About Mauritius beaches
With 330km (200 miles) of coastline, Mauritius’ sandy beaches (perfect for swimming) are its key attraction.
All are public, although the best have been subtly claimed by hotels. The greatest concentration (from long, shallow sweeping stretches of powder-white sand to little coves shaded by casuarina trees) are in the north, such as the silky La Cuvette, one of the island’s finest. Grand Baie offers the greatest array of water-based excursions such as to Ile aux Cerfs (Trou d’Eau Douce) is a favourite nearby island with translucent water on a sandbar and activities, from underwater walks to parasailing.
The breezy east coast is ideal for windsurfing and Le Morne is popular with kitesurfers. Blue Bay offers the island’s most stunning underwater scenery and the flat, shallow beaches of the west coast such as Flic en Flac, suit families with young children. In the wilder southwest, around Gris Gris, dramatic surf crashes against basalt cliffs and bursts through blowholes.
Beyond the beach:
Head inland to Black River Gorges National Park with the Hindu sacred lake, Grand Bassin, and a view over forest to the coast. Nearby are Chamarel coloured earths. Mahebourg, the old capital, is the most interesting city and for the active, eco-adventures such as quad biking, 4-wheel safaris and trekking can be found at Domaines or ex-sugar estates such as Valriche Nature Reserve (Bel Ombre). Catamaran excursions explore the northern islands or dolphins playing in Tamarin Bay.
Mauritius’ benign west coast beaches are safe for toddlers and an increasing number of kids’ clubs make the island family-friendly. Excursions range from Domaine Les Pailles (Pailles) with active adventure for all ages and family attractions include the Mauritius Aquarium (Pointe aux Piments), the new Dolphinarium (Belle Mare), crocodiles and tortoises at La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes (Rivière des Anguilles) and Casela Bird Park (Cascavelle). For teenagers, Ile aux Cerfs is always a hit and eco-adventure such as ziplining at Les Cerfs Volants (Saint Felix Sugar Estate).
Take a 90-minute domestic flight to Rodrigues (www.rodrigues-island.org), a sleepy, rustic ‘anti-stress’ island with secluded beaches where Creole women in straw hats spear octopus in the lagoon and fishermen still set sail in their wooden pirogues.