head to Salut les Copains, or for a more lively atmosphere in the evenings try L’Ajoupa. Just outside the town Le Jardin de Beau Vallon serves a good selection of mauritian specialities in an historic plantation house surrounded by tropical gardens.
In Belle Mare the Duck Laundry is the island’s best Chinese restaurants and comes highly recommended. The nearby Seasons Restaurant & Bar is an excellent choice for a reasonably priced dinner, specialising in Mauritian and seafood dishes.
Safran is one of the Shangri La Resort’s restaurants in Trou d’Eau Douce, and serves world-class Indian Mauritian fusion cuisine in an atmospheric setting - an ideal choice for a special occasion. Trou d’Eau Douce also has a string of moderately priced restaurants serving excellent seafood including Green Island Beach Restaurant, Chez Tino and La Case Poisson.
Things to do on the East Coast of Mauritius
- Sampling a Fisherman’s Life from the port of Mahebourg.
- Kayaking down the Grande Rivière Sud Est.
- Exploring the dramatic coastline south of Mahebourg by bike on the South Coast Cliffs Trail.
- Bird watching in La Vallée de Ferney, home to ebony trees and the rare Mauritian kestrel.
- Climbing the distinctive shaped peak of Lion Mountain.
- Visit the Monday Market and National History Museum in Mahebourg.
Best time to visit the East Coast of Mauritius
The east coast of Mauritius is more affected by the trade winds that blow in the winter months, which makes sitting out on the beach and snorkelling less appealing. So for calmer conditions it is best to visit the east coast of Mauritius between October and May, which works well for winter holidays from the northern hemisphere.
THE SOUTH OF MAURITIUS
Southern Mauritius is home to some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes. From the rugged southern coastline, to the mountain gorges of the Black Rivers National Park, and the enchanting reefs of the Blue Bay Marine Park, there’s plenty of opportunities to tempt you away from the beach.
The South of Mauritius is best for:
- Exploring the great outdoors in Black Rivers National Park.
- Discovering Chamarel’s foodie scene.
- Snorkelling in Blue Bay Marine Park.
- Being pampered in one of Bel Ombre’s luxury retreats.
- Relaxing on some stunning beaches.
- Photography on the rugged southern coastline.
Our recommended hotels in Southern Mauritius
Our top pick: The charming inland retreat Lakaz Chamarel is a firm favourite of ours. This luxury eco-lodge is set amidst lovely countryside with manicured grounds and great views. A tranquil haven and a place to get away from it all.
Top choice for families: Shanti Maurice Resort & Spa is a relaxing luxury hideaway in a peaceful location. Children will be cared for in the kids’ club which includes a wading pool, games room packed with fun-filled activities, and an open-air cinema. The beachfront pool villas are a great choice for families and are set in a secluded part of the resort.
Top choice for luxury: Heritage Le Telfair is an elegant colonial style resort and a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Each suite comes with a personal butler, and together with fine dining, exquisite spa and access to a multi-award-winning golf course, make this an excellent choice for luxury seekers.
Best beaches in Southern Mauritius
- Gris Gris Beach is for those looking to appreciate the rugged scenery rather than venturing into the water for a swim. The currents here are very strong so swimming is highly discouraged. But the dark, rocky terrain make Gris Gris Beach an excellent spot for photography.
- Blue Bay Beach is in the heart of the Blue Bay Marine Park, a natural park since 1997 and strictly protected by law. The beach is best for those looking for peace and quiet as it is less developed in terms of beachside bars and restaurants than some of the island’s other beaches. This is also a fine option for those looking to snorkel straight off the beach.
Eating out in Southern Mauritius
Chamarel is famed for its foodie scene with more than a dozen restaurants catering to a discerning palate. The village is also home to a local rum distillery with a focus on ecological, high-quality rum, and in our view produces the best rum on the island.
Things to do in Southern Mauritius
- Hiking in the Black Rivers National Park is the best way to discover the area’s rich biodiversity. There are dozens of possible routes to take, all of which showcase the local flora and fauna, picturesque waterfalls, and some great views over the surrounding countryside.
- Chamarel’s Seven Coloured Earths is firmly on the island’s regular tourist circuit. As the name suggests the attraction is a collection of sand mounds that are in a variety of colours, a natural phenomenon caused by irregular cooling of molten rock.
- Grand Bassin (also known as Ganga Talao) is a crater lake situated in a secluded mountain area east of the Black Rivers National Park. Considered the most sacred Hindu site in Mauritius, the country’s Hindu community make a yearly pilgrimage to the lake and nearby temple. The giant Mangal Mahadev statue can also be found by the lake. This 33-metre statue of Lord Shiva remains the highest statue in Mauritius.
Best time to visit Southern Mauritius
The best time to visit southern Mauritius is between September and December. The spring months in the south tend to be wetter than the rest of the country, but also less humid. Most visitors avoid the south during the summer months (June – August) as this is when the trade winds are at their strongest. The lush Chamarel Mountain area can get rain at any time of year, but much of the south’s rainfall tends to fall in January and February.