Mauritius is a model of true democracy for every African country. It’s also one of Africa’s great destinations, located in the middle of the turquoise Indian Ocean, inhabited by a multi-racial, peaceful people, covered in great golf courses, offering myriad water sports, mountain trekking, hunting, birdwatching, luxurious resorts, an old colonial capital, great food, three- and four-star hotels, one of the world’s best botanical gardens, good nightlife, beautiful beach bars, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of the oldest horseracing tracks in the world, great sightseeing … but we’ll get to that in a little while.
1. Mauritius: The Island
When your island is surrounded by perfect white sand beaches, themselves surrounded by the stunning blue Indian Ocean, and the center of the island contains mountains and breathtaking scenery, plus almost year-round sunshine, it’s difficult to be miserable.
Since gaining independence in 1968 there’s never been a coup, or military or populist uprising of any kind on this small Indian Ocean island (just more than 2,000 square kilometres in size). The population of almost 1.3 million is 68 percent Indian, but also comprises Creole, Chinese, French, plus a smattering of English and South Africans. Between them they speak English (the country’s official language), French, Mauritian Creole, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Bhojpuri and Hakka.
Often, the sound of the native Sega music (an Indian Ocean version of calypso) inspires dancing and laughing on the beaches all night.
Participants refresh themselves with the local ice cold Phoenix beer, the occasional Green Island rum and Coke and barbecue, freshly caught seafood like snapper, dorado, prawns, octopus and lobster.
Yet any holiday on Mauritius needn’t be a laze on the sand. Living on Mauritius can also be cheap, with a modest one bedroom flat costing from US$320 a month, car rental from US$350 a month and utility bills much cheaper than most countries.
The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Creole, Chinese, European and Indian. It’s common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.
Strong ties with the French (who ruled the island from 1710-1810) has meant that even today French dishes such as bouillon, tuna salad, daube and coq au vin are popular, while Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius brought their cuisine with them, making curries, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste that’s popular especially when served with fish) and pickles popular especially when given a unique Mauritian flavor.
The arrival of Chinese migrants at the end of the 19th century led to rice becoming part of the staple diet of the island and noodles, both steamed and fried, became common.
Chinese appetizers such as crispy chicken and crispy squid have also become part of the Mauritian diet.
Land sports: Any resort hotel will also have its own people to provide you with almost any land sport you want. Mauritius Horse Trailscan take you on some wonderful horseback tours of the island.
Golf: There are seven great golf courses on the island, the best being Golf du Chateau and the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita, plus several nine-hole courses.
Deep sea fishing: Mauritius has some of the best deep sea fishing in the world and the Marlin World Cup is held here every February/March.
Watersports: Any resort hotel will have its own people to provide you with any watersport you can think of.
Shopping: Local arts and crafts stores can be found in most villages, as well as designer factory outlets that sell Ralph Lauren and other brands at a fraction of European prices.
And there’s the magnificent shopping mall at Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis.
Mauritius is filled with luxurious five-star hotels and resorts, plus plenty of budget options. Meanwhile here are a few.
Lakaz Chamarel: Mauritius has numerous small boutique hotels well off the beaten track and, for my money, this is the best. It’s located high in the Chamarel hills in the south of the island and has 20 luxurious guest rooms and a superb restaurant.
Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa: This great place is on the island’s east coast, with luxurious rooms all enjoying Indian Ocean views, a great golf course on its own island, regular shows at night and a wonderful selection of restaurants, including the Republik Beach Bar & Grill.
Villa Paul Et Virginie Hotel: Located in Flic en Flac on the west coast, the Villa Paul et Virginie is a beautiful hotel for those on a tight budget. Just two minutes walk from the beach and serving excellent food, this 12-room hotel has an outside bar covered with a huge honeysuckle plant that provides welcome shade from the noonday sun.
Original Content from CNN Travels