Beyond the Beach: Exploring Local Culture in Southern Mauritius

9/30/2019

Crystalline waters. Powdery white sands. Stunning Indian Ocean vistas. With over 200 miles of barely-touched coastline, Mauritius is, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the very definition of heaven. And the South may just be its crown jewel. The lushest, greenest, wildest part of the island, the South is the place to go for lounging by a diamond-clear sea. And it’s just as rich in culture. Here, our list of top things to in Mauritius—and the best ways to go beyond the beach.

Sip on Rum (and Sugarcane)

In a fertile valley influenced by its own micro-climate, Rhumerie de Chamarel is one of the few distilleries in operation to also cultivate its own (hand-harvested) sugarcane. And perhaps one of the best indoor activities in Mauritius is a tour of this eco-friendly estate, showcasing a beautiful local-architect-designed distillery and 21 island-inspired rum flavors like Vanilla and XO. Want to take some home? You can buy bottles onsite—or special packets to make your own Mauritian rum at home.

See the 7-Colored Earth

Checking out the spectacular Seven Colored Earth—a natural meringue of muted colors and volcanic sands—in the Rivière Noire District is a must. A favorite way to do it? Take electric bikes from your hotel, and make sure to stop by the nearby 312-foot Chamarel Falls on the way.

Dine Luxe at Plantation Club

This fine-dining favorite infuses Creole staples with Mauritian flavor. And the views of the nearby mountains and sugarcane fields are as delicious as the cuisine. Start with the dhal puri stuffed with foie gras from neighboring Souillac, then go for the slow-cooked pork neck with local vanilla puree. But try to save room—the hot rasgulla with kul ice cream is Indian-inspired magic.ne-

Take the Tea Route

Tour a tea mansion-slash-museum. Learn the history of this royal drink. And at the island’s oldest tea plantation, tour the still-in-operation factory and sample the latest blends in an onsite tea tasting. Tip: Look for tour operators who offer a multi-stop trip along the tea route.

Day Trek in Black River Gorges National Park

From its black ebony trees and wild guavas to the very-rare pink pigeons and Mauritius kestrels, this national park is full of wildlife—and unparalleled views. For post-hike sustenance, stop in the nearby mountain town of Chamarel (For a no-menu, local favorite try Palais de Barbizon.) Tip: The Black River Gorges trails can be intense (and poorly marked), so it can be wise to hire a guide.

Dance Sega

One of the coolest cultural activities in Mauritius? Dancing Sega. The music began as a folkloric custom, but the rattle and goatskin drum-driven music still has a very danceable place in today’s island scene. For a traditional-meets-modern take, toast the sunset at the seaside resort bar with a Chamarel cocktail and the rhythms of Sega.

Eco-Buggy on the Riverine Trail

A green-velvet Garden of Eden where white stags roam free and waterfalls dive from untouched cliffs, Heritage Nature Reserve is a beautiful backdrop for off-road adventure. Try an eco-buggy or quad tour along the tree-lined, rugged trails of the reserve’s riverside Riverine Trail for the ultimate adventure. Tip: Don’t forget your (waterproof) camera.

Sample the Street Food

The most famous Mauritian dish and a staple at food stands, dhal puri is a thin split-pea pancake with very-Mauritian fillings like bean curry and wild herbs that’s worth a sample (or two). Other local must-try favorites: roti chaud, a curry-filled flatbread, or gateaux piments, fried chili cakes.

Looking for a great place to stay? Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort is a five-star sanctuary in the heart of Bel Ombre that’s a perfect home base for beach-and-beyond adventure—and for exploring the island’s Southern gems.

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