Traditionally the island of Mauritius has been a favourite holiday destination. The tropical climate, sweeping sugar plantations, ancient giant palms, the warm Indian Ocean, the incredible natural beauty and the plethora of activities and attractions that the island offers makes this a holiday paradise, not to mention the shopping! There are plenty of resorts and luxury holidays to choose from that offer guests a chance to lie back, relax and soak up the island way of life. Exquisite beaches, warm water and a tropical climate really do make this little island paradise.
But it is not only long stay vacationers that visit the island. With more and more long haul flights using Mauritius as a stopover, there is a growing demand from travellers to experience the magic of Mauritius, even if only for a short while. So, to share the wonders of this island paradise, and to break up a long journey, Air Mauritius offers passengers a free one night stopover in Mauritius with any non-connecting international flights to Perth, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore or Chennai.* To make the most of your time on the island we have put together a list of seven things to do during your long layover.
- Food for Thought
If you have just landed in Port Louis and you’re looking for a little sustenance before you head out on your island adventure pop into Lambic. It is a fusion of restaurant, cafe and lounge with the added advantage of having a beer shop that serves the local Flying Dodo, which is produced as a microbrewery nearby. The renovated colonial house on Georges Street is the home to one of the city’s best eateries, serving a delicious selection of Mauritian influenced fare ranging from ribs to crab.
- Shop Till You Drop
Famous for its factory outlets, Mauritius is, for some, a shopping destination. But don’t fall into the trap of falling for knock-offs that pass as the real thing. Instead of visiting the usual factory shops, try shopping at the Port Louis Market. Here you will experience the real island. Visitors to the market can buy local art and crafts, souvenirs, food and spices while experiencing the vibrancy of the marketplace.
- Charming Chamarel
Located on the southwest of the island, the small town of Chamarel has plenty to offer visitors. Whether you are looking to delight in the wonders of Mother Nature or embrace your inner pirate at a rhumerie, this is the place to do it.
- Terres des Sept Couleurs or Seven Coloured Earths are sand dunes that display a unique natural characteristic. Set in the forests around Chamarel the dunes are a feast of colour. The sand is a rainbow of red, brown, violet, green, purple, blue and yellow, that is the product of ancient volcanic activity.
- Steeped in the prehistoric history, the island of Mauritius was once home to the now extinct Dodo and the Giant Tortoise. While you won’t find the flightless feathered friend or indeed the endemic tortoises, you can walk with regal reptiles that have been introduced from the Seychelles who are now quite at home at the site of the Terres des Sept Couleurs. These gentle giants are a reminder of a time long gone, but in the tropical island setting one that is easy to imagine.
- Curiouser and curiouser. Just across the road from the Terres des Sept Couleurs is the Curious Corner of Chamarel. It is a house of illusion with mind-boggling mazes, puzzles, brain teasers and magical mirrors what better way to clear the cobwebs before you embark on the next leg of your journey.
- Arrrrrr, me hearties. What would a visit to a tropical island populated with sugar plantations be without a visit to a rhumerie? Whether you have pirate-like aspirations or not, a visit to the Rhumerie de Chamarel will leave you wanting to take to the open seas Jack Sparrow style. Do a tour of the facility and see how the rum is made from the selection of the sugar cane right through to distilling and bottling.
- Grand Basin is a huge volcanic lake situated near Chamarel. The crater-lake is a home to temples dedicated to the Hindu gods Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman and the Goddess Laxmi. These temples are a must-see for anyone interested in local culture.
- Travel back in time
Mauritius was built predominantly on sugar production. So, it is only fitting that a visit to the island should include a visit to an old sugar plantation. There are many of these all over the island, and many of them offer guided tours that will enlighten you about the island’s history, the history of the sugar trade and will give you a window into the history of an individual family and their place on the island.
- Fire it up
Its volcanic history is not the only fiery aspect of Mauritian culture. Hot and spicy is how Mauritians like to eat their food. And no meal on the island is complete without the traditional accompaniment of Piment crasé. This is a delicious mixture of crushed HOT chilies mixed with pineapple or mango, or whatever other fruit is in season. It is absolutely delicious, but beware.
- Cool off
After feasting on Piment Crasé what better way to cool down that with a swim in the sea. But in Mauritius, swimming in the sea often means frolicking with wild dolphins. While this is no rare experience for the locals, for the rest of us this is definitely a bucket list experience and makes packing your swimming costume in your hand luggage well worth it.
- Dance the night away
There’s that old adage that ‘you can sleep when you’re dead,’ and with so much to do in such a short space of time why waste it on sleep! The nightlife in Mauritius is infectious. Vibrant and colourful. Friendly locals who want to share the wonders of their island way of life. Food to delight the taste buds. And dancing. To be more precise, dancing to Sega. This traditional Mauritian-style music is unique to the island, so much so that it has even been given the title of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, and is the beat to which the island moves.
There is SO much more to Mauritius than tropical beaches and cocktails on the beach. The island is just 61km from north to south and a mere 47km from east to west. But don’t be fooled by its size. Mauritius is rich with awe-inspiring natural beauty, thrill seeking adventures, food that would delight even the toughest critics, not to mention the local history and culture. There is no shortage of things to do, and something to satisfy even the hardest to please. With so much on offer, visitors to the island are spoilt for choice, even if they only have 24 hours.
*(including accommodation, transfers and selected meals).
T&C's: Subject to availability and offer expires at the discretion of Air Mauritius