Finding Mauritius attractions, things to do and places to visit in the island is so easy that you may wonder why did you not book a longer break in Mauritius!! Should you start from the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden or the Blue Penny Museum or the Black River Gorges National Park? There are many excursions out there. Let’s start with how can you travel.
Distances are not that big but if you want to cover a fair bit you probably need to rent a car. So I did when in Mauritius. It was quit cheap, approax 20 Euro/day. Find below more info on the operator (I do not have any affiliation with them, I just had a great service). Bare in mind that the drive is on the left side and the traffic can be wild. But there are so many things to do and you really want a flexible way to move
If you have been already to India, yes, the traffic is somehow similar to there. People just stop the car wherever they need, even in the middle of the street to talk with a friend. Do not get stressed, it’s just the Mauritian way to see the life, relaxed. You can either wait or much better drive around the vehicle, paying attention to the coming cars. Motorbikers are not wild, they actually drive more carefully than in some countries in Europe.
Mauritius Beaches in Black and White
You either decide to rent a car or take a taxi (a more secure option) you will end up paying in Euro, the currency in the tourism environment.
The last option is to take buses. Mauritius has a good public transportation system with frequent buses. Just ask the locals for more information. Everybody talks English and French, beside Creole and Hindu, if you master that languages.
There is no order in the attractions and excursions below, it really depends in what you are interested the most, although there are few must visits as number 1 below
The must Mauritius attractions : beaches, more beaches and even more beaches….
Although Mauritius is not just just coast life, the beach is a probably attraction number one, the main reason to come to Mauritius. Here is a full map of the best beaches with all the things to do
Trou Aux Biches beach
Port Baie Beach
Check the full guide, including maps, to the 10 best beaches in Mauritius to visit
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, also called the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, is a popular tourist attraction in the north part of the island. This is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere and it has some spectacular plants. It does not matter who you talk with, locals or tourist guides, the first question is “Have you been to the botanical garden?”. There must be a reason for that
Black River Gorges National Park
This is truly a spectacular National Park. You have two options to visit it.
View from the walking excursion
- have a walk: you can start in one of the two main Information Center. La Petrin Information Center was my favourite because very close to other attractions in the Southern part of Mauritius (more on them below). The most popular circuit is the Macchabee Trail. It’s a loop starting at La Petrin. You can have a view in the reconstruction a the Visitor Center. It’s an easy 10km walk if you stay on the main path. If you decide to take variations you may end up adding another hour to your trekking even thought the number of km is the same (I ended up in a steep descend/ascend full of mud myself!!). I do not suggest to adventure on side tracks in the rainy season or when there is a possibility of a storm. It can be extremely slippery even on a dry week, we are in the rainy forest at the end of the day.
- have a drive: start at La Petrin Information Center to have a view of the relief map of the park. drive from there direction Chamarel stopping at the Alexandra Falls Lookout, the Gorges Viewpoint and at the West Coast Lookout, just after Chamarel. In all cases there are organised parking areas and easy walks to the viewpoints
West Coast Lookout
Check the Black River Gorges National Park travel guide including maps for your walk or drive through the park
Blue Penny Museum
If you are in Port Louis and you are interested in numismatic than have a check to the Blue Penny Museum, a stamp museum in the Caudan Waterfront. I do not have the numismatic passion and I personally had a miss but the reviews from the locals are quite good
Ganga Talao or Grand Basin
The young locals usually call it the Grand Basin and it is a crater lake situated in a secluded mountain area, just 2km from La Petrin Information Center. It is considered the most sacred Hindu place in the island. According to legend, Shiva and his wife Parvati left here few drops from the Ganges river. That was the start of Ganga Talao.
The Grand Basin – View from the top
I visited this place in August and it was almost empty but come in February and it is jam packed. In fact the last few km of the roads coming to the lake are so wide that you think to be in an airport.
This road is jam packed in February
A visit to the Grand Basin is a must once in Mauritius. Read more info about Ganga Talao and other attractions in the close area.
Should you or should you not visit the Eureka house. It is a pricey visit. The ticket is expensive and honestly not sure it is an experience I would suggest unless interested in architecture and you want to see a typical Creole house (not too many around nowadays). The highlight for me was the short walk to the waterfall and the park around the house.
The Eureka House from the backyard
Jummah Masjid Mosque in Port Louis
This is most definitely a well kept secret of Port Louis. Many tourists visit the Port Louis Market (which is gorgeous) and the Caudan area (a river/sea front shopping center) before heading back to the beach/resort. Add the Mosque for an insight into the Mauritius religions. Here is another tip. If you have a chunky DSLR just pretend to be a photographer for a day and you will receive a special treatment with an inside view of the mosque.
A guided visit to the Mosque
A guide is welcoming you at the entrance. When asked what was my work I said “Photographer and writing for a travelling website”. I was taken in all the rooms of the mosque, beside in the minaret and on the roof. Great experience! A final personal offer was a must. I had such a great insight to the Muslim Mauritian culture.
Port Louis highlight
This visit was one of the highlight of my trip. Check the full exploration to the Jummah Mosque with photos and full story.
Port Louis Central Market (everyday)
There are no secrets here. This is the place I have met the most of the tourists, beside the beaches obviously. However there is another great tip. Do not limit yourself to visit only the veggie and fruit market. There is also the meat and fish market (on the other side of the street) which was an incredible photography inspiration in my case. How many tourists have I seen inside? Nil.
The fish market
The veggie Port Louis market
If you are going to explore this market I suggest you to read the the Complete guide to Port Louis and the Market.
Mahebourg Market (Monday till 5pm)
A much smaller version of the Port Louis one. If you are on that side of the island I reckon a visit is a must. I drove a fear bit to go there and I had a great fun. It is more managed by and dedicated to the locals. I organised a day tour here in combination with a visit to the next attraction
Smaller and more dedicated to the locals
Ile aux Aigrettes
Are you curious to see how was Mauritius when discovered in 1638 by the Dutch, how was the vegetation, what animals were there, how hard was to even walk in the island. Visit Aigrettes Island to have the full experience. A two hours tour operated by the Park Rangers which will guide you through the local nature. I really enjoyed the visit and it was my first time ever I met such a big turtle, sure over 100kg!! Not to be missed also because the full income is used to protect the island.
Sugar Museum and Sugar Factory
Being in a tropical island and visiting a museum can be seen as….well…. boring! However consider that the Mauritius economy is based on sugar cane. If you want to understand the history of the island and have in insight into its economy than take half a day, maybe early in the morning, to have a tour. I could not believe how many type of sugar are actually existing, I never tasted so many LOL
Mauritius attractions and excursions
It’s always hard to end a list, it’s always complicated to draw a line. It was indeed a difficult exercise to limit the selection to 11 attractions, excursions and things to do.
If you have been there let me know your feedback and what you loved the most 😉
One thing you can easily find in Mauritius is an organised resort. At first I was looking into it as an option and I found that Hotels Combined offered the best packages. In saying that, at the end I decided to go for 2 bed and breakfast because they both gave me more freedom with my timing and my photography. I did not really want to be stressed when out on a sunset (usually at the same time of dinner).
I decided to spend the first week on the south-west coast. From there I could see the southern part of the island, the Black River Gorges National Park, Grand Bassin and the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis.
After some investigation I decided to book Marlin Creek in Riviere Noire. Cristophe and Ingrid, the owners, were just two stars on earth. Super friendly and always providing advices on things to do and discover. It is in the middle of the Riviere Noir village where I could find few restaurants for the night. Freshly cooked breakfast was waiting in the morning, which was a great plus 😀
The room I had was spacious and really well cleaned. Difficult to find anything that did not work. Great experience
The second week I was up north where I believe you can find the best beaches of Mauritius. From there I could also visit the north route up to Grand Gaube and the Grand Baie area.
I booked at the Bleu De Toi Boutique Guest House in Pereybere. It was a real heaven. I stayed in the Hope room, in front of the garden and the swimming pool (I love my early morning swim) and it was just awesome. Great big breakfast too, anything you want just ask. I really liked the décor all around the guest house, I felt like in the perfect creole place. It’s not really located in the centre of Pereybere. You need a 10 minutes walk for either the public beach or the restaurants which was not a big deal to me anyway.
I personally suggest to book the accommodation in Mauritius in advance. Too hard to get around and on-line you get the best deals
Please note that I do not have any affiliations with both guest house owners, I just had a great stay
Travel & Photography Tips
- Best time of the day for photography is sunset, if you are on the North and West Coast, and sunrise, if you are on the East Coast.
- Take a quick lens with you for market photography, the environment is very dark. I had a 50mm F/1.8 on my Nikon D600 and it worked fantastically well. I was really astonished by the result, also considering I paid below A$200 for this lens!!
- Push up with the ISO, both the markets and the mosque are dark places
- Tripod is a must for the sunset/sunrise shots
- Walk on top of the Signal Mountain Road for the best viewpoint over Port Louis and the Central West Coast
- I stayed in an AirBnb accommodation. There are many available on line. Go with the comments
- the car was rented at Maki Car (no affiliation programs running, just genuine advise)
- if renting a car or a scooter, pay double attention to the local traffic!!
- in Port Louis park the car in the Champs de Mars area, the only free place in the city (otherwise you need to buy special scratch tickets)
Map of Mauritius and top attractions
More info about Mauritius