Mauritius The South & South-East The wildest and most beautiful landscapes of the island are in the South: sandy beaches bordered by cliffs carved by waves, rocky shores, sugar cane fields as far as the eye can see, and mountainous […]
The South & South-East
The wildest and most beautiful landscapes of the island are in the South: sandy beaches bordered by cliffs carved by waves, rocky shores, sugar cane fields as far as the eye can see, and mountainous terrains offering magnificent panoramas.
What to See
One of the main fishing villages on the island, Mahebourg is built along the shore of the immense bay of Grand Port. Founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Decaen, Mahebourg witnessed the only Napoleonic naval victory over the English in 1810. This victory is also listed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. A major centre of economic life under French administration, Mahebourg was also known for its slave market.
Full of emotions, it is one of the rare places on the island that has kept this particular period of our history engraved in stone.
Pointe Canon in Mahebourg is an excellent place to photograph Lion Mountain and the Grand Port mountain range to the left of it. Ilôt Mouchoir Rouge with Ile aux Aigrettes to the right are also worthy of a place in the photo album. Pointe Canon is a popular concert venue and is known for its annual memorial ceremonies celebrating the abolition of slavery on the 1st of February. It also announces the departure of regattas where colourful pirogues are steered with speed and skill by their proud teams, who come from all over the island to compete in this friendly competition within the beautiful lagoon.
National History Museum
There are so many places to visit in Mahebourg, but a must-see is the fascinating National Naval and Historical Museum. Located at the entrance of the town, the Château de Robillard, a French colonial building from the eighteenth century, houses the National History Museum. Old maps, engravings, crockery, pirates’ swords and even fragments of shipwrecks, recount the rich maritime history of the island. The crown jewel of this fascinating museum is the bell recovered from the wreck of the St Géran.
Constructed in 1856 for sugar cane transportation, Cavendish Bridge, commonly known as the “Pont de la Ville Noire”, literally “the black town bridge”, was originally constructed from wood while all other bridges in Mauritius were made from steel. Between 1908 and 1911 it was transformed into a reinforced concrete bridge, an innovation at that time. At 155 metres it is said to be the longest bridge on the island. The water flows under the bridge towards the river mouth and it has a great view of Lion Mountain and the Grand Port Range – a stunning backdrop!
The inhabitants of Mahebourg like to tell the story of a tourist who, in the late 70s, stopped on the bridge, looked over, and saw a sandy islet below. An old man standing beside him said to the tourist that he was the owner of the islet. The tourist asked the old man if he would sell him the property, at which the old man hesitated, and then agreed. He requested a deposit, which the tourist promptly paid, and they arranged to meet on the bridge the next day to go together to the notary and sign the deed. When the tourist arrived the following day, neither the old man nor the islet was there. The sea level had risen, covering the islet, and the old man had disappeared… So legend has it!
Battery of Devil’s Point
Under the French occupation, 27 defence guns controlled access to the island. The fearsomely effective battery of the Devil’s Point for a long time prevented the English from approaching Grand Port.
Ile aux Aigrettes, Nature reserve
Since 1985, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has weeded, replanted and restored 90% of this coral island by reintroducing native plants, birds and reptiles. Thus, MWF recreated the ideal sanctuary for a flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else.
This small 27-hectare island, located 800m off the south-east coast near Mahebourg, is home to the last remnants of dry coastal forest, once found around most of Mauritius. Over time, Ile aux Aigrettes was affected by tree cutting and land clearance, and the introduction of exotic animals and plants almost destroyed the native fauna and flora.
Today this lost paradise is open to the public. A professional will guide you amongst the giant tortoises and the pink pigeons that have been rescued and freed after a 30-year conservation effort. The 10 bronze sculptures exposed on the island by artist Nick Bibby will take you back in time.
Pointe d’Esny, a white sandy beach lined with bungalows, leads to Blue Bay. This beach, surrounded by a semicircle of casuarinas is one of the nicest of the island with its fine sand, clear water and lively corals, perfect for snorkelling.
Blue Bay Marine Park
Blue bay is an exceptional preserved marine park. Corals and fishes are visible a few meters from shore. Among them, you have the parrot-fish, the trumpetfish and baby barracudas. Have a better view and snorkelling experience with a glass bottom boat.
A really spectacular 30m geyser at high tide and on windy days.
La Roche Qui Pleure
At Gris-Gris, the profile of the poet Robert Edward Hart was carved by waves and the wind on the side of a promontory called “La Roche qui pleure” (the crying rock). Get close to the waves blowing up between the cliffs and breathe in the breeze that comes straight from Antarctica.
You will find down under, the “Bain des négresses” (the Negresses Bath).
The restaurants at Gris-Gris cliffs serve a range of fresh seafood, cooked the Mauritian way, and at very reasonable prices.
View all restaurants in the South & South-East
Robert-Edward Hart Museum – Souillac
This bungalow made entirely of coral was offered to Robert Edward Hart, prince of the poets of the Indian Ocean, by his friends and named “La Nef”. It became a museum in 1962.
Open daily from 8 am to 4 pm except on Sunday and public holidays
Telfair Municipal Garden
Witness the stunning view of the southern sea and the Riambel naval cemetery. Discover the charming alleys shaded by centenarian trees where friendly locals spend their time.
The Rochester Falls out of Souillac are worth a visit. The road passes through the sugar refinery of Terracine. Over time, curious carvings have appeared in the lava shaped by the waters and green crystals were formed in the soil.
The beaches in this part of Mauritius are rare but striking. One of them is the famous family Blue Bay beach. Another one is Gris Gris which has the particularity of having the coral reef very close to the shore. Huge waves break a few meters away and wash the grainy sand mixed with colourful tiny shells. Leave your footprints there.
Rivière des Galets and Ilôt Sancho
There is not much to do at Rivière des Galets besides catching some excellent waves. The shingle beach, right next to the river mouth, is one of the best surf spots of Mauritius. Not too far away is Ilôt Sancho, another less popular surf spot where you can ride the waves, often in solitude. Keen surfers will know the best times of the year to surf there and make the most of the swells. There’s also some good fishing to be done from the shore.
Baie du Cap Road
The famous hairpin bend of Macondé is found on the Baie du Cap road, where many tourists stop and take photos from the rocky outcrop that offers a stunning view of the sea below and the beautiful southern coastline. Join the other tourists and climb up the stairs to the top of the rock and at least you can say you’ve been there!
If you have the time, a walk on the public beach of Baie du Cap will definitely relax you and will be an opportunity to meet the friendly and genuine locals. You may even have the opportunity to buy freshly caught fish from local fishermen.
The Baie du Cap road is considered to be among the best roads to drive in the world, and will take you from the South-West to the South-East of Mauritius through villages and sugar cane fields, most of the time right on the coastline.
The Dutch landing spot
As fate would have it, the Dutch were forced to land in Mauritius in 1598 after a violent storm drove them to the shore of the uninhabited island. There is a monument to mark the point of their first landing on the coastal road near Ferney, Mahebourg, in the south-east, with the majestic Lion Mountain in the background. Take a walk over the little bridge and appreciate the view of the little islands off the shore.
Things to do
Mahebourg market is an opportunity to do good deals with spices, clothing and toys among others. Taste the fresh local fruit and traditional foods such as “biryanis”, “gateaux piments”, “dhull puris”, etc. Moreover, discover the genuine heart of the people. Typical local atmosphere.
Best Time to Visit
Mauritius enjoys a relatively mild climate. Although temperatures are rather moderate throughout the year with occasional rainfall, the most pleasant times to visit the island are between the months of April and June and between September and December. As Mauritius is located in the southern hemisphere, the summer and winter months are opposite to seasons in Europe.
Seasons Summer: November to April
The weather is hot and humid during these months, with peaks in temperatures occurring in the months of December, January and February. Rainfall is abundant, especially on the central plateau. The highest rainfall normally occurs in the months of February and March. Daylight hours typically run from 5.30am to 7.00pm.
This is the best time for scuba diving – especially December through to March – and for deep-sea fishing. The cyclonic season extends right the way through from November to April. Most of the time, the cyclones manage to avoid Mauritius because of the small size of the island. However, if they come close enough, the bad weather may affect vegetation and certain wooden buildings. Please rest assured that beach resorts have been constructed in such a way as to be able to resist strong cyclonic winds.
Winter: May to October
The temperature is cooler during this season, and prevailing winds tend to blow over the island from the east and south-east. The lowest temperatures are felt in August (20°C on the coast). Daylight hours typically run from 6.45am to 5.45pm. This is the best season for surfing (June to August).
On the central plateau, which is some 600 metres above sea level, the average day temperature is between 20°C in August and 26°C in February. On the coast, the temperatures are higher by about three to five degrees. The northern and the western parts of the island are warmer and drier than the eastern and the southern regions.
Mauritius is convenient to travel to, safe and easy to explore. However, in order to maximise your personal safety, we recommend you follow the tips detailed below.
Need to know:
English is the official language, though French Creole is spoken island wide.
The time zone is Greenwich Mean Time plus four hours.
The national currency is the Mauritian Rupee which is divided into 100 cents.
British-style three square pins and continental two round-pin plugs are both used here.
Tipping is discretionary, but any tips are always welcomed.
At the airport
Agree on the taxi fare prior to proceeding to your destination
In order to ensure you are being culturally respectful, please dress conservatively when visiting temples/shrines. Many hotels have a dress code for dinner, so remember to check this before travel.
At your accommodation
Select a tourist accommodation which is licensed by the Tourism Authority which would ensure that security measures put in place are as required
Store your valuables, passport and money in the safety deposit box provided by the hotel/guesthouse/tourist residence.
At the beach
Avoid buying products and seeking services from unauthorised persons.
Request price of products before any purchase.
Be careful with those who demonstrate too much insistence.
Request price of products before any purchase
Remember that hitch-hiking is not practised in Mauritius.
Agree on the fare before embarking on any trip from the information desk of your place of stay.
Be aware that advice tendered by some taxi drivers may be motivated by commissions that they receive from some traders.
In Mauritius cars drive on the left-hand side of the road and drivers have to give way to traffic from the right. Visitors with a driving licence issued by a competent authority are allowed to drive during their stay in Mauritius.
There are no poisonous reptiles or dangerous animals on the island. But nature being what it is, some small creatures can inflict painful sting like wasp stings, for example. In the event this does happen and symptoms are persisting, contact a chemist or doctor.
There are a few fish and invertebrates in Mauritian waters that are known to be harmful – namely sea urchins, stonefish and lionfish. It is advisable to enquire of their existence in the waters around a given resort. Be careful not to step on them, and consider wearing light shoes while swimming.
Before undertaking any sea-based activities, please remember that Pleasure Crafts bearing a “PC” registration number are meant for commercial purposes.
Be environment-friendly and follow the codes of conduct for activities such as dolphin and whale watching, helmet diving and scuba diving.
Tips to ensure personal safety and security in the tourist accommodation
Store your valuables, passport and money in the digital safe provided by the hotel/guesthouse/tourist residence.
Lock the items you won’t be carrying with you such as laptop or other electronics.
If you lose your room key or room entry card, report it immediately to your hotel/tourist residence/guesthouse and have the card deactivated immediately.
Police: 999 or 112
Fire Services: 995 or 115
SAMU Ambulances: 114
National Directory: 150
Tourist Info: 152
Weather: 171 and 96 for cyclone reports
Airline Data: 6033030
Where to Stay
Dubbed the Creole Cote D’Azur, and with more sandy beaches and sunshine than anywhere else on the island, the north is understandably popular. Grand Baie is the centre of the action, situated on a horseshoe-shaped sheltered bay around an emerald lagoon on the northwest coast. It has hotels aplenty, shopping and the island’s best nightlife – around 50 restaurants line the coastal road to Pereybère.
The starting point of nautical trips to the northern islands and other sea activities, the north of the island also has plenty of beaches, each one more beautiful than the next. The most popular ones among Mauritians and tourists are Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas, and the long curvy beach of Mont Choisy which continues from Pointe aux Canonniers to Grand Baie and to the divine Pereybere public beach. Cap Malheureux is an incredibly picturesque village – famous for its red-roofed church, view of the northern islands and its important fishing community.
The breezy east coast is the Mauritius of the posters and undoubtedly one of the island’s most beautiful coastlines set alongside emerald coloured lagoons. Punctuated with numerous luxurious hotels and authentic villages, the several kilometres long Belle Mare beach is its main attraction
Ile aux Cerfs – a water sports paradise – is a must-see. Complete with a lively boat-house, long beaches as well as a tortoise farm, this unique island can be reached by speedboat, pirogue, glass bottom boat, catamaran or even by pirate ship.
The public beach of Roches Noires extends to Poste Lafayette, an excellent place for fishing and breathing in the crisp air. Bras d’Eau is a small bay inside the lagoon of Poste Lafayette. Its public beach has a view of the south, which means that you can see both the sunrise and the sunset – unique in the East. At night, it is the best place in Mauritius to see the Milky Way.
The East Road is far less travelled than those of the West and the North, but is well worth the detour. It snakes down from Grand River South East to Mahebourg along the coast, taking you through small agricultural and fishing villages, with stunning views of the Grand Port mountain range and the turquoise lagoon that stretches from Trou d’Eau Douce to Blue Bay.
The wildest and most beautiful landscapes of the island are in the South: sandy beaches bordered by cliffs carved by waves, rocky shores, sugar cane fields as far as the eye can see, and mountainous terrains offering magnificent panoramas. The rustic coastal road winds past the surf-sculpted basalt cliffs at Gris Gris to the rocky monolith of Le Morne Brabant, taking in fishing villages, roadside fruit stalls and deserted beaches. Glass-bottom boat trips head out from Blue Bay Marine Park in the southeast .Encounters with crocodiles, giant tortoises and the Mauritius fruit bat or iguana await you at La Vanille Nature Park. One of the main fishing villages on the island, Mahebourg is built along the shore of the immense bay of Grand Port.
The beaches in this part of Mauritius are rare but striking. One of them is the famous family Blue Bay beach which is surrounded by a semicircle of casuarinas and considered one of the nicest of the island with its fine sand, clear water and lively corals, perfect for snorkelling.
The Baie du Cap road is considered to be among the best roads to drive in the world and the famous hairpin bend is where many tourists stop and take photos from the rocky outcrop which offers a stunning view of the sea below and the beautiful southern coastline.
The sheltered west coast has calm, shallow golden-sand beaches favoured by young families, particularly around the resort areas of Flic en Flac and the quieter Wolmar. Protected from the prevailing winds, the region boasts some superb hotels and lagoons calm enough for swimming, snorkelling, diving, water-skiing, kayaking, pedal boats and sailing activities.
Head to Tamarin Bay, or to the world famous “One Eye” at Le Morne, where you can find the best waves for surfing. Le Morne is also well known by kitesurfers due to the steady winds that blow in from the South-East and accelerate in this corner of the island almost all year round. Tamarin Bay is however best known for dolphin-swimming, while Black River (Rivière Noire) is famous for big game fishing.
Eco-adventure park Casela offers encounters with African animals and activities galore, from mud-karting to a canyon swing. For nature lovers, the verdant Black River Gorges National Park provides glimpses of rare birds including the echo parakeet. Flanked by statues of Hindu gods, Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao is a crater lake surrounded by temples most vibrant during festivals; while the Chamarel highlands have the geological marvel of the Coloured Earths and the new Ebony Forest Reserve.
Cooler than the coastal regions, the central plateau is situated between 400 and 600 meters above sea level. Starting from the South of Port Louis, this vast urban area is home to about 400,000 people, representing over one-third of the island’s population. High up on the plateau, you’ll also find forests, lakes and plantations that are well worth a visit.
Four towns, namely Rose Hill, Quatre Bornes, Vacoas and Curepipe, make up the heart of the island.
Rose Hill’s busy high street is swarming with shoppers during the day and is worth a visit if you’re ready to brave the crowds and look for some great bargains. There are many shops to browse around and local restaurants to choose from.
Quatre Bornes is a cosmopolitan town, where you will be able to bargain for great deals at its famous market. The shops on the main road are also a good place for discount hunting!
The town of Vacoas is best known for the Gymkhana Golf Club, the oldest golf course in the southern hemisphere. Locals run and walk around the outdoor track for exercise and play football in the grounds.
Finally, Curepipe, where you’ll experience the coolest temperatures in Mauritius, has retained its charm and is home to two of the island’s treasures: Trou aux Cerfs, the crater of a dormant volcano, and the Botanical Garden with its rare plant species.
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