When you think of Mauritius, you probably imagine sleek beach resorts and blissful Indian Ocean shores. Of course, Mauritius does have some of the best beaches in the world, but there’s an awful lot more to explore on this colourful, multicultural, laid-back island. From invigorating hikes to tasty street food tours, here are our top 11 things to do in Mauritius.
1. Hike in Black River Gorges National Park
In the southwest of Mauritius, Black River Gorges National Park is a verdant swathe of forested, rolling hills and valleys. There are several trails to follow, of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. For a mega cross-park hike, take the out-and-back Macchabée Trail, which is about 18 kilometres in total. With viewpoints aplenty, offering panoramas of waterfalls, lush gorges and the distant Indian Ocean, it’s a stunning place for a hike or trail run.
2. Learn to windsurf at Le Morne
Le Morne is one of the best places on the island to learn to windsurf – its lagoon is shallow and flat, which is ideal for beginners. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are amongst the most popular things to do in Mauritius, which is one of the top destinations for such sports due to the reliable winds that gust around the west coast from April to December.
3. Go on a street food tour in Port Louis
The capital Port Louis is home to many long-standing street food institutions, from the best patisserie in the city to little stalls where you’ll find the most delicious lima bean curry. One of the top things to do in Mauritius, a foodie tour is a great way to explore an often-overlooked part of Mauritius, learning about the city’s history and culture, whilst devouring an array of mouth-watering local dishes.
4. Kayak around the coast
Hire a kayak for a gentle workout on the ocean. Paddle along the azure-blue coastline of Mauritius, across lagoons and out to offshore islets or reefs, whilst admiring some of the island’s glorious beaches and lush, mountainous scenery.
5. Learn about Mauritian rum
Mauritius is famous for its rum and most hotels will have some exciting, inventive cocktails for you to sip. To discover more about Mauritian rum, head to La Rhumerie de Chamarel, a distillery that cultivates its own sugarcane. Take a tour to learn about the whole process, from sugarcane harvesting to how they age the rum. Afterwards, pull up a seat at the bar and sample some of the distillery’s finest rums, from single barrel varieties to spiced vanilla infusions.
6. SUP down rivers
Stand-up paddle boards are available to hire from the Otentic River eco-camp on the banks of the Grand River South East on the east coast of Mauritius. Paddle up to the nearby waterfall or out to the lagoon; start early and you’ll have the peaceful river entirely to yourself.
7. Climb Le Morne mountain
Le Morne mountain is in the southwest of the island and is famed for being the place to which escaped slaves once fled, battling through the thick vegetation and hiding in the upper caves. Today the trail is much easier to follow and, though there is some scrambling required, it’s worth the climb for the views over Le Morne lagoon and its ‘underwater waterfall’ – an illusion caused by the way the sand lies beneath the clear water’s surface.
8. Admire the seven-coloured dunes
Swing by the Seven-Coloured Earth in Chamarel, one of Mauritius’ most well-known sights. These dunes have been cordoned off, protecting the exposed, multi-hued land where, over the course of 600 million years, the basaltic volcanic rock has broken down, forming different types of earth, each with its own colour. They are something of a mystery, as scientists still don’t fully understand why the dunes haven’t eroded despite Mauritius’ seasonal heavy rains.
9. Take a Mauritian cooking class
Mauritian food is a delicious blend of Asian, European and Indian Ocean influences and flavours, so don’t miss an opportunity to learn how to cook like the locals. Cooking classes are available throughout the island and offered by many hotels. The best bit? Being able to sample the fruits of your labour afterwards.
10. Cycle around the countryside
Grab a bike – some hotels provide electric bikes if you’re feeling like a more leisurely ride – and explore the winding country roads that divide fields of sugar cane and banana plantations, backed by Mauritius’ mountain backdrop on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other.
11. Chill out on the beach
After you’ve done all the above, it’s time for some well-deserved chill-out time on one of Mauritius’ sensational beaches. Shores of white, floury sand and warm, clear ocean water make the most idyllic, postcard-perfect scenes. Find yourself a patch of shade, a cold drink, a good book – and relax.