Mauritius has such a diverse landscape from stunning beaches, jungles, mountains, waterfalls and volcanoes to bustling streets and markets in the capital of Port Louis. Found in the Indian Ocean, near South Africa and India, this beautiful island is influenced by these two countries, religions and cuisines spill over and a mixture of cultures also means a mixture of languages, French, Creole and English are predominantly spoken across the country. The curries I’ve tasted in Mauritius have been some of the best I’ve eaten, apart from those I’ve had in India. I love this island, it has so much to see and do. If you are planning a trip to Mauritius read on for my top things to see and do, there is so much to explore and a lot more to do than just sunbathing…
1. Swim with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins in Mauritius is an unforgettable experience. The fact that these dolphins are wild was one of the main reasons I chose to do it. Bottlenose and spinners can be found close into the shoreline, playing and feeding early in the morning. Jumping in and seeing these majestic creatures glide past me was amazing, they are very fast though so keeping up with them was almost impossible! To watch spinner dolphins jumping out of the water was pretty impressive too!
2. Relax on a boat trip
You can’t go to Mauritius without going on a boat trip. It is a fantastic way to see this beautiful country, sailing along the coastline stopping off for snorkelling adventures, swimming on small island beaches, sunbathing on deck and not forgetting a barbecue lunch and unlimited drinks is a very nice way to spend the day. A beer or a rum and coke in the sunshine, legs dangling over the edge of the boat is just bliss! The boat trip I went on was combined with the dolphin swimming trip; I went with JPH Charters from Black River.
3. Explore the markets of Port Louis
Central Bazaar in Port Louis is the place to head for shopping and buying souvenirs. During the The Festival of Lights, better known as the Hindu festival of Diwali I enjoyed strolling around the streets taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the markets. The fruit and vegetable market is full of vibrant colours and plenty of friendly locals selling an impressive array of produce. It really is a bustling place to immerse yourself in; I love nothing more than to explore a local area and watch people going about their day-to-day business especially somewhere like Mauritius where it is so different to my culture. The market is a good place to buy vanilla pods, they are very cheap compared to the price in the UK; spices are also nice to pick up and there are plenty of stalls selling clothes and pashminas.
4. Eat Curry
After a visit to the markets in Port Louis finish the day off with a curry, I love Tandoori Express. Found along the waterfront it is a no frills restaurant and really doesn’t look like much but their curries are to die for! Friendly service and cheap it is worth checking out. Combine your curry with a local Phoenix beer, heaven! Generally speaking eating out in Mauritius is fairly cheap compared to the UK, you can get a curry and a beer at Tandoori Express for around £10. For a night out in Port Louis Keg and Marlin is always busy and often has live music. Just out of the city Flying Dodo is a craft brewery with a restaurant, if you are in the city on a Friday night Le Suffren hotel is good for cocktails and there is always a party atmosphere.
5. See the Seven Coloured Earths of Chamarel
You could be forgiven for thinking that you have landed on another planet at the Seven Coloured Sands. Created from volcanic activity and the cooling of molten rock the sands are ever-changing in colours and depths. I’ve not seen anything like this before, the seven colours are apparently red, brown, green, yellow violet, blue and purple but I struggled to see some of these, I could definitely pick out red, brown, yellow and violet. It is such an amazing landscape and being backed by so much green rainforest made the stark contrast of the sands even more interesting.
6. Visit a dormant volcano
Tor Cerf is a dormant volcano found near the town of Curepipe, you can walk around its circumference and get right up close to the edge. There were lots of tourists there when I visited but it is worth stopping to take a photo and the panoramic views of the coastline and mountains are gorgeous.
7. Be blessed by at Hindu priest at Gang Talao
A visit to this sacred lake is a must; Gang Talao or Grand Bassin as it is also known is considered to be one of the most sacred Hindu places of worship in Mauritius. Formed in the crater of an extinct volcano, people come from far and wide to pay their respects to the Hindu Gods. There is a small temple beside the lake and statutes along the edge of the water. A pilgrimage to Ganga Talao happens every year in February or March during the Shivertri, a festival dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Shiva, during the pilgrimage people walk barefoot from all over the island to worship and pay their respects at the lake. There is also a huge statute of Shiva just outside the lake; it is 108 ft tall and very impressive! I found it very interesting to visit the lake and observe visitors paying their respects; I also got a blessing from a Hindu priest while I was there.
8. Take in the rainforest at Alexandra Falls Lookout Point
This incredible viewpoint is definitely worth stopping at with views looking out across Black River Gorges National Park. Look down on lush green valleys, rainforest and waterfalls. There are 60 kilometres of hiking trails within the park so if you have time for a walk this is a good area to explore.
9. Chamarel Waterfall
This stunning waterfall is 100 metres high, making it is as tall as the Empire State Building. There are two viewpoints an upper and lower one, both as good for taking some photos. You can abseil down the falls on an organised trip, hike the trails surrounding it and swim in the pools at the bottom. For more on exploring waterfalls in Mauritius head here: Chasing Waterfalls and Other Adventures in Mauritius.
10. Beach time
Mauritius has plenty of stunning palm lined, white sand beaches and crystal clear waters for relaxing on, Flic en Flac, Tamarin and Grand Baie to name just a few. Which ever you pick you won’t be disappointed, it would be rude not relax for at least a few hours in the sunshine, listening to the waves lapping on the shoreline while you are here!
11. Stop to admire the views
Exploring the island by car is a great opportunity to take in the diverse landscape from coffee and sugar plantations, rainforest, salt farms, stunning coastline, tiny towns and pineapple plantations. (Who knew they grew from the ground?!) Don’t forget to make frequent stops to take in the surroundings and beautiful viewpoints, I loved stopping off in between locations to take photos. I visited Black River Gorges National Park, Chamarel Falls, Alexandra Falls viewpoint, Grand Bassin and the Seven Coloured Earths all in one day. I hired a taxi from Port Louis for roughly £52 for the day, leaving at 9am and returning at 5pm. My driver was very friendly and I learnt so much from his local knowledge.
Wow, 2015 has really flown by! I’m pretty sure I said this about 2014 as well in last years round-up: Cheers 2014…you’ve been a good’un! So much has happened this year, I thought it would be fun to look back and to share with you some exciting new developments for the coming year…
I started the year off with a surf trip in Barbados, the sun was shining and the surf was pumping. I surfed at Freights and hired a board through Zed’s Surfing Adventures. Check them out of you are planning a surf trip out there. This trip was the first time I used my GoPro on a board and I was pretty stoked to have some half decent images and video content. With the help of my lovely filmmaker husband Matt, we put together a short video of my surf session.
For more reading on my trip head to: Barbados: A Surfers Paradise
A winter break away with a our very good friends Sam and Graham has become a bit of a tradition, last February we spent a long weekend in the quaint fishing village of Port Isaac. This year I found a cottage through Helpful Holidays in the tiny village of Golant set on the River Fowey in Cornwall. ‘Island House’ had river views on three sides, underfloor heating and a log burner making it a very cosy cottage. We were greeted with a bottle of wine and a cake on arrival and spent the weekend on blustery coastal walks and visits to local harbour towns. This mostly involved eating scrummy treats and drinking lots of cider! Our favourite place for lunch was Sam’s in Fowey. Fowey is such a sweet little place, set on the river and full of lovely pubs, quirky shops and art galleries, definitely worth a visit if you are planning a trip to the west country.
My March highlight was a trip to Antigua, it was very nice to have a clear day down route to be my own boss. Working as cabin crew I am lucky to get to explore different countries on an almost weekly basis. With a house move on the cards and feeling a bit tired I spent the day relaxing on the beach, catching some rays and swimming in the warm Caribbean sea. It was bliss!
It was Matt’s birthday in April so we decided to do something a bit special and booked a night away at Hotel Du Vin in Poole. Our room was very plush, with a freestanding bath right in the middle and a massive queen sized bed. It was a fab weekend and nice to spend some time away together. We enjoyed exploring Poole harbour by boat and had a very tasty meal at the restaurant in the hotel. For more on this luxurious weekend click here: A weekend in Poole.
I was invited to quite a few weddings last year, my favourite was a wedding in Westminster, London followed by a beautiful reception at the Dorchester. It is one of the world’s most expensive hotels, I was very excited to be there! The champagne reception was just perfect and the food was incredible, I particularly loved dessert, hence the name of my blog: Dessert at the Dorchester.
May also saw the start of one of many trips with work to Mauritius. With a fabulous crew who all wanted to do something exciting, we chose to go swimming with dolphins which I wrote about earlier on in the year: Swimming with dolphins in Mauritius. The crew had already excitedly discussed the plans on the flight over so I knew it was going to be a good trip. Waking up early we set off for the southern end of the island to Black River. Jumping in a boat and cruising out to the open water just as the sun was rising we slowed down and sat in silence watching and waiting for the dolphins to appear. All of sudden the flat water changed as a pod of dolphins broke to the surface cruising right past the boat. With that we were instructed to jump in and swim…such an awesome experience and what made it even better was knowing that these dolphins had appeared of their own accord, wild dolphins who could stay or go as they pleased.
Back to Mauritius and this time I went on an adventure to Black River Gorges National Park, I explored rainforests and waterfalls, marvelled at the Seven Coloured Earths, took photos of some epic views and got blessed by a Hindu priest at the sacred lake Grand Bassin. Topped off with a curry in the evening and a spa treatment the following day, it was a fantastic adventure!
In contrast to Mauritius I had an afternoon to explore Edinburgh in June too, it was a sunny afternoon with a fresh chill in the air. I took a stroll along the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle taking in all the gorgeous architecture and having a nosey in all the touristy type shops. On my way back down I stopped in a cosy coffee shop for cake and tea. I didn’t do all that much but sometimes it’s the simple things that you can take pleasure from and it was a lovely, leisurely afternoon.
July saw Matt and I off to France, two hours drive from Toulouse we stayed in a Gite in a little village called Loudet. The week was spent exploring the surroundings and a drive over the border to Spain for Tapas. We took a gondola in Louchon to a mountain resort, it was strange being up so high without snow! Exploring gorgeous towns set along alpine rivers, fields of sunflowers and indulging in red wine and cheese, it was just perfect!
August is my birthday month and I always like to have something exciting planned! This year we combined a trip to see family in California with an awesome road trip. We hired a campervan from Wicked campers and went on an eight day adventure. Starting off in Sequoia National Park we camped under the stars and saw black bears followed by a few nights on the coast near San Francisco and then continued to drive down south along the Big Sur. It was an unforgettable birthday trip.
After coming back from California we had withdrawal symptoms from camping and living outdoors, so we went off for a few days in our own van to Dorset. With plenty of coastal walks and chilling by the campfire it made us reminisce about our recent American adventure. It was really nice to have a few days away not so far from home…read more here: A weekend in the Purbecks.
I started studying for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism a few years ago as a self – study course but struggled to complete it due to working full-time and undertaking freelance writing work at the same time. In October I made the decision to pick it up again and so far am really enjoying it. I really have to be strict with myself as it is a self-study course but hopefully this time next year I will be a qualified journalist! I am studying with the College of Media and Publishing who are so helpful and really quick over email if I have any questions.
A hen weekend in Brighton was my November highlight, on the Saturday a ‘Beyonce’ style dance class, afternoon tea and a good old night out were the main events of the weekend. Staying in a house in central Brighton meant we also got to do some exploring in this quirky seaside town. We had lunch on the North Laine on the Sunday and believe it or not it was warm enough to sit outside, great for people watching! The lanes have some very cool, unique shops so went spent some time browsing and window shopping before heading to the seafront just as the sun was setting for a ride on the Brighton Wheel. We had beautiful panoramic views of the coastline, city and pier; it was a lovely way to end the weekend.
December saw the launch of my new website which you will be reading this on right now! I’ve wanted a re-brand for a while and I’m so pleased with how it has turned out. Andrew at Fix8 designed my logo, he’s done a cracking job at capturing just what my blog is all about.
It has been an action packed year of travel but most importantly, I’m so excited to share with you all that Matt and I found out in August that we have a baby Dunkinson cooking! We had our 20 week scan on 14th December and it looks all good and healthy. We chose not to find out the sex and are so excited for our new arrival in April! On that note we have a babymoon planned for January to Iceland! I wanted to do that this year but haven’t quite managed to fit it in, so January 2016 seemed the perfect time to go away as our last trip abroad as a two…I’m looking forward to letting you know all about our adventures in Iceland and our adventures with a baby in tow!
What has been you favourite trip of 2015? What are your travel plans for 2016? Let me know in the comments below and I’d love to hear any tips and things to do in and around Reykjavík and Iceland…Happy New Year and see you all in 2016!
With an early pick up from Port Louis at 6am and fighting jet lag I really struggled to get out of bed, but arriving at Black River just in time to watch the sunrise made the early start well worth the struggle! Hopping into a boat and cruising out to the open water, the silhouetted landscape of Le Morne and the surrounding coastline looked stunning. Being on the water at that time of the morning was so calm and tranquil. As the boat slowed down we all fell silent in anticipation, watching and waiting for dolphins to appear. A few soundless moments passed and then as if by magic five or six fins gracefully popped up and disappeared again. With masks, snorkels and fins already on our guide instructed us to get in, hastily I dropped myself into the water and put my head straight under. I was so surprised to see three Bottlenose dolphins swimming in a circle right underneath me. They were a lot larger than I had expected them to be, in fact they were huge! I swam in a circle above them, it felt like they were inspecting me as much as I was them and playfully they continued in a tight circle below. In a split second they shot off, I followed as quickly as I could but even with fins on I found it almost impossible to keep up. So, it was back on the boat and on to another location to see if we could spot them again. Further along the coast we found some Spinner dolphins, smaller than Bottlenose but just as speedy! Jumping in the water I caught a fleeting glimpse as they shot past and into the deep blue. Back on the boat more Spinners appeared in the distance propelling themselves out of the water and spinning around in mid-air, definitely living up to their name! Getting to see these beautiful creatures in their natural environment was amazing and knowing they were there of their own free will even better. As the sun continued to rise the dolphin sightings lessened, I presumed they were in the bay for feeding perhaps and as the morning progressed had moved further out to sea.
Next it was time to head for shore and onto a new venture, a catamaran boat cruise. There is nothing quite like relaxing at sea with a beer in hand watching fishing boats sail by. Anchoring up alongside a reef gave the perfect opportunity to discover more of the local marine life. Crystal clear waters and vibrant corals inhabited with all sorts of colourful fish made for a great snorkel. After an active morning a barbecue lunch was the perfect treat followed by a shoreline stroll along the tiny island of Ile aux Bénitiers. Cruising back into the harbour it was time for more relaxing and one last beer…
Things to know:
The trip was booked through JPH Charters.
I was picked up from Port Louis at 6am (the early start is definitely worth it) and dropped back to the hotel around 4.30pm.
The cost of the trip was around £60 and included swimming with dolphins and the catamaran cruise, this came with unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and lunch.
Take a towel with you as these were not supplied.
Swimming with dolphins in the Indian Ocean was an unforgettable experience, if you are planning a trip to Mauritius this is one activity to add to your must do list.
Here’s something other things I really recommend doing in Mauritius: