I didn’t really know anything about Mauritius before our trip. Originally we had planned to visit the Maldives, but a good friend recommended Mauritius so we actually planned to do both. However, as we were approaching the dates we wanted, flights to the Maldives and lodging were too expensive for our budget. So we cut the Maldives out and stuck with Mauritius. As I mentioned in the last post, we were ready for some relaxing beach time after “roughing it” on our safari.
The Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. Formerly a Dutch colony (1638–1710) and a French colony (1715–1810), Mauritius became a British colonial possession in 1810 and remained so until 1968, the year in which it attained independence. The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual. The island's government is closely modeled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island is widely known as the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement. Mauritius is the only country in Africa where Hinduism is the largest religion.
Our flight from Johannesburg was at 9 AM and it was over 4 hours to Mauritius with British Airlines. With the time change we arrived in Mauritius around 3:10 PM and had to go through immigration and health control. We were actually pretty nervous about going through health control. Mauritius takes their quarantine and health control seriously and Diem was still recovering from a heat rash she got on the safari. We had to mark on the health control disclosure that she had a rash and we were worried they would make her go through some kind of inspection or quarantine. We made it through immigration and when we got to health control we had a little issue with our Airbnb contact information. They wouldn’t let us through without the phone number of the Airbnb host. We didn’t have internet so we couldn’t look it up. Diem eventually found the email with the contact issue and they were so relieved and fed up with us that they just waved us through quarantine without checking our health card (whew!).
Out in the arrivals area, a man was waiting for us holding a sign with our names. He was with our rental company, OLA Mauritius, and he walked us right to our car. It was really nice and convenient not having go to a counter and fill out paperwork. We drove about an hour to the other side of the island in Black River/Tamarin area on the western coast. After we checked in and then put our bags away, we walked down the street for dinner at Casa Pizza. We ordered lasagna, seafood pasta, and garlic bread. The garlic bread was insanely good, more like a mini garlic pizza. One of the people on our Cape Town Pennisula tour was a French lady who lived in Mauritius for 14 years. She said Mauritius was “dirt cheap” and while it wasn’t really expensive, it wasn’t cheap either. After dinner we went back to our room and looked up information for the next day.
We slept in the next day and decided we were going to make it a beach day. Mauritius has a number of beautiful beach and we wanted to scope out a few different ones. For our first stop, we walked to the Tamarin beach a block away from our Airbnb. The water was beautifully clear and was a really nice temperature. Tamarin beach isn’t all that big but there were some surf and paddleboard shops and a couple of people were out in the ocean. We chilled out, next we drove to have lunch at Pakbo near Flic en Flac beach. Luckily we found parking because the streets were crazy packed with cars. We ordered fried noodles with beef, crab soup, and beef Mauritian style. The food was very delicious and affordable.
Afterwards, we stopped by a grocery store to get some beers before we walked over to Flic en Flac beach. The beach is one of the more popular beaches on the island and was extremely crowded with locals. We come to find out is that Sunday is the locals’ day off so they all head to the beach. The beach was lined with palm trees so we found a shaded spot and sat down to take in the sights. Unfortunately, the locals don’t take care of their beaches. People threw their trash everywhere and the beach was pretty dirty. It reminded me of the below pictures of the Maldives I saw on a blog post of Travel Expectations vs. Reality. We didn’t stay long because it started to rain and the beach wasn’t that enjoyable in the first place.
We made our way north towards Mont Choisy Beach past Port Louis, the capital. At the beach, we found a perfect beach tree on the sand and Diem made herself comfortable. We had a few beers and spent some time lying in the water. It was so nice. The water was super clear and the temperature was just right. We also had a nice little spot to ourselves. After a couple of hours, we drove back to our Airbnb and freshened up for dinner. We decided to drive back to Flick en Flac to go to an Indian restaurant called Zud Express for dinner. We ordered fish curry and chicken masala curry with rice and garlic naan. I really liked it but Diem wasn’t too impressed, still haven’t converted her over to Indian food. We were heading to India soon so I guess she'll have to get used to it then.
The next day we made our way towards Trou d'Eau Douce on the eastern side of the island. We had lunch at Gilda Restaurant that had a terrace with a beautiful view. You pay for the view though because the food itself was just ok. We ordered ceviche, creole sausage, and Mauritian style beef. After lunch we drove to the nearby pier to check out ferry prices for Ile Aux Cerfs island. Many companies quoted us 500 MUR (~$35) but it was already past 1 PM and the last ferry back was 4 PM so we weren't interested in going anymore. We then drove down the coast line on the B28 to find the GRSE waterfall but we found out it wasn't accessible by land. After some discussion, we decided against taking a ferry to see the water fall and continued down the coast towards Blue Bay. We found the small beach and chilled there for a while with some beers we packed that morning. After, we headed back toward Tamarin and got take away from Pakbo.
The following day we slept in and started with lunch at Le Kiosk nearby. On Mauritius, a lot of places are closed on Tuesdays so our options were limited. After lunch we drove to the Seven Colored Earth park. It was 200 MUR to enter the park. The Seven Colored Earth attraction is a relatively small area of sand dunes comprising sand of seven distinct colors (approximately red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). The main feature of the place is that since these differently colored sands spontaneously settle in different layers, dunes acquire a surrealistic, striped coloring. Another interesting feature of Chamarel's Colored Earths is that the dunes seemingly never erode, in spite of Mauritius' torrential tropical rains. The best time to view the dunes is in the morning but they were still pretty cool in the afternoon when we saw it. The dunes aren’t the only thing in the park. We saw a cool waterfall and they had a separate area of giant tortoises. I would say the park is worth visiting. All the attractions are pretty cool but it doesn’t take that long to see all of them so it’s not an all-day affair. It was getting late though so we just headed back to the Airbnb, grabbed dinner and went to bed.
The next day we just packed up and headed to the airport for our trip to Singapore. Mauritius was just what we needed after the long safari in Africa. We had a nice relaxing time on the beaches, enjoyed the delicious food, and explored some of the natural beauty around the island. We probably should have sprung to go see the Ile Aux Cerfs island and the GRSE waterfall, but we’ve also seen a lot of islands and waterfalls on our trip so I’m not too concerned with missing them.
See the full gallery of our time in Mauritius here: Mauritius