The International Writers Magazine: The Indian Ocean Vacation
After waving goodbye to chilly London, and realising that in around twelve hours later I would be touching down in 27 degree Mauritius, I couldn’t help but smile in my seat.
The beautiful country, situated in the Indian Ocean between Reunion and Rodrigues islands, has a reputation for being the typical postcard paradise, what with its sun, sea and sand which helps draw in thousands of European tourists each year. And from the moment I stepped out into the airport, I realised that it was so much more.
||It’s about a one and a half hour's journey through palm tree-lined roads and sugar-cane fields to get to my hotel, La Cocateraie, situated between the beautiful beaches of Mont Choisy and Trou-aux-Biches, although the way is beset with hotels and lodgings. I was able to view the real side of Mauritius; from its 140km of white sand beaches, to the quaint, vibrant villages full of cheerful locals, to the lush, green hills that somewhat resemble the good old British countryside.
There are several different hotels in every village, each one offering a different facet of Mauritius, and because the exchange rate between the sterling and the Mauritian rupee is so fantastic, everything’s really cheap and you’re guaranteed fantastic value on your purchases.
Upon my arrival at the hotel, a smiling woman greeted me at the entrance; the manager, I later discovered. Thankfully she spoke English, just like the most of the country. The rooms were amazing, with an upper and lower floor, fully equipped bathroom and kitchen, and a balcony looking down onto the communal pool. The majority of tourists that arrive in Mauritius are from Europe, but it’s recommended to come during off-peak season, from February to April, where you can have the full opportunity to mingle with the culture and see Mauritius for yourself.
Travelling around the country couldn’t be easier, buses operate in every village and the taxi service is second to none. Or, if you’re more of an active person, bikes are pretty simple to get too, so you can just pop in, hire one for the day and ride your way around the country. Tourists have a broad range of activities to try here, and water sports are a fantastic way to experience the wonderful beaches on offer. Swimming, surfing, fishing, diving and canoeing can all be done at your nearest beach, and boat rides to different paradise islands operate roughly every hour.
|There’s so much to see, also, because Mauritius harbours such a diverse background that has made it the amazing place it is today. Make sure you head to Port Louis, the capital and main port in Mauritius. It lies in the centre of some jaw-dropingly fantastic mountains, and holds a fascinating cross-section of Mauritian life.
For presents and souvenirs, visit the renowned lively market, full of wonderful treasures and trinkets.Also, the Black River Gorges National Park is a must see. This 6,574 hectare park protects much of the remaining native forests and provides opportunities for visitors to enjoy magnificent natural scenery and see unique plants and wildlife. From the peak, visitors can walk down through the gorges to the Black River, which is equally breath-taking. There is also easy access to viewpoints at Alexandra Falls, a similarly stunning national landmark.
The main religion in Mauritius is Hindu, so there are temples everywhere; a tourist favourite is the Grand Bassin Hindu Temple, where the blessings are sought to gain wealth and well-being. It is a phenomenal lake, with the Gods placed elegantly around it so people can place their blessings. The colours and the atmosphere are both vibrant and relaxing and it really is the best way to see the cultural side of the country.
Anywhere you stay, there is so much to do and see, and the generous and hospitable people of Mauritius, who pride themselves on their warmth, are only too happy to show you around their country.
Eating in Mauritius is a real adventure also, what with its assorted varieties of local cuisine. It is a mixture of Creole, Chinese, European, African and Indian, and there is such a choice that nobody will be left disappointed. Restaurants and cafes fill the roads in every village, so you’ll never be left hungry. Also, because Mauritius was once under British rule, afternoon tea is a massive tradition for the locals.
Mauritius really is a perfect mixture of scenic views, astonishing beaches, friendly locals and of course, the most beautiful weather imaginable. You may arrive there with some preconceptions, but rest assured, they will alter the moment you step off the plane. You can try everything you’ve ever wished to do, and you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time.
© Charlotte Chorley September 2010
charlottechorley at hotmail.co.uk
*Travel Advice from UK Government: The cyclone season in Mauritius normally runs from November to May. You should monitor weather updates from the Mauritius Meteorological Services or the Severe Weather Information Centre. Note: Drug trafficking carries severe penalties.
Book your holiday at La Cocaterie here
or try the Maldives for a very similar experience