Discovering the Untamed Southeast of Mauritius
December 18 2019
December 18 2019
It’s hard not to be enchanted by Mauritius, a sparkling jewel that seems to rise out of the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, located some 2000km from the southeast coast of Africa. This incredible country is charming, fascinating and unique, with a smorgasbord of colours, flavours and cultures, making it a sublime holiday destination for an array of travellers.
Synonymous with tropical paradise, this multifaceted country offers its guests a huge array of historical and cultural gems, unrivalled luxury hotels, novel offerings and natural wonders - it’s truly the ultimate setting for an unforgettable holiday.
One of the finest ways to explore the island nation is to traverse it by car, stopping at leisure and experiencing the “little” things that are otherwise easily missed. While the entire island is well worth seeing (an excursion to the north is a must and a road trip spent just in the south is incredible), a day spent exploring the southeast is highly recommended.
As you discover the untamed southeast of Mauritius, you will notice how vastly different the landscape is, with dramatic cliffs pummeled by powerful waves (since there’s no reef here) in stark contrast to the rest of the island’s surrounds.
But the southeast is not just rocks and rough seas, there’s so much to discover on a road trip of this stretch of the island, which is the favourite road trip route for many locals.
Eager to rent a car (or hire the services of a taxi or driver) for the day to explore the lesser-seen southeast of Mauritius? Then this is what you can look forward to:
If you set out on your road trip from the west of the island, then definitely make a stop in Gris-Gris at Pont Naturel, or the “Natural Bridge”, on your way to the southeast of Mauritius. Here you will have the opportunity to see some truly incredible volcanic rock formations that come together, and which over time (and because of the movement of the waves against the rock), have created a type of bridge over the water (hence the name). In the rocks, there are also tiny holes which whistle when the waves hit against them, which is why another name for the site is "le souffler" which means "the blower".
Avid photographers can capture some amazing scenes here: from the waves crashing against the rocks to the contrast of the rocks and their vivid green surroundings, it’s a photo hotspot. Keep in mind, however, that due to the rough sea, it’s not a good place to swim or engage in sea-based activities. Instead, have a picnic or sample some of the local street food nearby.
As you head towards Mahebourg on your journey, you will come across one of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius: Blue Bay. Here, the glittering, Instagram-worthy topaz-blue waters of the lagoon are lined by a powder-white beach and Casuarina trees - it’s quite breathtaking. And the best part is that at Blue Bay there are a host of ways to enjoy the incredible surrounds, from windsurfing and parasailing to pedalo, swimming, kayaking and more.
One of the most famous (and unmissable) highlights of Blue Bay is its Marine Park (which was declared a national park in 1997), best explored by diving, snorkelling or by glass bottom boat tour. Embracing the vivid marine biodiversity and unbelievable coral gardens here is something you are not likely to forget. Blue Bay is a phenomenal spot to visit during the week, if possible, as it is popular with both locals and visitors over the weekend and can get very busy.
This incredible “hidden gem” offers the calm and tranquillity that Blue Bay lacks. But while it’s not as crowded as Blue Bay, it’s also not as beautiful, and access to the beach is somewhat complicated. However, if you have the time, this lesser-known spot is worth visiting. To get to the beach, you will first need to find and then traverse a 150m pathway (between two private properties) from the coastal road, but you will be rewarded with a kilometre-long beach, crystal-clear waters and no vendors or hawkers in sight.
Named after a French governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, in 1805 after the French took over the country, this amazing coastal village is one of the biggest (for Mauritian standards) and most animated. Now the village operates as a fishing village, but during the Dutch era, it was used as a naval port. Given its colourful history, the area is peppered with historical landmarks and interesting sites and boasts a wonderful Mauritian charm, fast disappearing in other parts of the country due to modernization.
There are several wonderful things to do in Mahebourg, such as:
- Visit the National History Museum
Explore the local market and try some of the traditional Mauritian street food - there is a popular flea market that takes place every Monday and turns the Waterfront and the streets into a huge outdoor shopping area, but there’s also a special local farmers’ market held daily called the Bazaar, where visitors can try traditional delicacies alongside locals and buy some tropical fruits and vegetables as they meander through the spice-scented stalls.
- Walk along the waterfront
Tour the Rault Biscuit Factory - visit this incredible family-run biscuit factory that creates amazing morsels creating with manioc flour, making it the only place in the world to do so.
- Understand the island’s history at the National History Museum
- Pop into the Notre Dame des Anges
- Behold the slave memorial at Pointe Canon
Vieux Grand Port
Vieux Grand Port, or “Old Grand Port” is a rustic locality and historical site situated on the southeast coast of Mauritius and is also the location of the huge battle between the French and the English for control of the island in 1810. More than that, it’s also said to be “the cradle of Mauritian history” as it’s the place where the Dutch (in other words, the island’s first inhabitants) first landed in Mauritius in 1598. A huge fort was then built in Vieux Grand Port, which also served as the island’s headquarters of the Dutch East India Company until the Dutch left the island in 1720.
It’s a charming area and has an incredible must-see museum, the Frederik Hendrik Museum, which gives avid historians and curious visitors some insight into the history of the area and its previous occupants
Bois de Amourettes
Next on the itinerary and situated between the Lion Mountain and the Grand Port bay, is a part of Mauritius that offers an amalgamation of the island’s finest assets. The iconic road trip stop, Bois des Amourettes, or “lovers’ forest” in English, is a charming fishing village that boasts an extraordinary jetty, constructed during the infamous naval war between the French and the British at Vieux Grand Port. From the jetty, on a clear day, guests can see Ile aux Aigrettes, Ile de la Passe and a number of other small islands.
Intrepid travellers who enjoy going off the beaten path for a spectacular experience would do well to take a mini detour inland during their road trip of the southeast to seek out Eau Bleue Waterfall in Cluny. This absolutely breathtaking spot was once a well-kept secret but rapidly gained momentum and popularity after appearing in a Facebook post, and now is a visitor hotspot.
But don’t let its newfound fame deter you - this magical treasure is nestled amongst lush tropical vegetation and sugar cane fields and boasts an unfathomably clear and azure pond at the bottom of the 3m highest waterfall - it’s a must-visit. While it’s not technically on the southeastern coast of Mauritius, this unparalleled oasis is so stunning that we felt it was necessary to suggest the detour!
Interested in experiencing the incredible wonders this magical country has to offer? Then book a stay at one of our sublime Sun Resorts for a holiday in paradise you will always remember.