Mini Guide – Budget Mauritius
Sailing & Snorkelling
In Mauritius’s southeast corner, the town of Mahébourg anchors a series of islands, including Île aux Aigrettes, popular for boat trips and snorkelling excursions. Local legend Jean-Claude Farla is a six-time national swimming champion who also competed in the Indian Ocean Games. He is the only person to offer sailing trips on a traditional 22ft pirogue.
After Kew, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden at Pamplemousses is one of the world’s best. The centre piece of the gardens is a pond filled with giant Victoria amazonica water lilies, and there’s an astonishing abundance of palms and variety of birdlife. Labelling of the plants is a work in progress, so hire one of the knowledgeable guides who wait just inside the entrance to show you around.
Natural History Museum & Institute
The main attraction here is the reconstruction of a dodo, which was native to Mauritius. Scottish scientists assembled the bird in the 19th century, using the only complete dodo skeleton found. There’s also a collection of stuffed endemic birds, including the red rail and solitaire, also extinct.
Père Laval’s Shrine
The shrine of Catholic priest and missionary Père Jacques-Désiré Laval is something of a Lourdes of the Indian Ocean. The Frenchman is credited with converting 67,000 people to Christianity during his 23years in Mauritius. Notice the plaster effigy of the priest on top of the tomb – it’s been rubbed smooth by miracle-seeking pilgrims. Services are held at 1pm and 5pm on Fridays.
Mauritius’s wild east coast is where you’ll find some of the best white sand and azure ocean on the island: north of Trou d’Eau Douce as far as Pointe de Flacq, the six-mile-long beach of Belle Mare is home to an impregnable string of luxury resorts but also a few stretches of public beach for budget day-trippers, including those you’ll find at around three miles and five miles north of Trou d’Eau Douce.