Well…. there it is……
I said it.
I did not like Mauritius.
Not at all!
Surprising, yes….. but that was my experience.
Somehow I had envisioned white sandy beaches, palm trees, quiet lagoons and anything else you might expect in a tropical paradise, but there was none of that.
The typical Mauritius photos must be either photoshopped or come from 5 star resorts with manicured artificial beaches and imported palm trees – because they certainly aren’t native to Mauritius!
Beaches were tiny, 2 maybe 3 meters in latitude for the most part. Often black and rocky, and instead of palm trees, featuring regular trees and green grass which just doesn’t look that attractive.
The color of the water is beautiful though – and very distinct for Mauritius. Very different from the turquoise all around the Cape Peninsula for example.
As for the island itself, many parts are pretty run down, especially the smaller towns – and the weather……oh the weather……
The Worst Weather Ever (for a whole Week…)
I probably had the worst weather ever – and for an entire week! Dark clouds, heavy rain and thunderstorms all day long – and – hot and super humid. The worst climate I’ve ever experienced!
Obviously, in sunny weather my experience would have been better though probably not that much.
I’ve since heard similar experiences from other travelers, and my South African friends were also not head over heels. They were recommending the Seychelles instead.
I was definitely not the only one who felt Mauritius was a bit overrated….
In case you are wondering – I had great local guides, Mauritian friends who had invited me to stay with them, so didn’t miss the “great secret spots” that only a local would know.
My friends were of Indian descent, as are more than half(!) the population.
There are three major influences in Mauritius making for an interesting cultural blend – Indian, French and Creole. Yep, that’s right!
Very unusual and giving Mauritius her very own distinct flair – and that’s a compliment….;-)
Food is amazing, people are friendly, life is laid back.
However, not at immigration….
I almost Got Quarantined
When I arrived at the airport from South Africa, I didn’t have my friends’ address because she was picking me up.
The immigration officer insisted on calling her and asking for the address. Turns out he actually lived in the same neighborhood and suggested we should have a beer sometime…..;-)
After that – I was finally admitted in.
The best part was still to come though!
The next morning, my friend (who is again, Mauritian) received a phone call from the health branch of immigration demanding to take my blood at 11am that morning – to test it for God knows what.
They felt that having been in Botswana posed a health risk that needed to be investigated.
I’m not making this up!
My friend, a government employee herself, firmly told them that wasn’t going to happen and that it made no sense since I was leaving in a few days and showed no symptoms.
Keep in mind that test samples would actually have to be shipped to the UK for testing – seriously!
Obviously, they had a lot of time on their hands if they could make house calls – and fortunately, my friend put an end to this.
The most complex immigration process ever!
Coming back to the weather…..
As I mentioned I had the good fortune of having local guides. People who loved their island and had lived there all their lives – ideal to show me the beautiul spots – and there certainly are quite a few!
My friend had been out sick for a few days, prompting the co-workers and superiors of her husband – an IT engineer also working for the government – to insist that he stay home as well and be with his wife.
Again, I’m not kidding…
For those in good positions, life is good in Mauritius and very comfortable and relaxed.
A Mauritian Road Trip
This allowed us all to go on a little road trip together, exploring some of the most beautiful parts of Southern Mauritius, and this was the itinerary:
Day 1 was the loop on the left, starting from Rose Belle. On Day 2, we went to Mahebourg and Blue Bay (see below).
A Tea Plantation and a Rhumerie
Our first stop was a tea plantation along the way – Bois Cherie. Nice scenery, but a typical tourist attraction and quite crowded, so we continued on.
We also passed a famous rum distillery – Rhumerie de Chamarel – and passed on that, too….;-)
The weather had just cleared a little and we wanted to enjoy that, rather than trying this wide selection of rums:
A Luscious Rainforest of a National Park
Instead we headed into Black River Gorge National Park and were treated to this scenery:
Thick, heavy rain clouds everywhere (this is what it looked like the whole week I was there….)
“Paper Trees” as the locals call them…
Along the way, many waterfalls, including Chamarel Waterfall on our way to the ocean.
With sunny blue skies these views would have been stunning no doubt, and Mauritius certainly has her wonders…..
For lunch, my friends took me to one of their favorite creole restaurants near Chamarel, and the food was amazing! Then we continued to another Mauritian landmark:
The Le Morne Peninsula
Located on the far South West corner on the island, Le Morne is easily recognizable by this big rock/monolith:
even the clouds gave way for a short moment.
Le Morne is a popular water sports area, especially among kite surfers.
The mountain is beautiful, the beach, again, not so much….
A Beautiful Coastal Line
From here, we continued along the coastal road, dotted with a few more famous spots:
Baie Du Cap
Riviere Des Galets
Gris Gris Beach at Souillac
green grass never far from the beach…. – but otherwise, a beautiful spot.
That was it for the first day!
The Laid Back Fishing Village of Mahebourg
Day 2 took us to the fishing town of Mahebourg. My friends love to go there and just relax, eat good food, sit by the water front and enjoy life.
And it is a nice spot!
The food was amazing! – first, they bought local fish, fresh from the boat, for a delicious dinner…
and then we headed to the market for some amazing Indian street food!
Doesn’t look like much, but soooooo yummy!
Lovely Blue Bay
From here we headed down the Eastern Coast to Blue Bay, another lovely spot – though once again, quite rainy.
On my remaining days, I returned to some of these spots and also drove up to the North Coast via the capital Port Louis (not much to see there….).
The Charme of Grand Baie
The North of Mauritius is drier and less humid, so normally much more predictable weather, but even up here in lovely Grand Baie, it was raining most of the time – though I did manage to sneak in this sunnier shot:
Overall, Mauritius is definitely a nice island, but compared to the many other options – and my favorite islands of Hawaii and Bali – it doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
And it wasn’t just the rain. Mauritius didn’t touch me or move me – and that’s ok, certainly for Mauritius…..;-)
Maybe you’ll have a different experience and if so, I’d love to know! (in the comments below)
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