Destination guide: Mauritius

The beautiful Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is justifiably a very popular choice with honeymooners for its picture-postcard beaches, world-class luxury hotels, and excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities. Although it’s undeniably a great option if you want to do little more than lie on the beach for two weeks, it’s also worth considering if you want a beach honeymoon that offers a little bit more – the lush interior is well worth exploring, there’s some interesting small towns, and the food is great, influenced by the island’s diverse population.

Where to stay

The island is easy enough to explore by car on a day trip, so you’ll probably want to stay in just one resort while in Mauritius. If you want the choice of being able to eat beyond your resort, then consider staying close to Grand Baie where there’s a good choice of restaurants. You will find that many tour operators can offer better prices than you could get booking directly with the hotel (especially the more expensive ones), so bear in mind that many of the prices quoted below fall significantly if you book with an agent; companies worth trying include Virgin Holidays, Kuoni Travel, Rainbow Tours and cazenove+loyd.

Beach-front room at Long Beach

Though Long Beach doesn’t open until 2011, it looks like it’s going to be great – I love the contemporary look of the resort buildings, combined with the light and airy rooms, the best of which, of course, open directly onto the beach; from £114.

Ocean Beauty is an lovely, intimate boutique hotel in the north of the island, and makes a great choice if you don’t fancy the idea of a big resort; from £107.

Situated right on lovely Belle Mare beach on the east coast, Le Palmeraie has a Moorish-inspired design and all rooms have a private balcony; from £105.

It’s no surprise that One&Only Le Saint Géran remains one of the island’s most legendary hotels; only suites are on offer here, all of which benefit from the luxury of private butler service; from £638.

Though set over large grounds, Constance Le Prince Maurice retains an intimate feel. Accommodation is in tropical-style thatched-roof suites and villas, a number of which are scenically perched on stilts above a natural fish reserve; from £340.

What to do

Obviously, one of the highlights of visiting Mauritius is lounging on a idyllic palm fringed beach. And you really are spoilt for choice here, from absolutely beautiful 10km-long Belle Mare and nearby Palmar, to relaxed Pereybère and the stunning peninsular of Le Morne.

The beautiful coastline near Grand Baie

Get up close to the fascinating sea life, whether through diving, snorkelling, an under-sea walk or in a mini submarine.

Though fairly touristy, the town of Grand Baie still has a great deal of charm about it, with plenty of boutiques to browse and good restaurants to choose from; it makes a good base from which to explore the rest of the island, plus the nearby beaches are great for waterskiing, sailing and windsurfing.

The capital, Port Louis, is worth spending a day in – Chinatown is worth a wander, and there’s lots of interesting old colonial buildings.

In northern Mauritius, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit, being home to both local and foreign flora, and are just a very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Visit the Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth and the lovely nearby waterfalls.

Hiking through the interior

It’s well worth dragging yourself away from the sea and hiring a car to explore the interior. At Black River Gorges National Park you’ll find some staggeringly good views, excellent hiking, and gorgeous countryside.

The food is definitely a highlight of a visit to Mauritius, reflecting its position between Africa and Asia, its colonial history, and its diverse population of African, Chinese and Indian communities.

Mauritius as part of a wider trip

The island is great as a destination in its own right, but it’s also well-positioned if you fancy a twin centre honeymoon.

Dubai – flying to Mauritius on Emirates provides the ideal opportunity to spend a few days in Dubai, whether you want to indulge in a bit of shopping, soak up the sun on the beach, or head into the desert.

South Africa – spend a week or two exploring this amazing country, from beautiful Cape Town and the excellent food and drink of the nearby Winelands, to game watching on a safari in Kruger Park.

Kenya – spot the Big Five and watch the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara, before heading off for some beachside relaxation.

Seychelles – island-hop your way around these stunning islands, searching out tucked away beaches and really getting away from it all.

When to go

With a subtropical climate, Mauritius can be a great destination throughout the year. Summer here is generally from November until April, when you can expect hot, humid days (though made bearable by the sea breezes), with heavy rainfall and strong winds between January and March. If you’re coming to dive, the best time is between December and March. Though their winter is cooler, temperatures still hover around a very pleasant 24ºC – I visited in August and we had lots of beautiful, clear days in which it was warm enough to sunbathe, and it was only at night that temperatures began to drop a little – so you’ll just need to pack a jacket for the evenings.

Photos courtesy of One&Only Le Saint Géran; Long Beach; Selene Weijenberg; Lionel

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