Experience Mauritius – An Island Paradise

Experience Mauritius – An Island Paradise

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Wave goodbye to your winter coats, and say hello to a holiday in sunny Mauritius. Amid swaying palms and exotic sea-creatures, Mauritius oozed romance and fun on our ‘vacay’. We swapped winter’s gloomy overcast clouds for the island’s turquoise waters, tropical breeze, charming hospitality and vibrant Creole culture including Sega music on the beach. Catering to every mood and personality, Mauritius certainly had the cure to all our winter blues; from a romantic catamaran cruise and heavenly massages at the spa to adventure with water sports and keen golfing.

 

Where to Stay

St. Regis Mauritius Resort {South East}

St. Regis beckons with an idyllic white-sand private beach and the iconic Le Morne Brabant Mountain at its backdrop. With their signature swimming pool and rows of loungers to enjoy Pinacoladas, the resort is picture perfect and ideal for honeymooners.

As soon as you enter you are greeted with spacious rooms lavishly decorated in the colonial style. A wonderful addition is your own personal room butler. Let all your worries fade with large soft beds and long soaks in the luxurious bath tub. Quench your thirst for adventure with their water-sports club that offers wind surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and kite surfing.

Five restaurants serve everything from sushi to Indian food to bar snacks. Personal tip: bypass the crowds with a private dinner at the Chef’s Table.

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Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa {East}

True to its name, Shangri-La offers privacy and personalisation for that refined island luxury experience. Beach boys in white uniforms strut up and down the beach delivering daiquiris as you lounge under the warm sun by the swimming pool nestled in a palm grove.

Their three-bedroom private villas located on the beach are among the island’s best. Accessible via a wooden bridge, they are most famous for the egg-shaped baths surrounded by shimmering pink tiles, and a secluded beach!

Just off the resort’s pristine shore are two paradisiacal islands. Ilot Mangénie is open exclusively to Shangri-La guests and features a trendy beach club with on-island butlers. Or head over to Ile aux Cerfs for a round of golf on their spectacular 18-hole championship golf course.

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Four Seasons Resort at Anahita

The resort is strategically located facing a lagoon, to give that perfect secluded feeling; thus making it the ideal spot on the island to spend all day coasting across the water in your own sailing boat.

The villas beckon to you with their own private plunge pool. Private terraces ensconced in rich foliage and outdoor showers serve to add that perfect decadent touch. A relaxing spa and yoga pavilion complete with saunas, steam rooms, and Vichy showers sits on a dense mangrove islet.

Dinner here circumnavigates the Indian Ocean. Expect spicy Mauritian rougail, punchy Pad Thai and authentically flavourful curries.

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Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort {South}

Wake up every morning to a breath-taking magical sunrise at Le Telfair. Dive into the Indian Ocean that laps almost at the feet of your suite for a swim with the coral and rainbow-hued fish. When you return, sink in to a bubble bath prepared just for you lightly scented with rose petals.

Best known for its golf course, remember to pack your clubs or rent them on site. Spend leisurely days with unlimited free green fees, and PGA pros to gain valuable insights from. Then, take a break from the green and explore a different type of greenery with the Frédérica Nature Reserve that abuts the resort.

Also on offer is a choice of 12 restaurants across the Heritage Resorts. Pamper your significant other with an unforgettably elegant and romantic dinner.

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LUX Grand Gaube {North}

The LUX Grand Gaube is the ideal base for discovering Mauritius and where we enjoyed the most amazing vacation. Sheltered from the winds and blessed with three white bays, the resort faces a crystalline lagoon and beguiling islets waiting just off the coast.

The reef was our playground with reef diving, wreck diving and big fish encounters almost every day. Each day brought exciting experiences such as scuba diving and day trips out on the catamaran to secluded islands. The resort also arranged a fishing trip for us. Back on land, the chef transformed our catch into a delectable and inventive Mauritian dish. Sheltered beneath the graceful boughs of one of Mauritius’ oldest trees, we were treated to tantalising Creole feasts. The next evening at sunset, we tasted elegant wines on a floating platform set out at sea.

Could this vacation get even better? Absolutely! A huge screen featured a romantic movie under the stars. As we lounged under the huge Banyan Tree with the place all lit up with fairy lights, I couldn’t ask for a more romantic getaway.

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Where to Shop

Grand Baie

Steep into a real bazaar atmosphere for an authentic island experience The Bazaar hosts a broad range of touristy Mauritian and Malagasy crafts. This is the best place for souvenirs, fabrics and handicrafts; beautiful stone, silver and gold jewellery.

The Store Plaza and Sunset Boulevard hold many treasures that make wonderful gifts for family and friends. If you find yourself under-prepared for a surprise romantic evening or a day of sailing, this is the place to buy the best in evening dresses and beach fashion.

 

Port-Louis Shopping

The main market hosts exotic fish and vegetables, baskets, wooden and traditional handicraft products, along with local jewellery and souvenirs.

On our must-visit list are also featured ‘Le Caudan Waterfront’ and the Bagatelle Mall. These shopping complexes sporting international boutiques had me purchasing another suitcase just to fit in all the fine couture.

The Craft Market in Port-Louis is less hassle than the Central Market. We found better-quality souvenirs. I took home beautiful island artworks and some essential oils to keep my home smelling of the beach.

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Phoenix Shopping

Phoenix is home to the famous Mauritius Glass Gallery. This is where skilled craftsmen create unique handmade pieces of art made of glass. We had a glass model made from an imprint of our hands in sand. Rows of beautiful lampshades, stained-glass pictures, and assorted vases and drinking vessels were almost everywhere.

 

Private Shopping Tour

As there is so much to see {and buy} in Mauritius, I recommend booking a private shopping tour. Visit the Glass gallery, the city of Poncini Jewellery, Port Louis, the historic Marine Boat factory and Grand Bay centre. From textiles to jewellery to glass handcrafts and even model boats, you will come home with very special and unique souvenirs.

 

Must Do

On water, underwater, on land and in the air:

Cruise

A beautiful 45-foot catamaran awaited us at Pointe Jerome. We sailed luxuriously through the crystal clear waters and enjoyed breathtaking vistas. The cruise stopped at Mauritius’ largest lagoon where we leisurely snorkelled, swimming amongst delicate coral and brightly coloured tropical fish of every species. We were then whisked off to the pure white beaches that the island is famed for to feast on a delicious barbecue lunch under the swaying casuarinas and palms. Throughout the cruise, the crew kept us engaged and enthralled with local tales, jokes and even treated us to local Mauritian Sega music. Whether for a birthday celebration, honeymoon or wedding anniversary, Mauritius is the ideal romantic destination.

 

Underwater Activities

Sea Walk: Time stops, worries fade away. Even non-divers can enjoy the beautiful fauna, corals, and a wide variety of fish, all in their natural habitat. With a DVD filled with professional photos and videos, you can’t step into our home without being whisked away “under the sea”.

Underwater Scooter: Seated comfortably, 2 to a scooter, the broad-transparent glass dome presented a panoramic view of the marine life of the Indian Ocean. Not even Animal Planet or National Geographic can rival the scenic experience.

Submarine Dive: This was one of the highlights of our trip. We dove underwater to 35 meters depth. The submarine visited a shipwreck and explored the rich coral reefs of Mauritius. It was like being on an underwater safari trip. The crowning glory was an organised lunch in the sub as rare species of ocean life swam lazily around us.

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Hiking

Le Morne Brabant is one of the most preserved and wildest mountains of the island. It houses a large variety of endemic and narrow-endemic species, including the rare Trochetia Boutonania, the exquisite national flower. A hike of around three to four hours, this World Heritage Site was the stage of breathtaking views of the lagoons and the neighbouring mountain range. We started early in the morning to arrive at the peak just as the noon sun reached its zenith. The view from the top is not lonely, as they say, but in this case, magnificent!

 

Parasailing

Parasailing offers the unmatched thrill of flying with the wind in your hair and the ocean laid out below. Taking off slowly by degrees from the launch pod, I was soon gliding over vast blue waters, clear lagoons and white beaches. As the sail was gently tugged along by the boat, I was lowered down for a splashing dip in the sea, before rising again as graceful as a bird. I don’t think I ever really came down again from that experience. Traveller tip: Take off from Grand Bay, they have the longest flight time.

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Where to Eat

Le Château de Bel Ombre

Cuisine: Fusion food. Every Saturday is Mauritian night for those scrumptious authentic island dishes.

Ambience: Beautifully restored colonial mansion. Opt for a table on the terrace on a clear starry night.

Recommendation: The wild boar terrine with mango and vanilla chutney. Le Chateau embodies the taste of the unspoiled southwest, which also happens to be the source of 90 per cent of the ingredients.

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Chez Tino

Cuisine: Mauritian seafood

Ambience: Elegant terrace which overlooks the coast

Recommendation: Dine on the lobster and langoustine, paired with a decadent wine.

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Le Saint Geran One&Only Hotel

Cuisine: French, Creole

Ambience: Beachfront tropical gardens. Tip —be there before sunset

Recommendation: Smoked Marlin and Octopus Carpaccio, oysters and sea urchins.

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La Table du Chateau

Cuisine: French, Cajun & Creole

Ambience: Great views of the Château in the grounds of a historic colonial house and next to a rum distillery.

Recommendation: Foie gras and the coconut salad with roasted giant prawns.

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Luxury travellers will find that Mauritius answers every dream for a tropical holiday and will likely prove to be an unforgettable experience. One of the big highlights of our trip had to be the sunsets. The light starts to fade around 5:30 PM and it’s well worth heading to the beach, cocktail in hand, to watch the stunning sunsets. It really is a magical moment. Another delight beyond all delights, was exploring the beautiful undersea world in the turquoise marvellousness of Mauritius. I loved swimming with the dolphins, scuba-diving and snorkelling, enough to fill my heart and soul with joy. Of course, I must specially mention the exquisite Lobster and Mauritian curries. They have now become my new standard to measure all seafood dishes against.

As Mark Twain wrote: “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius”.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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