Mauritius–An Island of Desire
Floating somewhat inconspicuously in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, Mauritius is known for its rich, diverse culture. With multi-lingual locals, you’ll get a slice of many different parts of the world in one locale. Meander between historical sites, sandy beaches, and plush resorts for a well-rounded vacation you’ll feel like you could never replicate.
Black River Gorges National Park
If you feel like the best way to experience a new location is through its national parks, then you can’t pass up an opportunity to visit this tropical oasis. It covers two percent of the island and was established to protect the island’s forests and native wildlife. Before it became a park, it was once the island’s prime source of hunting. In 1994, an intense exploration by scientists showed that it was teeming with rare and potentially endangered species. Three of the island’s most threatened bird species thrive here. Many visitors can catch rare glimpses of the Mauritius kestrel, the echo parakeet, and the pink pigeon. There are also 300 species of flowering plants, a massive population of giant fruit bats, macaque monkeys, and wild boar.
When you’re pressed for time, you need to visit Eureka for a mix of culture and history. This carefully preserved Creole mansion is a remnant from the island’s colonial history. It was built in the 1830s and is now a museum to highlight the time period where plantations were a staple in the island’s economy. The manor house still retains its tropical architecture which also served as a natural air conditioning during the thick, muggy summers. Each room is decorated with period furniture pieces and behind the house is a cluster of original servants’ quarters and a trail to a picturesque waterfall.
Tamarin Beach is near and dear to locals’ hearts with plenty of nostalgia oozing from frequent visitors. It used to be known as Santosha Bay, so if you hear people throwing that word around, they’re probably talking about Tamarin. It used to be a prime location for killer surfing and was fiercely guarded by residents to protect its relative secrecy from tourists. Due to the change in currents, surfing isn’t quite as popular, but it’s still a great spot to kick back with a cooler and a chair for some more casual beach fun. The wide sand beaches aren’t as densely populated as other beach retreats and the warm, gentle waters make it a perfect spot for kids to enjoy. It’s crowned by the Tamarin Hotel, a colorful, retro lodging option if you want to be close to the surf.
This hidden jewel is known mostly by locals–partly because it’s an adventure just getting to it. If you find a friendly local willing to part with the information, you won’t have any problem getting there if you have some ambition. The roads leading to Le Souffleur are quite primitive so you’ll need a four wheel drive vehicle or a hired guide to drive you into it. The spot sits right on the coast and is a geological wonder. It’s essentially a half-formed grotto tucked into the side of a cliff. When the waters get particularly aggressive, it shoots a geyser-like fountain up to 20 meters in the air due to a crack in the stone bluffs. When the sea is more gentle, there’s a natural land bridge close by for great photo opportunities.
Mauritius isn’t exactly a popular destination but that’s mainly because many people haven’t heard of it. Visitors who have traveled here find it to be one of the best island destinations they’ve ever been to, and you’re sure to be the next person to add this place to your vacation rotation.