Mark Twain wrote, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; heaven being copied after Mauritius.” It’s easy to understand his sentiments. Mauritius is a big draw for honeymooners because it means gorgeous beaches and lazy sunny days. But there are tons of things to do on Paradise Island.
Next to Madagascar, Mauritius is a leader in wildlife tourism, outdoor adventure, fine dining, and luxury resorts. Here you can see giant tortoises, rare exotic birds, enjoy kitesurfing coral reef snorkelling, golf, horseback riding, hiking, and more.
A real treat throughout your stay will be to sample delicious local food which takes its influence from Indian, French, Creole, and Chinese backgrounds. You’ll love every minute of your holiday in Mauritius, let’s explore the best places to visit in Mauritius!
1. Grand Bassin
This high mountain lake, roughly 1800 feet above sea level, is a sacred Hindu site.
You’ll find a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the local belief is that the lake water is holy water from the Ganges River in India. Mauritius Hindu’s make pilgrimage here during Maha Shivaratri, walking all the way from their homes.
You’ll love the 108 foot statue of Lord Shiva which was built in 2007. It’s a beautiful lake with lovely views all around. Make the pilgrimage yourself and enjoy a nice mountain trek.
2. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
Second only to London’s Kew Gardens is the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Work in the gardens is ongoing and you’re encouraged to hire a guide from the staff in order to really appreciate the full spectrum of diversity here.
The SSR Gardens is one of the best known attractions on the island and the stunning centrepiece is a pond filled with Victoria amazonica water lilies – native only to South America. These incredible flowers bloom white and then close red the following day.
Bird lovers will love Mauritius in general, but will especially love the garden for the Madagascar fody that call the place home. There’s also a chance to see the aldabra tortoise.
3. Pointe d’Esny and Blue Bay
On an island full of beaches, Pointe d’Esny and Blue Bay are everyone’s top picks. The coastline here is white sand, and there’s a well-preserved blue lagoon.
It’s dotted with holiday homes and the whole stretch really comes alive in high season. Blue Bay is best known for the Marine Park where they have the best coral reef formations in Mauritius. Snorkelling here is a must.
At the opposite end of Blue Bay is the village of Mahebourg. Here you’ll find a quaint historical village with a lively market teeming with traditional village life. Everyone appreciates this peek into authentic Mauritius.
4. Black River Gorges National Park
Covering over 6,000 hectares of land, the Black River Gorges National Park is the ideal place to discover native forests and wildlife. The park has over 300 species of flowering plants, the famous and endangered pink pigeon, giant fruit bats, and much more.
Located in the most spectacular part of the island, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the conservation efforts that happen here. Bring good hiking shoes because you’ll want to see it all and there are wonderful panoramic views of the islands many gorges, mountain peaks, and waterfalls.
If you only make one day trip from the coast, be sure this is your destination.
Mahébourg is the place to experience old Mauritius, though few venture to this ancient capital. Built where the Dutch first landed at the end of the 16th century, here is where you’ll find rustic restaurants with beautiful terraces, a buzzing market place, beautiful beaches, and tasty but oh-so-spicy street food.
There’s a nice little museum here with exhibits detailing the British-French battle for the island, as well as the bell saved from the Le Saint-Géran , a shipwrecked vessel integral to the local legends of Mauritius.
It’s a sleepy little town but those who make it here return again and again.
6. Ile aux Aigrettes (Egret Island)
Located in the Mahebourg Bay, the Ile aux Aigrettes, is a striking place, made entirely of coralline limestone. You’ll notice the difference in the landscape right way – quiet different from the volcanic matter of the mainland.
Its believed by many to be the last resting place of the dodo and right now its home to the last of the dry coastal forest which was once found throughout Mauritius. These 27 hectares have been declared a natural reserve and you’ll discover some intense conservation efforts going on. Scientists are working hard to reintroduce rare species and restore the forest to its former glory.
Everyone loves to come out to Egret Island to watch the giant Aldabra tortoises and catch a sighting of the pink pigeons.
7. Blue Penny Museum
Perhaps the best museum on the island, the Blue Penny has a wide range of interesting exhibits. Named after the world-famous Mauritian one and two penny stamps from 1847, you’ll discover the islands history here, including exploration, settlement, and the height of the colonial period.
You can also learn about the Paul and Virginie legend. The famous stamps are located on the first floor and are considered a national treasure. To preserve their vibrant red and blue colours, they’re only lit for ten minutes every hour.
History buffs will love the stories, antique maps, photographs, and Mauritius’ most famous statue.
8. Grand Baie
Considered to be the main tourism hub on the island, Grand Baie has humble roots as a small fishing village just 20 years ago.
Sometimes called Le Trop due to the incredible entertainment, you’ll find a ton of beaches, attractions, and excursions here. Be sure to check out the Aquarium, and the interactive L’Aventure du Sucre museum. For the water lovers, try diving, waterskiing, sailing, and windsurfing.
In the evenings you’ll be surprised at the nightlife offerings and the incredible restaurants.
9. Chamarel Waterfall and Seven Coloured Earth
At 100 metres, Chamarel is the highest waterfall in Mauritius. Remember to bring your cameras because there are some amazing shots to be had here.
This impressive sight has stairs leading to a viewing platform at the top where you can watch the water crashing below. In addition to your camera, bring a swim suit if you’d like to take a dip in the shallow waters at the bottom of the falls.
The waterfall is located in Black Gorges National park and is often combined with a trip to the Seven Coloured Earth – made up of red, brown, and purple shaded sand dunes created by volcanic rocks which cooled at different temperatures.
10. Le Souffleur
This is a destination for the risk takers. Le Souffleur is a half-formed grotto sitting on a steep cliff side.
There’s a geyser like fountain which can reach up to 20 metres high when the sea is rough. To reach it you have to take a 4WD and get permission from the Savannah sugar estate near L’Escalier; but it’s so worth it.
If you come at the right time, there’s a natural bridge nearby formed from the collapsed roof of a nearby grotto.
Maison Eureka is a well-preserved French colonial mansion situated high up in the centre of the island, closed to Moka. Once owned by the islands largest sugar baron, this home is an unbelievable engineering masterpiece.
A complete wrap around balcony, 109 doors, and turreted rooftop windows are just the beginning. You can take a nice trek from the garden filled with bamboo and ebony and follow along until you reach a lovely little swimming hole beneath a waterfall.
Be sure to stop and admire the views of the Moka mountain range and stop for tea in the tea room.
12. Casela Nature & Leisure Park
This is your spot to enjoy an African safari on the island. Here you’ll find lions, ostrich, zebra, giraffe, hippopotamus, and elephant, all seen from inside a safari mini-bus.
You can also rent a segway or a quad bike and have a bit of fun scattering the large herds of deer as you zip around. Also, the longest zip line in the Indian Ocean is found here. It’s so easy to enjoy an entire day in the park, especially with the parks great restaurant with striking views of the west coast.
Nature lovers will appreciate the more than 1500 birds, exotic flowers and planets, and the overall diversity of the park.
13. Tamarin Beach
Once known as Santosha Beach, Tamarin once offered some of the best surfing in the world. Locals called it Santosha so that no one could find it and develop it!
It’s a little past its prime and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back a few decades when you arrive, but honestly, this is part of the charm.
You won’t find the oversized and high walled resorts here, but you will find arguably the best scenic backdrop in Mauritius.
14. François Leguat Reserve
This wonderful reserve re-creates the Eden discovered by the island first explorer. At the end of the 17th century, François Leguat wrote that, walking on tortoise shell, he could take 100 steps around Rodrigues without ever stepping on the ground.
There are over 100,000 indigenous trees and thanks to a breeding program, hundreds of tortoises that roam the reserve. You can also explore nearby caves while a local guide shares stories of the geological history of Mauritius.
Don’t forget to stop by the museum to learn the settlement history as well as the story oof the Solitaire, the extinct cousin of the Dodo.
15. Domaine de L’Étoile
This is an old sugar estate now turned into an eco-playground. Domaine de L’Étoile has horseback riding, quad biking, archery, and buggy trips, all on the slopes of the Bambous Mountain range. There are several self-guided treks – all which include an authentic Mauritian buffet lunch that is not to be missed.
There’s a zip line circuit here which takes two hours to complete and is, arguably the most fun you’ll have all day. There’s a kids village, lovely ebony and cinnamon tree forests, and some left over movie sets from the 1972 movie Paul and Virginie, based on the popular island legend.
Those who are really lucky will spot a Javanese stag or two hiding in the forest.