A Baker’s Dozen Unforgettable Places to Visit in Mauritius

Considering a trip to Mauritius? Prepare to be amazed. There’s more to this island paradise than lush landscapes and breathtaking beaches. Here's our list of 13 top spots to visit in Mauritius.

Mauritius is a small, remote island nation in the Indian Ocean. It’s about 1,200 miles east of the African mainland, on the far side of Madagascar. This beautiful island combines stunning beaches and tropical forests with a lively history and fascinating cosmopolitan culture.

If you’re the type of person who loves to explore historical places, Mauritius may be just the place for you. If you’d rather lounge on a beach with a good book, Mauritius may be just the place for you too. And if you are the type of person who loves both history and nature – plus shopping, fine dining, cultural richness, and a lush, diverse natural habitat – well, you probably ought to start packing right now. You will be amazed by all this tiny island has to offer.

Here’s a quick look at 13 unique and exciting places to visit in Mauritius.

#1 Balaclava Ruins

Balaclava is one of the most fascinating historical places to visit in Mauritius
Balaclava’s old flour mill offers a fascinating glimpse of 19th century Mauritius.

It is true that Mauritius first gained a following among travelers because of its beautiful beaches. You can bathe in the sun, swim in the water, surf, snorkel…the beaches are among the best in the world. But make time for the country’s rich history too.

There is no better place to start your historical exploration of Mauritius than with a trip to the Balaclava Ruins.

Don’t be misled by the term “ruins.” There are no pyramids here, no coliseums or temples to forgotten gods. The Balaclava Ruins date back to the 19th century when Mauritius was a French colony. A tour of the site will take you past an old flour mill and a lime kiln dating from the colonial era.

The grounds are lush, and tropical plants dot the landscape. You’ll have an opportunity to lose yourself amid natural footpaths and walkways. Don’t be surprised if you emerge from overhanging trees to find a gorgeous view of the mountains.

Be aware that the ruins are located on the grounds of the Martim Hotel, so you can’t walk freely into them. Stop by the hotel’s security desk and get a pass. It’s well worth the trouble. You’ll get a glimpse of Mauritius’s colonial past along with a relaxing stroll on the grounds. What more could any history lover want?

#2 Triolet

Triolet's Maheswarnath Mandir is a must-see entry in the list of places to see in Mauritius
Legend has it that a pirate’s treasure funded the construction of Maheswarnath Mandir.

The tiny town of Triolet has a French name, but the city is host to Mauritius’s most notable Indian edifice: Maheswarnath Mandir, a large Hindu temple that was built to honor the gods Shiva, Krishna, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.

Mauritius gained a small Indian population of laborers during its years as a colonial holding of the British East India Company. In 1819, Indian plantation workers began developing a site in hopes of erecting a Hindu temple. According to legend, the workers found a huge pot of gold and silver buried in the soil. They selected the spot as the site for their temple and used the coins – which they imagined to be buried pirate treasure – the fund the construction.

The story might be true and it might be not, but the beautiful temple is worth a visit in any case.

In addition to the temple, be sure to see Solitude Lake, which is part of the well-named locality of Solitude. The lake is a favorite spot among Mauritian fishermen. You also see the chimney tower of the solid Solitude Sugar Mill, which employed the Indian workers who built Maheswarnath Mandir.

#3 Château de Labourdonnais

A 19th century mansion from the Labourdonnais estate in Mauritius
Visit Château de Labourdonnais and transport yourself to a 19th century sugar plantation.

The Château de Labourdonnais is the historical estate of the Wiehe family, which traces its presence on Mauritius to the 1792 arrival of Johann Jacob Wiehe, a Danish sugar entrepreneur. The large home was built by his son William Christian Wiehe, who became major players in 19th century Mauritian agriculture, politics, and society.

The large house is located amid historic orchards that are not only lovely to look at but productive as well. The Labourdonnais estate includes the chateau, the orchards, extensive gardens, and a tasting bar and restaurant.

The stunning chateau is a neoclassical Italian-style home that spans two levels, decorated in Victorian and 19th century French styles. After touring the halls of the mansion, proceed to the orchards and gardens. You’ll find plentiful fruit trees as well as spice trees that make the air rich with the scent of cloves and nutmeg. Among the trees are mango, pomme jacot, sapote, and more exotic fruits. Some of the trees are more than a century old.

Walking often stimulates the appetite, which at Labourdonnais is a good thing. Your next stop is the tasting room, where you can sample all the fruits and spices grown on the estate. Still hungry? No problem. There’s a fine restaurant on the chateau grounds.

Next is the distillery. Labourdonnais maintains its ties to its sugar-plantation past by bottling two labels of potent rum. There’s a tasting room, of course, and a shop where you can pick up some rum for members of your party who opted to spend the day at the beach instead of exploring.

Don’t forget to take a snapshot with the giant tortoises that roam the grounds before you leave!

#4 Le Caudan Waterfront

Caudan Waterfront Port Louis Mauritius
The upscale Caudan Waterfront mall offers shopping, dining, entertainment, and more.

If you’re looking for good old-fashioned retail therapy, look no further than the Caudan Waterfront. This modern shopping center has anything you could ever want, from designer duds to beachwear and everything in between. But that’s not all. There’s also a casino with an entrance that looks like a pirate ship and also an artists’ corner where local artisans display their works. You can pick up a new swimsuit, purchase some new local art, catch a movie, hitch a ride on a tour boat, and gamble the night away all in one place.

If you find your shopping and gambling adventures have left you too weary to return to your hotel, don’t worry. The Caudan Waterfront is also the home of Le Labourdonnais, one of the island nation’s most luxurious hotels.

#5 Port-Louis Bazaar

Vendors at rest in the Port-Louis Bazaar
Haggle with vendors from around the world at the Port-Louis Bazaar.

The Caudan Waterfront is a great escape for families and teenagers. If you’re interested in a more authentic and exotic experience, head for the Port-Louis Bazaar and shop with the locals.

Port Louis was named for Louis XV during Mauritius’s period of French rule. The port city played host to a mélange of travelers from around the world: Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. These diverse cultures still sail the Indian Ocean and they all come together in a huge market that locals call the Bazaar.

This is the place to go for bargains, particularly if you are prepared to spend a few moments haggling with the shopkeepers who urge you to inspect the quality and variety of their offerings. You’ll find imported fabrics and clothing unloaded that morning from ships plying the trade routes of the Indian Ocean. Meats, exotic spices, housewares, incense, tropical fruits, fresh fish, Indian saris, and freshly prepared take-out food are plentiful and exotic, a delight to all the senses.

You’ll fill your shopping bag with memories – without emptying your wallet – at the Port-Louis Bazaar.

#6 Domaine du Chasseur

Domaine du Chasseur in Mauritius
Enjoy your visit to Domaine du Chasseur…but watch out for wild boars!

In addition to its sunny beaches, tropical forests, and bustling marketplaces, Mauritius is home to distinctive animal species, some of which are found nowhere else on earth. The Domaine du Chasseur nature preserve is the ideal place to encounter the native wildlife of Mauritius.

You could spend days exploring the 18 miles of walking trails that traverse the 2,500-acre site. You’ll see breathtaking waterfalls and other natural landscapes. And if you keep your eyes open, you’re likely to encounter a wild boar or two, or perhaps a family of monkeys. Years ago, settlers imported Javan deer from Indonesia. Their descendants now roam the Domaine du Chasseur freely.

Your walk through this wildlife paradise will surely stimulate your appetite. You’re in-luck: The rustic restaurant on the nature preserve’s grounds serves traditional meals made from Mauritian game.

#7 La Vallee des Couleurs

La Vallee des Couleurs is a great place to connect with nature in a fun and adventurous way. This natural park offers visitors much to see and do.

Start with the “23-colored earth,” a spot where volcanic action has exposed different layers of earth, each representing a different geological epoch. Gazing at the bands of different colors is like an encounter with the planet’s distant path.

The park rents quad bikes so you can team up while pedaling through the extensive grounds. You’ll pass waterfalls, fern gardens, and much more. And don’t miss your chance to whiz through the forest on a zip line – it really will take your breath away.

#8 Rochester Falls

Rochester falls in Mauritius
Do you have the nerve to dive off the falls?

A short walk into the forest of southern Mauritius is rewarded by your first glimpse of Rochester Falls, a natural waterfall formed by the erosion of a lava wall. You will see right away why travelers to Mauritius always visit the falls: The rocks behind the falls seem to be formed of rectangular blocks that protrude at odd angles, almost as if the waterfall had been designed with a Lego set by a careless toddler.

Rochester Falls is a perfect spot for a quiet picnic. Or you can venture into the clear blue pool of water at the base of the falls, the source of the Savanne River.

If you’re the adventurous sort, climb up to the top of the falls and dive down into the deep, cool water below. It’s a nerve-jangling 33-foot dive, but local kids do it all the time. You can return to your picnic after a bracing dip.

#9 Point Maconde

Point Maconde, a hairpin turn at the south end of Mauritius
Get a glimpse of the ends of the earth at dramatic Point Maconde.

Maconde offers some of the most spectacular views in Mauritius – and probably the world.

This small point on Mauritius’s southern coast is located on the road between Le Morne and Baie du Cap. The road swoops dangerously around a sharp hairpin turn there, clinging precariously between the rocks and the ocean.

It’s a breathtaking spot, one that you’ll have to see to believe. This view astounds locals and tourists alike, and many come here to experience the crashing of the waves against the narrow road. You can look out into the southern Indian Ocean and imagine yourself standing on the deck of a pirate ship bound for the Spice Islands. If you’re lucky, you may spot a giant tortoise or two making their lazy way through the waves.

#10 Casela Park

White lioness drinks from watering pool Mauritius Casela park
Your Casela Park adventure might include making faces at monkeys or patting a lion.

Did you ever want to feed a zebra? Here’s your chance.

Casela Park is one of the world’s best-developed and most adventurous nature parks. Crammed into the park’s 35 acres are 1,500 birds, giant tortoises, monkeys, lions, zebras, and much more. Everyone in your party will enjoy the safari tour that lets you encounter these animals face-to-face.

Casela is also home to the Indian Ocean’s longest zip-line circuit, bungee jumping, a petting zoo, a fishing hole, hidden waterfalls and narrow hanging bridges that you can walk across – if you dare. You can spend a full day climbing, ride a Segway, go road-racing on motorized buggies, and have up-close-and-personal encounters with the park’s lions – you can even pat them. (Park photographers will be happy to document the meeting for the benefit of skeptical friends back home.)

This really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

#11 Gabriel Island

Mauritius coast
A day trip to Gabriel Island includes sun, shore and a hearty barbecue lunch on the beach. What’s not to love?

Gabriel Island is a protected natural reserve, but it’s mostly famous for its stunning beaches and crystal clear water. If you’re into snorkeling, this is definitely the place to be. It’s also a great place for divers or those looking for a relaxing day spent lounging on the beach.

The best way to get there? Book passage on a catamaran cruise from Grand Bay. You’ll board at 9 a.m. for the 90-minute cruise. Keep an eye on the ocean during the trip, because in addition to the omnipresent dolphins you may well see whales. You’ll arrive at Gabriel Island in plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling, and sun-bathing before the barbecue lunch and cocktails. Now that’s what we call a vacation!

#12 Aquaventure

Aquaventure adventurers in bubble helmets
No scuba certificate? No problem! Aquaventure lets you walk along the ocean floor.

Are you tired of hearing your friends rave about scuba diving? Scuba is a great way to explore sea life, coral reefs, and the mysteries of the deep, but certification is time-consuming and training courses can be expensive. Aquaventure is designed to provide a terrific undersea experience without the trouble and expense of scuba.

The answer is “undersea walking,” an innovative solution that lets explorers walk on the sand underwater while wearing transparent “bubble” helmets that let them breathe normally.

Located in Belle Mar, Aquaventure offers guided trips through the clear water and colorful corals of the Indian Ocean at a depth of 10 to 13 feet.

You’ll mingle with exotic see creatures in a comfortable, relaxed way – and you won’t even get your hair wet!

#13 Chamarel Waterfalls

Scenic Chamarel falls in jungle of Mauritius island
Keep an eye on your bag at Chamarel Falls. The monkeys are known to be acquisitive.

The Chamarel waterfalls are the highest, and arguably the most beautiful, in all of Mauritius. Water drops 272 feet amid spray and splashes into a deep basin surrounded by vibrant and lush landscapes.

Surrounded by forests and mountains, this is one of the most visually stunning waterfalls in the world. You might also see some wild monkeys milling about. But be warned – they’ll steal your stuff if you leave it unattended.

It’s worth risking a bit of primate piracy in return for Chamarel’s breathtaking and awe-inspiring views.

Small Island, Big Adventures

Le Morne mountain on the south shore of Mauritius
Your visit to Mauritius is sure to be an unforgettable adventure.

There’s much more to see on Mauritius. You will especially enjoy your encounters with the people. The island’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean and its history as a colony of successive world powers have left it with a unique blend of cultures and religions. You’ll encounter Hindus from India, Chinese Buddhists, Arab Muslims, and Christian Europeans…plus locals of mixed backgrounds, known as Creoles. Each culture added a note to the mélange of languages, traditions, flavors, and sounds, adding to the long list of fascinating places to visit in Mauritius.

Mauritius may be a small country, but it packs a big punch in the way of natural and cultural landmarks. And of course, there is no shortage of sandy beaches alongside the crystal-clear waters of the southern Indian Ocean. It’s the ideal destination for anyone who wants to experience a variety of different activities in a short amount of time.

So are you ready to visit Mauritius, or what?

About the author

Kristen Duvall

Kristen is a writer of tales both real and make-believe. A Midwestern girl at heart, she currently resides in Southern California with her boyfriend, a Great Dane, and two rescued kitties, one of which is known simply as the KiKi Monster.

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