You can explore this tropical island by hiring your own driver, renting a car or taking day tours to discover its spectacular landscapes and wildlife. Nature lovers will relish exploring the forests, waterfalls and volcanic craters of Black River Gorges National Park and the colourful sands of Chamarel. The panoramic views from Trou aux Cerfs and the sacred Hindu temple at Grand Bassin Lake are also not to be missed.
On the east of the island you can hike in La Vallee de Ferney forest reserve, or take a boat to Ile aux Aigrettes wildlife sanctuary where you can hope to see the rare pink pigeon, Aldabran giant tortoise and endemic sea birds.
‘Shop ‘til you drop’ in the capital of Port Louis, take a submarine ride or try an undersea walk in bustling Grand Baie, with its many pubs and nightlife. Don’t miss the chance to sample the delicious offerings of the many street food vendors here and stop off for a local flavoured rum sundowner as you watch the sun set across the Indian Ocean. Also visit Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest in the world.
Mauritius is the region’s transport hub and enables visitors to easily visit other of the Indian Ocean’s Mascarene Islands. Just a 45-minute flight away, the ruggedly beautiful French island of Réunion provides the ideal twin-centre holiday with Mauritius. There are a host of exciting outdoor activities on offer here – everything from hiking to canyoning, white-water rafting and horse riding. Reunion’s volcano, Piton de la Fournaise has been regularly active and well worth a trek to its rim.
In contrast to Mauritius, of which it is a part, the remote island of Rodrigues offers visitors a more tranquil and simple experience. Life here has changed little over the years. There are no five-star hotels and the atmosphere is laid-back with genuinely friendly residents who are always happy to chat. It’s the place to go for coastal walks and empty beaches. The island is surrounded by a coral reef and offers excellent diving and snorkelling. The day trip to the unspoilt Ile aux Cocos is popular and here you can swim and snorkel in the sandy lagoons.
Previous habitat destruction of the natural forests can make Rodrigues feel a little stark. However, work to reintroduce native flora and fauna by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and local community projects is having a positive effect.
There is also a direct flight from Mauritius to Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo. Combining lemur trekking in the rainforests of Madagascar with time on a gorgeous Mauritian beach brings together two world-class Indian Ocean experiences.