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The Mystery Island of Mauritius

Before we send you off on a vacation to a country that doesn’t pop up on zoomed-out Google maps, we would like to introduce you to the facts that make it so alluring to travelers of all types—backpackers, family-oriented tourists, cruise-goers and love-is-all-around-us couples. And then we may haughtily say: Told you so.

Bienvenue a l’ile Maurice

The vestiges of triple (Dutch, French, British) colonialism survive in the freshly independent Mauritius, a multi-ethnic society, with Indian, African, European and Chinese origins. You will feel the cultural fusion with all your senses: You’ll smell and taste it in the roti and boulettes, you will see and touch it in the vibrant saris and the soft cashmere, you will hear it in the Mauritian Creole language. La Cabane du Pecheur is a perfectly indulgent way to start your stay—grilled catch of the day, just a meter above the white sandy beach, at a canteen operated by four Mauritian ladies in the heart of the community. Here, the beliefs of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians coexist in a salient and secure peace: One month the skies brighten with fireworks for the Chinese New Year; the next, devotees are celebrating the Maha Shivaratri Hindu festival while the trade winds carry the imams’ calls for prayers.

La Cabane du Pecheur, Route Royal, Pointe aux Piments (opposite Elysee Residence)

The Apotheosis of Sugarcane

We cannot talk about Mauritius without mentioning its two elixirs: sugar and rum. The horizon that merges the vast Indian Ocean with the tropical skies might be a sight for sore eyes, but what you will taste at L’ Aventure du Sucre is just what the doctor ordered. Mauritius takes pride in its specialization in the manufacture of unrefined, wholesome and delicate sugars that retain the freshness of their origin: sugar cane juice. Once you taste golden granulated, muscovado brown sugar, or any of the 15 in between, you will never again take your coffee with a “no sugar, please.” And since there is a rum-tasting session going on, we will leave you to it—merely for you to have a better understanding of the culture of Mauritius, of course.

L’ Aventure du Sucre, Beau Plan B18, Pamplemousses

Veneration of Luxury

When Mark Twain wrote, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius,” he had no idea what was about to follow in the next two centuries—an architectural extravaganza for everyone who wants to secure a place in the popular paradise Mauritius has turned into. So if you don’t want to be caught on the hop, it’s a good idea to research your accommodation options in terms of location, pricing, safety and facilities. Remember that there is a balance between offer and demand (both high), but that’s all the more reason why you should take your booking job seriously. For intimacy, sophistication and personality, word came that the 20 Degres Sud boutique hotel is the ultimate escape from the racket of your reality—unless you happen to live in a coconut grove on the open sea.

20 Degres Sud, Coastal Rd., Pointe Malartic, Grand Baie

“The Eighth Continent” a Stone’s Throw Away

You chose Mauritius for the turquoise waters, the pina coladas, the fresh fish dishes and the paragliding. But maybe you can take advantage of Mauritius’ location and visit neighboring Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world and one of its most biodiverse countries. Home to animal and plant life that you won’t see anywhere else (including the cute half-monkeys, half-squirrels known as lemurs), Madagascar will bring out your most adventurous side: Picture unending coral reefs, warmhearted locals, spectacular treks and national parks. If that’s not two birds with one stone, then what is?

Bonus Intelligence (Because We Feel like Lending an Extra Hand)

Being in Mauritius is not just a win, it’s a landslide—an experience of experiencing the inexperienced. And because that’s way too garrulous, here is exactly what we mean: You pay next to nothing for a basket of tropical fruits: mangoes, dragon fruits, papayas, Key limes, lychees, sugar apples, avocados, passion fruits, coconuts and pineapples. But that beauty comes with sudden interchanges between downpours and blazing sunshine. So keep your umbrella handy.

Now, let’s say you are invited on a Mauritian date and you choose to go to the movies. Confirm they’re showing the original version—unless you’re curious to hear how Mark Ruffalo sounds in French.

A clue for the homesick: Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius is your shelter for a whole day—big Western brands, Italian restaurants and American diners, and a brewery with a global selection of beers.

And now the least necessary but most charming piece of information we can give you: Mauritius is a six-hour straight angle from Dubai. Now that we have done the work for you, get on that plane and cross the equator.

Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius, 80832 Bagatelle

—Maria Iotova

This article was originally published by Savoteur under the headline The Mystery Island of Mauritius. It is reprinted here with permission.

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