World-in-one-island slice of paradise

Its very name conjures up images of tropical luxury and stupendous extravagance. While in many destinations famed for cobalt-blue seas, white sandy beaches and luxury hotels, you may eventually find yourself wishing for something to do besides sunbathing and swimming, it’s often hard to know what to do next on a holiday in Mauritius. The island is loaded with historic sights, cultural diversity, geographic variation and almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind of beach and pool. But perhaps its single biggest asset is the relaxed charm of its warm and welcoming people. The smells, noises and bustle of the mercantile capital Port Louis, Africa’s wealthiest city, are never far away, while the busy garment markets in the Central Plateau towns of Quatre Bornes and Curepipe and Black River Gorges National Park’s dramatic virgin forests give the lie to Mauritius being just another beach destination.

The interior offers mountains and forests, waterfalls and sparkling rivers alongside the occasional dormant volcano. Its high rainfall has helped make the soil rich and luxuriant which is why the vegetation is dense with more than1000 indigenous plants and is also why the island once got so rich from its sugar crops and plantations. The coastline is near perfect with acres of pristine beaches and brilliant blue seas, all fringed by coral reefs which make the beaches not just desirable but also safe from the outer wildness of the ocean. There are stunning sand-rimmed lagoons and popular wide public beaches not to mention the picturesque islands off the country’s coastline. There is truly something here for everyone. Combining the joys of Chinese, Indian, French and African cuisine, luxury hotels and commitment to service, the infectious party spirit of the locals and the rousing beat of séga music, you soon understand why Mauritius really is so many people’s idea of paradise on earth.

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