There are several things to do in Mauritius, but on your next trip, be sure to look beyond the shores to find some of these natural gems.
Mauritius is more than just the long stretches of white sandy beaches that dominate the postcard racks, with some beautiful natural gems too often overlooked by visitors rushing to the seaside.
7 Natural Things to do in Mauritius
1. Black River National park
With over 60km of forest trails to choose from, the Black River National Park is a perfect place for visitors looking to get lost in the natural beauty of the inland.
Cross shallow streams and spot the vibrant bird life as you find a path to dramatic waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints.
Free to enter and with a helpful visitors centre at the main entrance; guides are also available at a small charge to take groups or advanced birdwatchers looking to catch a glimpse of the rare pink pigeon alongside the more common red whiskered bulbuls and weaver birds.
You’re also likely to come across some of the local silver monkeys (just be sure you keep your food well hidden otherwise you might come a bit too close).
2. Le Morne Brabant
Le Morne Brabant, an isolated mountain right on the dramatic coastline of the South West, gives a chance for those after something slightly more adventurous.
The first half of the hike is gentle enough with the opportunity to see pink pepper plants and other local flora, while the second half to the summit requires a little more effort.
Best to take a local guide to help navigate the final ascent, which does involve some small sections of rope climbing.
Most importantly, be sure to start early from 6 am to avoid the crowds and enjoy an uninterrupted view from a small viewing area right at the top.
It is a truly stunning place to see those panoramic views of the West.
3. Ile de Aigrettes
In the Mahebourg bay in the southeast, Ile Aux Aigrettes is an island nature reserve under management of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
A twenty-five-hectare reserve accessible with a short speed boat trip, you can find the Mauritian Kestrel, the only bird prey of Mauritius saved from extinction.
The Aldabra giant tortoises also roam the island, including a slightly grumpy 90-year-old male nicknamed ‘Big Daddy’.
Learn about the ill-fated dodo at the visitors centre and appreciate the stunning range of natural wildlife on the island and the efforts to conserve it with the well-informed and friendly guides.
4. Crystal Rock
Around 200 meters from the shoreline in the West of Mauritius and sitting proudly above the clear blue lagoon, Crystal Rock is an exposed section of a large fossilized coral reef.
As the water continues to erode the underside its days are numbered so it is a must-see on route for any boat trip or cruise in the area, especially as large groups of tropical fish use it to gather around.
5. Gabriel Island
In the North of the island, take a boat trip to Gabriel Island, one of the almost 100 tiny islets that surround Mauritius and one of the most beautiful places to find your uninterrupted spot in this Indian ocean paradise.
It’s also a great place to find birdlife, with the stunning Paille-en-queue (Tropic Bird) hanging overhead across the island.
Most catamarans to Gabriel Island depart between 09:00 and 10:00 and it takes an hour and a half to reach the shallow waters around Gabriel Island.
Expect to be joined on route with bottle nosed dolphins and let the crew on board guide you through the other islets you pass, including the stunning backdrop of Coin de Mire (where some trips will let you snorkel in the crystal clear waters.)
6. Sugar cane fields
Sugar has a long and proud history in Mauritius and sugar cane fields now take up almost 90% of all farm land on the island.
Take in the museum ‘L'Aventure du Sucre’ if you want to find out more about the industry, but I prefer just to pull up the car and take a stroll through the never ending fields of high sugar cane, with my favourite being signposted ‘Yemen’ in the South West in Black River, overlooking the stunning and moody Trois Mamelles Mountains.
You are free to walk, run or bike ride through these gorgeous open fields and see a different side of Mauritius that too many visitors never witness.
7. Chamarel village
Hidden up the winding roads, Chamarel is a quiet and quaint Mauritian village that still proudly showcases island life as it has been for decades.
Many visitors purely pass through the village to see the Chamarel Waterfalls, the highest in Mauritius.
While well worth a visit, with the two independent lava-carved channels sending the rivers crashing down almost 100 meters into the lush forest surroundings, make sure you also stop for something to eat in the village itself, and even better take some time driving through.
Being so high, it’s notably colder than much of the rest of the island, so bring a jacket!