This was one of the strangest islands I have ever been to. An island crowded with Indians speaking French and as a former French colony driving on the left side of the road. It’s just great.
According to the 2011 census conducted by Statistics Mauritius, Hinduism is the major religion at 51.9%, followed by Christianity (31.4%), Islam (15.3%) and Buddhism (0.4%). Those of other religions accounted for 0.2% of the population, while non-religious individuals were 0.7%. Finally, 0.1% refused to fill in any data. Mauritius is the only country in Africa to have a Hindu plurality.
An officially secular state, Mauritius is a religiously diverse nation, with freedom of religion being enshrined as a constitutional right. The vibrant and colorful culture of the Mauritian people is reflected in the various religious festivities that are celebrated throughout the year, some of which are recognized as public holidays.
The Bazaar of Port-Louis — Literally translated as „The Market of Port Louis“ — here you will find a variety of local snacks and tropical fruits, the cheapest food you will find in the capital city. Numerous shops sell well made traditional crafted objects such as the „goni“ basket. Unfortunately you will also find a lot of stalls selling pirate versions of programs, movies and games: they are extremely cheap but still are illegal and do not guarantee quality. You may get a version that is not the original, but created by other than what is stated. Like all crowded areas, be wary of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you. Food sold on the street may have health issues, but that is, for the most part, rare. If you have any allergies, refrain from eating at these stalls.
Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom. A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay is also where Mauritians go when they want a fun-filled night out (restaurants, bars and discos). Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.
The SSR Botanical Garden If you want to see some plants originating from Mauritius, then this is the place for you. The SSR botanical garden is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. It was founded by Pierre Poivre (1719 – 1786) in 1770, contains some flora unique to Mauritius and covers an area of around 37 hectares. It also has several animals, being especially famous for its fish, deer and tortoises, as well as an old replica of a sugar mill.
Ganga Talao – Grand Bassin — Beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano. Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva. Gigantic eels live in the lake and are fed by the pilgrims. A walk to the top of the mount beside the lake is recommended for beautiful views over the area known as „Plaine Champagne“.
Black River Gorges — This national park of 6,574 hectares (16,244 acres) was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius’ remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species. A trail leads from the Pétrin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area.
Chamarel — A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash. The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty. An adventure park has also recently been opened at Chamarel. Much of the sand has been souvenired by locals. It is now sectioned off, but is not that impressive.
Tamarin Beach offers white sands and crystal clear waters and both novice to expert surfers visit for some of the best waves on the island. The bay also has its own dolphin pod and dramatic views across to the Montage du Rempart – an extinct volcano. It was voted Beach of the Week by luxury online travel magazine Beach Tomato on 29th November.
Mauritius is a paradise for the senses, not only for the eyes with its beautiful landscape, but also for the palate. Gastronomes will find a variety of flavours and aromas inherited from the different migrations through its history. Culinary traditions from France, India, China and Africa, the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, have been passed on through generations.
Depending on the region, rice or a variety of flat bread called chapattis or roti, called farata (paratha) by the local people, is eaten with curries. The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and herbs like thyme, basil, and curry leaves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour. Dal, a variety of lentil soup, are many and varied according to which type of lentil is used; vegetables, beans, and pickles accompany the dishes. Dholl puri and roti, originally an Indian delicacy have become the fish and chips of Mauritians.
Biryani from Mughal origins is a dish expertly prepared by the Muslim community, with meat mixed with spiced rice and potatoes.
You can buy many snacks on the streets of Mauritius including the famous gateaux piments (a variant of the indian vadai ; literally, chilli cakes), and vegetable or meat samosas (puffs), along with octopus curry in bread. The tomato and onion based dish called Rougaille (pronounced rooh-guy) is a variation of the French ragoût . The dish usually consists of meat or seafood (corned beef and salted snoek fish rougaille are very popular with the locals) and all Mauritians eat this dish often if not daily.
Mauritians have a sweet tooth and make many types of ‚gateaux‘, as they are called. The cakes vary and you can find cakes very much like those in France and others similar to Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla among many others.
Ile aux Cerfs — A paradise for water sports and has one of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape. Price conscious visitors would be well advised to take ample food and drink, as the only bar and restaurant on the island primarily targets well-heeled tourists. Boats depart regularly from Trou-d’Eau Douce village in the East which has some of the best seafood restaurants on the island. A variety of vessels serve the route including catamarans, yachts and „pirate-ships“. Some serve food (usually barbecue, especially seafood) on board included in the price and tend to take a detour to the Grand River South East waterfalls for a visit. The island also has a 5-star hotel (Le Touessrok) and a golf course.