Recently I joined an intimate team of iambassador bloggers from all across the globe and spent a week venturing into every nook and cranny of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. The overall goal was to unlock her secrets, to listen to her people and come back with a better understanding of her heart and then share what we discovered.
One of our sub-goals was to find adventure other than sun tanning on the beach and lounging beside the hotel pool. Of course there’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending your vacation days doing either of those activities, but we wanted to delve a little deeper. These are just some of the things I got up to:
For those that don’t yet know – life on the surface is just that. Underneath the ocean awaits literally an entire new world. It’s an alien landscape teeming with the weird and wonderful. On your first few endeavours into the deep EVERYTHING you look at is new. It’s what I love most about scuba diving. I’m out of my comfort zone and truly feel as though i’m exploring a new world.
The Scuba Scoot experience isn’t quite scuba diving (not at all actually) but it’s one step further down than snorkelling. You get to “Scoot” over the coral reefs and get up close and personal with tropical fish while never being in any danger. You only go down about 2-3 metres, and you’ve got plenty of air to breathe while you’re down there. And should you ever feel in trouble, your guide is with you 100% of the time.
Visit Blue Safari for more information. They’re a fantastic team and put everyone at total ease.
If you’re looking for a little land based adventure then look no further than quad biking at the Frederica Nature Reserve. My guide and I started out quad biking through the sugar cane plantations (Mauritius is filled with sugar cane plantations as it grows so abundantly there) which was really beautiful and allowed me ample time to master the quad bike, which was actually quite easy to ride. It’s more “elbowy” than driving a scooter due to it’s four wheels but once you get the hang of it it’s massively fun.
We progressed into the Frederica Nature Reserve and enjoyed 360 degree breathtaking views for what felt like the next 45 mins. I never wanted it to end. We did a little game viewing (there are plenty deer in the reserve) and then later made our way to a bird sanctuary to see the famous (and rare) Pink Pigeon.
On our way back, seeing I was pretty comfortable, my guide decided that we could get a little more intrepid on the quad bike. He asked me if I had taken enough photographs (to which I responded yes, but wanted to say that bloggers NEVER take enough pics) and then advised me to pack my camera away in my backpack.
I’m thankful I did because we picked up the pace through the sugar cane plantations and zipped all the way back home. Those quad bikes engines are astonishingly powerful! The whole experience was absolutely exhilarating and definitely falls into my top 3 favourite things to do in Mauritius. There are also great shower facilities on site afterwards. Note: You usually head out to waterfalls on the quads but we skipped this as some of my colleagues had done it.
Visit Federica Nature Reserve for more information.
Another great underwater (but without getting wet) activity from the awesome Blue Safari team is the Submarine Dive. Which is exactly what it sounds like – basically you head out from the Blue Safari headquarters in Trou aux Biches to a larger boat where the submarines are docked. One submarine fit’s ten people in snugly and the other is more of a private affair for small families OR for a special occasion like lunch or even a romantic proposal.
Both Subs can dive to 35metres and follow a pre planned route by the sub captain who also doubles as a very informative tour guide under the sea.
The entire experience lasts about 2 hours but you are only under the surface, exploring for about 40 minutes – which is the average length of a regular scuba dive. But during that time you can see all kinds of beautiful sea life including turtles, eels, tropical fish and a ship wreck.
Blue Safari is actually the only leisure submarine operation in the entire Indian Ocean, so if this is your thing, then it’s truly a unique experience.
Visit Blue Safari for more information.
While I was staying at the exquisite Dinarobin Hotel, I joined their adventure sports team – YOANEYE – for my first ever Kite Surfing lesson! Of course, being a water person I was massively excited about this and couldn’t wait to get going.
The actual bay where we learnt was just a 5 minute ride from the Dinarobin, and lies in the awe-inspiring Le Morne peninsula. The class went really well. I was paired up with a French girl from Paris (who turned our to be quite friendly despite what you hear about Parisian’s) and together we went through the various stages of learning to Kite Surf. If you’re a total beginner (like we were,) there is a fair amount you need to know before even setting foot in the water so be prepared to book at least a few lessons before you think about standing up on the board
Our instructor, Joël, was fun and friendly and a (total machine in the water) and I think he sensed that I was stoked to get wet so he lured us into the water with the kites to let us practise controlling the kite in the air. I felt confident. Until I actually tried. ??Long story short, the kite (and wind) is a fickle maiden and you need to be tender if you want to achieve anything. I fell on my face a lot. I was dragged through the water a lot.
But the main point is that I had A LOT of fun doing it. My dreams of standing on the first go were dashed (especially as we didn’t even have the kite boards in the water with us – clever instructor) but I’m really keen for the next lesson. Wherever that may be.
I won’t be forgetting this experience anytime soon.
Though I wanted to, I didnt actually go hiking in Mauritius (due to time restraints) but I don’t want to leave it off the list as there is INCREDIBLE hiking in Mauritius – I mean seriously – a tropical island with blue blue waters all around and the most lush tropical vegetation covering the mountains and interior? Can you imagine? SO MUCH AWESOME.
Here is a link to a friends blog who went hiking and can tell you more information: (I will update this as soon as she posts the link)
Snorkelling at Ile Des Deux Cocos
You cannot go to Mauritius and not snorkel. That’s all there is to it. It’s like going to Italy and not tasting gelato, or Thailand and not drinking watermelon smoothies or worse, South Africa and not having a braai. You just have to. And you’ll love it.
For our snorkelling experience we hopped in the car and decided to make a day of it. We cruised south towards the beautiful Ile De Deux Cocos in Blue Bay and gleefully jumped onto our little ferry that was bobbing in the crystal clear blue, and made the short journey armed with GoPro’s and all kinds of camera’s. I felt like just jumping right in on the way there!
But, having restrained myself, I waited until we landed ashore and were welcomed to the private island before I got into my swimming gear, grabbed my GoPro and snorkel gear (that Ile De Deux Cocos) have laid out for you, and jumped off the jetty. My life for the next hour and a half consisted of trying to introduce myself to tropical fish. The only reason I out of the water was to eat. And eat I did. The buffet lunch at Ile Des Deux was superb. It was a fantastic day.
SSR Botanical Gardens
I love botanical gardens. Plant life in general absolutely fascinates me. The bigger the leaves, the better! And the bigger the tree’s and more knobbly the root system, even better! So whenever I’m in tropical country, be it Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and now Mauritius, my mind generally get’s blown away by the local vegetation.
I love green things. I’m not sure whether that has to do with my Irish heritage or is just a personal preference, but “plant-green” is locked into my blood.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our short visit to the SSR Botanical Gardens Pamplemousses, was a massive treat for me. We we’re actually hunting down clues as part of a “Mauritius wide” treasure hunt in the garden but I conveniently led my team astray and took advantage of getting lost to eek out just a little more time there. We found tree’s with roots as big as Shivya, GIANT water lilies and vines or roots that has completely knotted themselves up in the most surreal fashion.
The botanical gardens are the ideal location for a picnic and i’ll definitely be going back there when I’m next in Mauritius.
Visit Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden for more information.
Sugar Cane Plantations
Mauritius is mad about sugar cane! It grows so well that they even get there electricity from burning the by products of sugar cane once they’re extracted everything else from it. So our team took time out to visit l’Adventure de Sucre to find out more about the history behind Sugar Cane in Mauritius. Being a former colony, the history, and especially the work that the Mauritians had to put into the sugar cane plantations, is extremely sobering to listen to.
We even got a first hand demonstration of how to manually harvest sugar cane. And I can tell you that having to haul in tonnes every day is he furthest thing from easy work. It’s brutal. Thankfully today most plantations are not manually harvested, although some hard to reach places still are.
We learnt about the journey between raw sugar cane and Mauritian rum! Which was extremely interesting and even came with a cocktail class. So if you’re into history, rum and cocktails, then a visit to l’Adventure de Sucre is well worth your time. ;)
Ile Aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve
If there’s one thing you can’t escape in Mauritius (and why would you want to?) it’s the breathtaking blue waters that surround the island as well as the smaller islands on it’s fringes. Ile Aux Aigrettes is just one such of those little islands and is fascinating in that it was a British military base in WWII and is today a nature reserve.
A tiny 25 hectare coral island nature reserve which is preserved and protected by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. This beautifully persevered island in the south east is home to giant tortoises, the Mauritian kestrel, the pink pigeon and endangered skinks. It’s also home to indigenous plants.
It’s critically important to dedicate land to animals that are threatened by human population and protect the indigenous wildlife, and no country is more aware of that than Mauritius, former home to the now extinct Dodo. Well done to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation for it’s efforts on Ile Aux Aigrettes.
For more information and tour times to Ile Aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve visit Mauritius Attractions.
Dolphin Watching Tour
This was actually the first activity I did in Mauritius while staying at the Hilton in Flic en Flac. The Hilton was actually one of my favourite hotels of the four I stayed in during my time in Mauritius and the dolphin tour was lots of fun.
We headed out from the jetty in a small motor boat, although there are boats of all sizes that participate in the tour, and our charming guide gave us lots of interesting information on the 15 minute journey to Tamarin Bay, where the dolphins play every morning.
I was a little nervous of what to expect as animal rights in tourism is something very close to my heart and I don’t think I could’ve handled watching humans exploit poor dolphins in their backyard but the tour was actually gentle.
Dolphins are such fun and friendly animals that they would often swim alongside our boat (much to the delight of everyone on board.) It was a little windy so when they were further off the choppy water made it challenging to find them but the boat drivers are really good at anticipating where they’ll pop up next.
Some other tours allowed people to try and swim with the dolphins or at least swim after the dolphins but the weather wasnt brilliant on my morning and most people just ended up flapping their arms around hopelessly. It was quite funny because the dolphins were swimming around and the humans really had no chance of catching them.
Overall I think we did really well in terms of breaking out the mould and discovering different adventures in Mauritius. I wouldn’t ever want to replace the ocean experience in Mauritius or even suggest that, but it is definitely worthwhile spicing your holiday up by exploring a few other activities as well.
- Lastly I’d just like to mention that doing activities around Mauritius does involve a fair amount of driving from A to B. During our time there we used the services of Concorde and I’d be more than happy to recommend them to you as well. In fact, if possible, ask for Vimal to be your driver. Tell him you know me and I guarantee you’ll have the holiday of a lifetime ;)