Sometimes, especially after almost a year of traveling, places can start to blend together, no matter gorgeous they are (yes, I’ve written about this before). It takes a lot for something to really stand out – whether it’s in a good or bad way. I sort of expected Mauritius to be the same story, despite hearing some pretty high praise about the country (like Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius” – side note, how did that guy travel so much over one-hundred years ago?!?!?) But something about this island totally drew me in and I’ve become one of those people who gush about this island.
So what makes Mauritius so special?
Well, besides the obvious factors (insanely beautiful beaches, mountainous scenery), Mauritius has a certain complexity that left me wanting more.
Even though the island is part of Africa, 70% of people are Indo-Mauritians (of Indian descent), while a quarter of the population are Creoles (Mauritians of African descent). Our first taxi driver explained that most locals in Mauritius can speak 3 languages, if not 4 (or more): English (their national language), French (for hotels and touristy things), Creole (at home with family); Hindi (with old people – his words, not mine). He told us that little kids growing up speak Creole, their TV programs are in Hindi, their schooling was taught in French, but they had to write their papers in English!
This diversity leads to a very intriguing culture. For example, if you turn on the radio, you could hear a song in French, followed by a Hindi hit, followed by an American rock song. This also translates to an interesting religious makeup: 52% of the country practices Hinduism, 31% practice Christianity, and 15% practice Islam.
The food scene is unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s a very interesting makeup of Indian and Asian foods, two of my favorite cuisines (and I’m sure I’m not alone in that).
But back to the people – they are incredibly friendly.
Retains its Soul
Since it’s a bit off the beaten path, it’s not too touristy. It definitely depends on where you go (i.e. if you don’t leave your resort, you won’t see anything but the touristy side of Mauritius), but the island has stayed true to its roots. Tourism is the third pillar of Mauritius’s economy after manufacturing and agriculture.
The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I really had no idea that Mauritius was so mountainous.
But for real…the beaches are unparalleled. We stayed on the west coast, which isn’t even known to have the best beaches of the island, but I’m confused how it could get much better than that.
So why does this island have such crazy-beautiful beaches? It’s surrounded by a reef, which means basically every beach on Mauritius is protected from giant waves and has calm, clear waters, perfect for watersports, snorkeling, and swimming.
In my opinion, it’s a great size. Not too big, not too small. Big enough to have plenty to explore; small enough not to be overwhelming (and to still have that “island” feel). You can basically drive anywhere in a few hours.
No matter when you go, the weather is basically perfect.
I was so sad when we had to leave the island after two weeks – and I haven’t had that feeling in a while. I know that I have to go back some day – there’s so much we haven’t seen!
Have you been to Mauritius? Is it on your bucket list?