This year we’ll start taking a personal look at holiday memories you might like to recreate for yourself. This month, Lara Whybrow tells us about her travels to Mauritius.
An old favourite among tourists, Mauritius is absolutely gorgeous, and most travellers have been back many times to luxuriate in its lush flora and spotlessly clean beaches. It’s a volcanic island, famed for its beaches, reefs, and lagoons.
We booked our holiday through a specialist travel agency that has lots of interesting information on Mauritius.
My mother, a sprightly 55-year-old, found the atmosphere decidedly rejuvenating, and I hadn’t seen her so bubbly in ages! She dragged me off to what sometimes seemed like endless attractions, but it got me out of my comfort zone as I’d no doubt have laid on the beach all day.
The bustling energy of the markets proved a little too much for me at times, but I definitely couldn’t complain about the variety of sarongs, shawls and dresses, as Mauritius has a bustling textile industry and the markets are full of goodies.
Attractions on offer
We went on a spectacular catamaran cruise and went to a fascinating visitor centre showing how sugar is produced in Mauritius. You can also visit a casino, and spend time at the Waterfront shopping and restaurant complex. You can swim with dolphins too! There are also tours which include many of these attractions.
There are plenty of beaches and sports activities if that’s your thing—it really is a holiday that can be whatever you want it to be.
The weather can be changeable
Most Brits will feel somewhat at home in Mauritius at this time of year. It’s a small island in the southern hemisphere, on a similar latitude to northern Australia, but it’s only a 12-hour flight away from London.
Between January and March you can expect temperatures up to around 30C (86F) during the daytime.
We’re now in the hotter and wetter time of the year, but the rain tends to come in quick bursts, so there’s lots of sunshine even on wet days.
On some days the moody weather would be a little chilly and overcast one minute, then the next it would break out into sun and leave you rushing barefoot into the nearest shop to get some cooler clothing. Be prepared for any kind of weather when going on an outing!
Travel was easy and enjoyable
Getting around is easy enough in Mauritius. Uber isn’t available though, so we used taxis and buses when we weren’t with our tour group.
The taxis weren’t cheap, so we decided to try out the public transport. Early one morning we set out to wait for the bus at the stop by our hotel. It turned out to be painless and very cheap! The buses were quite regular, and were not as overcrowded and rickety as some of the buses we had taken on our travels in other countries. Definitely not shiny and new though, but then again we were in Mahebourg which isn’t as “touristy” as other places.
Using public transport allowed for some light exploration. My mother wanted to focus on ticking off sights on her checklist so that she could feel like she had seen it all, and I wanted to do the same but in my own way: I wanted to see the everyday side of existence in Mauritius, the way the locals lived.
So we took the bus and got off at a random ordinary suburb stop, then walked around until we got tired. Since Mauritius is largely French-speaking it was a little tricky at times, but people were kind when we needed help. The streets were relatively clean and peaceful, with quaint old houses bordered by neat little gardens. Vivid splashes of colour from bougainvilleas flowers everywhere completed the scene.
Mauritius has a wealth gap, but it isn’t as glaringly obvious as in other places. Shopkeepers will close early sometimes to enjoy a nice afternoon at the beach with their families.
Expectation meets reality
Our hotel, the Blue Lagoon, was perfect: excellent food, immaculately clean and all the appliances in the room worked. The hotel spa staff were top-tier and gave excellent aromatherapy massages, pedicures and other treatments.
The dining hall and bar opened right onto the beach, so we could enjoy morning breakfasts and sunset cocktails in the most pleasant of surroundings.
The image I had in my mind of Mauritius was of a friendly tropical place, where I would have the time of my life and would feel like those smiling people in the idyllic travel ads. I was not disappointed! Mauritius is a popular place for a reason, and it’s worth considering for your next beach, culture or foodie holiday.