Exploring the deep, deep blues of Mauritius

  • Asia & Oceania
  • Tuesday, 27 Mar 2018

The reefs surrounding Mauritius are home to countless fish, perfect for exploring in a snorkel. Photo: Bamba/Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority/dpa

Mauritius is a journey into the blue, and not just any kind of blue. Here, it’s the azure-blue in the morning and the deep, deep blue of the overhead sky at noon. Afternoons, some white clouds might move in to accentuate the blue even more. And then there’s the surrounding Indian Ocean – an infinity of blue.

A journey into the blue will cost a bit. Mauritius is expensive, but there are ways to save on costs. In many places one can stay in cosy inns and one can also book an apartment while also organising one’s own sightseeing excursions.

The eastern part of Mauritius is dominated by huge hotel complexes. In Grand Baie in the north, one can book the most affordable and authentic lodgings. The area is favoured by locals because of its bars and clubs. Those who prefer something quieter might settle in at an inn on the edge of town.

Its hard to miss when you pass through Grand Baie in the islands north: the Tamil temple tower. Photo: dpa/Simone A. Mayer

Down on the waterfront is where the action is. Men standing on the harbour walls and angling. Sentimental love songs playing on the radio. Old folks sitting around on white plastic chairs, chatting. Children racing around on their bicycles.

The small path, here and there in need of repairs, goes on for kilometres. The most fun is in stopping at one of the small supermarkets along the way and buying some refreshments – maybe a beer and some banana chips with chilli – and just sitting down at some lively corner with the locals. Here, like all throughout the island, visitors are greeted in a friendly manner, but not intrusively.

“We live from tourism. That’s a simple fact, but we don’t force ourselves on people,” says travel guide Sameer Takun.

From Grand Baie, catamaran tours start out every morning, with up to 10 boats in a column heading to the open seas. Lunch, drinks, and party fun are included as the catamarans sail past the rocky island Gunners Coin and then head to the uninhabited islands of Ile Plate and Ile Gabriel where guests take a break for swimming.

Snorkelling enthusiasts who want to inspect the white coral reefs up close will head to Blue Bay. “It’s the most beautiful public beach on the island,” says Takun. “It does get crowded on weekends because the locals also go there. But often, they will be making music and having a lot of fun.”

The reefs surrounding Mauritius are home to countless fish, perfect for exploring in a snorkel. Photo: Bamba/Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority/dpa

Another way to see the white coral is to hire a glass-bottom boat to go gliding across the bay.

A further major attraction is the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden in the north – the oldest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. One should plan for half a day. A side excursion to the grounds of the giant tortoises in the middle of the park is a must.

Not far from the botanical garden is Aventure du Sucre (sugar adventure), an entertaining museum dedicated to the history of the settlement of the island and its native product, sugar cane. There’s a reward awaiting as well – tasting samples of sugar and rum.

Mauritius is one of those paradise islands famous above all for its dream beaches. But it also has green mountains to offer. To climb the island’s trademark peak, the 556m-high Berg Le Mourne Brabant, one is required to have a guide.

The roughly two hours of exertion in the humid heat however is rewarding. On the way to the peak topped by a cross, the beauty of the island is overwhelming. The view is one of deep-green slopes, white beaches and turquoise-coloured bays.

Here, one can understand Mark Twain, who is supposed to have said this about the island: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” – dpa

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