Introducing Mauritius

by Michelle Snaddon

Discover Mauritius our way and have the best of both worlds: you could choose a laid-back beach house with dreamy views and truly get the sense of living like a local, or stay in a luxury private villa that enjoys the same facilities as a resort… which will it be?

Perfect Hideaways, Mauritius, Island House, Roches Noires, north-eastern coast.
Magical Mauritius: The Island House in Roches Noires is surrounded by azure waters on the north-eastern coast

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MAURITIUS

Everyone has their favourite beach or memories of sailing with friends, idling for hours in pretty bays and swimming in silky warm waters … and everyone has their own opinion on where to stay… but by the time you get to book, you can’t remember which was which!

So, we’ve done the homework for you by visiting each one of these beautiful options personally and focusing on three gorgeous areas: the relatively untouched south west, around the marina at Rivière Noire (Black River) or pretty Le Morne; the northern area to the right of bustling Grand Baie, around Pereybere and Cap Malheureux, both known for their pristine beaches; and the north-eastern coast around Roches Noires, Trou d’Eau Douce, Poste Lafayette and Belle Mare where the sun rises and island rhythms are a little gentler.

Perfect Hideaways, Mauritius, Enchanted Villa, island off Le Morne
The ultimate escape: holidaying in an exclusive-use beach house or villa in Mauritius allows you the freedom of self-catering or booking a private chef and even masseurs, making a stay as luxurious as a hotel or resort but infinitely more private

Where do I start?

It’s easy to drive around the island and there’s so much to do, you’ll be planning your next trip before you touch down back home! Mauritius gives travellers the option of private chefs, masseurs and transfers, or a self-drive holiday that can be as relaxed or as energetic and adventurous as you like. Many of the villas are affiliated to resorts, with the unique spin-off that guests at the villas can also make use of the resort facilities as guests – so you can have access even though you aren’t guests at the hotel or resort. Sophisticated spas, gyms and restaurants are therefore close by, yet you benefit from absolute privacy in your luxury villa. This makes the island equally family friendly – there’s plenty to do for teens and little ones no matter where you stay, but the resorts certainly do keep the activities rolling so parents can have a break.

There’s something to be said for doing your own thing, especially if you also want to explore the little-known waterfalls or go mountain biking in the mountains inland, and you like to live like a local when you travel to a new country. Buy fresh fish from fishermen, go rum tasting or set off on your boat for the day to find your own private cove. Perfect Hideaways offers both choices and our team is here to help you decide. We have on-the-ground knowledge, having driven all over this idyllic island to put together this handpicked collection in Mauritius for you. 

Black River Penthouse pool
Black River Penthouse combines the best of both worlds: this contemporary retreat is set on the banks of the river, yet backing onto a bustling marina and one of the prettiest bays on the island. Great for multigenerational holidays

When to go?

Best times are April to June and between September and December. Summer and winter months are opposite to Europe, and with easy direct flight connections or onward flights from South Africa (just over 4 hours from Joburg), it’s a no-brainer when the weather is rather gloomy up north! November to April is hot and humid, with hottest temperatures in December, January and February, when tropical showers arrive.

Scuba diving and deep-sea fishing is good from December to March, although this coincides with the cyclone season from November through to April. Winter is the best time for surfing: expect a mild 20 degrees from May to October! In general, temperatures inland are about 3-5 degrees cooler than the coast. 

Perfect Hideaways, Mauritius, Enchanted Island, Le Morne
We can’t think of a better place to wake up and swim or do morning yoga. This is the view across to Le Morne in the south-west of Mauritius from Enchanted Island villa.

Will it be a beach house or private apartment?

Both! It’s better to choose around the area: we suggest you combine at least two areas of the island during your stay. Sunrise is on the eastern side, and sunset in the west, and the northern areas get the best of both! If you want to travel all the way around the island, we suggest you turn left as you leave the airport and head towards Le Morne in the south-west to start.

Mauritius isn’t as small as it looks: it’s worth knowing that routes across the island can get busy as there aren’t many, and if you’re exploring the back roads or going up mountain passes, you will need to take it slow and enjoy the scenery.

Perfect Hideaways, Mauritius, Enchanted Island, Le Morne
Whether you’re looking for a beach house, an apartment (or even a house on its own private island!) Mauritius is the ideal multigenerational escape for families

South West Mauritius

The south-west coast of Mauritius is the most authentic, unspoiled part of the island – and without doubt, one of our favourites. It’s not the obvious choice but we suggest you start a holiday here as it is still authentic and is full of character. Black River (Rivière Noire) is home to the only other harbour on Mauritius, so it attracts luxury yachts and catamarans adding to its distinctly marine lifestyle, yet Le Morne still doesn’t have a petrol station, but you’ll find good restaurants and a decent supermarket for self-catering in Rivière Noire. It’s family friendly with superb sailing and water sports such as kite surfing in the bay. 

This is also the perfect base for day trips inland: what most people don’t know is that the island is very hilly in the middle and loved by walkers, hikers and mountain bikers. Explore Chamarel and the Black River Gorges National Park, discover beautiful waterfalls or climb Le Morne peak for beautiful views back towards Rivière Noire. Golf enthusiasts all head for the south west, to enjoy the Heritage Le Telfair Golf and Wellness Resort. The 45-hole course has beautiful ocean views and is world-renowned as the Indian Ocean’s best golf course.  

Villa Cambier view
Villa Cambier, an avant garde architectural masterpiece built in 1969, tucked into the cliffside of Le Morne peak and commanding some of the most mesmerizing views to be had on the island

LE MORNE

Villa Cambier (Sleeps 10 in 6 bedrooms)

Villa Matahari pool
Villa Matahari in Black River, or Rivière Noire, is a peaceful sanctuary surrounded by tranquil water features and a lush palm-filled garden

RIVIÈRE NOIR (BLACK RIVER)

Villa Matahari (Sleeps 10 in 6 bedrooms)

Hideaways in Le Morne (Sleep 2-6 in 1 bedroom studios and 2 or 3 bedroom apartments)

Black River Penthouse (Sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms)

The interiors at Black River Penthouse are contemporary and cool, with fold-back shutters revealing glorious views of the mountains in the south west from every room

Northern Mauritius

Most visitors love the bustle of Grand Baie, with its international boutiques and island-style glamour that extends to its restaurants and beach bars. It’s more touristy, with a vibrant night life, but less windy and our favourite beach is at Pereybere just to the north east of the town. Here, aquamarine waters teem with colourful fish and further out, scuba divers can spot hammerhead sharks and game fish. Go parasailing, windsurfing, water skiing and snorkelling – or book a catamaran for a laid-back day of sailing these crystal clear waters, drop the anchor and have a seafood lunch braai on board and dive overboard into the silky warm waters to keep cool whenever you want to. It’s a lifestyle that brings guests back to Mauritius time and again, which is why we have chosen two beautiful properties here.

Pointe d’Azur, a calming retreat in Pereybere

PEREYBERE, GRANDE BAIE

Pointe d’Azur (Sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms)

CAP MALHEUREUX

Villa Koudesoley (Sleeps 10 in 5 bedrooms)

Villa Koudesoley
Cap Malheureux’s Villa Koudesoley’s gorgeous turquoise-tiled pool is an oasis in the tropical summer heat - and entertainment central for multigen family holidays

North Eastern Mauritius

The eastern side of Mauritius is authentic: expect a different pace with a scattering of colourful Hindu temples, a less cluttered coastline and beautiful sun rises on this side of the island. The beaches are exquisite in the east: there are no palms but miles of white sandy shores, where you’ll enjoy dawn swims. It’s ideal for families and multigenerational holidays together, especially if combined with day trips to the north or a few days spent in the south west. It’s easy to begin or end a holiday here as you’re closer to the airport and it’s an equally popular destination for all water sports and boat trips to nearby islands on catamarans. There are plenty of characterful little vendors and local markets, as well as good supermarkets.

Perfect Hideaways, Mauritius, water sports
Holidays in Mauritius are all about being on the water with friends and family in the prettiest bays with crystal clear water

ROCHES NOIRES

The Island House (Sleeps 9 in 4 bedrooms)

TROU D’EAU DOUCE

Miafina (Sleeps 8 in 4 bedrooms)

Maifina pool and view
Maiafina’s pool house in Trou d’Eau Douce is set down a few steps on its own terrace. With these beautiful views, it’s hard to leave - and why should you?

POSTE LAFAYETTE

Villa del Ocean (Sleeps 12 in 6 bedrooms)

Villa Koki Bonheur (Sleeps 8 in 4 bedrooms)

Villa Arty (Sleeps 8 in 4 bedrooms)

BELLE MARE

Villa Rubis (Sleeps 14 in 8 bedrooms)

Villa Saphir (Sleeps 12 in 7 bedrooms)

Villa Arty, Poste Lafayette; Villa Rubis, Belle Mare; Villa Saphir, Belle Mare; Villa del’Ocean, Poste Lafayette: all ideal locations for the start or end of a holiday in Mauritius as they’re not far from the airport

All you need to know if you choose to self-cater

If you’re renting a private beach house or luxury accommodation in Mauritius and are self-catering, shopping is easy. There are a number of good shopping malls in Mauritius, with many brands familiar to South Africans. In the west, you’ll find Cascavelle Mall, near Flic en Flac – just north of the ancient salt pans at Tamarin – it even has a Wellness Warehouse. Supermarkets include Intermart, Super U, Winner’s and Food Lover’s, and Woolworths clothing, beauty and homeware can be found in Cascavelle, Bagatelle, Grande Baie, Central Flacq, Moka and Port Louis or ordered online. Look out for a wonderful selection of local spice and curry powders in local supermarkets, some of them especially for seafood and fish. If you’d like to be inspired by local recipes when planning your holiday in Mauritius, you’ll discover some new dishes suggested by expat Karen Thornally. And if you’ve never tried street food, Mauritius food vendors do a delicious roti served with tomato-based rougaille and a butter bean curry with mouth-watering pickles and chutneys. No surprises that this is a national dish.

Where to eat?

Karen Thornally is an expat who lives in Mauritius and offers personal reviews: we love her Top 10 Restaurants. Many of the hotels have superb restaurants but keep an eye out for local gems as there’s so much more to Mauritius than hotel resorts. You will find everything from laid back beachfront restaurants like Wapalapam in Le Morne in the south-west, or fine dining at Le Table du Château in the historic château at Domaine de Labourdonnais in Mapou, also home to one of the oldest rum distilleries in the northern part of the island of Mauritius.

Villa Koudesoley view
Villa Koudesoley’s view is hard to beat: there’s no need to go down to the beach when it looks so good from here!

What to drink?

Mauritius is known for its rum and it’s worth visiting a distillery. If you’re taking a day trip to see the ‘coloured earth’ of Chamarel, make time to pop in for a tour and tasting at the distillery called Rhumerie de Chamarel with its beautiful views from its location set high above fields of waving green sugar cane.

Villa Cambier sunset
Sundowners 007 style at the architecturally striking Villa Cambier with a view across Le Morne

How to get there?

Flights are frequent into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, in the south of the island. Le Morne is only about an hour’s drive along the south-west coast so is a good place to start – or you could begin in Belle Mare or Poste Lafayette on the eastern side. Car hire is easy but private transfers may also be arranged.

Perfect Hideaways, Mauritius, Enchanted Island villa, Le Morne.
Enchanted Island villa is just that, simply enchanting! Images: courtesy Muse

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