Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family all-inclusive or an adventure, Mauritius has it all. From five-stars to self-catering, there is a hotel to suit every budget – and plenty to do
With incredible levels of service and attention to detail, the top hotels in Mauritius guarantee a world-class holiday – but even on a limited budget, you can hang out at the same glorious beaches and swim in the same azure waters. From family all-inclusives to fancy five-stars, I choose six of the best places to stay and suggest a few ways to pass the time on this paradise island.
WHAT TO DO
Walk with Lions This is a favourite of mine, available at Casela Nature & Leisure Park (www.caselayemen.mu). Take a walk through tropical flora and fauna with a couple of feline friends. Part of the Safari Adventures Mauritius programme (see www.safari-adventures-mauritius.com), this unique experience gives you the chance to interact with these magnificent creatures. Alternatively, try the Cheetah Encounter – an "up close and personal" wildlife adventure available through the same company.
Pamplemousse Gardens Established by a French governor 300 years ago, the gardens feature a collection of palm trees and Queen Victoria water lilies, among other things.
Cap Malheureux Beach Located at the northern tip of the island, the beach has a beautiful red-roofed chapel perched on the water's edge. This is my favourite spot in Mauritius – as much for the surrounding area as for the beach itself.
Chamarel – seven-coloured earth A small fee gives you entrance to this lunar-like landscape, best photographed at sunrise. Today, souvenir test tubes containing the multi-coloured earth can be bought from beach vendors and tourist boutiques. The phenomenon has never been explained. However, it is believed the soils are composed of mineral-rich volcanic ash.
Ile aux Cerfs Easily accessible by boat, just off the east coast, this beach paradise comes highly recommended. Go early, spend the whole day there and take advantage of the great snorkelling on offer.
Black River Gorges National Park This 6,794-hectare forest is perfect for hiking, with its plethora of indigenous plants, birds and wildlife. The Black River Peak Trail will take you to Mauritius's highest mountain, while the Maccabee Trail starts nearby and plunges into the gorge.
La Vanille - The Crocodile Park Worth visiting for its thousands of Nile crocodiles, the park is also the only place worldwide to breed aldabra tortoises. Children will love it. Look out, too, for deer, monkeys, wild boars and an insectarium.
The beaches In my opinion, the best beaches are found in the north and include: Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas; Mont Choisy, a narrow white stretch of sand curving north; and Péreybère, a little cove between Grand-Baie and Cap Malheureux.
WHERE TO STAY
Le Tropical Hotel Great if you want a friendly, informal atmosphere – and a beachfront location.
Veranda Grand-Baie Combine sunbathing with shopping close to Grand-Baie, with its wide selection of restaurants, bars and clubs.
Le Mauricia A relaxed and simple four-star within walking distance of Grand-Baie. Offers an all-inclusive package which is great for families. See www.lemauricia-hotel.com for further details.
Shandrani Resort One of my favourites, with a more luxurious feel than most all-inclusives (ie, you don't have to wear a strange-coloured wrist band) – what you might call "ultra all-inclusive". Cocktails are premium brands and served in glasses rather than plastic cups. As well as great accommodation and amazing food, the resort offers free watersports (including water-skiing and free dives for certified divers) – albeit in the less exclusive south of the island, close to the airport.
The Grand Mauritian Another personal favourite, offering exquisite deluxe rooms and service that is second to none – almost over-the-top, in fact. You will be pampered and looked after from start to finish here. Bordered by the reef and ocean nature park on the coast, and lush fields of sugar cane behind, the hotel offers complimentary watersports, including water-skiing, and ticks almost every box.
Dinarobin Golf Hotel & Spa This elegant five-star resort is a haven of peace and tranquillity, yet satisfies active holidaymakers with a range of complimentary land and water sports. The Spa by Clarins is without doubt the most beautiful in Mauritius, the ideal place to relax and be pampered.
If independence is your thing, you cannot beat the Grand-Baie area for self-catering. Not only can you take advantage of the wonderful beaches, but there are cafes/stalls and restaurants to suit all budgets. A favourite of mine is the Chinese restaurant Pagoda on the main street in Grand-Baie. Car hire is a good way to get around the island – and relatively easy, for the British at least, as they drive on the left-hand side.