At first glance, Mauritius looks like a close relative of the Caribbean Islands. This island, 1,200 miles from the east coast of Africa, is hemmed by 330 kilometres of immaculate white beaches. The south and west coasts are characterised by huge stretches of sand. Take to the waters, meanwhile, and you’ll spot pods of dolphins playing. The east coast is defined by white-coral beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in Aruba, while in the north, shallow bays give themselves over to watersports like wind and kite-surfing. But don’t let first impressions fool you. This lozenge of land has a DNA that’s unlike anywhere else on earth.
Rainforests and reefs
Mauritius has a trove of natural history. The 800-metre-high mountains and forests in the interior are home to some of the world’s rarest animals. The island is also ring-fenced by one of the largest unbroken barrier reefs in the world, so the scuba diving opportunities are on a par with the Maldives.
In the 600 years since Mauritius was first discovered, the island has been a cultural sponge. Its proximity to Madagascar has rubbed off on it in the form of creole cooking. Grand Baie, close to Grand Gaube in the north, is the culinary capital of the island. And the island’s time under French rule has added chateaus to its architectural assets, including the Chateaux de Labourdonnais, in northern Mauritius.