If you're looking for a winter sunshine break, Mauritius ticks all the boxes. Think endless beaches, balmy seas and plenty of fresh air action for a family holiday to remember.
Winter is a great time of year to visit Mauritius, with low rainfall and plenty of sunshine.
Year-round sunshine, coral reefs, sparkling seas and palm-fringed beaches means you can’t walk past the Indian Ocean idyll that is Mauritius.
But forget the traditional honeymoon travellers, Mauritius is an absolute treasure trove of easy fun for kids with plenty of family resorts.
There’s never a bad time to go to Mauritius, but from now through to early January, rainfall is low, the skies are clear and the trade winds are light.
The archipelago is made up of four islands, but Mauritius Island is the main tourist hub; outlying territories include Rodrigues and other, smaller islands. The sub-tropical archipelago is an independent nation but geographically falls under southern East Africa and is about 1,000 kilometres from the shores of Madagascar.
A mecca for water sports
As remote as it is, Mauritius packs quite a holiday punch. Miles of pristine beaches make it a water sport mecca and the calm, crystal clear waters are perfect for a lazy snorkel or a scuba dive. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, there’s also plenty of kite and wind surfing. The kitesurfing season begins in April and runs until the end of November, when trade winds blow from the southwest. The winds blow most consistently throughout the year in the south of Mauritius. Tamarin Bay is the island’s ‘go-to’ surf beach, but Le Morne in the south of the island with its flat water lagoon is one of the best year-round spots for beginners.
Flic en Flac beach is a favourite stretch of sand with families.
Mauritius is also a great place to learn to surf. The biggest waves hit the beaches now, but for beginners, conditions are more forgiving in the ‘winter’ (June to September) - at this time of year the water temperature is still warm enough to surf without a wetsuit, hovering at around 24 degrees.
Pristine beaches and overall safety keep families coming back
Temperatures peak in January and February and the cooler months run through the northern hemisphere summer, although it’s still balmy enough to hit the beach. Families that return year after year to Mauritius cite pristine beaches, fabulous food and overall safety as reasons to keep coming back. The country has also taken great care of its network of coral reefs and the interior of the island is a veritable smorgasbord of hiking opportunities.
It’s a compact and easy island to get around, with a good road network and it’s certainly possible to head-off and explore the whole island during a visit.
Mum-of-three Megan Forster is a regular holidaymaker to Mauritius and recently spent a couple of months there with her brood of teens. For her, the draw cards are safety, great year-round weather, clean beaches and high-quality food.
“Unsurprisingly fresh seafood is abundant in Mauritius. Most restaurants feature seafood on their menus and you can’t go wrong with the fish of the day, whatever it is. One of my favourite restaurants is Wapalapam in Le Morne. The ceviche is so good we went back the following day for more. If you’re self-catering, I’d recommend picking up some of the freshly caught tuna.”
“Oddly enough, I’ve also eaten the best pizza I’ve ever had in Mauritius. It was at Il Padrino in Black River; fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection. I later learned they’d shipped the pizza oven over all the way from Italy!”
Boats pull up on a beach- fresh seafood is, predictably, abundant throughout Mauritius.
Family trails, flora and fauna
Hiking also features highly on the Forster family’s holiday itinerary. Mauritius boasts a diverse range of hiking trails. Whatever your level, there’s something for everyone, including a number of family trails. The many parks and reserves are filled with birds, flora and coastal views. The country boasts several national parks, all of which are sanctuaries of wildlife. Some of the more popular parks include Black River Gorges national park, Domaine des Chasseurs and Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary. Le Pouce is the third highest mountain in Mauritius with breathtaking views over the capital, Port Louis and the country’s northern small islands. It’s believed the first person to climb Le Pouce (translated as ‘the thumb’) was none other than the naturalist Charles Darwin.
There are also many river hikes and opportunities to zipline, kayak and mountain bike. Some of the easier trails are just an hour or two while the tougher routes can run for 40kms or more. Hiking in Mauritius guarantees mountains, rivers, waterfalls, forests and stunning views over turquoise seas.
In the words of the American writer Mark Twain, “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
Where to head
With stunning sunset views, the west coast includes the capital Port Louis as well as a plethora of white sandy beaches and some of the island’s best scenery. Flic en Flac beach in the Black River region is one of the best for families. It’s the longest beach in Mauritius and has plenty of coral and marine life for snorkelling. Another recommended destination on the northwest coast is Pointe aux Piments. It’s a smaller beach than Flic en Flac and boasts stunning sunset views and if you’re lucky, a sea turtle or two. Le Morne peninsula in the southwest corner has a flat water lagoon and is great for swimming; it’s also a mecca for water sports enthusiasts.
While a little breezier than the west (welcome in the heat of summer, cooler in the winter), the east coast boasts long stretches of pristine beach, including the ten kilometre Belle-Mare which is considered to be one of the island’s most beautiful. There’s also Bras d’Eau forest, golf courses and Ile aux Cerfs, the most popular tourist destination in the country - think icing sugar sand, turquoise waters and gently swaying palm trees. At Ile d’Ambre you can kayak through mangroves in a preserved lagoon and there are also guided boat trips.
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius and is renowned for its French colonial architecture. Take a look at the famous nineteenth century Champ de Mars horse-racing track or head to the lively Caudan waterfront for dining and shopping. Stop at Central Market for local produce and handicrafts or trace the island’s colonial and maritime heritage at the Blue Penny Museum.
Fly into Mauritius at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam airport in Plaine Magnien. Some of the major airlines that fly to Mauritius include Air Mauritius, Singapore Airlines and Emirates. Flights between Asia and Mauritius with Air Mauritius restarted in November, with a connection in Kuala Lumpur.
Asia Family Traveller partnered with Mauritius Now to produce this feature. For more information about Mauritius, head online to Mauritius Now.