Why Mauritius is A Nature Lover’s Paradise
In his non-fiction travelogue Following the Equator, Mark Twain said, ‘you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius’. For anyone that has travelled to the island paradise off the coast of South East Africa before, the truth in Twain’s words couldn’t be clearer.
Renowned as being an idyllic island, Mauritius was once just a honeymooner’s haven; but it is slowly making a name for itself amongst nature lover’s and adventure seekers around the world. Outside of the sprawling, all-inclusive resorts that line the coast lies an island full of natural beauty just waiting to be discovered. From mountains to beaches, hiking to snorkelling, this small island nation has it all.
One of Mark Twain’s first remarks upon landing on the island was that ‘Mauritius is rugged clusters of crags and peaks, green to their summits; from their bases to the sea a green plain with just tilt enough to it to make the water drain off.’ It may be a small island, but with four different mountain ranges and a few isolated peaks, Mauritius is a paradise for hikers and those who appreciate a mountainous skyline.
Perhaps the most spectacular mountain is the island’s second highest peak, Pieter Both mountain. A 30-minute drive from the island’s capital Port Louis, the peak is just one of the many that make up the semi-circle shaped Moka Ranges. Iconic for its giant, teetering boulder on the very tip of its jagged peak, Pieter Both mountain is visible and photographable from almost every main road on the north-central route.
For the climbing enthusiasts, you can get up close and personal to the boulder on the summit by booking in to a guided 1-hour hike up the mountain. Harnesses and helmets are required to climb the steep, rocky terrain to the summit, but the spectacular 360° view of Mauritius is well worth gearing up and completing the tough climb for.
At the very south west corner of Mauritius lies the island’s infamous Le Morne Brabant mountain. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, the 556m high mountain is rumoured to have been the site from where thousands of escaped slaves leapt to their deaths in 1835. Despite its sinister history, the monolith is labelled as one of the most beautiful sites in all of Mauritius.
One of the only spots where mountain meets sea on the island, Le Morne Brabant is as unique as it is beautiful. Fringed by the most vibrant turquoise watered bays, the drive around the base of the mountain and peninsula is a visual treat from all angles.
For a different perspective of Le Morne and the surrounding bays, you can take the 6km hiking trail to the summit where you can see out over the brilliant blues of Pointe Sud Ouest and Îlot du Morne.
It is an idiom that gets thrown about loosely, but the beaches in Mauritius really are ‘picture perfect’. For a small island of just over 2000 square kilometres in size, Mauritius has an incredible number of picturesque beaches along it’s coastline.
With almost all the island protected by a coral reef ring, the majority of the beaches and bays are characterised by calm, turquoise waters. Mon Choisy, Trou-aux-Biches and Belle Mare Plage beaches take the title as some of the most swimmable and child friendly; while Blue Bay, Pointe aux Piments and Île aux Cerfs are known to have some of the best snorkeling and diving spots on the island.
As well as having some of the best snorkeling in Mauritius, the private island of Île aux Cerfs is also home to Mauritius’ whitest sand and bluest water. Just a 20-minute boat ride from Trou d’Eau Douce in the east, Île aux Cerfs is still very raw and wild with only 4 restaurants, a golf course and a small adventure park on the island.
Mauritius may be brimming with sublime calm beaches, standup paddle boarding bays and snorkeling spots, but there are a few spots along the coast that cater for more extreme watersports too. Le Morne, Bel Mare, Bel Ombre and Pointe d’Esny along the southern and eastern coasts of Mauritius, are known kitesurfing hot spots; while the reef-free Tamarin Bay and the rugged, cliffy south coast are known for their pounding waves and pumping surf.
Mauritius is sugarcane country. Introduced to the island by the Dutch back in the 1600’s, sugarcane quickly became the most farmed product on the island and it now covers around 85 percent of the arable land in the country.
Somewhat resembling corn farms, the thick, tall and lush green sugarcane plantations are rather impressive. Head inland to taking a walk through the towering cane fields, or stop by the side of the road on the way in to Flic En Flac to enjoy the perfect trifecta of views – cane fields, mountains and the turquoise waters of the nearby bays.
Published 14 August, 2018