Mauritius. The name echoes sapphire-blue waters, powder-white beaches, the most beautiful views over the ocean and the perfect scenario for an exotic holiday on a tropical island.
It may be better known as a honeymooner’s paradise, lying peacefully like an idyllic drop in the middle of the Indian Ocean, yet this multicultural nation – listed in Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit in 2018 – offers more than just pristine beaches.
Mauritius dazzles even the most discerning travellers with its hypnotic blend of cultures and influences, excellent cuisine and charming traditions; it enchants with its architecture – mixing oriental pagodas, colonial Dutch buildings and French chateaux, and it bewitches with its jaw-dropping natural beauty.
If you are still wondering how to get there or the secrets behind its cuisine and culture, here are ten interesting facts you might want to know about this dreamy destination.
Mark Twain visited Mauritius in 1896 and this is what he gathered from a very enthusiastic local: “From one citizen you gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
The quote is quite possibly one of the most famous about Mauritius – and let us tell you – it’s so right. From the east to the west, from the north to the south, the island hides natural wonders in every corner, that can really lead you to think it is heaven on earth. Mountains, pristine beaches, blue lagoons, lush tropical forest, thundering waterfalls, gorgeous marine life, coral reefs, even golf courses – you name it and Mauritius has it.
Mauritius was fought over for centuries by the Dutch, the French and the British, who colonised it in turns – and it has an incredible history of discovery, colonisation and independence.
The first ones to discover this tropical island were the Arabs, followed by the Portuguese in 1507 – but no one really lived on it until the first Dutch settlers arrived in 1638. The Dutch named it after a prince, Prins Mauritz van Nassaueiland, making Mauritius one of the only countries in the world to be named after a person.
Then came the French in 1710 – their influence still tangible nowadays in the Franco-Creole dialect most Mauritians speak – and lastly the British, who brought a mix of cultures to the island, sadly through slavery, back in the days.
Independence was proclaimed 50 years ago, in March 1968. Mauritius is now a republic, and according to the 2017 World Peace Report, one of the only four countries in the world not having tensions with neighbouring countries (together with Botswana, Chile and Uruguay.)
Mauritius is multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual – a melting pot of different cultures and traditions, reflected into both the local cuisine and culture.
The island is 68 percent Indian, but also comprises Creole, Chinese, French, plus English and South Africans. The country’s official languages are English and French, but you can also hear Mauritian Creole, Hindi and Tamil.
An incredible blend of Chinese, French, African and Indian influences the cuisine of Mauritius. Strong ties with French culture make it easy to find popular dishes like coq au vin and bouillon (a broth-based soup) and good baguettes, but Mauritian cuisine is ready to surprise you with piquant chutneys, hearty stews, curries, noodles, Creole stews, fresh seafood and much more.
Once you get there, make sure you try a Dholl Pori – a revised version of an Indian flatbread, Dholl Pori is fried thin bread stuffed with ground yellow split peas and served with chutney and bean curry; or a Fish Vindaye – the country’s adaptation of a Vindaloo curry, a delicious, spicy fish curry cooked in mustard, garlic, ginger and served with rice and lentils. Wash it all down with a bottle of Phoenix, Mauritius’ local beer.
People call it a tropical island for a reason, right? Mauritius enjoys a mild tropical maritime climate throughout the year. During the summer months, from December to March the average temperature sits around 29 degrees, while in winter (June to September) the temperature drops to a ‘chilly’ 25 degrees.
Ever heard of the Dodo, the best-known extinct species in the world? Endemic to the island, the dodo was wiped out in a few decades, due to hunting and invasive species destroying its habitat, but its legend has lasted for centuries.
Head to the Riviere Noire District, in south-west Mauritius, to witness the Seven Coloured Earths, a geological formation of sand dunes with seven distinct colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow). These sands settle spontaneously in different layers, giving the dunes a surrealistic touch. Another interesting fact of these dunes is that they seem to never erode.
Originated from Madagascar and the mainland Africa, Sega is the musical expression of Mauritian’s way of life: joy and liveliness. Both a dance and a traditional music style, Sega can be traced back to the 18th century, when it was performed by slaves. Head to the beach on a Sunday, where you will be able to see locals dancing and singing it, and why not – maybe you could join them for a sway of the hips!
Find your inner Robinson Crusoe for a day and go island hopping around Mauritius. Discover the perfect coral formations of Île aux Benitiers, wiggle your toes in the sand on Îlot Gabriel – a wildlife refuge and inhabited island, and spend a day in paradise at Île aux Cerfs – a private island where you can just work on that tan and take in the natural beauty of Mauritius… Or play a round of golf at the Île aux Cerfs Golf Club, for a very unique ‘island’ golfing experience surrounded by turquoise waters.
Don’t forget to pack your snorkel, an underwater world awaits you in Mauritius!
If you are thinking that getting to Mauritius could be difficult – think again! Thanks to Air Mauritius, getting to this palm-fringed playground from Australia has never been easier.
Celebrating 50 years in 2017, Air Mauritius is more than just an airline, Air Mauritius acts as an ambassador for Mauritius, bringing the spirit of the country and its people on each flight, with the outstanding service that the crew provides. Air Mauritius has received several international awards recognizing the quality of its service on the ground and in flight, including several distinctions at the prestigious World Travel Awards for Leading Airline.
Air Mauritius flies twice weekly from Perth direct to Mauritius with easy connections from the East Coast & Adelaide with Virgin Australia. Air Mauritius also has direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Paris, as well as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Nairobi & Antananarivo (Madagascar). Making Mauritius an ideal island escape addition to an African safari.
Ready to book? Call Luxury Escapes flights on 1300 88 99 00 and head to this tropical oasis with us and Air Mauritius!
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