While sandy beaches, sunny skies, and the warm Indian Ocean waters all come standard on a holiday in Mauritius, this diverse island nation truly have something for everyone, whether you are looking for a vibrant resort town with ample nightlife or a quiet corner where you can go birding or hiking.
The easiest way to select where to go in Mauritius is to divide the island into four sections and match your interests and expectations with the best stretch of coastline and attractions to see.
If you want an action-packed, sight-seeing vacation, the northern and western beaches are often busier and have more amenities and tourist attractions, whilst the eastern and southern beaches are quieter and lend themselves to a ‘doing nothing much’ holiday.
Of course, Mauritius is small nation, and you may rent a car for the day and drive yourself to another beach or to see specific landmark or tourist attraction – you won’t be ‘stuck’ anywhere.
Its coastal roads offer lovely driving tours and, there are lots of places of interest, from welcoming towns to pretty gardens and nature reserves in the island’s green and mountainous interior.
1. Grand Baie And North Coast
Northern Mauritius is full of bustling energy: there are interesting shops, a superb assortment of water sports, and the island’s only resort town, Grand Baie.
While Grand Baie has grown from a sleepy fishing village into a thriving tourist destination, it has retained its friendly small-town feel along with a fine collection of hotels, restaurants and bars that line the pretty, horseshoe-shaped bay.
It is only 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Mauritius’ capital city, Port Louis, and is the best place to visit in Mauritius for a classic ‘resort vacation’.
- Grand Baie is a great location for browsing jewellery, clothes, upscale souvenirs and high-end labels. After a long day of shopping, take a nap before hitting the nightclubs, which open after midnight.
- The Indian Ocean waters around Grand Baie are dotted with fishing boats. And the beaches of La Cuvette and Grand Baie Public Beach aren’t perfect for swimming , but a short drive away is the peninsular of Pointe aux Canonniers, beginning of an unbroken chain of sugar-white sand beaches that runs all the way down the island’s west coast.
- The tranquil Rivière du Rempart region, on the eastern side of Grand Baie, offers only a few resorts. Secluded coves, opulent accommodations, and world-class spas have made Mauritius’ north-east coast an increasingly popular choice for honeymooners and others looking for a romantic getaway.
- The North Coast is the entryway to even tinier Mauritius islets, such as the prosaically called Flat and Round Islands, as well as others with more evocative names like Gunners’ Quoin and Serpent Island.
2. West Coast And Flic En Flac
The west coast of Mauritius features unrivaled beaches, ranging from the pristine white sands of Trou aux Biches in the extreme north to the remote Le Morne Peninsula on the island’s south-west point. And Le Morne offers the most stunning setting on the island, with its long stretch of sand, reef-protected lagoon, and outstanding golf course all nestled at the foot of an imposing mountain.
- As for Trou aux Biches, clear water and safe swimming make this stretch of coast particularly popular with families, and with coral reef just a short swim from shore, it’s also great for snorkelling.
- Trou aux Biches can get busy at times but if that’s the case then simply stroll along the coast to neighbouring Pointe aux Piments – a refreshingly quiet stretch of sand, although it is rocky in places.
- South of Port Louis is found the best known and longest beach on the west coast: Flic-en-Flac. Protected from the south-east winds, the tranquil waters of Flic-en-Flac beach are perfect for swimming, kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving, and its palm-fringed shore has a decent selection of hotels, shops, restaurants, and pubs.
- The West Coast of Mauritius is shaded by casuarina trees (confusingly, they look a lot like pine trees popping up out of the white sub-tropical sand) and is home to the country’s largest and most artistically decorated Hindu temple as well as rolling sugar plantations.
3. Belle Mare, East Coast
Mauritius eastern coast is more exclusive and less developed than the west coast. It is also home to some of the island’s most luxury hotels as well as the breathtaking Belle Mare region.
Belle Mare is one of most beautiful beaches in Mauritius, with the softest powder-white sand, an emerald lagoon, and lush green vegetation, and while the sea can get rough at times you can always take a refreshing dip in the lagoon.
- At the northern end of Belle Mare lies the Post de Flacq Peninsula with top resorts and is the best place to visit in Mauritius for a choice of golf courses.
- To the south of the peninsula and only a short boat cruise from Ile Aux Cerfs, lies Beau Camp, a tropical playground where you can enjoy all manner of water sports from parasailing to water skiing. Here, you can round off your day at Beau Camp with a seafood barbecue on the beach.
- The east coast catches the wind, so in summer (around November to April) you have a welcoming sea breeze but in winter (around May to October) it can be a bit blustery.
While we have no doubt that your main reason for visiting Mauritius is sandy beaches and tropical sea, we would also highly recommend a few days inland, surrounded by forested hills woven with cool, clear streams and nature trails.
The Black River Gorges National Park is well known for its nature walks through thick jungle-like vegetation and pretty waterfalls, hiking and mountain biking trails, heavenly viewpoints, plenty of tortoises and fantastic birdlife including pink pigeons and green parrots.
Abseiling from the Chamarel waterfall is not for the faint of heart: it drops around 95 meters (312 feet) with spray that rises more than half way up!
Other places worth leaving the beach for include the surrealistically striped sand dunes at the ‘Seven Coloured Earth’, which is also in the Chamarel region near the Black River Gorges.
These dunes are estimated to be 7 million years old and range in color from the anticipated yellow and brown to the unexpected black, red, and purple.
And if you are up in the north of the island, why not spend a few hours at the ‘Jardin des Pamplemousses’, botanical gardens with shady trees and giant water lilies? On your drive, stop at local farm stalls to buy fresh coffee, sugar cane and juicy pineapples.
5. South Coast
Mauritius south coast is craggier than the rest of the island and its towering cliffs make for wonderfully dramatic scenery. There are fewer swimming beaches here – and therefore less development – and many local people say that the Mauritius south coast still reminds them of the way most of the island used to be: wild, beautiful and authentic.
This is the best place to visit in Mauritius if you want to get off-the-beaten track and insert some adventure into your Mauritius beach holiday.
- In the south you will find the Blue Bay Marine Park (Blue Baie) which protects rich coral reefs and offers some of the best diving and snorkelling in Mauritius. At least 50 different coral species have been identified here and at least 80% of them are still alive.
- Also well worth mentioning are Bel Ombre and nearby Chemin Grenier – both pristine stretches of sand in a lush green setting.
- Far from the relative bustle of Grand Baie and the famous west coast, the south coast of Mauritius is for people who want to escape the crowds and enjoy genuine tranquility.
- Ile Aigrettes was declared a nature reserve in 1965 and is home to several endemic plants found nowhere else.
- The Mahebourg Market is a lively place to get a feel for an authentic island trading place.