Delicious Mauritius: The joys of this paradise in the Indian Ocean (2023)

The elderly couple in front of us is in the throes of passion. I say 'passion', but to be precise the old nerd tries to climb on top of his girlfriend, who stages a slow and ineffective escape.

Well, it's not easy to get healthy when you're approaching 150 and encumbered with bodies roughly the size of a family hatchback.

It is a problem that Tizean and Rosette (or could it be Toto and Tifam?) must somehow have solved, with the wisdom gained from being among the oldest inhabitants of Mauritius, for they have apparently produced several dozen offspring over the decades.

We are in the Chamarel Seven Colored Earth geopark, in the southern hills of Mauritius, where my wife and I should be enraptured by the seven shades of spectacular volcanic sand that rises and falls in dunes of mesmerizing iris.

Harry Denning's ten-day Mauritius tour takes him from the beaches of the unspoiled southern tip to the new jewel in the crown of Mauritius' high-end hotel scene in the north -Lux Grand Baie (above)


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A coconut seller at Blue Bay, one of the 'glorious' beaches of the south

(Video) Mauritius - Tropical Paradise in the Indian Ocean | Free Documentary Nature

Instead, we watch a couple of the park's resident Aldabra giant tortoises - the second largest tortoise species on the planet - get jiggy. Clack, clack, clack.

It's the first outing of a ten-day trip that will take my own beloved and I from the glorious, surf-kissed beaches of the unspoiled southern tip to the new jewel in the crown of Mauritius' high-end hotel scene in the north. It's an all-you-can-eat tour that samples everything this diverse country has to offer in its compact but surprisingly varied 790 square kilometers.

Our driver, ferrying us along the trail, is Yves, whose encyclopedic knowledge of Mauritian history is surpassed only by his penchant for macabre tales behind each black island. ('Here is where the river overflowed and a priest passing by was washed clean away'; 'Here is where a high tide rose into the churchyard one day and the streets were filled with floating coffins').

Chamarel Seven Colored Earth geopark (above), where spectacular volcanic sand 'rises and falls in dunes of mesmerizing iridescence'

Harry is impressed by all that Mauritius has to offer in its 'compact but astonishingly varied 790 square kilometres'. Above is the island's Le Morne Brabant peninsula


Mauritius is the only known habitat of the dodo (an extinct swan-sized bird). It is still considered a national symbol of the country.

The island has no indigenous population. It was uninhabited until the Arabs landed there in the Middle Ages.

(Video) MAURITIUS TRAVEL DOCUMENTARY | Indian Ocean Treasure Chest

Three nations have colonized Mauritius - the Netherlands (1638-1710), France (1715-1810) and Great Britain (1810-1968). It has been independent since 1968.

Rum is the national drink. Local specialties include vanilla, coffee, coconut and even chili flavors.

It is only 40 miles long and 28 miles wide. Coral reefs surround almost the entire island.

More than 1.2 million people live in Mauritius, making it the most densely populated country on the African continent.

One of the rarest birds in the world, the pink pigeon, is found on the island.

There is no official language. Most people speak Creole, French and English.


We begin at Lakaz Chamarel, an independent eco-hotel owned by the former manager of a five-star beach resort. The result is a wonderfully casual but stylish retreat, with lots of little luxuries alongside one's halo of green virtues, not least the fantastic food.

A true melting pot of cultures, with no indigenous peoples, Mauritian culture and cuisine brings together the best of the African, Indian, Chinese and European influences that have shaped its past and its palate.

We eat while watching flying foxes fly through the twilight sky (actually they are the fruit bats that Mauritius is blessed or cursed with, depending on whether you are a naturalist or a farmer).

The next day we opt for a guided forest walk in the Black River Gorge with dreadlocked part-time musician Steeve Larridain, who explains how each tree has its own purpose: the wild apple for medicinal magic; the pink pepper tree for its tongue-tingling spice and the 'traveller's tree' whose large palm leaves store water at the bottom for parched hikers.

We sweat our way through the morning's subtropical chill to a vantage point from which the island stretches out to the distant sea in valleys and peaks of emerald so dazzling it almost hurts the retinas.

We had hoped to see a crane, but they are mostly found in Casela nature parks. Time for a quick river jump to cool off before heading back to civilization.

(Video) 10 Things To See and Do in Mauritius | Places To Visit In Mauritius #travel #mauritius

And what civilization awaits when we move to the seaside resort of Shanti Maurice - spacious, authentic and full of character.

Being cheapskates who prefer to travel with our own G&T ingredients rather than lose weight to minibar prices, we arrive with supermarket bags of tonic that promptly open at the feet of the manager's welcome line-up.

The embarrassment is compounded when we are taken to our upgraded room - a spectacular villa that has its own private sea-facing pool, with a tray floating in it with a bottle of chilled Bollinger. It's like the set of a lottery winner's TV commercial.

Shanti Maurice beach resort, pictured, is 'spacious, authentic and full of character'

'I bet we're the only people who've stayed here who've brought their own lemons,' my wife cringes as we're shown around our accommodation by the designated butler.

However, Bolly is not the star of the Shanti drinks menu. For that, head to its Rum Shed, which boasts more than 250 varieties of spirits for which the island is justly famous - the perfect complement to a plate of grilled king prawns or the biggest and most exquisite burger I've ever eaten .

Over a final post-prandial tot, we chat to the Shed's resident chanteuse, Corina Matuka, who has just returned from visiting her brother in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

On a guided forest walk in the Black River Gorge (above), Harry learns that each tree has its own purpose - for example, the pink pepper tree is known for its tongue-tingling spice

Cranes are largely found in the island's natural parks Casela (above), Harry reveals

(Video) Mauritius trip September 2022

I ask her what she missed most while she was away. 'The sea', she replies. "I missed it so much that one day I took the train to Brighton, but it was so cold. How can you swim in it? Now I give thanks every day that I can swim here again.'

We also give thanks for each daily dip in the warm Mauritian sea and the abundant beauty that exists beneath the surface for snorkelers. The more sheltered beaches and reefs of the north were the big draw for our final destination, the newest and fanciest of the Lux group's many Mauritian resorts, Lux Grand Baie.

This architecturally stunning new construction, with its sections of traditional thatched roofs contrasted with the ultra-modern interior by British design queen Kelly Hoppen, will divide opinion.

Skeptics might doubt that it's a hotel seemingly conceived around Instagrammable scenery - the rooftop pool's 'love swing' has already achieved social media fame. Others will indulge in its seven varieties of Kombucha tea at the breakfast buffet; The Ibiza-lite music flew from every posing point; and rooms with the Japanese high-tech loos that shoot water in unexpected places - as an eardrum-bursting scream from my wife demonstrates.

This is a design-heavy place, where the color palette - strictly black, white and scarlet - even extends to the spines of the novels placed on the bedroom bookshelves.

"We wanted to create the atmosphere of an urban hotel, but on the beach," explains manager Ashish. This may strike some as being about as logical as placing a beachfront hotel in the middle of Soho, but to each their own.

Lux Grand Baie features 'ultra-modern' decor with a design palette of black, white and scarlet by British design queen Kelly Hoppen

U.S? At first we fear that Grand Baie might not be our kind of place: more Love Island than Love Actually. But after three days of shameless pampering, including a truly sensational massage in its grand modernist spa and a feast of Kobe beef flambéed over burning rice straw in the showcase Japanese restaurant, it was hard to stay sniffy.

And for this water sports addict, the selection of kit and the super friendly beach staff was a treat. Nowhere else have I come across a 'pedalboard' - half paddleboard, half stand-up bike, and all round good fun.

Asked for feedback, as we reluctantly head home, I ask why, despite all the modern opulence, there don't seem to be any waste bins in the rooms (a personal bugbear). “Kelly is very specific about the type of bin she likes,” explains Ashish. Apparently none had been found in time for launch day. I wonder if she'll only allow color coordinated trash in them when they get there.


Scott Dunn offers a 12-night Mauritius itinerary from £5,875 based on two people sharing on half board and includes three nights at Lakaz Chamarel, three nights at Lux Grand Baie and four nights at Shanti Maurice, return flights from the UK and private transfers. For more information, please visitwww.scottdunn.comor call 020 8682 5080.


How would you describe the beauty of Mauritius? ›

Mauritius is a beautiful tropical island renowned for its coastal bounties with pristine beaches and extensive coral reefs set against the backdrop of sculptured volcanic mountain scenery. Situated on the Tropic of Capricorn, Mauritius is known as the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean'.

Why is Mauritius amazing? ›

What is special about Mauritius? Mauritius a quite densely populated place which has a population of 1.2 million people. The country is known for having racial harmony within the mixed population. All these things make this island a unique place in the world.

Which country owns Mauritius? ›

Mauritius became independent on March 12, 1968. Under the constitution adopted that year, the country was a constitutional monarchy with the British monarch as head of state.

What is Mauritius best known for? ›

Mauritius is famous for the Dodo (an extinct flightless bird the size of a swan), a multicultural population, incredible expensive resorts (up to $600 a night and more) the island caters for the more wealthy customers, Mauritius rum, sugar and fruit jams, the Seven Coloured Earths, an underwater waterfall, the Giant ...


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