I traveled to Mauritius with nothing in mind other than sun, rum, and beach fun. I read in advance that Mauritius was not really a backpacker destination and rather a place for couples, honeymooners, and retirees and this was also my impression after visiting.
I decided to stay at the Hibiscus Beach Resort and Spa in Pereybere, a great little resort hotel you can read more about here.
The Hibiscus Beach Resort is in the North West of Mauritius and the international airport is in the South East. Knowing I’d have to drive across the country upon arrival, I contacted the great people at taximauritius.com in advance and they organized a tour of Mauritius’ South West for me as part of my transfer from Mauritius airport to Pereybere. This taxi tour was the only exploration of Mauritius I did and you can read more about it here.
Pereybere is a sleepy little town with a few great beaches. I spent most of my time on the beach in front of the Hibiscus Beach Resort, but also checked out the nearby Pereybere public beach to the North East of the resort and a more secluded private beach to the South West. The Pereybere public beach was busy but not packed, with many families setting up picnics on the weekend. The water was great for swimming as there were no waves, the water was warm, and the sea floor was soft.
There is a large Winner’s supermarket in Pereybere where I did most of my shopping. It was easy to see the French influence on Mauritius as each day I would see people buying fresh baguettes for their meals. Wanting to fit in, every morning I walked to the supermarket to buy fresh bread along with meat and cheese for lunch. To beat the heat, I tried a variety of local fresh juices including coconut water, aloe vera juice, pomegranate juice, and acai berry juice – all cheap and delicious. Of course, it wouldn’t be a holiday without a little booze in the afternoon so I packed my hotel mini fridge with the local Phoenix beer and Green Island Spiced Rum. Beer sells at the supermarket for around 225 rupees per 6 pack (US$ 7.50) while the Rum rang in at approximately 300 rupees a bottle (US$ 10), making it cheaper to buy at the supermarket than at the Airport duty free. The Green Island Spiced Rum may be the best spiced rum I’ve ever had and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially at the price. Every evening I’d pour myself a rum and coke and head out to the beach for a ‘sundowner’. Now that is a daily ritual I could get used to!
To break the monotony of sunbathing, swimming, and lounging on the beach, I went out for one scuba dive to a site called Whale Rocks through the Hibiscus Resort’s dive shop. Essentially, there are massive rocks covered in corals that create a wall to swim along at 25 meters depth. I had always heard about scuba diving in Mauritius and was really looking forward to the dive but I must admit I was a little disappointed in what we saw. The water temperature and visibility were great, which made for an excellent dive experience, but we didn’t see a lot. The highlight for me was seeing a massive Scorpian camouflaged under a rock as well as a huge Puffer fish. The dive master later told me that there used to be a lot more fish but there was too much spear fishing which reduced the fish population. He was an excellent dive leader and he later told me that he’d been on over 5000 dives during his 14 year dive career. The equipment and dive shop staff were also very good and at 1500 rupees a dive (US$ 50), the price was competitive. I’m sure package deals are available for those wanting to go on multiple dives, but as my week was short I only went out once.
The only other exploration I did was walk into Grand Baie, approximately 3km from Pereybere. Unfortunately, Mauritian roads are not well equipped for walking making the journey to Grand Baie dicey at best. Grand Baie is the place to go from Pereybere for nightlife and I was advised that Insomnia and OMG were the places to be on Friday and Saturday nights. I was more interested in the beach though and on arrival found the public beach area quite busy with people along with a few food trucks and other vendors. I much preferred the public beach at Pereybere to that of Grand Baie, but it was still a beautiful place to get some sun and swim. One of my favourite things about Mauritius is that they designed their cell phone towers as palm trees, preventing them from ruining the natural skyline.
To get from Pereybere to the airport I contacted Taxi Mauritius again, and a nice young guy named Rehaaz drove me. Over the 1.5 hour drive I got to know him pretty well and we talked quite a bit about the country as well as life in general. I always think it’s interesting how different we all perceive other nationalities and cultures yet how alike we all are once you get passed the superficial things. Whether it is love, family, politics, or general happiness, people all really seem to want the same things out of life. It is often hard to have genuine conversations with locals and I really enjoyed debating topics of everyday life with Rehaaz before I departed.
Overall, Mauritius is a wonderful country with very friendly people, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, delicious fresh fruit juice, and tasty rum. I didn’t find a lot of action or adventure, but if your travel goal is rest and relaxation, as mine was, Mauritius may be the perfect destination.