By Seema Wadhwa
When Sapphire waters, white sand and mountainous glimpses make for one's view 30,000 feet above the sea level it is assured that they've arrived at what practically is heaven on Earth. It's no shocker that renowned writer and humorist Mark Twain once said, "Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius." A picturesque island nation in the East of Africa, Mauritius is a potpourri of palm-fringed beaches, surreal sunsets, admirable mountains, curiosity-evoking landmarks, adrenaline piquing adventures, and an intriguing culture stemming from an influx of immigrants over the years. These many sights and experiences from this part of the Indian Ocean make it every traveller's dream. We put together 5 reasons that make Mauritius every traveller's dream.
1. Adventures Await: Sea Karting-Being an F1 driver in the ocean
The mysterious waves and many hues of the sea have often prompted the voyagers in us to discover it up close and a sea karting experience amidst the Blues of the Mauritius waters offers exactly that experience, except it's only more exciting because you're the captain of your own cruise! The instructors at the ocean cheekily describe a sea kart as a rendition of an F1 car except one is driving it in the sea. A sea kart typically looks like a cross between a jet-ski and a speedboat and can operate at a top speed of 70km/hour. A thrilling but safe experience, sea karting involves two people seated on a sea hover or kart; while one assumes the driver's role, the other assumes the passenger's role.
The ride involves a steering wheel which helps one navigate and accelerate with a break on the side and an emergency communication on-board. During this one-hour long adventure, three sea karts i.e a maximum of 6 people can enjoy the experience at a time with a lifeboat in the middle sailing along, equipped with a photographer and an instructor guiding and escorting the participants throughout the excursion.
Cruising in this adventurous fashion on the west coast lagoons lets one discover Enitier’s Island, Le Morne, the coast of Flic en Flac while offering a spectacular view of Rempart Mountain, the Black River mountain range, Le Morne Mountain and the beautiful Le Morne Peninsula.
Ziplining-Flying at La Vallee Des Couleurs
Ziplining as the name suggests is travelling from one point to the other through a zip line(cable) from a significant height overlooking a picturesque view. Ziplining is also popularly known as flying fox and the zipline experience in Mauritius at La Vallee Des Couleurs definitely feels like flying over the majestic views of a beautiful golf course, mountains and 23-colour soiled earth! A typical zip line takes place in a seating position, but the experience in this land blooming with surprises is rather different because the zipline here takes place in a superhero flying position with one harnessed at the back and hands stretched out straight in the front. The longest zip line here and the third largest in the world is 1.5 kms long going through the waterfall, while the shortest zip line is 500 metres.
Quad Biking – Rendezvous with Nature
Imagine the thunder of riding a quad bike uninterrupted without the city-life hustle or pollution. Now imagine riding it amidst the Valley of Colours. As you power up the bike, riding uphill through muddy banks leading to a scenic destination; await a surreal view of the mountains, fern gardens, waterfalls and the majestic geological formation of 23 colours shimmering under the light of the sun!
This unique formation spotted only in Mauritius is a resultant of volcanic activity and mineral formation. Some quick pit stops also let one enjoy a panoramic view of the South Coast of Mauritius and an astounding view and the soothing sound of the waterfalls- Cascade Vacoas, Cascade Bois de Natte, Cascade Cheveux d’Ange and Cascade Chamouzé.
Undersea Adventure-Submarine and Subscooter
The lagoon of Mauritius is filled as many surprises as its land, and a rendezvous with the marine life is possible through diving in the most spectacular way with a submarine or a sub scooter with Blue Safari Submarine. A submarine is an air-conditioned watercraft cabin under atmospheric pressure operated by a pilot seating up to 10 passengers. A 45-minute trip at 35 metres depth underwater, the personal seat windows enable one to experience an up-close view of marine life such as corals, reef and rarely-spotted fishes like the Eagle Ray fish, Turtle fish, Moorish Idol, etc. This form of underwater adventure is a leisurely one, and there are only 12 such leisure submarine operations in the world with the Blue Safari Submarine being the only one in the Indian ocean. A subscooter, on the other hand, is a mix between a submarine and a scooter which can accommodate up to two people at a time. In both cases, prior snorkelling or diving experience is not required. The excursion takes place at Trou aux Biches located on the North-Western part of Mauritius.
2. Food Paradise
The picturesque setting of this island nation earns it the paradise status but one would vouch for its food as the second-best reason why it proudly wears this crown. The food much like its population is a potpourri of cultures resulting in specialities that suit every palate. The Indian influence can be well be seen in Dhal Puri, an extremely popular go-to choice amongst Mauritians is a flat wheat bread preparation (Much like a roti) wrapped around split peas, bean curry and some chutneys to go with. Yet another popular pick stemming from Indian origins is Gâteau De Patate, a sweet and savoury dumpling-like dish similar to that of Karanji or Gujia except it is stuffed with sweet potatoes and coconut as opposed to the Indian preparation which is stuffed with Khoya and dry fruits. Palm Hearts, the cylindrical core of palm trunks constitutes a speciality salad in Mauritius. Palm hearts along with other vegetables are often served in most quality restaurants known as Palm Heart Salad. The Mauritian palate for spice is reflected in the chilli-paste served on the side across all meals. Yet another interesting culture in this tropical nation is Beach Barbeque, which refers to the practice of enjoying live barbeques constituting of seafood and meat at the beach. Some of the local favourite desserts constitute of Napolitaine, a sandwich cookie with jam in the centre, a Vona Corona ice-cream, a family preparation sold over tricycle! An integral part of the Mauritian dining culture is its rum which can be best experienced at Rhumerie de Chamarel, a rum distillery and restaurant in the Southwest of Mauritius. The distillery offers a guided-tour and a store with the best of rums, and the restaurant serves lip-smacking gourmet food.
3. Leisure in Style-Ideal for Honeymooners & Vacationers
The pristine waters and sights of Mauritius makes it a haven for honeymooners and even vacationers for that matter, it is typically an experience of indulging in leisure but in style!
When in Mauritius you definitely don't want to miss out on the crimson hues of the sun meeting the coastline painting the sky in colours seen only in paintings! Sunsets are best enjoyed at Flic-en-Flac beach. Sofitel Mauritius L'Impérial located on the West coast of Mauritius offers private access to its guests with beach beds and swings to enjoy an uninterrupted view of the setting sun. The private beach helps one enjoy an undiluted experience. When planning your trip to Mauritius kick-start it here to experience a window into Mauritian way of life or the living the French way as they describe it! The French way prompts a reminder to not miss the buttery croissants here! The Ravinala restaurant shares its boundary with the infinity pool giving one the lagoon-like experience when dining. The Indian food prepared by Chef Raj Dhillion at this restaurant tastes straight out of a
kitchen in Amritsar, the authentic Kaali Dal is recommended even if you're not a fan of digging into Indian food when travelling overseas.
A trip to Mauritius would be incomplete if one missed on the luxury it offers. An ideal example of the Mauritian luxury is LUX Grand Gaube that spoils one for choices as it offers two beaches, two swimming pools, and a private lagoon! A typical morning here starts with the chirping of birds, a straight room view of the ocean and a big breakfast at The Palm Court with a live coffee station. The architecture reflects an elegant yet chic charisma across the property, which is why it's no surprises that this place has been a location to many Bollywood and Hollywood movies. If you're an Instagram fanatic or simply love capturing beautiful corners, a heads up-You will constantly find yourself capturing everything from the aesthetically done room corners to the live stations at the many restaurants here.
When in Mauritius why give the nightlife a miss? Club Med La Plantation D’Albion located on the West Coast of the island nation is a melody of the fine sand beach and mountain ranges. This humongous place comes to life as the evening sets in. The private beach becomes home to live performances such as a Michael Jackson tribute, Sega Dance, a Mauritian dance which is often a musical expression of joy and liveliness. The vintage dance night is yet another popular custom here which led by performances and an interactive dance session.
4. Wildlife Interaction
An interaction like never before, Casela Nature Park known as a World of Adventures, aptly so as it offers once in a lifetime kind of experiences. We all have been fascinated by the king of the wildlife kingdom, but ever wondered what it would be like to walk with the lions! Not only walk with the lions but spend time observing a part of their day, and even petting a lion. Known as Walking With The Lions, this experience at the Casela Nature Park allows one to closely interact with the lions and observe them for a span of over 20 minutes. This experience takes place under the supervision of the team at Casela ensuring maximum safety. Yet another series of interesting interactions can be experienced through feeding giraffes, ostriches, turtles. One can spot Zebras, Rhinos, African Impalas, and Wildebeest on the safari ride. A walk through the aviary is an intriguing experience of spotting colourful species of bird and enjoying their chirpy conversations.
5. Cultural Enlightenment
The Mauritian culture is fascinating as its rich history has seen migration since the 16th Century when Dutch first tried to colonize Mauritius following a series of hardships and migration of the population for years to come. It was eventually after the French and British war that slavery was freed and the country today sees a diverse population (Many of which are settlers) consisting of Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, Africans, and Chinese. The French influence, however, continues to persist in the Mauritian culture. While the majority of the population can comfortably speak in English, Creole is a widely spoken language locally. The traces of Mauritius' history can be witnessed at the Aapravasi Ghat a World Heritage Site and immigration depot where the first British colony received contracted labour from India, some of the remains of the people still remain preserved here. Yet another interesting reflection of the history is Château de Labourdonnais, a 150-year old home to the Wiehe family. The present time prevalence of Hindu culture can be seen at the Ganga Talao, Grand Bassin, and the temples built in Dravidian architecture.
Currency: The local currency is the Mauritian Rupee, however cards are widely accepted too
Ideal Duration: 7-10 days
Visa for Indians: Free, Visa on Arrival
Tourist Information: MTPA India
(The author is a Mumbai-based travel writer and Instagrammer. All images provided by the author. Views expressed are personal.)