With over 160km-worth of beaches around it, chances are you’ll never run out of options for places to laze around in
. Unless, of course, you get weary of more of the same powdery white sands you’ve been whiling away your time on ever since your vacations started!Its beaches are this island’s key draws, the calm lagoons and coral reefs making you believe what Mark Twain once said: that ‘heaven was copied after Mauritius.’
Think about it: what if you indeed get tired of Mauritius’ picture-perfect, but boringly similar looking beaches? Worry not: there is much more to it than those palmy good looks screaming out for your attention from tourist brochures. Its street food, for one, will never disappoint you. They have Phoenix beer too!
Yes, you read it right: When you plan to trip to this island nation, don’t forget to factor in the problem of plenty syndrome. Here are 5 not-to-be-missed things that will make your trip to Mauritius memorable.
Get a taste of the street food:
Don’t worry if your food critic friends cringe at the very mention of street food, or what hygiene inspectors have to say about, well… hygiene. The fact is that Mauritian street food is among the best in the world. Nowhere else do you ever have such a unique mix of cultures: Mauritian food is influenced by Indian, African, Chinese and Creole cultures. Needless to say, it is a riot of spices, colours and flavours. Next time you are there, try the dholl puri: Mauritian wraps filled with curried yellow split peas, served with a chutney or achar. Another version is the chana puri: fritters with curried yellow split peas in the centre. Again, team it with achar and you won’t forget the taste for long. If you like things spicier, try the mazavaroo paste: made of green chillies, it is served with practically everything from curries to noodles to make your dish spicier. Or, you could also try Victorian pineapples sprinkled with sea salt and red chilli flakes.
Go Dodo hunting, or at least marvel at just its skeleton:
We say don’t keep shopping on top of your to-do list when you are in Port Louis (Por Loowee), the Mauritian capital. Soak in the cultural, or even the ancient, side of this tiny country. The Blue Penny Museum, for one is a must-visit: this is where they’ve kept the world’s first colonial stamp… and even if history is not your cup of tea, do plan a visit to the National History of Museum, you have the skeleton of the ancient dodo there! If adventure is what gets you going, plan an afternoon at the Domaine de L’Etoile: This is a sugar estate turned eco playground where you get to do the best of quad biking trips, horse riding and mountain bike circuits on the slopes of Bamboo mountain.
Walk through a sugarcane field or go to a tea plantation:
If you can help it, tell your driver to take you to one that is the farthest from the city. Much of the mystique of the countryside is because of the stunning backdrops these sugarcane fields provide. A word of caution: Just don’t get lost in the narrow passageways of the sugarcane fields! If you can, also plan a visit to the L’Aventure Du Sucre, a sugar museum in Pamplemousses near Port Louis. Founded in 1797, the factory folded up in 1999, but much of the machinery is still intact inside. With some of the former workers around to answer specific queries, a visit to the museum could be make for a very interesting afternoon outing. You could round up the visit by tasting some of the 15 different varieties of unrefined sugar the factory used to produce, two of which were invented in Mauritius. Ah yes, while you are at it, don’t forget to treat yourself to endless glasses of sugarcane juice!
And you thought those white beaches here are out of this world. Now you should plan a visit to this little known village in south Mauritius. Chamarel is a geological surprise of sorts: It is a small area of sand dunes that have seven different distinct colours (approximately red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). That’s not all: even the drive to this village is punctuated by a number of waterfalls and gorges. Yes, we heard you, more water? Believe us, you will be mesmerized by the rugged panoramas of the mountainous areas of this small island nation.
And then they have Mauritian rum:
Your visit to Mauritius will be incomplete if you don’t taste (read relish) the many varieties of rum available here. Mauritius is a veritable rum paradise. With its expansive sugarcane fields, at some places you’ll see rum being produced on the site. Just don’t hold back: You must taste agricole rum (one made in the proper way, from sugar cane juice instead of molasses) at St Aubin, Chateau Labourdonnai and Rhumerie de Chamarel. You could do a short, amateur rum tasting round at each of three places. All the distilleries produce rum infused with various flavours, such as vanilla, coffee, spices and even citrus fruit. If you want, your glass could be sweetened with sugar to make it more palatable if you are not really a rum person.