Cradled by the warm, cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean, this African island nation is unlike any other. Its striking beauty is not restricted to the 150 kilometers of picture-perfect white sand beaches, with charms that extend deep into the islandâ€™s heart and plenty to lure holidaymakers in search of an unforgettable vacation. From raw volcanic scenery to culinary delights and a calendar chock-full of festivals, Mauritius offers something for everyone.
Visitors will be drawn to the warmth and inclusive nature of Mauritian culture, which derives its character from a diverse range of influences. Thanks to a long period of French rule, Mauritius has Gallic flair overlaid on a rich tapestry of ethnic groups from Africa, India, Europe, and even China. Many Mauritians are descended from the slaves and indentured laborers brought in to work the sugar cane plantations that still blanket much of the island. The countryâ€™s two world heritage sites, Aapravasi Ghat (The Immigration Depot) and the rugged mountain of Le Morne, reflect the historic role of Mauritius as an important stopping point for the eastern slave trade.
Moving to a rhythmic, vigorous African beat, the Sega dance had its roots in Madagascar but evolved as a way for slaves to remain jubilant despite the harsh conditions they endured. The Creole folkloric dance is now a hallmark of Mauritian culture, and no traveler should leave the island without watching a sunset performance on the beach.
Experience another slice of Africa at the Casela Nature & Leisure Park, where a safari adventure allows you to get up close and personal with zebras, rhinos, tigers, and cheetahs. For fans of big cats, a guided walk with Caselaâ€™s lions is not to be missed.
Back in the ocean, swimming with wild dolphins is a popular activity at Tamarin Bay. Water sports enthusiasts will delight in the fact that they can snorkel, scuba dive, kayak and go stand-up paddle boarding at various parts of the island. Mauritius is also a haven for both windsurfers and kitesurfers, who frequent Le Morne and the east coast. For more accessible thrills, zip along the crystal-clear waters on a Seakart, a cross between a jetski and speedboat that is found only in Mauritius.
With your desire for adventure fulfilled, why not take a look at the bounty of the islandâ€™s fertile soil? Although sugar is no longer the backbone of the Mauritian economy, its influence remains palpable even today. Travelers can visit the plantations to see how sugar cane is crushed to make sugar or distilled into award-winning rums. Another option is a journey along the Tea Route to learn about local blends and the cultivation of Mauritian vanilla, which is counted among the worldâ€™s best. The latter makes for a classic souvenir â€“ and a sweet reminder of your time on the jewel of the Indian Ocean.
This post was published in partnership with AirAsia X. On October 4, the long-haul carrier will be launching direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Mauritius three times a week. AirAsia Xâ€™s award-winning Premium Flatbed is a comfortable choice for the seven-hour journey. For flight details and bookings, visit airasia.com.