In our first post about the island of Mauritius, we shared our advice on the best way to get there and the ideal times to visit, but we didn’t delve too much into why we loved it so much.
Because there are so many variables that can affect how you feel about a destination, it can be tough to put your finger on why you prefer one destination over another. After our visit to Mauritius, we had this exact feeling and couldn’t put our feelings into words. But going through our photos and sharing stories with friends really gave us a sense of the reasons we’re smitten with the island and why we chose to travel there in the first place.
8 Reasons to Visit Mauritius in Africa
1. Ile aux Cerfs … and Starfish
Am I the only one who thinks starfish are amazing? We rarely see starfish in San Diego, so the thought of visiting an island covered in starfish was like a dream come true. These stars of the sea can be found on the uninhabited island of Ile aux Cerfs, just a short boat ride from The Four Seasons Mauritius (who offers a complimentary boat shuttle for resort guests).
On the hunt for solitude and sea stars, we took the advice of a staff member at our resort and followed a small dirt path, which led to a quiet beach on the opposite side of the tiny harbor. This is where you’ll find hundreds of starfish along the shore, on the midnight colored rocks, and in ankle-deep water. I highly recommend wearing shoes along the beach because this area also has a thriving sea urchin population!
2. Protected Lagoons
The entire island of Mauritius is surrounded by coral reefs, creating glassy lagoons out of reach of big fish (AKA sharks). The healthy coral reef attracts sea life, making this a perfect spot for snorkeling and glass bottom boat trips. The calm water also provides ideal conditions for kayaking, SUP, and even learning how to sail for the first time.
There’s no shortage of luxurious beachfront resorts for relaxing with your loved one. Mauritius attracts couples looking for some quiet time to reconnect and it’s also a great spot for a romantic honeymoon. That said, we did see a few young families at the St. Regis, but it wasn’t overrun with energetic kids. The relaxing vibe of this tropical island seems to envelop visitors from the moment they land at the airport.
4. Chamarel Seven Colored Earth
I feel lucky that we didn’t miss a visit to this natural wonder. It wasn’t on our original agenda, but our Mauritian tour guide offered to make a stop here on our way from Mahebourg to The St. Regis Mauritius.
This geological formation is comprised of sand dunes with seven different distinct colors — red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow. The dunes surprisingly never erode and the colors are caused by the decomposition of volcanic rock. If you pick up a handful of sand and mix the colors together, they will eventually separate again — it’s truly an amazing phenomenon.
5. Rhumerie de Chamarel
Just a short distance from Seven Colored Earth, you’ll find the Rhumerie de Chamarel — one of Mauritius’ most popular attractions. Half hour tours of this rum distillery are available from Monday through Saturday for about 350 Rupees. I’m told the restaurant — L’Alchimiste — is one of the best places to eat lunch on the island and serves unique cuisine, prepared with local products sourced from the estate.
6. The Locals
Every local we encountered went out of their way to help us. They are proud of their island and seem happy to share it with visitors. A friend of ours who lives in Mauritius speaks very highly of the locals and has dozens of stories about Mauritians going out of their way to help her — in the supermarket, on the street, etc.
7. Endless Water Sports
What is your favorite water sport? We love them all, so we spent most of our time in the warm water. We visited the island in the winter — the windiest time of year — which is ideal for sailing and windsurfing.
Mauritius is home to a world class windsurfing spot — right next to the St. Regis — so even if you don’t want to try it for yourself, it’s one heck of a show. Mornings are generally calm, even in the winter, so that’s when you’ll want to take out a kayak, SUP or paddle boat.
Waterskiing and wakeboarding can be done year round, however, the resorts will only take the boat out if the tide is high enough (otherwise you might find yourself landing on a patch of sharp coral). Snorkeling can obviously be done year round, but the visibility and water temperature is at its finest in the summer. Summertime — when the winds die down — is also the ideal season for surfing.
8. Sunrises and Sunsets
Even after a few days of acclimating to the twelve hour time difference, we still made sure to wake up before sunrise every single day. Here’s why….
We didn’t want to miss a single sunrise or sunset the entire time we were on the island because they were all uniquely gorgeous. We were never disappointed.