October 8, 2017

Surf, climb, fly, eat, explore… there’s more to Mauritius than the beaches

By Rebekah Kendal

Eat. Sleep. Beach. Repeat. It's easy to travel to Mauritius and never leave your incredible beach resort. After all, can life get any better than lying on the beach, cocktail in hand, without a care in the world? Yes. Yes, it can. It can get interesting, messy, and exciting…and you're not going to find that on your beach lounger.

Ready to ditch that cocktail (just for a bit)? We chatted to Mauritian locals and those who have travelled to the island often about things you absolutely have to try if you visit Mauritius.

Flying high

On the west coast of the island, with the Rempart Mountain in the background, you will find Casela – World of Adventures. This adventure park spreads out over 250 hectares and is home to a variety of animals, including white rhino and pygmy hippos. There's plenty to do, from quad biking to camel rides, but Joanne Visagie of Beachcomber SA, specialists in travel to Mauritius, recommends the zip line.

"I did zip-lining with my kids and it blew our minds! We did the full day option, which included a hike, swimming though a canyon, various zip lines and other features such as the suspended Nepalese bridge. It also included a lunch, which was a very tasty barbeque, with a fun mini zip line that landed in the river water at our lunch spot. The surroundings are absolutely beautiful and the zips include double and triple zip lines – it’s huge fun doing the double zip line through the canyon hand in hand. It delivers an adrenalin rush like no other and it leaves you with a huge feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and zest."

Surf’s up!

In the 1970s, the surfing documentary Forgotten Island of Santosha had surfers the world over itching to go to Mauritius. More specifically, to Tamarin Bay. Perhaps because of this, the island developed a bit of a reputation for hard-core localism.

However, top South African surf photographer Greg Ewing points out that this need not get in the way of a great experience. "The key to surfing in Mauritius as a travelling surfer – and not a local – is to try stay away from Tamarin Bay as much as possible,” he advises. “Some of the local surfers, known as the 'white shorts', ruin an otherwise awesome surfing destination. If you are in that area, surf across the bay at Black Rocks. If you head south to the Le Morne area, follow the simple rule of surfing from Monday to Friday at One Eyes, leaving the locals to surf on the weekend, and you will have no issues. My suggestion would be to carry on driving south all the way to Souillac – you’re bound to find many empty waves along the way."

A day at the races

Somewhat surprisingly (or not, given its colonial history) horse racing is one of the most popular sports in Mauritius. The Mauritius Turf Club is the oldest horse racing club in the southern hemisphere and the Champ de Mars Racecourse in the island’s capital, Port Louis, easily draws crowds of 30 000 visitors on race days. The horseracing season runs from the end of March to the beginning of December.

"I love attending the horse races in Mauritius as it is basically a step back in time, and it’s a very authentic experience that allows you to mingle with the locals," says KykNET’s Leef Jou Reis (Live Your Journey) presenter Gerrie Pretorius, who recently did a show on the island. "Everyone gets dressed up. It's orchestrated chaos, but a beautiful experience. The racing culture that the British left is still very much alive; it's like opening a time capsule. And you get to taste all the local food!"

Climb every mountain

While the beaches get all the glory, Mauritius has some pretty special mountains too. The mountains form a ring around the island, while the longest mountain range, Moka Range, is in Port Louis. Some of the mountains have been named after their shapes: Lion Mountain in the Grand Port range is the shape of a sitting lion, Tres Mammelles has three protruding peaks and Le Pouce Mountain is the shape of a thumb.

Mauritian local Jyotee Ramkhelawon adores the peace and quiet of the island’s mountains and waterfalls. “There are several trails across the island. One particularly interesting one that isn't too tough is hiking up to Cascade 500 Pieds near Alexandra Falls. Lion Mountain and Le Morne Mountain are also great to climb,” he recommends.

Shelley Daniels from Beachcomber SA recently hiked up Le Morne Mountain, a roughly four-hour trek, and recommends using a guide if you are not an experienced hiker.

"The views from the top are magnificent," she says. “Le Morne Mountain is a World Heritage Site and is steeped in history. It is also known as Slave Mountain because, after the abolition of slavery in Mauritius in 1835, a police expedition travelled to the mountain to free the slaves. However, the slaves misunderstood the purpose of the expedition and jumped to their death."

Eat like a local… 

You haven't really tasted Mauritius until you've tucked into some piping hot street food. 

"Dhal puri – a flour-based paratha mixed with dhal and served with either a spicy sauce or a potato curry – and boulettes – similar to dim sum – are my go-to street food whenever I get back home," says Decosse.

A good spot to find roadside street food, he adds, is at the informal food court at the Municipal Council of Quatre Bornes.

Photo © tasteofmauritius.com

Anushka Mantri-Langeveldt, who grew up in Mauritius and now lives in Cape Town, always makes a beeline to Rose Hill at Dewa for her dhal puri fix. “And gato piment (chilli bites) from the food truck in Curepipe on the main road next to the State Bank.”

“Don't forget to have pineapple, mango or Chinese guava – these are served with chilli salt, which only Mauritians can make! You find them at different vendors, who sell the fruit from a clear box on their bicycles,” she adds.

Go here with Sure Travel:

 It’s easy to use any of Beachcomber’s incredible resorts as a base to explore Mauritius, especially since Beachcomber SA is offering a special for early December travel to Mauritius. Prices for a five-night package range from R21 200 for the four-star Mauricia Beachcomber Resort & Spa to R33 430 for the five-star Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa.

Why not use Dinarobin resort as your base to explore Mauritius?
The offer is valid for travel on 2 December 2017 or 3 December 2017 and includes: return airfares ex Johannesburg (including airport taxes); return airport/hotel transfers; breakfast and dinner daily for all resorts (except for Shandrani which is premium all-inclusive, so all meals are included), free land & motorised water sports as per brochure. These packages are flying like hot cakes, so contact your nearest Sure Travel agency today, or call 0861 47 48 49.


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