Turquoise oceans, jade peaks and pristine beaches are part of everyone’s tropical island fantasy but Mauritius adds laid-back leisure and local haunts to this postcard-perfect vision

Island holidays predominantly consist of lazing on a beach lounger while soaking up the sun. However, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius comes packaged with a healthy dose of outdoor adventure and a solid serving of local culture to balance out the ‘rest and recreation’ component of a vacation.

At just over 65 kilometres in length and 45 kilometres wide, the main island is only slightly larger than the Cape Peninsula but a profusion of volcanic peaks and sugar-sand beaches ensure endless exploration. Imagine a heady blend of France, India and Africa, with a backing track of hooters, reggae music and cockerels crowing. The aroma of seafood, curries and Thai dishes blend with suntan lotion and sea air, creating an unmistakeable tropical island scent.


© Jacques Marais
A steep trail up a peak known as ‘Little Tower’ affords hikers superb views across the south of the main island with the Black River flowing from rugged ranges down towards the surf breaking at Tamarin Bay. Photo: © Jacques Marais

© Jacques Marais
A hammock swaying gently between two palm trees near Sugar Beach captures the laid-back rhythms of this Indian Ocean paradise. Photo: © Jacques Marais
© Jacques Marais
The streets of Flic-en-Flac brin with dozens of cafes and restaurants. Pakbo offers diners excellent Lavazza coffee, fresh seafood and, of course, ice-cold Phoenix Lager. Photo: © Jacques Marais
© Jacques Marais
Island architecture seems to be of no discernable style but rather manifests as a pot-pourri of colonial French with Indian overtones. The Mauritian clothing trade is booming so expect to find bright dresses and sarongs billowing in the wind outside street-level kiosks. Photo: © Jacques Marais
© Jacques Marais
One of the most surprising discoveries is an underwater ‘sculpture garden’ near Flic-en-Flac. Ganesh, Hanuman, Buddha and several other Hindu deities await swimmers as they dip into the Big Blue. Photo: © Jacques Marais

A version of this article originally appeared in Edition 3-2018 of Intrepid Explorer.