“Mauritius was made first,” said Mark Twain. “And then heaven.”
He’ll get no argument from us. Marooned on a foreverness of turquoise sea some 1,250 miles off the east coast of Africa, Mauritius is magical. Close your eyes and picture a luxury Indian Ocean resort: chances are you’re picturing Mauritius. Bone-white beaches lapped by cobalt lagoons, lush, green gardens sheltering thatched bungalows and a mosaic of pretty pools – not for nothing the tiny republic is still a byword for five-star, palm-fringed paradise. Stay in any one of the exquisite hotels we offer on the island, never venturing from spa or sunlounger except perhaps to play golf at one of the island’s exceptional championship golf courses, and you’ll want to toss your passport onto the next passing dhow.But haul yourself from the hotel, and away from the beach, Mauritius offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of activities for the active adventurer, with hiking and biking, horse riding and kayaking, swimming with dolphins and Zip-wiring through the jungle – as well as some magnificent old buildings evoking the island’s colonial past. Dominated by mountains and deep, forest-clad river gorges, the island’s south offers particularly rich pickings. Here, sheltering a veritable Hanging Gardens of tropical forest littered with orchids and dodotrees, the Black River George National Park is criss-crossed by 45 miles of spectacular hiking trails linking waterfalls and lookout points. Home to over 300 species of flowering plants and nine species of bird unique to Mauritius, including the famous pink pigeon, the park also has monkeys and deer, flying foxes and wild boar. Best trail to pick? Probably the six-mile Peak River Trail, taking you from the Black River George view point right up to the summit of Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire, with views from the 828m summit that’ll stay with you long after the holiday tan has faded.Although Black River George is the only national park on Mauritius, there is superb hiking to be had right across the island. In the southwest, the spectacular Tamarin Falls are an astonishing reward for a full-day hike, while perched on Le Morne peninsula like a sheer, granite crown, Le Morne Brabant (556m) also offers mighty views down over the Indian Ocean. Not that you need be all roughtie-toughtie to get stunning views: overlooking the capital, Port Louis, the summit of Lion Mountain (480m) offers a splendid half-day hike with stunning views over the town and coast, reached via a decent path that shouldn’t tax the even moderately fit.Panoramic gain can be had for even less pain at any one of the island’s Zip Wire courses, which are popping up across the island like tamarind pods on a forest floor. In the west of the island, Casela Nature & Leisure Park has one of the best high ropes courses, with wooden ladders, Nepalese rope bridges, a zip wire that ends right in the twinkling pool of a beautiful waterfall, plus two 150m zip wire lines soaring high above the dramatic gorge that dominates the reserve. A brilliant park for kids, Casela also offers quad-bike safaris between zebras and ostriches, antelopes, giant turtles and monkeys. Families should also visit the fabulous water park near Belle Mare beach, with 125m slides, wave pool, and ‘river rides’ through the park on inflatable tires.While most of our luxury resorts on Mauritius offer sailing and windsurfing, they can also arrange kayaking tours of Ile D’Ambre, offering a tantalising glimpse of the island’s undiscovered past, paddling among the tranquil mangroves with opportunities for some of the best snorkelling on the island. And while snorkelling trips abound, one operator on the island will even take you down in a mini submarine, or get you up close and personal to the corals in a diver’s suit.As for daytrips off the island, Ile aux Cerfs is the most popular boat trip destination – and with good reason. Ringed by bone-white beaches and their palm-tree guards, ‘Deer Island’ is the quintessential desert island paradise, and three-hour walk around the island reveals magical, secluded coves to call your own. Alternatively, it is possible to take a 19th century schooner to Grand Baie, with barbecue on the beach at Baie du Tombeau; catamaran trips to the uninhabited northern islands are also a wonderful treat, again with barbecue on the beach, as well as snorkelling, swimming, and sunset G&Ts on deck, while there are also exhilarating dolphin-swimming daytrips to Ile de Benitiers, a pretty coconut-plantation islet just off Le Morne peninsula. With mountain biking and horse riding tours through the sugar plantations carpeting much of the island, there is plenty to keep you active between breakfast buffet and sunset cocktails. However, active or indolent, we urge you to take a closer look at the island, with echoes of its colonial past still audible in the churches and fort of Port Louis and the haunting cathedral of Bel Air. Mauritius may be best known best for its beaches and resorts, but between the beaches, inland from the turquoise lagoons, a wealth of adventure just begs to be plundered, too.Our suggestion for luxury holidays to Maurtitius Mauritius has such a fabulous choice of really great hotels that here is just one that we have more or less picked out of a hat. Do speak to our sales team for the nitty-gritty differences of each one. Le Touessrok200 rooms and suites and 3 villas, 3 restaurants, bar, 24-hour room service, two open-air swimming pools, beach service, free boat service to Ilot Mangenie and the Ile aux Cerfs for watersports and golf, spa, personal training, kids’ club, teen activities, tennis courts and coaching, water sports.Prices from about £2090 per person on half board including flights with British Airways London to Mauritius and private luxury transfers.Find out more about our full range of luxury holidays to Mauritius.
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