As most Canadians do, when the cold weather creeps back around, you might as well start packing your bags and booking your flights to a more forgiving climate down south. But as we move closer into the summer months, Canadians tend to change their travel plans to somewhere a little more north of the hemisphere. I’m telling you to stop what you’re doing and book tickets for one of the most astounding countries you’ll ever see – and probably never heard of. No it’s not Cuba, Turks and Caicos or even Thailand – for all you young mainstream travellers. In the southern most region of Africa, westerly, over the hump of Madagascar lies an island so tiny, you’d have to zoom in for google maps to even show the country’s name.
A country nestled in the south-western region of Africa, well into the Indian Ocean. Some would say, Mauritius is soon becoming the “Caribbean” for European travellers. At this point you probably still don’t know what Mauritius looks like. You’re probably imagining something like Seychelles, or even the Maldives. Both great countries to visit, but from my experience, there’s something about Mauritius – beyond the beautiful beaches, that make you want to stay for good. So here’s 8 reasons why Mauritius might just be the place for you.
1. THE BEACHES
Let’s be real here. 98% of the reason you’re leaving Canada to travel elsewhere is because Canadian beaches just don’t cut it. You want to feel the salt water cleanse your skin and the hot sun make you fifty shades more attractive. Well look no further, as Mauritius has some of the best beaches in the world. In January 2017, National Geographic wrote that Blue Bay, in Mauritius is one of the most stunning beaches you’ll ever see – teeming with diverse aquatic life, soft velvety sand, and crystal clear waters – how could anyone stay away? Other well known beaches include Flic-en-Flac, Tamarin, and Grande Baie.
2. THE NIGHTLIFE
Personally, I’ve always wanted to go to a beach club – and when I got the chance to do so during my time there, I definitely did not regret it. In all honesty, I’m not the biggest party goer, but I think the nightlife there has something for everyone. From partying right by the ocean, having a full dinner at midnight on the shore, to simply just laying about on the sand looking up at the stars. The nightlife culture here is the most well rounded I’ve seen for a tourist destination. Notable clubs to visit are Banana beach club, C Beach Club and Big Willy’s Sports Bar.
3. THE SPORTS
If you’re anything like me, then you’re all about the surf. I’m not an expert or anything, but what I can say is that Mauritius has some of the best spots to surf whether you’re a beginner or seasoned professional. You will find that others agree as well! Avid surfers, and aquatic sports junkies from South Africa, Australia, and Brazil come to Mauritius specifically for some choice waves. If you’re not into watersports, Mauritius also has a variety of land based activities like rock climbing, trekking, mountain biking, horseback riding and for the non active traveller a primo helicopter ride that circles the island – might set you back a few hundred dollars though. Popular surf spots include La Morne and Tamarin – but you can basically surf anywhere.
4. THE CLIMATE
Fair skin, dry skin, oily skin, Mauritius doesn’t care – you’ll be safe in it’s arms. I have combination skin, so whether it’s winter or summer I always get royally screwed over. But for some reason while I was in Mauritius I could count on less than one hand how many times I got even the smallest of pimples. I’m not sure if it’s a combination of the salt water and the balmy climate, but I am forever grateful for the clear skin Mauritius bestowed on me. Besides that, if you’re one that hates winter but likes a little chilliness then Mauritius is your spot! Cool in the mountains, and hot beach weather on ground level – you kind of get the best of both worlds.
5. THE WILDLIFE
Mauritius isn’t exactly a country teeming with land based wildlife. A lot of the species there were transported when it was first colonized. Nevertheless, the birds, aquatic life, and plant life that live there are something of a spectacle for sure. If you get a chance to swim in the reefs, do so – the colours of the diverse species contrasting with the coral is a beautiful sight. The gardens on the island are just as beautiful with plants of all sizes and colours, you’d think you were in wonderland. As for the animals, there’s a few monkey’s here and there but don’t expect to see any lions or elephants in the wild – this isn’t KENYA get with the program. Also, can we just take a minute to appreciate that their national animal is a DoDo bird. Prime places to see are the Pamplemousse gardens, and Blue Bay Marine Park.
6. THE LANGUAGE
If you’re first language isn’t English, worry not! Mauritius has enough working languages that they got you covered. I’ve met plenty of locals that spoke anything from French to Arabic, and Mandarin to Dutch. If you’re originally from India you’re in luck! A few friends I met along the way told me that you can basically find every language spoken in India on the island. For those who only speak English, do not freight, the main governing language on the island English so basically everyone speaks it. With that said however, most people prefer to speak either French or Creole. Out of common courtesy though, you should start hitting up Rosetta Stone.
7. THE FOOD
Foodies take note! This island is abundant in cuisines from all around the world. From French to Middle Eastern, to an Indian/Italian fusion, Mauritius has got you covered. Imagine having freshly caught fish layered in a curry sauce, on the beach, with “straight from the garden” fruit cocktail – heaven. For my muslim hommies, Mauritius has an extensive array of halal meats and halal friendly restaurants for you to enjoy. Don’t forget about the fresh fruit! Most beaches will have seaside vendors that sell fruit they’ve grown for really affordable prices ex. Purple passion fruit normally 2$ CAD, goes for 25 cents CAD – lord help me. Instagrammers you will thank me, your foodie flat lays will thank me, your followers will thank me #foodporn. Notable places to eat are Le Pescatore, Le Barachois, and Kiosque Magique.
8. THE PEOPLE
The most important point on this list is definitely the people. As a first time go-er I had no idea where anything was, how the transit system worked, or even which side of the road they drove on. But through it all, I met the most inviting, compassionate, and hilarious group of individuals that welcomed me into their home, and showed me the absolute beauty of their country and it’s culture. Prior to arriving in Mauritius, they faced one of the worst tropical storms that has ever hit the island in over 100 years. Killing many people and decimating homes and agriculture. Despite all this, I came to an island bustling – people smiling, laughing as if the disaster never happened. After speaking with some of the locals, they told me that it affected them pretty hard. That it wasn’t easy to try and rebuild a home you’ve lived in all your life. But even at their worst point, one woman said to me, “be grateful for one’s life, cherish it, the good and the bad, and through it all you’re still alive aren’t you?”. I never forgot these words, and the kindness the Mauritian people showed me.
Long story short, I hope my reasons for loving Mauritius are enough reasons for you to want to go yourself. I know we’re in a time now that everyone’s on edge, afraid to explore and experience new things. I say, kick that fear to the curb and go experience a place like Mauritius – because believe me, you won’t regret it.