Southern Africa Travel expert Monique Dean recently returned from Mauritius, where she spent a sunny week hopping between Beachcomber’s eight resorts. The longest established hotel group on the island, Beachcomber is famous for its luxurious accommodation, fantastic facilities and postcard-perfect locations overlooking palm-fringed shores.
Tropical Island Days
You could easily enjoy 10 days in Mauritius without moving far from your hotel. All of the resorts Monique visited had magnificent swimming pool areas with plenty of sun loungers. A few more steps took her onto a wide, white beach and the glistening blue of the Indian Ocean.
Most water sports are offered free of charge with the calm conditions ideal for snorkelling, water skiing and kayaking. Dinarobin is the best option for swimming with dolphins, and for golf enthusiasts the 18-hole par 72 championship course at Paradis is considered the best on the island.
The lounger-lined swimming pool at Paradis Hotel & Golf Club.
Away from the sea and sand you can sharpen your bargaining skills in the markets of Grand Baie, hike forest trails to spectacular waterfalls or stroll around the shady Botanical Gardens. Mauritian rum is famous the world over, and during her stay Monique visited the Chamarel distillery in the south-east of the island - a moutainour region with lush tropical vegetation rather like something out of Jurassic Park.
- ‘West is best’: the west coast has wide beaches, magical sunsets and less wind.
- Roads are windy, so it takes a good hour and a half to drive from one side of the island to the other. It's a scenic (if slow) journey though, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
- Beaches aren't private so vendors come by selling their goods. If you're not interested a polite "no, thank you" is enough, and when you do feel like shopping it can be good fun.
On the west coast you can watch the sun sink into the sea (photo taken from Le Victoria).
Planning Your Trip
Leaving a wintery Cape Town behind, Monique arrived in sunny Mauritius. Although still winter on the island, the temperature was a balmy 27C (80F) with a low humidity; perfect beach weather. Properties in Mauritius tend to be large, but none of the resorts felt crowded as there was always plenty of space to relax along with a choice of restaurants.
Regular flights connect South Africa to Mauritius, making it a popular choice for a relaxing beach break after the early morning thrills of a big game safari. Itineraries such as the 12-day Luxury Family Safari & Beach Holiday start in Cape Town, then it's off on a malaria-free safari in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve, followed by six blissful days at Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa.
Royal Palm overlooks a powder-white beach on the sheltered north-west coast of the island.
- Drinks are expensive! Opt for the fully inclusive rate and avoid the stress of paying for extras.
- Mauritius is fantastic for families. If you’re not travelling with kids, then consider visiting the island outside of school holidays.
- Although a year-round destination for sunny skies skip January to March - the highest rainfall months and cyclone season.
The Right Resort for You
Each hotel Monique visited has a different feel; from the fun, festive atmosphere at Le Mauricia to the romantic chalets at Trou aux Biches Hotel - often described as the honeymoon hotel in Mauritius.
Paradis has a championship golf course with sweeping ocean views.
- Le Mauricia (4 Star) is an easy 10-minute walk from the grand parade, markets and shops of Grand Baie. Being close to the action, and with a popular bar and in-house disco, Le Mauricia is a good choice for those who enjoy lazy days and lively evening entertainment.
- Le Canonnier (4 Star) lies 5km down the beach, and if you're on an all-inclusive rate you can have your meals at either resort. Fantastic-for-families Le Canonnier has a kids' club housed in an old lighthouse and, along with all the usual activities, offers archery and beginner yoga classes.
Le Navigator Restaurant at Le Canonnier has superb views of the ocean and northern islets.
- Le Victoria (4 Star Superior) has spacious, sea-facing rooms offering excellent value for money. The resort borders a marine park and has a coral reef just offshore, while back on the beach you'll find plenty of sun loungers - pick your favourite and settle into the laid-back island atmosphere.
- Shandrani Resort & Spa (5 Star) is the only Beachcomber resort on the island's east coast. Conveniently close to the airport, Shadrani overlooks an emerald lagoon that forms part of Blue Bay Marine Park with its vibrant underwater world and exceptional snorkelling.
Le Victoria has extremely spacious rooms (the smallest is a good 60 m2 in size).
- Trou Aux Biches Resort & Spa (5 Star Superior), the largest of the Beachcomber resorts, was Monique's absolute favourite! Modern chalet-style suites and private villas sit tucked into tropical gardens, the beach is famously beautiful and the lagoon is perfect for water sports.
- Paradis Hotel & Golf Club (5 Star Superior) has a magical setting with the ocean to one side and Le Morne mountain to the other. A great choice for an active holiday, Paradis has the largest sports centres on the island, along with an in-house golf academy and 18-hole golf course.
Trou Aux Biches has a long, broad sweep of beach stretching around a sparkling bay.
- Dinarobin Hotel & Spa (5 Star Deluxe) is also on the spectacular Le Morne Peninsular, and staying here you share the facilities of next-door Paradis. This peaceful property has heated pools, an excellent spa and offers the chance to swim with wild dolphins - a holiday highlight!
- Royal Palm (5 Star Exclusive) is Beachcomber's flagship property. Recently refurbished, this elegant resort is all about privacy with impeccable service from staff who greet you by name, and three gourmet restaurants presided over by the Royal Palm's Michelin-awarded Executive Chef.
Dinarobin has one of the finest spas on the island of Mauritius.
Interesting Island Facts
- The island of Mauritius is 65km in length (north to south) and around 45km wide (west to east).
- Mauritius is melting pot of Indian, Chinese, African and European lifestyles and traditions.
- English is the official language of the island; however, French and Creole are widely spoken.
- The country’s national animal is the dodo. Weighing around 25kg, these plump birds had small wings and were unable to fly. The dodo went extinct in around 1662.
One of 'The Leading Hotels of The World', the Royal Palm is known for privacy and exceptional service.