Mauritius north is beach country, home to many of the island’s… no, scrap that… many of the world’s most beautiful beaches. If it’s sun, sea and powdery white sand you’re after, you’ve come to exactly the right slice of paradise-on-earth.
But don’t let all the gorgeous beaches distract you so much that you miss out on everything else. North Mauritius is a treasure trove for explorer-wanderers. It’s heaven for historians. It’s adrenalin-central for adventure seekers. And, it beckons to culture tourists who want to meet and get to know the people who call this island paradise home.
Take your pick from Grande Bay (with its fantastic galleries, shops, hotels, restaurants and nightlife situated alongside the beckoning emerald-green island waters); Péreybère (which has the best beach on the island); Cap Malheureux, (known for its idyllic fishing village with spectacular views); Choisy (one of the longest beaches in Mauritius); Pereybere (the locals’ favourite beach); and Troux Aux Biches (which offers a golf course and spectacular ocean views). Pack your swimsuit, your sunhat, and bring your most relaxed, languid attitude. You’ll need them.
Take an afternoon to visit L’Aventure du Sucre, an informative and interactive facility that gets you up close and personal with the fascinating story of the sugar and rum industries. They are both central to Mauritius’ history and continue to play a vital role in the modern Mauritian economy. Neither sugar nor rum can be separated from their historic origins in slavery. You’ll learn about this at L’Aventure du Sucre too: where the slaves came from; how sugar- and rum-slaves lived; their emancipation; and how their descendants went on to build one of the most prosperous, successful economies in the world today.
Garden of delights
No holiday to the north of Mauritius is complete without a visit to the Pamplemousses botanic garden. It’s lush, luxuriant and a million shades of brilliant green. Wonder at the water features with giant Victoria Amazonia water lilies; the famous Baobabs; dozens of medicinal plants; a large spice garden; and no fewer than 85 different varieties of palm tree. Snap a selfie with one or 10 of the giant tortoises that roam the grounds. Sit in the shade of a leafy tree and enjoy a glass of vanilla iced tea. Kick off your shoes and feel the cool lawn under your feet. Promise yourself to come back one day. One day really soon.
Push the limits
North Mauritius abounds with offerings to keep even the most demanding adrenalin junkie satisfied. Test your mettle with a spot of kite surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, deep-sea angling, yachting, hiking, trail cycling, scuba diving, snorkelling and running one of the fantastic beach/mountain/forest routes that north Mauritius offers. And when you’re done, dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean and emerge refreshed. It’s the perfect way to end a high-energy day.
There’s no shortage of malls, stores and boutiques to indulge your every shopping desire. Grand Bay is shopping central in north Mauritius, but there are plenty of other locations to choose from, each as delightful as the other. They include Main Bazaar (for local handcrafts and other Mauritian products); Goodlands (Indian clothing, textiles and soft furnishings); Arsenal (where cashmere, artisanal products, bespoke lighting and big name fashion labels can be found); and Pamplemousses (for the ideal gifts of handcrafts, paintings, jewellery and a wide variety of maritime memorabilia). Go. Indulge in some retail therapy.
The chapel in Cap Malheureux is famous not only for its bright red roof. It’s also the spot where the British first landed when they invaded Mauritius back in 1810 taking the island from the French. Today, it’s a tranquil and charming fishing village that welcomes visitors who come to explore its many delights. These include stunning views of Cape Misfortune (perilous to sailors… the area is infamous for the number of ships that have gone aground after having struck its jagged rocks); meticulous and beautiful carpentry work and, of course, the famous cherry-red roofed chapel.
Take a d(r)ive
Gunner’s Coin (or Coin de Mire) is an ancient volcanic cone about eight kilometres from the most northern tip of Mauritius. Mauritians jealously guard the area to preserve its untouched natural beauty. Access is limited… you will need to apply for a permit to visit. But once there, you’ll be glad you did, as underwater life around the islet is sublime. Go on one of the scuba or fishing packages offered to experience this underwater wonderland yourself.
Chateau de Labourdonnais perfectly befits the island’s past, and adds immeasurable elegance and beauty to its many modern delights. The Chateau is built from teak in the neoclassical Italian style. It stands regally in the heart of a fertile orchard and is graced by a garden of endemic and exotic plants and trees. These include a century-old mango tree, spice trees, pomme jacot and Kythira plum trees, papaya trees, guava trees and passion fruit vines. The Chateau offers fine dining and produce for sale, so you can savour its bounty yourself. It’s a feast for every single one of the senses!
Myths and legends
Lose yourself in the myths and legends of northern Mauritius. Like the myth of Paul and Virginie, inspired by the sinking of the Saint Géran. Legend has it that Paul awaited the return of his beloved Virginie. But, Virginie was a passenger on the ill-fated Saint Géran, and as the ship sank, Paul jumped into the water to save her. His efforts were in vain, and she was lost in the shipwreck. Not able to contain his grief, Paul died of heartbreak a few days later. It’s a tragic tale, but a romantic and passionate one, too. It’s one of the reasons that the north of this island draws lovers, honeymooners and wedding parties in their hundreds to come and celebrate their abiding love.
The Pointe aux Biches Aquarium is home to more than 200 Mauritian marine species, invertebrates, corals and sponges, including a reservoir of large predator-like sharks. Uniquely, it has a pool where children can interact with some of the ocean species that are found in Mauritian waters. Don’t worry mom! It’s perfectly safe.