After close on three years of travel bans and Covid restrictions and multiple date changes and re-bookings, I finally found myself boarding a plane bound for the paradise island of Mauritius. Just not for the seven-day holiday I originally planned but a 3-week-long island stay – one week for every year I couldn’t travel!
Now you may ask yourself, what does one do on an island for three weeks? Surely there’s only so much time you can spend tanning and drinking cocktails, right? Well, let me tell you, there is a wealth of things to discover in Mauritius, and even three weeks isn’t long enough! The trick is not to stay in the same place for too long and try to pick resorts that offer access to some of the unique activities and attractions this Indian Ocean beauty offers.
That is why for my trip, I decided to rent a car from the locally owned Maki Car Rental and hop from hotel to hotel, discovering something new every few days. Hopefully, once you are done reading about my experiences, you will have a good idea of where to stay and what to do.
Once you have landed on the island of Mauritius, many hotels are about a 1 to 1:30 hour drive away from the airport, depending on which side of the island you are staying. If you are traveling from South Africa or many African countries, then the flights typically land between 7 and 9 pm Mauritian time. This is one of the main reasons I decided to spend my first few nights at Anantara IKO Mauritius, which is just a short 10-minute drive away from the international airport.
The stay at Anantara IKO was the perfect start to my holiday. The resort offers three excellent restaurants, a fantastic poolside bar, a spa, a kids club, and various complimentary activities. Apart from that, it is located just a stone’s throw away from the Blue Bay Marine Reserve. Here you can do a short ride on the hotel’s very own glass-bottom boat and go snorkelling or book a day trip on a catamaran or speedboat to discover more of the beautiful Mauritian coastline. There are also several dive centers to choose from if you want to explore more beneath the big blue.
And for nature lovers, the island of Ile aux Aigrettes is also located within the reserve. A short 10-minute boat ride from the mainland, you can discover the last remnants of indigenous coastal forest once found around most of Mauritius. The trip to Ile aux Aigrettes consists of a one-and-a-half-hour guided tour of the island, home to many rare birds, endangered skinks, and the island’s biggest attraction, giant tortoises.
If you are looking for land-based activities, you can also embark on a free guided hike through the La Vallée de Ferney Nature Reserve just 20 minutes from the resort and listen for the distinct calls of the endangered Mauritian kestrel, echo parakeet, and pink pigeon. Or book yourself onto a quad bike tour to a waterfall. Venture a little further afield on the island’s southern coast, and you’ll find the fantastic Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel, where you can also meet some giant tortoises or go for an exhilarating zipline.
Also within easy reach of Chamarel is Domaine de Bel Ombre, a sprawling estate where you can enjoy cycling, hikes, guided nature drives, and even golf. Here, you will find the Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort and the next stop on my itinerary.
The Outrigger is the perfect spot to sit back, relax, enjoy a colourful cocktail, or even try one or two homemade rums while watching the beautiful sunsets on the beach. One of my favourite things about this grand resort was the private Plantation Club, which I had complimentary access to as I was staying in a Junior Suite. Designed to resemble one of the historic colonial mansions you might find elsewhere on the island, it is the ideal place to enjoy afternoon tea and a champagne breakfast.
Venture just 30 minutes from the hotel inland, and in the mountains you will find Grand Bassin. It is a crater lake sacred to Hindus and is the largest natural lake in Mauritius. On the banks of the lake, you can see brightly coloured statues of Hindu Gods and temples, including the Durga Maa, the biggest of its kind in the world.
Also close by, you will find the Black River Gorge National Park, where you can enjoy fabulous hikes. If you’d rather head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool than take a walk, be sure at least to drive up to the viewpoint for a fabulous look out over the forest. You might even be lucky enough to spot a tropicbird flying through the trees.
My next destination was about an hour away on the island’s east coast at the Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita. I found this to be a place where I could relax in total peace as all guest accommodations are completely private villas with their own pools. The resort is jam-packed with amazing restaurants and numerous onsite activities, including an 18-hole golf course and a private beach with a cocktail bar and restaurant on the nearby island of Ile aux Cerfs.
And if that is not enough, you can also plan a hike in the nearby mountains or visit the incredible temple in the nearby town of Bel Air. And if you feel like a bird’s-eye view of Mauritius, you can also book a parasailing excursion from one of the vendors on the island. Another nearby attraction is the Beau Champ waterfall which can be reached by foot but is best seen by boat. You may even be lucky enough to see some cheeky monkeys frolicking in the water!
Now that I was utterly relaxed and acclimatized to island life, it was time to move on to the all-inclusive C Mauritius Resort. This resort is a little bit different from your typical resort in that from the moment you arrive, it is clear that this is a place to have fun and feel like a kid again. You can even relive your varsity days with activities like beer pong and radio control car racing on the beach.
One of the highlights of the resort is the on-site kitesurfing center which is definitely one for adrenaline junkies. Apart from this, you can also enjoy stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and jumping on a massive trampoline on the sea, or embark on a guided walking tour of the nearby towns and villages where you can see impressive churches and temples as well as try some of the local cuisine.
Another must-do attraction is the Flacq market which is just a 15-minute drive away. The market is open on Wednesdays and Sundays, and here you will find various items from fresh fruit and veggies to clothing and textiles, souvenirs, and street food. And if the kitesurfing back at the hotel was not enough to get the adrenaline pumping, you could also pop down to sky diving Mauritius and get your thrills while enjoying some spectacular views of the island.
A fitting end to a fabulous time in paradise
Now that I had had a bit of fun and got that daredevil urge out of the way, I moved on and into the last week of my stay. I decided to spend these final few days winding down at one of the oldest hotels on the island, Constance Belle Mare Plage. This resort offers two 18-hole championship golf courses, and the green fees are complimentary to hotel guests. Also on site is a fully equipped PADI dive School that offers everything from learning to dive beginner classes in the pool to guided trips to dive sites all around the island.
And if you are looking to get out and explore the island a bit this is the perfect location with both Port Louis, the capital city with the colourful shopping mecca of Le Caudan Waterfront, and Grand Baie with its many restaurants, local markets, and harbour with its visiting boats sitting at anchor, both within an hour of the hotel. If you are looking to get out into the deep blue waters surrounding the island, this is also a great spot to try your hand at some deep-sea fishing where you stand a good chance of hooking one of the big ones like Blue and Black Marlin, as well as Sailfish and Tuna.