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Things to Do in Mauritius

Floating in the Indian Ocean with open-water access to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Australia, the African island of Mauritius is a cultural melting pot cradled by bone-white beaches and azure water. Even if you’re short on time, Mauritius’ relatively small size means it’s easy to see the island in its entirety. Sightseeing tours that stop at top attractions such as the Chamarel Waterfall, the Black River Gorges National Park, Grand Bassin lake in Ganga Talao, and the Trou aux Cerfs Crater are a popular choice among first-time visitors. Cultivated gardens of giant water lilies, ebonies, and palms paint the landscape at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden (also called Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden), while the Seven Colored Earth lures photographers and ecologists with its vibrant sand dunes. Off the coast of Mauritius, opportunities for diving and other water sports abound. Swim with dolphins off the coast of Port Louis, surf the waves at Le Morne, snorkel off Grand Baie, take a catamaran cruise to nearby Île aux Cerfs, or comb the beach at Trou d'Eau Douce. Kid-friendly options such as the Bois Cheri Plantation or the Vanille Réserve des Mascareigne nature park make Mauritius ideal for families, while romantic beaches and luxurious resorts attract honeymooners in equal measure.
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Black River Gorges National Park
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While Mauritius might be known for its world-class beaches and temptingly turquoise waters, the island offers more adventure than just snorkeling, swimming, and diving. In Black River Gorges National Park on the island’s southwestern tip, 18 miles of hiking trails are embedded in a canopy of what’s regarded as the island’s last pristine section of forest. Between deforestation and invasive species, there was once a time when the forests seemed in danger of disappearing. In 1994, however, when Black River Gorges became the island of Mauritius’ only national park, it provided a 25 square mile home for endemic plants and wildlife still found in the forest today. When hiking the trails in the forested uplands, remember to look up in the rustling branches for pink pigeons and Mauritius kestrels that flit their way through the trees. There’s the chance you might spot mischievous monkeys when hiking to a viewpoint or waterfall, and while it’s still possible to see the coast from the various hilltop viewpoints, the cobalt shores seem miles away from this green, protected sanctuary.

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Trou aux Cerfs Volcano
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This massive crater in the heart of Mauritius measures more than 980 feet (300 meters) in diameter and some 260 feet (80 meters) deep. Known for its humid climate and expansive 360-degree views, Trou aux Cerfs volcano is a favorite spot among travelers seeking out natural beauty and quiet tranquility. While this dormant volcano hasn’t erupted in lifetimes, experts say it’s primed to blow any time in the next thousand years—a fact that lends a bit of edge to an otherwise peaceful excursion. Travelers can wander the scenic paths surrounding Trou aux Crefs Crater and take in epic views of incredible island countryside.

Some believe the Grand Bassin, a natural lake at the top of another nearby volcano, is an extension of the Ganges River, so travelers can sometimes find Hindus from throughout Mauritius worshiping at its sacred waters.

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Curious Corner of Chamarel
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From mind-bending optical illusions and mirror mazes to interactive puzzles and forced-perspective photo ops, the Curious Corner of Chamarel is a museum unlike any other in Mauritius. It’s full of fun exhibitions for the Instagram age that challenge your perceptions and make you smile.

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Chamarel Waterfall
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Mauritius is a country rich with pristine beaches, diverse cultures and colonial charm, and if that isn't enough, it’s also home to some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the world. Chamarel Waterfall, located in the southwest reaches of the island, is the nation’s highest waterfall. Its thundering waters plunge some 300 feet (100 meters) into crystal clear pools, and travelers say a trip to the top of this scenic spot proves one of the best photo opportunities in the country. Visitors can hire a car to navigate the lush landscape that surrounds the falls. It’s then a relatively easy walk to the top—complete with stairs—where travelers can see for themselves what Mark Twain once called “paradise.”

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La Vanille Nature Park
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Opened in 1985 near the town of Riviere des Anguilles, La Vanille Nature Park is part eco-trail, part zoo, covering 3.5 hectares. Visitors can walk along trails through giant bamboo, palm and banana trees, while guides talk about the types of animals found on the three Mascarenes Islands – Mauritius, Reunion, and Rodrigues.

There are 1500 Nile crocodiles at La Vanille Nature Park, as well as butterflies, geckos, iguanas, frogs, mongoose, and giant tortoises – including the oldest tortoise, which is 97 years old.

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Casela World of Adventures
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When you think of beautiful, tropical Mauritius, it usually isn’t lions, rhinos, or giraffes that immediately spring to mind. At Casela World of Adventures, however, visitors will enter a safari-style compound that covers 620 acres, where seemingly every adventure possible is happening here in the park. Strap on a helmet and go on safari while also riding a quad bike, or get the feel for what it’s like to sit and ride on a camel. Fly down the island’s longest ziplines, or climb the Via Ferrata, before clipping into the canyon swing or touring the park on a Segway. All of the experiences have separate charges, although general admission still includes a guided safari adventure, where you drive around in search of zebras, ostriches, impalas, and kudus. You’re sure to see at least a dozen of the park’s 1,500 birds, and to up the adventure to heart-racing levels, join the staff on a stroll through fields full of cheetahs, lions, and tigers.

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Île aux Cerfs
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In a region full of beautiful beaches it can be difficult to name a true standout, but if there is one, the sandy shores of Île aux Cerfs, may just take the title. This private island off the east coast of Mauritius in the Flacq district is owned by an exquisite five-star hotel and serves as a destination for travelers seeking island luxury.

Visitors can wander approximately 100 hectares of pristine beaches and lush tropical foliage, visit the gilded and magnificent halls of one of the country’s top hotels, play a round on the exclusive 18-hole golf course, dine at one of the island’s incredible restaurants or take a dip in the clear blue lagoon. Travelers and locals agree—le aux Cerfs is the perfect destination to relax, unwind and recharge.

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Bois Cheri Plantation
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Some countries have wine or whisky routes – Mauritius has a tea route. And the island's biggest tea producer – the Bois Cheri Plantation – is a stop on that route.

The Bois Cheri Tea Plantation got its start on Mauritius in 1892, and today is the largest producer of tea on the island. The plantation covers 250 hectares, and includes the factory where the tea is made and a museum for visitors to explore the science and art of tea.

Visits to the plantation include guided tours of the tea factory plus a chance to see the plantation and explore the museum. At the end of your visit, you'll also get to take part in a tea tasting.

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Gris Gris Cape
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At the southernmost point of the island of Mauritius is known as Gris Gris Cape, or Gris Gris Beach. It's a beautiful place to visit, but very dangerous for swimming.

The term “gris gris” has many meanings, including some associated with voodoo magic, and although the water here looks inviting that's deceptive. Waves here are much stronger than they are along other parts of the Mauritius coast, so swimming at Gris Gris is strongly discouraged.

Visiting Gris Gris, however, to soak in the natural beauty and watch the power of Mother Nature, is worth it. There's a trail behind the parking lot that leads to a spot from which you can watch waves beat against the rock repeatedly, making it look like the cliffs are weeping.

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Ebony Forest Reserve
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Dedicated to conserving Mauritius’ indigenous forest and endangered wildlife, the Ebony Forest Reserve is one of the island’s most important ecoreserves. Home to more than 140 native and endemic plant and animal species, it’s a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, with scenic hiking trails and ocean-view overlooks.

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More Things to Do in Mauritius

Blue Bay Marine Park

Blue Bay Marine Park

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In case you’re wondering about the biodiversity at Mauritius’ Blue Bay Marine Park, there are more species of corals here than you could count fingers and toes. By some estimates over 40 different types of coral are found in these shallow, turquoise waters, which also house up to 70 species of colorful, tropical fish. With an average depth of only 10 to 20 feet, Blue Bay Marine Park is easily accessible to snorkelers and casual swimmers—most of whom are immersed in fish the moment they jump off the boat. If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to keep your head above water but still see all the fish, glass bottom boats are a dry-hair option for watching the action below. Despite the area’s beauty, however, overuse and abundance of fish feeding is quickly becoming a problem, and snorkelers are reminded to not touch the corals or feed the large schools of fish. The concerning reef degradation aside, Blue Bay Marine Park is one of the nicest areas in southeast Mauritius, and a laidback, warm, white sand shore for spending a day in the sun.

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Bénitiers Island (Ile aux Bénitiers)

Bénitiers Island (Ile aux Bénitiers)

The jagged black rocks of the remote island of Benitiers look a bit like the clam shells the stretch of land is named for. Travelers can navigate the crystal clear waters that lap against the shore in one of the small boats that travels between Mauritius and this breathtaking island off the country’s west coast. The shallow sea is almost always calm, and the views of nearby Le Morne are absolutely breathtaking. Plus, it’s even possible to spot dolphins and whales on the scenic trip between the mainland and Benitiers.

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Ile des Deux Cocos

Ile des Deux Cocos

This private island located just south of Mauritius is a true tropical paradise. Its sandy beaches and palm shaded shores offer travelers pristine stretches of hawker-free white sands. Crystal clear, practically transparent waters are perfect for snorkeling, but it’s the private feel—not a laundry list of activities—that makes Ile des Deux Cocos a destination.

Glass-bottom boats collect a limited number of passengers and shuttle them off through incredible coral reefs to this remote island, where a luxury hotel with its own private sands sits at the center. Though this excursion isn't ideal for the budget traveler, visitors agree that the strong tropical drinks, relaxing vibe and scenic sands are definitely an experience that’s worth the trip.

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Black River District (Rivière Noire)

Black River District (Rivière Noire)

The Black River District (Rivière Noire)—the third largest district in the country—is home to one of the smallest populations in Mauritius. But its beautiful rural landscapes, dry climate and outdoor activities make it a favorite among travelers.

Those in search of outdoor adventure can head to the area's coast and embark on a big-game fishing excursion. Nearby warm waters attract some of the best catches, and local charters know where to go to find tuna, sharks and even dolphins. Those looking to stay dry can head to the district’s scenic Casela Nature Park, where a network of epic trails, steep mountain climbs and beautiful canyons make it the perfect destination for land-loving travelers. The shores of Tamarin, One Eye, Kei Sei and Flic-en-Flac offer the best of both worlds, with white sandy beaches and cool ocean waters perfect for surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and scuba diving, too.

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Seven Coloured Earth Geopark

Seven Coloured Earth Geopark

Located near the famed Chamarel Waterfall, Seven Coloured Earth Geopark is one of the most popular destinations in Mauritius. This natural geological formation, surrounded by lush greenery in the southwestern region of the country, is made up of colorful rolling sand dunes whose look is constantly shifting and changing with the winds.

Layers of volcanic rock, rich with iron and aluminum, give the dunes their unique red and blue colors, and travelers agree Seven Coloured Earth is a must-see stop for those visiting the country. Although a relatively new wooden fence prevents people from climbing the dunes, it’s still impossible to miss the unique beauty of one of Mauritius’s famed natural wonders.

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Savanne District

Savanne District

The southern district of Savanne is known for its rolling hills, thick forests and rugged untouched beauty, and while the well-manicured greens of the Heritage Golf Club draw travelers eager to play the back nine, it’s the less developed reaches that bring travelers to this southern edge of the country.

Whether it’s cruising the trails on board a quad bike or riding horseback through the quiet landscapes of this beautiful region, visitors will find plenty to do, see and experience in Savanne. La Vanille Crocodile Park offers travelers an alternative to surf and sand with an informative look at these giant reptiles, while the Grand Bassin, a tradition Hindu temple, offers a look at local spirituality and the historic Bois Cheri Tea Factory provides travelers with a literal taste of what this district has to offer.

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St. Aubin House & Sugar Estate

St. Aubin House & Sugar Estate

Travelers to this vintage 19th-century estate will get a true taste of colonial life washed down with a sip of strong rum. Built in 1819 from wood of dismantled ships, the plantation is an homage to a life in Mauritius that no longer exists. Guests can sample traditional island cuisine at the restaurant tucked inside the colonial home or spend an evening at the Creole-style Saint Aubin Inn. Relax in the pool, horseback ride through the well-manicured grounds or even bike through the plantation.

Tours of the old sugar mill and vanilla house are also available, giving travelers an opportunity to see how two of the nation’s sweetest delights were processed during the 1800s. But perhaps the most popular stop on a visit to Saint Aubin Sugar Plantation is to the Artisanal Distillery, where guests can learn how sugar is transformed into smooth sips of light, amber and dark rum.

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Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden

Recognized as the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden was built in 1770 and stretches over some 37 hectares of land. The park is known for its massive pond of giant water lilies, while its lush gardens include species like ebony trees and sugar cane that serve as a reminder of the nation’s colonial influences, as well as plants from Central America, Asia and Africa, too. Visitors say that the sheer variety of plant species make the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden worth the visit but most agree that the grounds are in need of a bit of an update.

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Ilot Gabriel

Ilot Gabriel

A small island covering just over 100 acres (42 hectares), Ilot Gabriel is a gem in the crystal clear waters near Grand Bay. Day trippers sail to Ilot Gabriel aboard catamarans from Grand Bay, and after a 90-minute journey, arrive on the unspoiled beaches of the island.

Geckos creep along the greenery lining the beach, and the gentle waters are popular for snorkeling and diving right off the beach. Since the island is part of a protected nature reserve, its natural habitats remain largely untouched. Most excursions to the island also include a BBQ lunch, served al fresco on the beach.

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