Famed for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and volcanic mountain backdrops, the tropical island of Mauritius is a year-round destination, being just 20 degrees south of the equator. But as well as sunbathing and relaxation, this is an island that offers exploration – from its Indian temples to colonial houses – plus mountains to hike and plenty of brilliant water sports.
Where to stay?
Luxury on the island is surprisingly affordable. Located on the west coast of Mauritius, Veranda Tamarin has a chilled, boho vibe, so ditch your shoes! From the boathouse, go kayaking or book a surf lesson and try to catch a wave. If you stay in a Privilege Room, enjoy the rooftop bar with infinity pool – the perfect place to watch the sun set over the nearby mountains. To end the evening, head to the Crazy Fish Bar and order a rum cocktail while you watch one of the many live acts that perform most nights.
If you’re after somewhere a little livelier, head to Veranda Grand Baie Hotel & Spa, which is nestled in one of the island’s most beautiful bays. With the Seven Colours Wellness Spa, two restaurants serving local specialities, and a sea-view bar reputed for its flavoured rums – try the chilli one, but be warned, it has a real kick! – it’s a hotel that has plenty of treats on offer. There are also interconnected rooms and a kids’ club, so it’s a family-friendly getaway, too. On its doorstep are local markets where haggling is welcomed for your souvenirs, and there’s a vibrant nightlife as well – the Banana Bar is a lot of fun. Head down and try out the regional dance of sega with the locals.
Mauritius is a fusion of French, Indian, Creole and Chinese cultures, so the food on the island is fantastic and flavoursome, with a wide variety of different cuisines to sample. Of course, the seafood is excellent and forms a major part of the stews and curries on offer. We suggest trying the local fish, black marlin – it’s delicious. Roti is definitely one of the favourite street foods of Mauritians. An Indian-style flatbread, it can be found in most restaurants, too, and is a perfect side dish to a curry.
What to do?
Take a day trip to the country’s capital, Port Louis. Explore the port and try a guided street-food tour led by Taste Buddies. The walking tours stop at several sweet and savoury eateries, and the food is incredible – make sure you only eat a light breakfast beforehand! It’s also a great way to take in the architectural monuments and cultural points of interest across the city.
To experience some magnificent views, hike with a guide to Le Morne Mountain, now a Unesco World Heritage Site, which was used as a refuge for runaway slaves in the 19th century.
For a day you won’t forget, take a catamaran excursion – we organised our trip at the Veranda Grand Baie resort. Snorkel in the Indian Ocean and visit the deserted and paradisal Bernache Island. The skippers on the boat provide plenty of rum, a brilliant BBQ, and a lot of fun and dancing.
Need to know
· Air Mauritius is the only airline to fly direct non-stop from London Heathrow to Mauritius. The airline has recently upgraded its business and economy cabins with state-of-the-art on-board entertainment, including large personal LED screens, as well as advanced mood lighting in all cabins. Direct flights from London Heathrow to Mauritius in economy class start from £629 per person for the return trip, including all taxes and charges, but look out for special fares the airline offers. For more information, go to Airmauritius.com or call 020 743 4437.
· Prices at Veranda Tamarin start at £63 per adult per night in a Comfort Room, and Veranda Grand Baie starts at £102 per person per night in a Comfort Room. Go to Veranda-resorts.com for details and to book.
· Please check Gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus for travelling advice following the outbreak of the coronavirus.