During the spring 2022, we did a 5 week road trip around the island of Mauritius. Our first big trip (and plane flight) with our baby, who was then one and a half years old.
In this article you will find information and tips, following the order of our road trip, on the below:
- West: Flic en Flac, Tamarin, La Preneuse
- North: Pereybere, Grand Baie, Mont Choisy and Trou aux Biches beaches, Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, Aventure du Sucre, Château de Labourdonnais, Coin de Mire
- South: Le Morne, south beaches, Gorges de la Rivière Noire national park, Chamarel, Ebony Forest, Grand Bassin, Bois Chéri, Saint Aubin
- East: Trou d’Eau Douce, île aux Cerfs, Sagar Shiv Mandir temple, Flacq market, east beaches
- South East: Ferney Valley, Mahébourg, île aux Aigrettes, Beachcomber Shandrani Resort & Spa
- Activities : dolphin excursion, scuba diving, nature and visits
We decided to go to Mauritius based on several criteria. First of all, it’s a direct flight from France and the time difference is very little, ideal conditions for a baby. We were also seduced by the promise of cultural diversity (especially for the food), the landscapes of the interior of the island, the beauty of the beaches and the underwater world.
For our stay, we made the choice to take our time and change accommodation approximately every 5 days. We chose completely different accommodations (homestay, small hotel, large hotel, guest house, apartments, luxury hotel…), all around the island. Regarding transport, we rented a car, more information on this subject in our Practical Information section.
West of Mauritius
Flic en Flac
We started our stay in Flic en Flac in an apartment near the beach booked on Airbnb. There is not much to do locally, but there is access to supermarkets. The Jumbo Express in Flic en Flac is convenient and there is also the large Super U in Tamarin with a lot of choice, especially for baby products (we were able to find the same brands we use in France).
Above all, the beach of Flic en Flac is magnificent and perfect for swimming. It is shaded in the morning and the view of Le Morne is splendid. Probably one of the best beaches on the island.
Flic en Flac restaurants
There are stands along the beach in Flic en Flac, offering Chinese, Indian or Creole food. Prices vary a lot and are rarely indicated. The Farata Roti AKA Vinoda stand offers delicious rotis (crepes filled with different meat or fish curries) at unbeatable prices. Be prepared to have to queue, as it is very popular.
We also liked the Zub Express restaurant, offering Indian or Chinese dishes.
Accommodation in Flic en Flac
We appreciated the comfort of this beautiful apartment listed by Kévin on Airbnb, with the beach within walking distance. Our host was friendly, he welcomed us very well and helped us while remaining discreet.
Tamarin and dolphin tour
Tamarin beach is nice. We always found a place to park. There are options to eat, restaurants and stands along the beach. Following our Lonely Planet guide’s advice, we tried the dumplings with noodles sold on the beach and it was delicious! You will recognize the stand in the middle of the beach, with the queue in front.
Many excursions depart from Tamarin to see dolphins, the famous Crystal Rock and l’île aux Benitiers. This island, with its view of Le Morne and its turquoise waters, is worth visiting.
However, we were very disappointed for the dolphins. Although we chose a tour leaving early and recommended, we were a lot of boats and felt like we were really disturbing the animals! There is an excursion leaving very early which goes further out to sea to also observe the sperm whales, it seems more respectful for the animals. We do not recommend this activity which seemed, to us, harmful for the dolphins and regret to have taken part in it. In addition, the boat came back at high speed with the wind. The noise made our son cry the whole way back (even though he loved the rest of the day and the trip going there).
We went to the public beach of La Preneuse, to visit the Martello tower. The parking is small, so it was difficult to park. The beach is not worth the trip, but this historical visit was interesting. Transformed into a museum, it is a tower built during the British rule to protect themselves against invaders.
North of Mauritius
Pereybere beach is family-friendly and appreciable, the sunsets are very beautiful there.
Accommodation in Pereybere
We stayed at the Pereybere Hotel & Spa, a small hotel opposite the beach, with very friendly staff and a good breakfast. We really enjoyed the rooftop pool. The rooms were comfortable and practical. The big negative point was the humidity in the hotel and the lack of light in the rooms.
Pereybere was a good starting point to visit the north of the island.
Grand Bay is the seaside resort and the most popular place for tourists. If you don’t have transport you will find everything on site, shops, supermarkets, restaurants, bars, water activities… We mainly went there to shop at the Super U on our way to visits and excursions.
It is also an alternative to the capital of Port Louis, if you want to be in a place with things to do and by the beach. We didn’t have the opportunity (and the time) to visit Port Louis. If you have any recommendations for this city, please share them with us in the comments.
Mont Choisy and Trou aux Biches beaches
Mont Choisy beach was one of our favorite, we had the impression of being in nature with the trees lining up along this long beach. We parked near a nice little Hindu temple.
Another pretty beach, with a very nice Beachcomber hotel, is Trou aux Biches.
The small village of Cap Malheureux is known for its red-roofed church in front of the bay. From the beach, the view on the lagoon is incredible with the Coin de Mire islet. Sunday is the busiest day in the village, especially during mass times. The village takes its name from the many shipwrecks that have taken place there, notably the Saint-Géran one which inspired the story of Paul and Virginie (see our reading list).
Pamplemousses Botanical Garden
The Pamplemousses Botanical Garden seems to be one of the most popular touristic activity on the island. We had a pleasant visit there, our flower-loving son really liked it. Although, we didn’t felt like it was the best thing to do if you’re here on a short stay (like most tourists are).
We did the guided tour, which was very interesting, and then continued to explore for quite a while on our own.
L’Aventure du Sucre
The visit to L’Aventure du Sucre museum allowed us to learn more about the history of the island, everything was very well explained. We especially remember a delicious lunch at the adjacent restaurant, Le Fangourin.
Château de Labourdonnais
The Château de Labourdonnais is a wonderful visit, Clémentine loves to explore colonial houses! The house is beautiful, and we were impressed inside by the furniture and decoration giving us a good idea of the lifestyle at the time. We were there early and enjoyed starting the tour on our own.
The garden is also impressive and pleasant, we were able to discover species in the orchard and the vegetable garden. We didn’t try the restaurant but had a drink tasting, included in the entrance ticket. We preferred to have lunch nearby and the opportunity to discover another colonial house at the Demeure Saint Antoine.
Demeure Saint Antoine
Just a 10 minute drive from the Chateau de Labourdonnais, we had lunch at the Demeure Saint Antoine. This old colonial house converted into a hotel-restaurant is full of charm. We had lunch on the terrace with a nice view of the garden. The prices there were reasonable although the portions were not huge.
Historic Marine Goodland
We quickly passed by this ship model shop, where we were able to appreciate the meticulous handmade work.
Coin de Mire
Coin de Mire beach (also called Bain Bœuf) is pretty, but not very suitable for swimming because of the boats. Coin de Mire is the name of the islet located a few kilometers away. There is not much shade in the afternoon. However, there are beautiful walks starting from the beach and going north. By climbing a few rocks, we found little corners of paradise perfect for swimming in peace!
Accommodation: Coin de Mire Attitude
We spent a few days at the Coin de Mire Attitude hotel, we have very good memories of this stay. It is located opposite the Coin de Mire beach, be careful though you have to cross a fairly busy road to get to the beach. We liked the food, the pools, the activities (the kids club where we could take our baby to play even though he was too young to participate), the staff and the room.
Scuba diving in Mauritius
After getting our PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced certifications during our world tour, we were eager to discover the underwater marine life of Mauritius. This is also the reason why we spent so long in the north of the island.
Our first constraint was the care of our son, and we found (thanks to the Instagram account of the travel bloggers Un Duvet pour Deux) this local nursery taking people in vacation: La Palette. Our son loved it, the team and the environment were great.
Dive Center Just Diving
We chose a diving center near the nursery, Just Diving. This small family centre (run by French expatriates) is well organised. We were able to do a refresher in the pool (as it had been a while since our last dive). They were also flexible and accommodating. Thus, we were able to do all the dives we wanted within the nursery schedule.
We dived at the following spots: :
- Silver star (a wreck)
- Ti Corail
- 3 ancres (for turtles)
- Pointe Vacoas
Everything was superb, we highly recommend diving in Mauritius.
South of Mauritius
Le Morne Brabant is the pretty mountain at 550m altitude which is visible from many beaches in the south-west of the island. We loved walking at the bottom of Le Morne. We didn’t had enough time to attempt the easiest hike (which doesn’t go all the way to the top). It seems accessible to families, but looks very steep. Leave us a comment if you did it. There is also a trek going all the way to the top for the more athletic.
Our accommodation in Le Morne
In Le Morne we booked our cheapest accommodation, found on Airbnb: Chez Meera.
The small apartment was comfortable, it was on top of the home of our very kind host who even offered us delicious meals. A superb homestay experience, with all the necessary accessories for our baby. The location was ideal for all the excursions we did in the south.
Restaurant at la Gaulette
However, there was no restaurant near our accommodation. A little further in the town of La Gaulette (a popular place for expatriates and fans of surfing and kitesurf), we loved the Creole cuisine family restaurant Chez Meïlee.
The southern beaches: Le Morne, La Prairie, Saint-Félix and Riambel
- Le Morne: we really liked the public beach between the Hotel Rui and the Marriott at the Parking Pointe Sud-Ouest. If you push a little further after Rui, you will have a breathtaking view of Le Morne. We even walked around Le Morne following an unpaved road, it’s a little bumpy but it’s very pretty.
- La Prairie: the public beach of La Prairie offered us sumptuous sunsets. On the other hand, there is not much bottom so do not expect to swim there for too long. You have to go far to swim with mask and snorkel. On the other hand, it allows us to observe the corals on foot and we were able to take our son to see some. This beach is not very popular with tourists, and we were happy to have our accommodation nearby. On the other hand, we regretted to see a lot of waste there.
- Saint-Félix: we also loved the beautiful beach of Saint-Félix, which is very well equipped and was deserted when we were there.
- Riambel: Riambel beach offers a very pleasant nature side. On the other hand, swimming is difficult because the bottoms are rocky and there are more waves.
The Black River Gorges National Park
Our main reason for spending a whole week in the south of Mauritius was to explore the interior of the island, and in particular the Black River Gorges National Park. But, it is very difficult to get information online about the hikes. Also be careful because some roads were closed when we were there (especially between Chamarel and Case Noyale). The best way to get reliable information is to ask the locals when you arrive and before planning which routes to take.
We went to the information centre at Le Pétrin. We then decided to hike Maccabees Kiosk. W were lucky to come across some endemic bird species as well as monkeys. It was a great experience, not too difficult to do with our son in a baby carrier. There is also another information centre on the Black River side. By inquiring, you should find many other hikes that were not possible for us with a baby.
Chamarel, 7 Coloured Earth
With the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, Chamarel is the visit all tourists make in Mauritius (and which can be found everywhere on Instagram). Spoiler, influencers know how to take pictures from a certain angle! Chamarel 7 Coloured Earth is a geological phenomenon with different color dunes. This is due to the erosive activity of the basalt soil and the combination of its minerals with the rain.
We were quite disappointed with this visit. The site is much smaller than we expected. In addition, it was cloudy during our visit so we didn’t witness the bright colors we were expecting. Apparently it’s more visible at sunset, we didn’t know that. Moreover, the turtle enclosure was not well maintained. Before the site is a magnificent waterfall, but we would have preferred to come across it while hiking rather than observe it from the side of the road.
As for Chamarel, there is a charge to enter the Ebony forest. However, we do recommend visiting this conservation and ecotourism park. This gave us a better understanding of the state and evolution of the Island’s primary forests. The hike ends at a breathtaking view. A secure platform is set up, with a small place to buy snacks which we appreciated. It also allowed us to let our son walk freely after his long ride in a baby carrier.
The temples of Grand Bassin
Close to the information centre of the Black River Gorges National Park, in Le Pétrin, are the Grand Bassin temples and their impressive giant statues. It is a stop worth making if you are hiking in this area. Plan to walk, if you want to go around it and go up to see the viewpoint over the lake.
This natural water reservoir is located in the crater of an ancient volcano. This place is considered the most sacred on the island for Mauritian Hindus who believe the water of the lake is a resurgence of the sacred Ganges. It is a place for pilgrimage. Be respectful on site, dress properly.
The Bois Chéri, tea production
Another highly touristic place on the island: theBois Chéri place and its huge tea plantations. An interesting visit to discover all the work from planting to canning tea in the factory. The visit ends with a tasting with a nice view of the estate. We also recommend the on-site restaurant which offers a very nice panorama.
The Saint Aubin house
We have combined the visit of the Bois Chéri with the Saint Aubin house (with combined tickets). This is the last stage of the famous tea route, and it is known for its vanilla plantation and its rum distillery. On site is an old colonial residence, the vanilla plantation with explanations on the cycle of its production, a greenhouse of tropical flowers, and a rum distillery with tasting.
We weren’t thrilled with the visit, but our son loved the little farm. We also had lunch there.
East of Mauritius
Trou d’eau douce
We chose this place based on the accommodation we had found there. Trou d’eau douce is a good base for the excursion to Ile aux Cerfs and for touring the east coast. There are also a few restaurants on site. However, we felt we may have stayed there a little bit too long. This feeling is also due to the fact that it is the place where we had the worst weather, and it was really windy when we were on the coast.
Accommodation in Trou d’Eau Douce
We spent six nights at Trou d’eau douce in Annalisa’s house, booked on Airbnb. We are pleased to have met her, she gave us lots of advice for our visits. The garden and the swimming pool were nice.
Restaurant in the east of Mauritius
On the advice of our host Annalisa, we booked a table at Mamie Sophie. We loved the pretty setting in the garden and the delicious meal.
Excursion to île aux Cerfs
Another popular tourist activity is the excursion to île aux Cerfs. Tourists come from all over the island to do it, we were able to join a boat tour on foot from our accommodation (and advised by our host). We opted for a day on a catamaran (there are different options) with a first trip in a smaller boat to see the Grand River South East Waterfalls. The day was very pleasant, but spent mainly on the boat. Unfortunately, we found we were running out of time on the island. In addition, the boat was not very suitable for a young child (possibility of falling) so we had to keep our son in the baby carrier most of the time.
It is possible to get there by water taxi from Trou d’eau douce, for a cheaper price, and to choose how long to spend on the island. We wanted to go back, but the weather finally put us off. The island is very touristy, but very pretty, and the water is magnificent for swimming. We would have liked to have the time to walk around it.
Sagar Shiv Mandir Temple
In Poste de Flacq, we visited the Hindu temple of Sagar Shiv Mandir which was recently built. It is impressive for its size and the view of the lagoon, it is a quick visit.
The Flacq market is a colorful, authentic and local visit. However, there are also stalls if you are looking for souvenirs to bring back in your suitcases. It is one of the largest markets on the island. Be prepared for the spice smells to stay in your nostrils! It is best to go there on Wednesday or Sunday. for the parking, we had no trouble finding a place at the bus station.
The beaches in the east coast: Palmar, Camp de Jeunes and Belle Mare
Our host at Trou d’eau douce, Annalisa, also gave us very useful information on the surrounding beaches, including which one to go to depending on the weather and the wind!
- Palmar: there are several beaches in Palmar, we found a nice beach sheltered from the wind between 2 hotels. However, the beach is not very big (parking is difficult) and it is close to the road. The other Palmar beach is much larger, more natural but windier and there is no fine sand.
- Camp de Jeunes: a well hidden beach with a nice view, but where we had a lot of wind.
- Belle Mare: a very large beach which lacked places in the shade (essential with a baby).
South East of Mauritius
Vallée de Ferney
We went to the Vallée de Ferney from Trou d’eau douce. First of all, the road along the coast is worth seeing.
To visit the valley, you have to pay an entrance fee. There are several possible hike options with different levels of difficulty. We enjoyed the hike we chose, although it was quite short.
Once again the road from Trou d’eau douce is superb. We really wanted to visit the city of Mahébourg. In the end, when we arrived in this big city, we first had trouble parking (and were worried about getting a fine) and then we were surprised by the rain. We only stayed for lunch and a short walk, regretfully because the city seems to have a lot to offer. Do not hesitate to share in comment if you have been able to visit this city.
Ile aux Aigrettes tour
Ile aux Aigrettes is located off Mahébourg, we went there from the Shandrani hotel. The starting point is Pointe Jérôme. It was a great tour for us who like to discover the local fauna! After a short time on a pretty blue sea, we arrived on this small coral island. It is an uninhabited, classified, natural site.
We booked our tour directly with the MWF Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. This foundation works to preserve endemic species in Mauritius. On site, with our guide and a small group, we were able to discover the endemic fauna and flora during a walk of about 1 hour and 30 minutes. It wasn’t difficult and enjoyable with our son who loved watching the different animals such as birds, lizards and giant tortoises. We also learned about the important work of the foundation.
Our experience at the Beachcomber Shandrani Resort & Spa
As our month in Mauritius went by, we developed a curiosity for luxury hotel stays. It is not in our habits and it was not initially planned. However, we decided to change the end of our stay at the last minute to test one of those hotels (after studying the market, making on-site visits to another hotel in the branch where we even asked to see the rooms and after looking extensively for the best prices).
So, we ended our stay with four nights at the Beachcomber Shandrani Resort & Spa. Everything was included there. This gave us the opportunity to participate in activities such as snorkeling, glass bottom boat and water skiing. Our son could follow us on the boat and we always had time to take turns swimming in the sea. The access to the beach, the swimming pools, the service, the rooms, the meals, everything seemed incredible to us.
However, we are happy to have ended our stay like this and to have only spent a few days there. Otherwise, we imagine it loses its magic. It indeed seemed a shame to us to come simply to Mauritius to stay in the resort (because it is made in a way that you don’t need to go out of it)! We also loved all of our other very varied housing experiences.
The hotel is very close to the airport. It was perfect to leave, we also regretted not having returned our car as soon as we arrived at the hotel, because the shuttle between the two would have cost us less than the four days of rental. But we couldn’t change our renting agreement. We were afraid of the noise, but it was not a problem at all, the air traffic was not intense and the animation of the takeoffs (especially after sunset) pleased our son enormously.
Practical information for a family stay in Mauritius
Transport in Mauritius: car rental
To get around, we decided to rent a car for our entire stay. It is not a necessity, but it was easier to go everywhere with our son and change accommodation with the luggage. After comparing prices online, we booked through a local company available directly at the airport. To save money, we chose the smallest possible model, a 4-seater yoghurt pot. We had to play games of Tetris to fit our suitcases in with an almost non-existent trunk, but we always managed. The car was supplied with an infant car seat of questionable quality.
Driving is not easy, even through we had already driven on the left, but it was manageable. The cars were driving around us at dangerously different speeds. We avoided night driving as much as possible (even though the sun sets at 6 p.m.) because the lighting wasn’t very good. However, we found the roads to be in pretty good condition.
To find our way, we used Google Maps thanks to a SIM card bought at a stand directly at the airport from the operator EMTEL.
The cultural diversity of the island is reflected in the many languages spoken. The language mostly used for administration is English, but Mauritian Creole and French seem to be more commonly spoken. We advise you to learn some greetings in Creole. However, we prefer not to write those here because you have to hear them out.
Our opinion on Mauritius
Before our trip, we had heard very different opinions on Mauritius. What came back a lot it that we were crazy to stay there so long, we were going to be bored! It might be the case if you stay inside a ressort…
For us, we could have stayed longer without getting bored (and would have loved to) . We wanted to travel slowly to enjoy our time there with our baby. We were able to go all around the island, staying between 4 and 6 days per accommodation. It was perfect ! The variety of landscapes, the different activities, the kindness of the locals and the beautiful encounters, the range of accommodation and the diversity of the food (such an important point) kept us amazed every day.
The history of the island is also really interesting. It is here that the famous dodo, which has sadly become the symbol of extinct species, once existed.
Our only regret is perhaps not having followed our initial plan, which was to also go to the island of Rodrigues for a week, making a round trip from Mauritius. This island looks beautiful, culturally very different and much wilder. In the end, because as it was our first family trip, we were a little afraid of the lack of structures on site in case of a problem.
After discussing it with the locals (especially some living in Rodrigues), we think we could have made this trip. There is actually a hospital there. Nevertheless, we barely had time to do everything we wanted in Mauritius. This extra trip would have shortened our stay there.
Another archipelago in the Indian Ocean: the Seychelles
We had the opportunity to stop in the Seychelles during our world tour (it was on our way between India and Zimbabwe). Many of you have asked us what we preferred. Find our comparison (notably for a honeymoon) in our article on the Seychelles islands: https://voyagedemiel.com/en/seychelles-mahe-praslin-la-digue/.
Clémentine’s Reading List on Mauritius
- Lonely Planet guide: Mauritius, Reunion & Seychelles
- A picture book, Grand Mama by Corrine Fleury and Sébastien Pelon, published locally by the publisher Atelier des nomades. A beautiful book written around a traditional lullaby.
- The novel Paul & Virginie, written by Bernardin de St-Pierre, and published in 1788. A fluid and absorbing read for an 18th century novel. The descriptions of the landscapes, the living conditions and even the politics in Mauritius at the time are very interesting.
- The novel The Prospector, by the Literature Nobel Prize J.M.G Le Clézio, to search for a pirate treasure from Mauritius to Rodrigues.