Known as paradise on Earth, Mauritius is a destination that will excite even the most discerning traveller with luxury beaches and superb hiking.
Located 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of Africa you’ll find the small island nation of Mauritius. Canadian Livings’s Fashion and Beauty director, Julia McEwen, visited the remote island on her honeymoon and discovered so much more than crystal clear waters and rum infused cocktails—not that there’s anything wrong with just that!
Image courtesy of One&Only Le Saint Géran
Where to stay?
If you’re going to travel all the way to paradise it’s only natural to use that as inspiration when you’re choosing your accommodation. Checking into the One&Only Le Saint Géran in Pointe de Flacq (the south east side of the island) was not like checking into a regular hotel. When we pulled up in our comically tiny toy-like rental car (though much more luxurious and spacious transfers are provided by the hotel) we were greeted by a small team of three. They knew our names, took our luggage and in exchange they handed us deliciously refreshing cocktails that I can’t recall the contents of because after spending 22 hours to get to Mauritius from Toronto the jet lag was real!
As we passed through the hotel’s 20 foot archway into its decadent marble lobby filled with an amazing amount of Bird’s of Paradise, a giant gong was hammered to announce our arrival. My eyes darted over to my husband’s and we immediately exhaled a deep breath, we knew that we had made the right decision to stay here.
Image courtesy of One&Only Le Saint Géran
This property dates back to the '70s and was one of the first hotels on the island. In 2002, it was rebranded as the One&Only Le Saint Géran and it recently reopened in December 2017 after a nine-month, multimillion dollar renovation. The results have bestowed it with a clean, chic and modern aesthetic while still feeling bright and welcoming. Stunning design and decor aside, we all know that regardless of how ridiculously good looking a hotel can be, how delicious the food can taste and how breathtaking it’s palm-fringed property is, a hotel is only as good as their staff.
(Left) Beachside private dining with Teepee. (Right) La Terrasse Bar Exterior. Images courtesy of the One&Only Le Saint Géran.
Every employee, from the front desk to gym, would greet us with eye contact, a smile and one hand placed over their heart with a quick and shallow bow. We truly felt welcomed and you could tell the staff was happy and passionate working in this little piece of paradise. One evening while sipping on cocktails and watching the sunset, as you do while on vacation, we spoke to a warm and friendly employee who casually dropped that he’d been worked at this property since 1975. That’s 43 years! Even our butler, Basel, had been with the hotel for over twenty years. So when I learned that half the hotel’s guests have stayed there before, it made perfect sense. It’s like Cheers, “where everybody know your name,” except far more chic with much better drinks and epic views.
What to do in Mauritius?
If you want laze horizontally on a beach, go to the Maldives. If you want to be a little sportier (such as scuba diving, hiking, kit surfing, wakeboarding or kayaking) but also want the option to have a beach day, Mauritius is the right choice.
Me "living my best life" in some of the warmest, clearest and cleanest water I've ever waded in on Île aux Cerfs
Visit Île aux Cerfs
If you want to see some of the clearest water and experience dust-like sand on the soles of your feet a catamaran day trip to Île aux Cerfs is a must. Tucked away in the secluded Eastern Coast of Mauritius, which was close to our hotel, the renowned île aux Cerfs, known in English as deer island, is a haven of relaxation, fun and entertainment. Its screensaver worthy beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. On your way to Aux Cerf the catamaran will stop for snorkelling at the coral reef that surrounds it. If catamaran isn’t your preferred mode of transport you can arrive there on speed boat or depending on your budge, yacht.
We recommend Johaness Speedboat & Catamaran.
Lagoon at the One&Only Le Saint Géran.
Mauritius is known for having optimal conditions for kite surfing, but if that’s a little out of your wheelhouse many public beaches and resorts offer other power sports. The One&Only Le Saint Géran offered free tubing, wake boarding and waterskiing for guests which you don’t even need to pre-arrange—you just show up at the dock in their private lagoon and they take you.
Tasting at Rhumerie de Charmeral.
Visit a Rhumerie
One of Mauritius largest exports is sugarcane, the tall perennial grass fields represent 85% of the arable land on the island. Though much of it is refined into sugar another byproduct is molasses which can be used to distill rum. The island has many rhumeries though the largest concentration is in the south. Perched 300 meters above the coast of south west Mauritius sits the Rhumerie de Chamarel. It encompasses a distillery and agricultural plantation on an eco-friendly estate. Tours and tasting are available for 400 Mauritius rupees (which is about $15 Canadian) in both French and English. Some words of wisdom, you should arrange transportation because a rum tasting is significantly more potent then a wine tasting.
Image courtesy of the One&Only Le Saint Géran.
Not all clichés are so bad. Take the one about a day spent at a sea side spa: Feel your cares sail away on the sea breeze when you experience an exquisite treatment. It’s the kind a cliché that makes you want to let your hair fly loose, slip into a silk robe and adopt a new diet of detoxifying tea and healthy salads. Or maybe that’s just me.
The One&Only Le Saint Géran massive renovation expanded the spa with it now covering an impressive 1000 square meters with panorama views overlooking the lush gardens, private spa pool and lagoon. It’s update also brought in new beauty brands and treatments including Biologique Recherché iconic facial treatments and ESPA skincare, used in connection with several holistic experiences and massage at the spa.
Another treatment worth noting is the Mauritian Fusion Poultice Treatment. The poultices is made of local herbs and spices that are wrapped in muslin and steam-heated. The experience is soothing to muscular aches and pains and the warm poultices allows intensive manipulation of tired muscles.
Hike to waterfalls
If you want to get off the white sandy beaches and stretch your legs, a day hike to one of the many waterfalls on the island will give you some much needed adventure and a true sense of the natural beauty that Mauritius houses. Depending on your time and fitness level some are short hikes and others are more isolated with paths that can be quite challenging. An easy one to reach is Rochester Falls in South Mauritius. It’s the widest waterfall which is surrounded by columnar basalt rocks which look like hexagon columns. It’s the result of cooling and cracking of an unusually thick basaltic lava flow. One of the mosts visited is Chamarel Waterfall located close to the Black River Gorges National Park, you’ll find exposed volcanic rocks dating back to some 8-10 million years ago, which is some of the oldest lava rocks of Mauritius. Located some 700 meters above the sea level, the incredible Alexandra Falls is found. This one has a view point so it’s really easy to access the waterfall. Plus, the area is surrounded by very well behaved Macaque monkeys.
FAQ about travel to Mauritius
Do you need a visa?
Whether you’re flying from Canada, United States, Asia or Europe you don’t need a visa to enter. You can stay up to 60 days in the country without a permit.
What language do Mauritians speak?
The nation is both English-speaking and French-speaking. Mauritius Creole is also spoken by 90% of the population and is considered to be the native language of the country.
How to you get there?
Air travel. If you’re flying from Canada your best bet is to fly to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. From there it’s a 12 hours flight to Mauritius?
How big is the island?
It’s 2,030 square kilometre in size. Which translates to about 60 km in length and 50km across.
Is it easy to drive?
Yes, very. It’s recommended to rent a car and drive. Though it should be noted that you drive on the right the side of the road.
What is the average temperature?
The average throughout the year is 26°C. The island has a classic tropical climate with warm weather year-round.
The best times to visit Mauritius?
High season is their summer which is from November to April, the days are hot and humid with lows of 23°C and higher of 32°C.
Do I need an adaptor for Mauritius?
Yes. The power supply is 240 volts and the power sockets use the British 3 pin standard.
What to pack
Temperatures are balmy most of the year, so bring chic beach wear and loads of SPF.
- Mood sunglasses in blush tortoise, $145, bonlook.com.
- Plunging scoop back one-piece swimsuit, $68, jcrew.com.
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen SPF 50, $17, walmart.ca.
- Cior Women Water Shoes Quick Dry Men Outdoor Sport Slip on Drainage System Aqua, $45, amazon.ca.
- Kay Lucca tote, $98, shopbop.com.
- Pleated Headband, $16, zara.com.
- Glamorous black & natural straw boater hat, $25, asos.com.
- Coola Mineral Liplux SPF 30, $29, thedetoxmarket.ca.