“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius” – Mark Twain
It’s a quote I’ve seen often and anyone visiting Mauritius will come across that line at some point or other. Except, it’s not exactly what Mark Twain said 200-odd years ago when he first visited the island. The actual quote reads:
“From one citizen you gather [the] idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
I chuckled when I discovered the actual quote. What a difference a few words can make! However, I can totally relate to Mark Twain’s experience with Mauritians; a warm, hospitable people with big smiles, who are rightfully proud of their island’s great beauty. For anyone visiting Mauritius, it soon becomes evident what this pride is rooted in. With its spectacular lagoons, blinding white beaches, lofty peaks, beautiful people and delicious cuisines, Mauritius is well worth a visit as it easily ticks the boxes of anyone’s definition of paradise or heaven.
Road trip around the best places in Mauritius
On my first visit to Mauritius back in 2013, I fell for its beauty and charm in an instant. Since then, I’ve returned several times, got to explore all corners of the island and have written a lot about Mauritius on my travel blog. To sum it up, I’ve packed all the best places and activities into this suggested road trip itinerary of Mauritius, which can be done in one week or longer.
This Mauritius guide contains links to services I often use myself and can recommend: Skyscanner (for flight searches), Booking.com (for hotel bookings), Rentalcars.com (for car hire), GetYourGuide and Manawa (for easy-to-book tours) and Bookmundi for longer tours. If you make a booking via one of these services, I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me to maintain my travel blog and share more experiences with you.
Getting to Mauritius
The flag carrier is Air Mauritius, which offers direct flights from various global hubs such as London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Dubai, utilising modern aircraft like the Airbus A350. Mauritius is also served by major airlines such as Emirates, Air France and British Airways.
Flying to/from Mauritius offers spectacular views on clear days so I recommend booking a window seat! Check out other amazing Mauritius views.
Best of Mauritius itinerary
This one-week Mauritius itinerary starts at the Airport, then continues on a loop around the island anti-clockwise (east to west). In the southwest, I’ve included a separate, smaller loop which can be done as a day trip. I recommend spending a few days in both the north and south to experience the great diversity of the island.
- Blue Bay/Mahebourg (1 night in Blue Bay)
- North Mauritius (3 nights in the North)
- South Mauritius (2 nights in the South)
One week is sufficient to follow the route and visit many of the places listed below. However, if you have time, I suggest extending your stay to at least 10 days to enjoy more beach time and the sights and excursions I’ve described.
- Driving in Mauritius is on the left side of the road. Roads are generally good and easily navigable. Traffic in and around Port Louis is heavy during rush hour so try to avoid the city and suburbs during these times.
- The best time to visit Mauritius is between May and December when it’s slightly cooler (the summers can be very hot and muggy) though the ‘winter’ months (July-August) can be wet. My favourite months to visit Mauritius are May/June and September/October.
Best places to visit on a road trip in Mauritius
Blue Bay is a little village at the edge of one of the most stunning bays in Mauritius is the perfect place to relax after your trip to Mauritius. It’s also a only a 15-minute drive from the airport. The white, sand beaches and crystal clear water in a variety of blues are absolutely mesmerising! In addition, there’s a good selection of restaurants, cafés as well as water-based activities. Search for hotels in Blue Bay.
For a relaxing day trip, I recommend hopping on a boat for a visit to Ile Des Deux Cocos, a small island just across the bay. Join a Blue Bay snorkelling and Ile des Deux Cocos picnic excursion.
The small town of Mahebourg is only a few kilometers away. To get your first taste of local Mauritius life, go for a stroll along the Waterfront and visit the Mahebourg Market. Mahebourg is also a great place to discover Mauritian food, a tantalising mix of Asian, African and European influences. Join a Mahebourg street food tour.
At the Pointe Jerome jetty near Pointe d’Esny, you can go on a boat ride to the Ile Aux Aigrettes nature reserve. The island, made up of coralline limestone, is covered with dry coastal forest and is home to colourful birdlife such as the Mauritius fody and the olive white-eyes, as well as giant tortoises! It’s a surreal experience to hike across the island and encounter these giants on your path!
Another excursion option is a boat trip to Île aux Fouquets (or Lighthouse Island). The ride across the lagoon is nothing short of spectacular. On the island, you’ll find the ruins of an old lighthouse, walking paths and beaches. On the ocean-facing side, you’ll be able to experience the pounding waves of the Indian Ocean. This is also a great spot for bird-watching.
There are numerous accommodations to choose from in both Blue Bay and Mahebourg, from beach resorts to B&Bs and private villas.
The East Coast
From Mahebourg, head north along the east coast. You’ll pass green hills that erupt into lofty peaks, endless agricultural fields and small villages. The first thing you’ll notice is the island’s multi-ethnicity. At the markets, you’ll see people of Indian, Chinese, Malay, African, Creole and Caucasian backgrounds jostling at the stalls, and in the villages, mosques, churches and temples stand side-by-side. Search for hotels on the East Coast.
As you continue north, you’ll pass small towns like Grand Port and Grand River South East. In between, you’ll spot numerous ruins of forts and fortified walls guarded by canons, remnants of Mauritius’ colonial past. You can learn more about the often tempestuous history of Mauritius at the Frederick Hendrick Museum. One fact I quickly learned here was the origins of the name Mauritius: the first Western settlers were the Dutch who arrived in the 16th century and they named the island Mauritius after the Dutch Governor at the time, Maurits van Nassau.
Between Grand Port and Grand Sable, Distillerie Ylang Ylang (location) makes for a lovely stop. This little shop sells home-made essential oils and soaps made of ingredients sourced from her garden such as ylang ylang and frangipani. The owner will gladly show you around her garden and explain the different plants and uses.
Grand River South East
You’ll soon arrive at Grand River South East, a village that’s famous on the east coast for its natural attractions and water sports. Visitors can go kayaking along the river or sailing in the estuary. Don’t miss a stop at the roaring GRSE Waterfall.
Two wonderful accommodations that I absolutely enjoyed can be found in this area: Otentic and the Four Seasons Anahita. Otentic serves up a very local experience, including glamping by the river and cooking courses.
The Four Seasons Anahita, on the other hand, is a sprawling, luxurious resort with amazing villas and facilities coupled with top-notch service and food. Read more about my stay at Four Seasons Anahita.
From here, you can also go on day trips to Ile Aux Cerfs, one of the most popular leisure islands on the east coast. Join a full-day Ile Aux Cerfs excursion.
You’ll soon arrive in Flacq where there are numerous attractions as well as one of my favourite resorts in Mauritius: Constance Prince Maurice. Read more about my stay at Constance Prince Maurice. I recommend a visit to the Flacq Market and the Sagar Shiv Mandir Hindu Temple.
Many visitors choose to base themselves in north Mauritius as there’s a wide variety of things to do and places to visit. Some are convinced that Mauritius’ best beaches are found here. You’ll find a string of beachside communities, historic attractions, a plethora of restaurants and wherever you go, dreamy views of the lagoons, beaches and the outer islands. Search for hotels in North Mauritius.
Here are the best places to visit and suggested activities in north Mauritius:
North Mauritius beaches
There are many sandy beaches with calm turquoise water to choose from, perfect for water activities such as windsurfing and stand-up paddling. Beaches I can recommend include La Cuvette, Mont Choisy, Pereybere and Trou aux Biches.
The outer islands, such as Flat Island, also offer amazing beaches and snorkelling opportunities. These islands can be reached by private chartered boats or as part of a catamaran excursion. Join a full day catamaran excursion to the northern isles.
This village at the northernmost point of Mauritius is absolutely charming and is home to one of the most photographed spots on the island: Notre-Dame Auxiliatrice de Cap Malhereux, a picturesque church facing the lagoon.
Chateau de la Bourdonnais
The beautiful 18th century Labourdonnais Estate has one of Mauritius’ most beautiful estate mansions as well as extensive gardens. Visit the beautiful estate mansion, stroll around the extensive gardens and do a rhum-tasting.
Unique underwater experiences
In Trou aux Biches, the Blue Safari centre offers some very cool underwater experiences to enjoy the local marine life. They organise diving expeditions but also underwater experiences which are accessible for most people such as sub-scooter (a kind of underwater Vespa!) diving and submarine excursions. Book this submarine scooter excursion. Read more about the sub-scooter excursion.
Another marine-based activity in north Mauritius I can recommend is exploring the mangroves on Amber Island from a kayak.
L’Aventure du Sucre
An interesting place to learn more about the history of Mauritius is L’Aventure du Sucre, a living museum dedicated to the colourful history of sugarcane in Mauritius. Sugarcane plantations were founded by the French colonists in the 18th century to support a sustainable settlement on the island. Labourers were brought in from India while sugar mills and railroads were built to process and transport the sugar.
Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens
Near to L’venture du Sucre, you’ll find the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the tropical greenery in these historic gardens and don’t miss the impressive giant water lilies (Victoria Amazonica).
Join a full-day North Mauritius guided tour that includes Port Louis, L’Aventure, the Botanical Gardens and Cap Malhereux.
Where to stay in north Mauritius
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. It’s a bustling city with various markets, historical sights and a newly-developed waterfront area. Interesting places to visit in Port Louis include the Blue Penny Museum, the Central Market, the Waterfront and Fort Adelaide (for panoramic views of the city). I recommend spending a half day exploring the city and having lunch at the Waterfront. Port Louis also has a vibrant street food scene. Check out the Central Market and Chinatown for a taste of Mauritius! Join a Port Louis street food tour.
Pieter Both mountain
Just outside Port Louis, you can’t miss the jagged peaks of the iconic Pieter Both mountain. It’s possible to climb this mountain (with climbing gear) so I would only recommend it to experienced climbers.
From Port Louis, head south to my favourite part of Mauritius! South Mauritius, with its striking mountains, verdant valleys, thick forests, blinding white beaches and colourful lagoons, is absolutely spellbinding! Many of Mauritius’ natural attractions can be found here, such as Chamarel Waterfall, Black River Gorge National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Le Morne Brabant mountain. Search for hotels in West and South Mauritius.
Here are some of the best places to visit in South Mauritius:
Beaches in South Mauritius
Some of my favourite Mauritius beaches are here in the south. They include Tamarin (against an impressive background of lofty peaks), Flic en Flac and Le Morne (at the foot of Le Morne mountain).
Black River or Rivière Noire is the embarkation point for boat excursions to see the resident dolphins off the coast. It’s a wondrous experience to get in the water and see (and hear) these dolphins in their natural habitat. Join a Black River dolphin/whale watching excursion.
Tamarin is a popular place for its variety of water sports and excursions. Hire a kayak or SUP to explore the small bay and the mangroves of the Riviere du Rempart, or join a catamaran excursion and enjoy the view of Tamarin, backed by the majestic Rempart mountain.
One of the most famous waterfalls in Mauritius, Chamarel Falls emerges from the thick jungle and plunges almost 100 meters into a gorge. There are upper and lower viewing platforms – walking between the platforms allows you to spot the birdlife and enjoy the flora.
On the way there, drop by at the Chamarel Viewpoint for some beautiful panoramic views. You can also opt to stop for lunch at the Le Chamarel restaurant, which offers delicious local fare and stunning views.
Seven Coloured Earth
Near Chamarel Falls, continue to another natural attraction: the Seven Coloured Earths. This is a small area formed by volcanic activity to form dune-like mounds covered with different coloured sands. It’s best viewed on a sunny day when the colours really pop.
Also in the vicinity is the Ebony Forest, with its unique species of trees that are endemic to Mauritius. This nature reserve has well-maintained paths and canopy walkways. Join a Wild Southwest full-day tour.
Grand Bassin Hindu Temples
Grand Bassin is a crater lake with colourful Hindu temples along its shoreline. This is an important pilgrimage site that’s well worth a visit.
Black River Gorge National Park
The Black River Gorge National Park is home to the largest protected forest in Mauritius. There are over 50km of hiking trails through thick rainforests, deep valleys, gushing rivers and beautiful waterfalls. The park has over 300 species of flowering plants and 9 bird species unique to Mauritius, such as the pink pigeon. Join a 3-hour guided hike in the Black River Gorge.
Le Morne Brabant mountain
Le Morne Brabant is a 556 meter basaltic monolith. This mountain was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. It’s a pretty challenging hike (especially the second half) and I recommend going with a guide, and only in the early morning before it gets too hot.
The views from the mountaintop are simply worth the effort though! On a good day, you’ll be able to see the famous ‘underwater waterfall’, an optical illusion formed by coral reefs and sand banks. Join a Le Morne Brabant guided hike.
Mauritius Tea Route
The Mauritius Tea Route is a popular touristic route in the south that covers three plantation estates: Le Domaine des Aubineaux, Bois Cheri Tea Factory and Domaine Saint Aubin. This is a wonderful route to follow to gain an insight into the colonial history of Mauritius and its plantations. Enjoy the beauty of these estates and learn about tea, rum and vanilla production on the island. Join a Tea Route guided tour.
Where to stay in south Mauritius
There are many beautiful accommodations scattered along the west coast from Flic en Flac down to Le Morne. My favourites include Sugar Beach, Maradiva Villas, Dinarobin Beachcomber and Heritage Le Telfair.
Note: this post was brought to you as a result of the #MyMauritius blog trips, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Create, AHRIM, Mauritius Tourism and Air Mauritius. As always, all opinions above are mine, and mine only.