There are so many options to choose from if you’re planning a trip to Mauritius. So many people head north to the ever popular Grand Baie. However, here’s a shout for the South East corner of this beautiful island; in our opinion, this is the real Mauritius and it’s pure magic. We lived down there from May 2001 – June 2007 – and what a privilege it was. Our first home was in Blue Bay and then for the last 6 months of our time there, we were in Pointe D’Esny, in a house right on the lagoon.
1 HOTELS AND GUESTHOUSES
Things will have changed a lot over the years but here are two hotels that are still going strong now:
5 star https://www.beachcomber.co.za/hotels/mauritius/shandrani-beachcomber-resort-spa and
4 star https://southerncrosshotels.mu/preskil-beach-resort/ When we first got to Mauritius, this hotel was called Le Croix du Sud, The Southern Cross.
It wasn’t at all uncommon in those days for hotels to burn down mysteriously and then they would be totally rebuilt, even creating ‘new improved’ beaches. This is exactly what happened to La Croix du Sud. It’s attractive thatched chalets and restaurants are no more.
For more options try: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/Hotels-g488102-Blue_Bay-Hotels.html But there’s no harm in searching for a quirky guest house or self-catering bargain yourselves – Nice Place Tourist Residence?!
2 FISHY FUN
Blue Bay Marine Park with its spectacular coral gardens is, in our opinion, the best snorkeling spot on the whole island. You can swim directly off the beach and very soon you’ll be marveling at the huge variety of corals and fish.
In 1902, a ship called the Dalblair was wrecked off Pointe D’Esny beach. There’s not much of it left now, but the snorkeling around it is very good. It’s a longer swim out to the wreck but well worth it.
If you’re nervous about snorkeling, or couldn’t be bothered to hire flippers and mask, you can jump on a glass-bottomed boat. Check out prices on this website: https://mauritiusattractions.com/glass-bottom-boat-blue-marine-park-p-193.html In May 2019 it was 18 Euros for adults, 15 for children between 3 – 11 and babies free.
http://blueworldexplorer.com This company is getting very good reviews. They operate from Le Preskil Beach Resort. The Shandrani also has their own diving team if you are staying there. Read reviews on all the companies before you make your decision. Check out this website for more options: https://www.mauritiusinsideout.com/diving-in-mauritius.html#diving
We were lucky enough to be able to go out on our own boat, Footeloose, and we had many happy and successful outings, catching Dorado, Wahoo, Yellow-fin Tuna and Bonita.
Here’s a company that has good reviews: https://www.goldenwave.mu/ Blue Bay isn’t as popular as other areas off the island for deep-sea fishing but if they don’t do excursions from Blue Bay, they will certainly be able to recommend another company that does. They might be a good company to go with if you’re wanting to try and catch a big sail fish. You would go to another area of the island to do this. They also offer whale and dolphin watching.
Here’s my story about squidding: https://footeloosefancyfree.com/mauritius-a-fishy-story-squidding/ If you fancy doing this, it would be easy enough to find out if you can, I’m sure. It’s a lot of fun, and if you are self-catering, what could be better than cooking your own calamari?
3 BOAT OUTINGS
Ile de la Passe and adjoining islands
You can’t go wrong by just boating in the lagoon around the Pointe D’esny side. There are beautiful views of Lion and Bambous mountains and you will always see the local pirogues with their beautiful colourful sails.
You may be lucky enough to catch a regatta.
Ask your guide to take you to Ile de la Passe, with its lighthouse and adjoining islands. When we lived there, we were able to disembark there and on the other little islands nearby as well, but I’m not sure if you can still do that.
I found this website offering snorkelling as well: https://www.rent-a-guide.com/tour/16925-boat-trip-mauritius-lighthouse-island-or-ile-de-la-passe-snorkeling Do it!
Ile aux Aigrettes
This is an eco-tour and you won’t be disappointed! I found an excellent article on this, again by Marie-Christine, a local resident: https://www.mauritiusinsideout.com/ile-aux-aigrettes.html#ile-aux-aigrettes
Ile aux Cerfs
Head there by catamaran! Treat yourself and your family and friends to this day outing. You will love it! Apart from the breathtaking scenery, you’ll have a scrumptious lunch on board. There is time to wander around the charming island of Ile aux Cerfs as well.
Again, I refer you to Marie-Christine’s excellent description of this sailing day, along with beautiful photos, which gives you an excellent idea of what you can expect.
Check out Tripadvisor for the various options, prices and reviews.
4 WALKS and DRIVES
We loved exploring the area by car and on foot. Lots of interesting sights are within easy reach.
Of course you can walk the length of Blue Bay beach and then around the corner and on to the Yacht Club. Here are some photos of the ’round the corner’ walk along Pointe D’Esny beach to the Yacht Club.
We also used to walk in the sugarcane – and under the irrigation sprinklers on very hot days! There is a baobab tucked away in there, which was a favourite destination.
Or if you are really fit and energetic, you could climb Lion Mountain – but do your homework before doing this.
There’s a lovely walk along the coast. Drive to the Shandrani hotel and park at the beach to the west of the hotel and then walk west from there.
Le Souffleur and Ponte Naturale
The ‘blow-hole’ and the ‘natural bridge’: These are only about a 10km drive from Mahebourg. You walk along the cliff from Le Souffleur to Ponte Naturale. Le Souffleur is a lot less spectacular than it used to be as the rock has worn away over time, but when we went there it was still spectacular at high tide and the loud boom it made up close was pretty scary. You may not be able to get up close to it anymore.
If you want to go further afield, you could drive along the very scenic south coast road. I’m not going to go into any further detail about this, but again you can check out this excellent website: https://www.mauritiusinsideout.com/
Even just strolling around the town is a delight, with quaint shops at every turn – well it certainly was like this when we lived there and I can’t imagine that it would have changed much.
Then there was Mr. Manjoo’s wonderful fabric shop, where we all regularly bought fabric, to make up ourselves or have sewn up by one of the many excellent dressmakers.
This town and others on the island inspired me to produce many paintings. Here are a couple of them. This is when I started putting a hidden ‘Footeprint’ in my paintings. See if you can find them!
Coming soon: A new page on my blog called ‘Footeprints’, where you will be able to view my paintings, and later I will be open to commissions, or you could order prints of the original paintings.
The Mahebourg Museum
This is well worth a visit – and entry is free! Here’s a local resident’s very comprehensive write-up: https://www.mauritiusinsideout.com/mahebourg-museum.html#mahebourg-museum
H. Rault Biscuit Factory
I was delighted to find that it has a beautiful website! http://biscuitmanioc.com/home.html
Step back in time and visit this fascinating enterprise. It is amazing that it has been in operation 140 years!
It’s open every Monday. You’ll wend your way between the many colourful stalls, marvelling at all there is on offer and at such reasonable prices too. Hats, baskets and bags in every colour and style, dazzle the eye, and you won’t be able to resist the hand-embroidered tablecloths. Here are the paintings I did of the hats and baskets for cards. Look for the hidden ‘Footeprint’!
All of these are imported from Madagascar – or they were when we were there. There are clothes galore, a variety of beautiful pashminas, sexy underwear – and not so sexy underwear. When we were there, I was intrigued by the huge selection of padded bras; gingham, floral, plain, polka dot and all colours of the rainbow! I hope these are still on offer. Then there’s jewellery, fabrics, kitchenware and so much more. Not only all this, the people watching is out of this world – literally; tourists from every destination imaginable, as well as wonderful local characters.
Here’s a painting I did for a friend, which was inspired by the market. I personalized it by ‘carving’ her initials into the tree trunk in a heart: B(lue) B(ay) loves D(awn) U(pton) and also her mirrored name on a boat. Look for the hidden ‘Footeprint’ too!
You can also buy things to eat as you wander around e.g. pineapples prepared the Mauritian way, all spiky bits artistically cut away, making them easy to hold and eat. Or you could try a dholl puri, roti or samoosa. My mouth is watering as I type, which leads me on to the next thing….
There are some excellent ones in the area. Here’s Tripadvisor’s list of 10 best restaurants in the area: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/Restaurants-g481079-Mahebourg.html We enjoyed meals at at least 4 of the ones on the list when we lived there: Le Jardin de Beau Vallon, La Vielle Rouge, Chez Patrick and Restaurant La Bougainville. It is good to see that they are still going strong today, 2019.
There is another one not on this list, where we used to enjoy the best chicken and prawn curry in town at that time. You can read a funny story about it, called “A Dirty Story” in this post: https://footeloosefancyfree.com/mauritian-funny-…r-laugh-out-loud/ You will understand why it won’t make any ‘best restaurant’ list!
While googling the South Eastern area, I happened upon Marie Christine’s excellent and very informative website for the whole of Mauritius and I’ve added quite a few links to it in this post. There is a lot more info on it, so be sure to check it out: https://www.mauritiusinsideout.com/