Mark Twain certainly had it right more than a century ago when he said, “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after.”
Sure, from the buzzing Grand Baie in the north—a haven for water sports fans and adrenaline junkies in search of the local skydiving landing spot—to the relaxing tree-lined strip at St. Félix in the south, it’s one of the best beach vacations in the world.
But what else? For starters, you should explore. The coastal road that runs from Tamarin to Souillac offers a snapshot of the whole island; coral reefs, lagoons, viewpoints, and nature reserves line the route. Affordable hotels and restaurants allow you to make the journey at the pace that you desire.
Away from the coastline, the parts of the island that aren’t already national parks, lakes, or vast expanses of nature are in fact little pockets of culture. The shopping towns of Curepipe (big, indoor city shops) and Quatre Bornes (hectic market stalls) are excellent for day trips.
Near the capital city of Port Louis, one of the most popular things to do is visit the near-300-year-old Pamplemousses Botanical Garden (or Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden), a sprawling hive of exotic flora. To really get back to nature, though, head for Black River Gorges, home to Alexandra Falls and exotic animals, but bring a sturdy pair of walking boots because this park is enormous.
For some man-made wonder, you’ll find churches, mosques, and other religious iconography scattered throughout. Then again, you could just relax on some of the planet’s most beautiful beaches.