BEYOND BEACHES IN MAURITIUS
WORDS BY KASTURI GADGE
At the airport, waiting for a flight to Mauritius — a favourite honeymoon destination — were several newlyweds, arm in arm and visibly excited, and me, travelling alone. Six hours later when the flight was descending, I had a bird’s eye view of the island and clear ocean. Honestly, it looked like it was heavily colour-corrected by nature to make it look magical.
I spent my first evening in Mauritius at my resort’s private beach, sipping mojitos as I watched the most gorgeous sunset I’d ever seen. What does a solo traveller do at a destination so romantic? It turns out there is more to do in Mauritius than the beach-related usual suspects.
L’Aventure du Sucre
If you want to learn about Mauritius’s history, this is where to go. Mauritius is historically known for its sugarcane production, and you can find sugar factories all over the island even today. L’Aventure du Sucre is one such old sugar factory that has now been converted into a sugar museum. You can learn about the various types of sugar, the making process, the old machinery, and the country’s political and economic history. The museum runs fun exhibitions for kids too. At the end of the hour-long tour, you can sample the various types of sugars made on the island. Pro tip: You will cross acres of sugarcane farms before getting here so keep a lookout.
This UNESCO recognised port (ghat) tells the story of Mauritius during British rule. It is said that Aapravasi Ghat was the first port of entry for every Indian who came to the island, and as they got off the boat, they had to climb 14 steps to the buffer zone where they lived before becoming indentured labourers at the sugarcane plantation. A section of the port has been converted into a museum that replicates the story of their arrival. The other half of the ghat remains intact, showing the area where the Indians lived during their buffer time.
Rhumerie de Chamarel
Most of Mauritius’s history revolves around sugarcane — as do their drinking habits. Mauritian rum is highly recommended, and Rhumerie de Chamarel’s is the finest of the lot. The single-estate distillery is open to guests, allowing you to sneak a peek into the process of making rum. Their in-house store offers a tasting of each of their concoctions, helping you understand the notes of the rum. You can buy a couple of bottles of white, dark, or flavoured rum from here to take back home. There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy a decadent meal while sipping on a rum cocktail (or several).
Takamaka Boutique Winery
Mauritius’s weather and geography might not be suitable to grow grapes, but it sure grows lychees in abundance. Alexander Oxenham saw an opportunity in this and developed a formula to make lychee wine. Takamaka Boutique Winery is one of the newest additions to the island, and you can tour the winery and end it with a tasting session. While you might expect the wines to be overly sweet, you can’t really tell the difference between a regular grape wine and a lychee wine. Currently, you can pick from white, rosé, and dessert wine, but Oxenham is working on a darker wine that should be available soon.
The Curious Corner of Chamarel
Curious Corner is an illusion house that will entertain you and also drive you slightly mad trying to figure out how it works! There are mirror-made rooms, a laser music room, and many more mind wrenching exhibits. This is one place you definitely don’t want to miss.
La Vallée des Couleurs Nature Park
There’s plenty of adventure at La Vallée des Couleurs Nature Park. You can fly through the world’s third-longest zip line (1.5km!). I tried it, and five seconds in my heart was in my mouth I wanted to abort the mission, but obviously, once you are out there, there is no turning back. Same with the 100-meter tall suspension bridge and zip lines through waterfalls. A cool, rare, and much less adrenaline-pumping reason to visit is to see bands and domes here that have 23 coloured earths. And if you’re really feeling adventurous, the park’s restaurant serves crocodile meat.
Feature photograph by Olivier Graziano on Unsplash
L'aventure du Sucre photograph by Karsten11 [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
Takamaka Winery photograph by Kasturi Gadge
La Vallée des Couleurs Nature Park photograph copyright MNStudio – stock.adobe.com