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Mauritius: More than just beaches

7 mins. read

Published in the Sunday Gujarat Samachar on 14 April, 2024

A few years ago, I finally had the chance to visit the island of Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, famed for its breathtaking beaches, lagoons, reefs and much much more. The moment you land there, you instantly realise that there is so much more to this island nation that just its beaches.

And perhaps nothing is more emblematic of the uniqueness of Mauritius than ‘the dodo’. The story of the dodo bird is one of the most famous tales of extinction in the world, deeply intertwined with the ecological and cultural history of Mauritius. The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird that lived only on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It stood about a meter tall and weighed approximately 10-18 kg (22-40 lbs), with a distinctive beak and a plump appearance. The bird became extinct in the late 17th century, less than 100 years after the arrival of humans on the island. Today, the dodo is deeply ingrained in Mauritius's national identity. It appears on the national coat of arms, and its image is found throughout the island. With this background, today let’s find out what makes Mauritius so much fun for each and every age group.

To start off, I wanted to first tell you a story that a Veena World tour manager once narrated to me: How did the name Mauritius come to be? The island was first known to Arabs and Malays as Dina Arobi and Dina Margabin, respectively, but it was the Portuguese who first visited in the 16th century, naming it Cirne. However, it was the Dutch who later colonized the island, naming it Mauritius in honour of Prince Maurice van Nassau.

If we look at it with our geographic lens, Mauritius is approximately 2,000 kilometers (about 1,200 miles) off the southeastern coast of the African continent. It lies east of the country of Madagascar and northeast of the French colony of Réunion Island. The country includes the main island of Mauritius, the smaller Rodrigues Island (about 560 kilometers east of the main island), and other outer islands and archipelagos, including the Agalega Islands and the Cargados Carajos Shoals (Saint Brandon). Its strategic location on ancient trade routes has historically made it a coveted possession among colonial powers, including the Dutch, French, and British. Today, its location contributes to its status as a major tourist destination, offering a warm tropical climate year-round, stunning beaches, and a blend of cultures.

Speaking of what you can really do in Mauritius, there is just so much. Mauritius is a treasure trove of activities and sights, catering to adventurers, nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, and those simply seeking relaxation. Here's a roundup of what you can do in this vibrant island nation:

The first thing that we did when we arrived in Mauritius is to explore its pristine beaches. From the powdery white sands of ‘Trou aux Biches’, perfect for families seeking calm and clear waters for snorkeling, to the dramatic backdrop of Le Morne Brabant mountain towering over the serene ‘Le Morne’ beach, each coastline tells its own unique story here. The island's beaches are surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters, offering an underwater world of coral reefs teeming with colourful marine life. Adventurous souls can delve into a variety of water sports, such as jet-skiing at Le Morne or paddleboarding in the calm lagoon of Blue Bay. One of the most unique things that I noticed about the beaches was the fact that the waters here are very gentle where you can just relax under the sun or can even kayak in the crystal clear waters.

But you have to remember that Mauritius isn't just about beautiful beaches; it's also a fantastic place for those who love to hike and be close to nature. Imagine walking through lush green forests, where you can see unique plants and animals that live only on this island. There are trails for everyone, from easy walks to more challenging hikes up mountains. One of the best places for nature lovers is the Black River Gorges National Park. Here, you can take peaceful walks through the woods and see stunning waterfalls.

For nature lovers, there Pamplemousses, also known as the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden. This is a beautiful and peaceful spot in Mauritius that's famous for its huge collection of tropical plants, including the famous giant water lilies. When you visit, you'll see these enormous lily pads that look like they're straight out of a fairy tale, floating gracefully on the water. The garden is like a living library of plants from around the world, with more than 650 types of plants to explore. Walking around, you'll also discover spices, sugar canes, and even trees planted by famous figures like Nelson Mandela.

Speaking of the waterfalls, I want you to picture this: clear, sparkling water tumbling down cliffs and rocks, surrounded by lush, green forests. Places like Tamarin Falls are magical, with seven different waterfalls you can visit, each with its own special view and pool where you can swim. Then there's Chamarel waterfall, which looks like something from a dream, where water falls down a high cliff into a deep pool. Besides the waterfalls, there are also cool spots like the "Seven Coloured Earths" – an area where the sand dunes are all different colours, from purples to reds, created by volcanic rocks cooling at different temperatures.

And finally, one more thing on my list. Going on a boat tour or hopping between islands is one of the most exciting things to do in Mauritius. Imagine spending a sunny day at Île aux Cerfs, a beautiful island where you can splash in the clear waters, try fun water sports, or relax on the soft sand. If you love animals, you'll enjoy a boat trip to watch dolphins playing in the ocean near the west coast; it's a magical experience to see them in their natural home.

All in all, Mauritius is a place where you can be as relaxed or as adventurous as you wish. Its mix of cultures, natural beauty, and the warm welcome of its people make it an unforgettable destination. Whether you're exploring its historical sites, immersing yourself in its lush landscapes, or simply soaking up the sun on its pristine beaches, Mauritius promises a rich and diverse experience.

April 13, 2024


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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