With the most romanticised beaches and abundant adventure sports, Mauritius is more popular as a honeymoon destination. Honestly, I was a little skeptical to visit Mauritius with family as I wasn’t sure how to keep my toddler away from boredom. But we were happy to discover Mauritius as an island of many layers with a promise to please everyone, including the young ones.
Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, off the southeast coast of the African continent. With a rich colonial history and multi-ethnic population, it is a dream destination of any culture lover and culinary seeker. For adventure lovers, there is an abundance of extreme adventure and water activities. And the tropical island does leave a mark on the romance seekers due to it’s natural and untouched scenery.
We visited Mauritius in search of some offbeat and unusual experiences best suited for families. So here is our list of top experiences to explore the ‘real side’ of Mauritius with family, as recommended by the locals :
Take a step back in time at Apravasi Ghat
Mauritius has two Unesco World Heritage sites and Apravasi Ghat is one of them. Located in the capital city of Port Louis, it is the what remains of the immigration depot that was the central point of the ‘Great Experiment’ conducted by the British Government in 1849.
The experiment was based on migrating indentured laborers from India, Africa, China and Southeast Asia to work on the island’s sugar estates after the abolition of slavery.
The Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre (BRIC) exhibits items that were found during the excavation of the site and shares the history and culture of the laborers and the British from the bygone era.
While historical museums can get boring for kids sometimes, we found this museum has kid corners with kid-friendly narrations to make the tour more interactive and fun for kids.
Indulge in the multicultural charms of Port Louis
The beauty of this city is in its diversity. The contrasting city has its share of elegant colonial structures that intertwines seamlessly with the modern buildings. Some of the older buildings are the Government House, St Louis Cathedral, an old wall adjoining the parking lot near Caudan Waterfront, Post Office etc. These buildings are all located in the close vicinity and can be covered in a day.
Due to its multiethnic culture, the city also boasts of some very impressive worship centers. The St Louis Cathedral and St Xavier Catholic churches are some great examples of the gothic style architecture.
The Jummah mosque is one of the most beautiful mosques that we have seen with its grand chandeliers and beautiful motif designs in the prayer hall. The Chinatown area in Port Louis is another must visit when in the city for great shopping deals and Chinese food.
A trip to the city is incomplete without a tour of the central market where you can find fresh local produce and seafood. It may get a little confusing as the market is mostly crowded but is worthed to buy handmade products and souvenirs.
Do not forget to try the street food here especially the very famous dhal puri. We also tried the Rougaille, a creole style tomato curry with seafood and the Briyani (pretty different from the Indian biriyani).
Rent a car and drive through the sugar plantation heading south
We have always found driving very comfortable while traveling with our kid and it was no exception when we visited Mauritius with family this time. You can cover the island lengthwise in about two hours and width-wise in about an hour.
The roads throughout the island are very well maintained and the drive through the sugar plantations merging into mountains and Oceanside is absolutely stunning. When in Mauritius with family, do drive down to the southern part of the island and explore the tropical countryside, kite surf and visit the Le Morne UNESCO site.
The tea route in Mauritius is also very refreshing and takes you through beautiful tea gardens at Bois Chéri. The prominent old plantation houses that have been preserved to retain the original colonial charm.
Go Island Hopping and explore some local beaches
This one is an absolute favorite with kids and an absolute must when in Mauritius with family.
The public beaches come to life during the weekends when the locals come out to party. You will find busy family picnics and barbeque parties with loud creole music with African beats playing in the background.
Taking the coastal road to visit the offbeat local beaches are a great way to soak in the culture. The island way of life seems to be laid back. Sometimes there is nothing better than sit back and relax, watching the colors of ocean change.
The island hopping tour takes you on a tour of five smaller private islands in a cataraman or speedboat a little away from mainland Mauritius.
It’s a great way to spend a beach day and have some fun indulge in water sports in Ile aux cerfs. You can also snorkel in the lagoon and see some beautiful corals and colorful fishes.
Ile aux Fouqets also known as the lighthouse island was a French military base. The old lighthouse on the island was abandoned after a major fire incident.
Travel Tips for Mauritius with family
- Mauritius has visa on arrival for most countries including India. For Indians, the visa is currently free of cost. Please do check the visa requirements on the Malaysian govt website before you travel.
- The locals are very friendly and helpful. If you are confused or need help, do not hesitate to ask.
- Unlike some online suggestions, we found Google maps working quite accurate in Mauritius.
- Renting a car to drive around is a great way to explore the island. Our rental car was from ABC Car Rental and we had a wonderful experience with them. They have the largest fleet of vehicles in Mauritius and are known for their excellent customer service.
- Mauritius drives on the left and the roads are amazing. Everyone follows the traffic rules to the tee and honking is considered rude.
- If you are visiting Mauritius during winters, be prepared for some rainy hours.
This article has been written in collaboration with ABC car rental, Mauritius.