Located in the Indian Ocean, the tropical island of Mauritius is a renowned beach holiday destination. With palm-fringed beaches, clear blue waters, dramatic mountains and superb resort hotels, Mauritius holidays are ideal for honeymooners, for families with toddlers to teens, or in fact for anyone looking for an easy and relaxing beach escape. The island is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs, providing sheltered beaches and calm lagoon waters in which to enjoy a huge array of (mostly complimentary) water sports directly from your hotel. Snorkelling can often take place straight from the beach and diving is also good, with a variety of dive sites to explore around the island. Most hotels have their own professional dive centre. Offshore, holidays to Mauritius can also offer some of the world’s best big-game fishing: Wahoo, Blue and Black marlin, Yellow-fin and Skipjack tuna feed in the clear, deep waters only a mile from land, in season.
Mauritius has a vibrant, multicultural population. Its location on the trading route to India and Asia brought the Dutch, the French and finally the English to the island to settle. Indians and Chinese came to work and trade the sugar cane that still covers much of the island, and the island’s colourful history is reflected in its cuisine, with a wide range of Indian, Chinese, Creole and European influences in its dishes, and in the variety of cultural and religious festivals that are celebrated.
Easy connections for safari & beach holidays
The island is just four hours flying time from South Africa and Kenya, and Mauritius holidays can therefore easily be combined with the thrill of game viewing and the natural beauty of Africa’s dramatic landscapes. The calm azure waters around Mauritius make it an attractive place to dust off after a safari and its possible to visit all year round, with May to October being the driest period. In the more humid summer months (November to April) the climate is warmer and wetter but has sunny spells in between showers. Read more about when to go on holiday to Mauritius here. UK citizens don’t need a visa making holidays to Mauritius one of the most popular safari and beach combinations.
Mauritius holidays – activities beyond the beach
Whilst holidays to Mauritius are primarily all about soaking up the rays, there are a whole host of activities and excursions beyond the beach that can be easily incorporated into most Mauritius holidays. You can explore the island by hiring a car for self-drive or with a chauffeur for a reasonable supplement, or by taking one of the excursions available from your hotel. You drive on the left in Mauritius (as we do in the UK) and this adds to the ease of exploring under your own steam.
If you enjoy flora, don’t miss the giant Victoria Regia water lilies in the Pamplemousses Gardens, one of the world’s oldest Botanical Gardens. Fine French colonial buildings and the lively covered market can be visited in the capital, Port Louis, along with its modern piazza-style Caudan Waterfront and its shops and cafés located around the port.
In central Mauritius, drive through Curepipe to the surrounding hills for panoramic views of the island from Trou aux Cerfs, an extinct crater 85m deep and 200m wide. Access to the near by Black River Gorges National Park is via La Marie, and it protects the remaining indigenous forests of the island. Finding sanctuary in the forest of Black River Gorges National Park are some of the world's rarest and most endangered birds, notably the Mauritius kestrel; Pink pigeon; Echo parakeet and Mauritius fody. A half-day walk in the forest should reveal most of these rarities, along with other endemic species. Grand Bassin Lake, another extinct volcano crater close by, is a revered pilgrimage site for Hindus.
Apart from discovering the forest and unique birdlife on walking trails or perhaps on one of the protected offshore islets like Ile Aux Aigrettes, try a mountain bike tour or take a catamaran cruise with snorkelling opportunities.
Superb range of places to stay
For the most part beach resorts are relatively large in Mauritius, although well-designed to maximise a sense of space, but there are also small boutique hotels such as Hotel 20°Sud with just 28 rooms, and a number of exclusive mid-sized hotels such as Shanti Maurice with 61 suites and villas, and the elegant Oberoi with 71 villas and pavilions. Some hotels are adult-only such as Paradise Cove which we recommend for honeymooners and many have facilities specifically for families. The Belle Mar Plage is an excellent option, with a 2-km long beach, that manages to work well for couples and families alike.
See our suggested selection of hotels – there is a superb range of hotels on the island and we tailor-make all our Mauritius holidays, so just tell us what sort of things you like (style, size, facilities, sporting activities) and when you want to travel.