What to do in Mauritius
Mauritius is a little island nation 700 miles off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, belonging to the continent of Africa. 10,500+ miles away from home in Seattle, it is likely one of the farthest destinations we could have chosen. It was well worth the distance, as it turned out to be one of our favorite countries yet. Mauritius is a picture-perfect island paradise, with all of our favorite things – crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, enchanting waterfalls, delicious food, and friendly locals.
Keep reading to find the best things to do in Mauritius, where to stay, and how to get around.
You can’t visit Mauritius without going to the beach! Our favorite beaches by region were Trou-aux-Biches in the west, Bain Boeuf Beach in the north, and Le Morne Beach in the south. We were surprised to find Le Morne was a great beach for surfing (past the reef break) and would love to return to surf one day!
Getting out on the water is a must-do in Mauritius! We took two separate catamaran cruises, which were top highlights of our week-long stay in Mauritius.
We took our first catamaran cruise to Ile Aux Cerfs. The cruise was based on the east coast of Mauritius and included snorkeling in shallow crystal blue water, visiting the Grand River South East waterfall, a delicious lunch, bottomless drinks, and free time on the gorgeous island of Ile Aux Cerfs, capped off with a dance party on our sail home. The female crewmember put on native Mauritian dress and another crewmember played the drums while the crew sang and danced to local music, that they encouraged everyone to join in.
Our second catamaran cruise was on the west coast to Crystal Bay. The cruise included finding dolphin pods, snorkeling, a delicious buffet lunch, bottomless drinks, visiting Crystal Rock at Crystal Bay, and free time at Benitiers island, a small uninhabited island.
If you take a speed boat tour, you are able to jump in and swim with the dolphins, but unfortunately all of the speed boat tours on the west coast were booked during our stay. We would recommend booking a speed boat tour to swim with dolphins on the west coast before your trip to guarantee to have this experience.
The best way to get a taste of Mauritius is through a food tour. We took a guided food tour with Taste Buddies while exploring the country’s capital, Port Louis. We learned about all the history and different waves of immigration in Mauritius while tasting how each new arrival affected the culture and food, while maintaining a unique Mauritian flair. The tour lasts around three hours and costs 1800 Rs (roughly $52 USD) a person.
My favorite food was the Pani Puri, which is influenced from the large Indian population in Mauritius. Pani Puri is a round hollow fried crisp filled with chili water, chick peas, potato, and tamarind, which has a little kick at the end from the chili water.
The tour started and ended on the Port Louis waterfront, which was modern and geared to tourists. I loved the colorful umbrella street!
The biggest hidden gem we came across on our trip was visiting the waterfall Cascade des Galets, which we found partially by accident off the beaten path. We visited the Black River Gorges National Park with the intention to visit Alexandra Falls. We were excited to find monkeys in the empty parking lot when we arrived at 8 a.m. The actual viewpoint of Alexandra Falls was obstructed by foliage, so we followed a path we found on our offline maps app Maps.me to what we thought was the bottom of the falls.
The further we went we realized we were heading too far away. We eventually found ourselves alone at the very top of another waterfall, labeled Cascade des Galets on our maps app.
The view from the top of the waterfall was expansive and took our breath away. With no railings or safety measures in place at the edge of the cliff face, we were very precautious to get our own glimpse of the waterfall we were standing on top of. We ended up flying our drone out to get a better look of the massive falls we were standing on top of.
We then ventured to La Vallee Des Couleurs Nature Park. We visited the famous 7 colored earth (which to be honest, we were not that impressed by the colors in real life, it seems that most of the marketing material is highly saturated). We continued on to a couple waterfalls in the park, Vacoas waterfall and Chamouzé waterfall.
The main reason we visited La Vallee Des Couleurs Nature Park was to cross the longest Nepalese bridge in the Indian Ocean. The suspension bridge is 350 meters long, 80-100 meters high, and costs 800 Rs per person (~$23 USD). We enjoyed sweeping views of lush greenery visible down to the Indian Ocean. I liked playing with my balance by walking with my arms wide open (you are also attached by a safety harness) while Matt preferred to have one hand on a railing at all times.
The nature park provides other adventure activities from zip lining to quad biking. The park costs 350 Rs (~$10 USD) to enter as a non-resident and each adventure activity is an additional fee.
Visit the most famous church in Mauritius, the Notre Dame Auxiliatrice Chapel. The white church boasts a red roof (although I’d argue that it is hot pink), which contrasts beautifully with the turquoise water behind it. The Roman Catholic Church draws tourists from all over the island.
While driving back from the “pink roofed” church we saw a “pink domed temple” and decided to pull over for a quick photo op! The Mauritius flags waving were a nice touch. The temple is Shiv Kalyannath Mandir Hindu Temple.
Where to stay
We stayed in the “The North” (on the highway street signs literally said, “The North”) in the Grand Baie area at three different Horizon Holidays properties – La Residence, Cape Bay, Element Bay II. All my pineapple floatie dreams came to life in the gorgeous pool, surrounded by coconut-bearing palm trees.
It was lovely to have all the amenities of our own spacious apartment with the luxuries of a hotel (hello daily cleaning service). The first floor of our apartment in La Residence opened right up to our private patio facing the pool and the balcony from our second story master suite was shielded by a giant palm tree. All of the properties were just across the street from the beach. Watch our video of the Horizon Holiday properties.
How to get around
Mauritius is a relatively small island of only 788 square miles, so it was helpful to explore with our own set of wheels. Having a car allowed us to maximize our time in Mauritius without waiting around for public buses or taxis. We rented a car from Maki Car Rental, which has their own app that made it easy to communicate with the company for pick up when we landed, using the airport’s free WiFi. We wouldn’t have been able to visit what was our favorite waterfall in Mauritius without our own car.
**In full transparency to our readers, we partnered with Horizon Holidays, Maki Car Rental and Taste Buddies (separately) for this blog post. We do not make commission off any of the links included in this post. We did, however, receive free products/services. We only collaborate with companies we love and hope you’ll love too!