Mauritius is world famous for its beautiful beaches, and if all you wanted to do whilst there was sit under a palm tree with the sand beneath your toes I couldn’t blame you. But if you’re anything like me – who can’t lay still on a beach for more than 10 minutes – you’ll be totally surprised at the range of adventures and activities on offer as well. Introducing: 20 things to do in Mauritius for the active traveller (with some treats dropped in for good measure).
GO SNORKELLING IN BLUE BAY
The first marine reserve of Mauritius, Blue Bay Marine Park has some of the most pristine corals and diverse marine life on the island. Take a glass bottom boat tour to see all the different varieties then dive in! There are over 50 different types of coral to see, most of which is still growing, and just as many fish and invertebrates.
Be prepared to do some bartering for the tour – on quiet days, especially, the operators (who all have tables near the jetty) will drop their prices significantly (we got it for 300 rupees each).
PARASAIL OVER A LAGOON
A super fun and fairly cheap way to get a different perspective on the island. Marvel at just how clear and blue the water is below you, and just how spiky the mainland is whilst 80m high in the air!
Several places offer parasailing rides, though Ile aux Cerfs, with its turquoise lagoon, beautiful islands and dramatic mainland scenery, was my favourite. You do only get about 5 minutes in the air, though – I wish it was longer!
MEET MAURITIUS’S MOST ENDANGERED WILDLIFE AT ILE AUX AIGRETTES
Cross a sparkling lagoon to a tiny forested island home to a menagerie of endangered animals. Many of the species here, endemic to Mauritius, were at the brink of extinction, but extensive conservational work has turned their luck around. Pink pigeons, giant fruit bats and tortoises, there’s so much to see and learn here. Check out my post on Ile aux Aigrettes to find out more.
HIKE UP A WATERFALL AT 7 CASCADES
Walk over, under and across a chain of waterfalls that are up to 60m high. These stunning waterfalls run close to the Black River Gorges National Park and is well worth an explore. There are plenty of gorgeous spots to stop off at along the way, including plunge pools and a natural foot spa!
Expect to take about 3 hours; it’s steep and muddy in places but not too challenging or strenuous. The tracks aren’t clearly marked, so I’d strongly recommend you go with a guide – they will take you to the best spots that you’d probably miss by yourself and add a lot to the experience. If you’re feeling even more adventurous you can also go canyoning here and zipline down these beauties. For something more leisurely, there are lots of short walks in neighbouring Black River Gorges park.
WATCH THE SUN SET OVER THE OCEAN ON THE WEST COAST
Grab your beach towel, get comfy, and wait for nature’s best colour display! Sunsets are really something on this little island – enough said! And there’s a whole bunch of great beaches to choose from on the west. Now I’ll just let these photos do the talking….
VISIT PAMPLEMOUSSES BOTANICAL GARDEN
These steamy exotic gardens are a relaxing (albeit sweaty) way to spend a few hours. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore here, but the biggest draw is the giant lily pads – which have to be seen to be believed. The garden was created 300 years ago – which is ancient by Mauritian standards – and has over 650 varieties of plants, palms and trees to see.
HAVE A PINA COLADA OR PHOENIX BEER
Mauritius knows how to do rum, then combine that with their fresh coconuts and damn have you got an amazing pina colada!! If cocktails aren’t your thing, order yourself a phoenix beer – it’s one of two beers brewed on the island and Mauritians take great pride in it.
GO WIND/KITESURFING AT LE MORNE
It’s a little-known fact that Le Morne is one of the best places in the world for kitesurfing, due to its consistent wind. Oh, and it’s also absolutely gorgeous! May-October is the best time to go (the windy season), which is low-season for tourism – meaning cheaper hotels!
Sega is as Mauritian as it gets when it comes to music. It was the music of the slaves many years ago, and as such was looked down upon until as recently as the 1960s. The traditional type is lively and very rhythmical with few instruments.
It’s hard to say exactly what modern day sega sounds like (kind of latino/reggae?) but as soon as you’ve heard one you’ll always be able to recognise it. Here’s a famous modern sega song:
Catchy, right? So now you know what the music sounds like, you have no choice but to get stuck in and dance! This involves a lot of swaying and pulsating… If you’re a woman wear your biggest skirt/dress and get swooshing!
HIKE UP A MOUNTAIN
Mauritius is a deceptively rugged island, offering an impressive selection of hikes for its size. The most famous and spectacular is the hike up Le Morne mountain. It’s only about a 4-hour round trip, but the going gets a little tough (steep) at the end. There are lots of guides that will take you up if you’re not a confident hiker and the views are more than worth the effort. Another good option is Le Pouce, offering brilliant views over the capital of Port Louis. The track isn’t very well marked, so you may want to consider taking a guide for this one also.
CHILL OUT ON A TROPICAL BEACH
No matter how adventurous or active you want your holiday to be, it’s a no-brainer, right?! The sand is soft, the water is warm, the palm trees sway in the breeze above you – pure bliss. There are amazing beaches on every stretch of coast, too. Don’t know which one to choose? Check out my post on the best beaches in Mauritius.
GO DOLPHIN AND WHALE WATCHING IN TAMARIN
Cruise along the beautiful shores of the West Coast in the company of dolphins. There’s a resident school of dolphins living at Tamarin Bay who you’re almost guaranteed to see on any day of the year. There are also sperm whales (who are a little less common to see), and between July and November and you can also see migratory humpback whales.
Some tours also give you the chance to snorkel with the dolphins, though it gets a bit crowded and manic as the boats try to keep up with them. The early morning tours generally give you the best chance of seeing them – I recommend Dolswim.
DRIVE FROM GRAND BASSIN TO LE MORNE TO BAIE DU CAP
This is a spectacular drive, and my favourite stretch of road in Mauritius by a long shot. From Grand Bassin you enter the Black River Gorges National Park – a steep wild area refreshingly empty of civilisation. Tackle one hairpin after the next as you make your way down, stopping at some awesome viewpoints on your way to Chamarel and Le Morne.
From Le Morne head south east along the B9 for another beautiful coastal drive and around Baie du Cap – a gorgeous but very windy spot!
EAT MAURITIAN NOODLES AND/OR FRESH SEAFOOD
Mauritian fried noodles is a local secret that I became a bit addicted to. This modest dish (usually at the bottom of the menu, nearly always the cheapest, and usually called something like fried noodles with chicken or “Mines Frites” in creole) is about as Mauritian as it gets. It’s pretty simple but just *so* good, and the chilli sauce that it’s served with gives it a satisfying kick.
If you want to push the boat out, calamari, octopus and lobster are all super fresh and delicious Mauritian specialities.
EXPLORE MAURITIUS’S WILD SOUTH
This part of the island is a world apart from the glossy, pristine resorts of the north. The shores aren’t protected against the ocean due to a break in the coral reef, so the waves come in thick and strong, and there are only a handful of sandy beaches. Resorts have therefore favoured other parts of the island, and left this area largely undeveloped, giving you a wilder, more authentic face of Mauritius.
In this area you also have Pont Naturale – a bridge of rock that gets smashed by the waves, the Roche qui Pleure (rock that cries), and Gris Gris – probably the wildest Mauritian beach. There are also a lot of authentic creole restaurants in the area to check out.
DISCOVER HINDU RELIGION AT GRAND BASSIN
Perched on the central plateau is Grand Bassin, Mauritius’s most impressive and sacred Hindu site. Greeting you at its entrance is a 33m high statue of Shiva, and beyond him is the Grand Bassin lake, which has a number of temples dedicated to other gods. It’s a beautiful serene place.
Each year around February Mauritius comes to a standstill as tens of thousands of Hindus make the pilgrimage to this place on foot for the Maha Shivaratri celebrations. I haven’t witnessed it myself but I’ve heard that it’s an amazing cultural spectacle.
One more thing: bring a raincoat/umbrella – it rains a lot here!
GO STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING (SUP)
Mauritius has some of the calmest waters I’ve ever swam in, thanks to the barrier reef that surrounds most of the island. It’s also warm, shallow, and super clear – making it a fantastic place to get into paddle boarding. Lots of beaches have the equipment available and it’s not too expensive either.
ZIP LINE ACROSS A GORGE
Mauritius has got a thing for zip lines, and they’re usually high up and seriously long! At Vallee des Couleurs Activity Park you can glide for 1.5km on one, and at Casela (a wildlife and activity park) you can do it across a beautiful gorge. Most of the places that have zip lines have other cool things to do too, such as quad biking and canyon swinging.
DIVE INTO MAURITIUS’S UNDERWATER WORLD
Mauritius has a range of awesome scuba dives suitable for total beginners right up to experienced divers, including shipwrecks, caves, and a fairly good variety of fish species. Prices are pretty reasonable and the big companies have training pools too.
GET THE 5* TREATMENT AT LE MORNE
Stunning with a whole range of activities to do (especially kitesurfing), Le Morne is a must-do for anyone going to Mauritius. But it’s equally as famous for its string of 5* hotels across the beach. Now I’m really not the luxury type of girl – give me a tent and a wild beach any day of the week – but these places are really something. Hammocks in the ocean, infinity pools, palm trees and little thatched shacks… They worked their spell on me and had me wistfully wishing I could stay there. So on my last two days in Mauritius we did and we loved it. Splash out for a few nights and have a bit of luxury – you deserve it!
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