5 Experiences you can’t miss in Mauritius Island
Mauritius is an incredible island and we were lucky enough to spend 2 weeks discovering it. Admittedly, two weeks is nowhere near enough time to discover Mauritius, as it is actually a bigger island than one would think. We made the best of our two weeks there, with spending one full week in the south, and one in the north of the island.
Most people only visit the popular beaches of Flic-en-Flac and Balaclava, but the truth is the best spots on the island are far from the tourists spots. I won’t go into details of the best beaches on this post, as I would like to concentrate more on other attractions I thought made our stay super special.
1. Hike Le Morne Bravant
Standing 556m (or 1825ft) above sea level Le Morne Bravant is one of the best experiences we enjoyed on the island. The short (only 3 hours roundtrip) hike proves to be a challenging one, not just because of the warm (read HOT) weather but because of its almost completely vertical landscape.
For us, hiking Le Morne was not just a bucket list activity because of the exercise and views it presents, but also to learn more about its deep history. In the 18th and 19th century, slaves would hike up Le Morne running away from their owners and would seek refuge in the caves of the mountain. If they were spotted, or feared being discovered then they would commit suicide off the top of the mountain. Today, Le Morne Bravant stands as a reminder of the slaves’ fight for freedom.
From Souillac, where we were staying, we drove about an hour to get to the trailhead, and started our way up right around 8am. The first part of the hike is easy and mostly shaded with several viewpoints along the way. For those who do not wish to make it all the way to the top, the viewpoints halfway up offer a splendid view of the surrounding areas.
Right after the halfway point, it starts getting more vertical, and a bit more strenuous. The hardest part is that you’re climbing through rocks and not all of them are steady, so beware!
Once you make it through the narrow rock climbing area, it starts paying off, as the view is less obstructed by trees and you start seeing the water from every angel.
The view from the top is AMAZING and you can spot the popular underwater waterfall (it’s an optical illusion) as well as get a 360 degree view of the area. It’s just great!
2. Eat Local Creola Food
Admittedly, the best part of almost any country is THE FOOD. We love trying new food and Mauritius was a feast not just for our eyes but for our palate!
Mauritius Island is an incredibly diverse place, with the majority of its population being descendants of many Asian, Middle Eastern and European countries who have now created a very well balanced and varied country.
Walking around the streets of Port Luis, you can spot Indian, Arabic, Chinese and seafood food vendors. Of course there is also no shortage of western-like eateries, and in the countryside you can spot trees filled with all kinds of fruits.
If you don’t love food in Mauritius you have no taste buds!
The food is incredibly tasty, but the the most exquisite experience we had was at Escale Creole– a creole restaurant by a mom and daughter team which has made Mauritian home made food available to all.
The restaurant started when Marie-Christine (the daughter) returned home after studying in France. It occurred to her that Mauritius had many western, Indian, Asian restaurants but none offering truly authentic home made style creole cuisine. They expected the eatery to remain a small restaurant close to the Capital, in the town of Moka, but since its opening it has become a must-visit place on the island.
The food we tasted at Escale Creole was not just unique but a feast to all my senses. You know the scene in Ratatouille where Remy is tasting new foods and his mouth feels like there are fireworks inside? That’s how I felt eating at Escale Creole.
Aside from this, the hospitality and warmth we were met with by Marie-Christine and their mother ( who work daily at the restaurant ) was like coming home to eat with family members. Absolutely delicious!
3. Kayak to Ile Bernard from the East of the Island
We wanted to explore small, less or not inhabited islands off the coast of Mauritius, so naturally we thought of Ile Aux Cerfts, but then we found out how incredibly touristy this destination has become and this was an automatic turn off for us.
While researching the best tours to take on the island, we came upon Sea Kayak Adventures Mauritius, an eco company on the east side of the island, offering eco kayak tours to its nearby Ile aux Bernach and Amber Island. It was really important to us that the activities we partook in were ocean friendly, and that the companies portrayed integrity not just in their tours but in their treatment of the nature they use and explore.
With Sea Kayak Adventure the whole operation is seamless, with very friendly and knowledgable staff and an unforgettable journey through the very well preserved mangroves of the islands. They also take you hiking on Amber island, which is uninhabited and covered by stunning vegetation.
After the hike, we were taken to the stunning shores of Ile aux Bernach, where you can sun bathe, swim and snorkel. If you don’t fancy kayaking the whole way, the staff is always nearby with a boat and we even saw some kayakers in our group being towed by them towards the end of the trip.
If that’s not costumer service, I don’t know what is!
4. Go diving
With around 330 km of coast, you can go diving just about anywhere off the island. Once again, it was important to us to go with a company that was not just well established and had a good reputation for safety, but one that cares about the ocean.
Enter Pro Dive Mauritius! When we contacted the staff at Pro Dive we had so many questions, so many dive wishes and so little time, but the staff there made sure we had a fantastic time.
We did two dives with them, one to a nearby reef, off the Trout Aux Biches coast, and one to a nearby ship wreck – Stella Maru. Our dive master, Norman, has been diving in the area fo over 20 years, and he showed us some of the best kept secrets underwater.
The thing about Mauritius, is that it’s surrounded by a barrier reef, and because of this, the entire coast is like being on the set of the little mermaid. Under the sea indeed!!
The Stella Maru ship wreck dive, was my favorite dive ever. What’s amazing about diving in Mauritius, is that perhaps because spear fishing is illegal, the fish are very friendly. At one point we went inside the wreck and walked into a school of fish that looked like they were having a party. They didn’t even move, they simply stared at us as if we were crashing the party.
I have never seen underwater life so rich and healthy.
Diving in Mauritius is an absolute MUST and doing it with a company that take scare of the reefs, the ocean life and their divers is just so gratifying.
5. Visit Ebony Forest in Chamarel
Mauritius has a close and historical relationship with Ebony. When the island was first discovered and colonized by the Dutch, ( and then later by the French and British ) the most sought after good was ebony. History tells us they found an island almost completely covered in ebony trees, something hard to imagine looking at the landscape of Mauritius today.
Heavy deforestation and exploration of natural resources have left Mauritius with such a minuscule amount of Ebony, the species is almost extinct.
The people at Ebony Forest have a conservation cause that will hopefully restore some of the original flora and fauna of Mauritius. Their aim is to plant new trees (not just ebony) that will restore some of the original flora Mauritius was once rich with.
We spent a day walking around their forest, getting to know their flora and fauna species and being informed of the history of the island and the local efforts for conservation.
Once we finished the guided tour, we arrived at the top of the property, from which you can see -once again- the beautiful landscape of this island. You can even spot Le Morne from up there.
And right outside the forest, there is a magnificent waterfall that lands on a water hole. Visiting Ebony Forest, was a little like being lost in the jungle, except with a cause. It’s also right next to the popular 7 colored earth mountain that has become a very popular tourist attraction.
When you visit, don’t forget mosquito repellent and I would recommend to wear long sleeves and pants. Those mosquitoes are resilient!!
I am sure, whatever your experience in Mauritius is, it will be amazing. I have no doubt this island is bound to show you all its charm like it did for us.
Have you been to Mauritius? And if so, what were your favorite experiences there?