Mauritius, the white islanddate_range 28 September, 2015 question_answer 4 Comments
Mauritius is known as the white island. A paradise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a few kilometers away from Madagascar’s coast. The island, with a 2,040 square kilometers surface, is located 20 degrees South of the Equator and 57.5 degrees East. The official language is English, but French and Creole are also commonly used. It has a population of 1.2 million people and the capital is Port Louis.
- Beaches: The white sand beaches in Mauritius are protected by a coral reef barrier which goes around nearly all the coastline, except for the southern tip where it disappears. This is where you can find the wildest waters and most spectacular cliffs of the island.
- North: It is a widely spread opinion that the beaches on the North of Mauritius are incomparably beautiful. Some of the best ones are the very impressive Trou aux Biches (under the shadow of the Casuarina trees), the arched curve of Mont Choisy – Which goes from Trou aux Biches all along the coastline to Grand Baie, and the sublime Pereybere cove.
- South: There are several marvelous beaches on this side of Mauritius, which include Blue Bay, very popular among families with young children, and Gris Gris, one of the few areas in Mauritius where the coastline is free from the coral reef barrier and, therefore, a great place to enjoy the view of huge waves crashing against the rocks.
- East: the never ending white sand beaches go along the coastline, from Belle Mare to Trou d’Eau Douce. The natural trails, lightly waved, formed in this beautiful area are perfect for jogging, if you happen to be one of those people who always carry a pair of sneakers in their suitcase. It is also a great area to simply enjoy the sun and the white sand. The beaches on this side of Mauritius are the most beautiful ones of the island.
- West: Enjoy amazing sunsets or a relaxing dive in the calm and transparent lagoon that surrounds Flic en Flac. If you are looking for a not so calm marina, you can go south from there and visit Tamarin or Le Morne.
- Islands: Surrounding the main island there are several uninhabited islets.
- Ile de Cocos: A private paradise on the southeast coast of Mauritius, surrounded by a protected marine park, Blue Bay Marine Park.
- Ile aux Aigrettes: Coral island right in front of Mahebourg, an enchanting city that preserves the French and Dutch colonial past of Mauritius.
- Ile Plate & Ilot Gabriel: A nice open sea walk, surfing the Indian Ocean on board a catamaran to visit Ile Plate and its little surrounding islets.
- Nature and landscapes
- Trou aux Cerfs: The remains of an extinct volcano is the main appeal of the village Curepipe and one of the most exuberant places in Mauritius. Formed millions of years ago, the volcano is believed to have been active between 600,000 and 700,000 years ago, but since then it has remained dormant and become a natural area of unparalleled beauty.
- Seven Coloured Earth: In Chamarel, within the Black River Gorges district, you can find the famous Seven Coloured Earth, an extraordinary natural phenomenon and one of the main tourist attractions in Mauritius.
- Black River Gorges: A natural terrain extension of more than 67 square kilometers covered with trails and rest areas for hikers, with lush tropical vegetation, different kinds of forests and spectacular waterfalls.
- Port Louis Market: The famous Port Louis central market has been the epicentre of the local economy since the Victorial era, and it is a great place for experiencing the way of life of the villagers, taking beautiful pictures and enjoying the diverse colors, sounds and smells.
- Grand Bassin: The most sacred temple in the island for Hinduism.
- Balaclava Ruins: A place where you can witness the historical remains of the settlers society that populated the island during the 17th century, not far away from Baie aux Tortues (named after the large amount of turtles that live in the area).
There is no better way to get to know a country than through its cuisine. In Mauritius visitors can taste lassi, a drink prepared with yogurt and iced water; alouda, a jelly infusion of marine origin with milk; a unique coffee, soft and with a nice aroma; and the local rum and beer.
One of the best ways to experience the pleasure of local tasting is ordering a sample menu or “table d’hôte” in any of the specialized local restaurants. Do not miss the opportunity to taste some of the locals’ favorite appetisers, like “dhol purri” (stuffed oatmeal pancakes served with curry and tomato sauce), faratas, gateaux piments (pepper snacks) or samosas (triangular pastry shell stuffed with meat and vegetables).
And as for the main dishes, you can try the rougaille, in which the main ingredient is the “apple of love” or a local variety of tomato, together with onions, aromatic herbs, garlic, ginger and peppers and served with meat and fish. The Biryani is another typical dish, also well known in India, cooked with spiced basmati rice and meat or fish, and served with a side dish of cucumber salad.
And for dessert? A napolitain, made up of two sponge cakes filled with Chinese guava.
The best place for souvenir shopping in Mauritius is the Central Market or Port Louis Market. You can also buy some beautiful articles in the art craft market, located in Le Caudan Waterfront . Do not forget to haggle! You may save up to 25-30% of the tagged price. If what you are looking for is a mall where you can buy clothes or other articles, you shouldn’t miss the Ruisseau Creole.
- Summer: From November to May it is very hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 68°F C to 82°F although it can easily get to 86ºF on the coast. From November to April it is hurricane season.
- Winter: From June to September it is warm and much less humid. Temperatures do not vary although they do not usually go under 73°F nor over 82°F.
Other interesting facts
- It is one of the richest regions in Africa
- 7 million tourists visit the island every year
- The writer Mark Twain wrote “Mauritius was created first, then Heaven was created, and it was created in the image of Mauritius.”
- Le Morne Cultural Landscape: UNESCO World Heritage
- Aapravasi Ghat: UNESCO World Heritage
- Champ de Mars is a very popular horse race track, the oldest one in the Southern hemisphere, and the second oldest race club in the world after the English Jockey Club.
- It was the third country in the world to open golf courses on its coast; Courses began to appear from 1844 during the British Empire.
- The native bird species dodo disappeared more than 300 years ago. It was a giant bird which had lost its flying skills because it had access to abundant food and faced no predators.
- Mauritius is populated by a rich variety of people with different origins: Africa, China, India, Europe and the Arab countries.