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.
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The little village of Le Morne sits on a peninsula that juts out from Mauritius’ south-western corner. As well as a white sandy beach and an aqua-coloured lagoon, the standout feature here is Brabant peak, a UNESCO-listed rocky mountain that looks over the Indian Ocean.
Set on the sheltered east coast of Mauritius, Belle Mare is a small place with a big reputation. Its headline act is the white-sand beach – one of the loveliest on the island. But it’s got plenty more show-stopping turns. There’s a coral-protected lagoon, golf, watersports and loads of restaurants peeping through the bank of trees by the shoreline. With a package this good, it’s easy to see why a bunch of high-end hotels are happy to call this place home
Anse La Raie
Anse La Raie is a teeny place, sandwiched between the fishing village of Cap Malheureux at the tip of the island, and the equally mini Calodyne, a couple of kilometres further south. It’s not really a town, more a clutch of top-end hotels that have gravitated towards the north coast’s shimmering lagoon. But what it lacks in street life, it makes up for in its rocky headlands and wild scenery, tamed only by pockets of ice-white beaches.