We asked Merlin Armance, Concierge Manager at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions he could find—not just his own but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some he works with every day at the Resort. Neither Concierge Armance nor this jewel of the Indian Ocean disappoints. Pristine beaches, green-blanketed mountains and crystal-clear ocean waters make the unique African coastal island of Mauritius an unforgettable tropical setting for relaxation, cultural exploration and adventures in nature.
The small destination has a surprisingly rich culinary scene. To enjoy some of the local delicacies, take a tour of Mauritius’ best eateries. Make a brief stop in the small town of Bel Air to pick up the locally popular, sugary roadside treat of piaow. Take a trip to the famous tea plantation of Bois Chéri, where you will learn all about the history of tea in Mauritius and the island’s famous vanilla tea. Stay for lunch at Le Bois Chéri Restaurant and sample a selection of Mauritian delicacies such as smoked chicken with Bois Chéri honey sauce; fish seasoned with turmeric, mustard and lemon; and the local Saint Aubin 1819 passion fruit rum. Continuing north on your journey, pick up a roadside refresher in the form of a fresh coconut or sugar cane juice as you travel through the towns of Rose Hill and Beau Bassin and into the heart of the capital, Port Louis. With restaurants to suit any appetite, Port Louis is a melting pot of the island’s unique blend of local, Asian, European, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Grand Bassin is a lake situated almost 2,000 feet (610 metres) above sea level in a secluded mountain area, deep in the heart of Mauritius. There stands a giant statue of the god Lord Shiva, who, according to Hindu religious tradition, visited the site from India. It is said that he carried water from the holy River Ganges, which fell into the lake at Grand Bassin and created a sacred connection between the two sites. Each year Hindus in Mauritius make a pilgrimage to the lake on foot, walking for up to three days to celebrate the Maha Shivaratri festival.
Sugar cane is central to the history of Mauritius, and still lines the majority of the island’s roads. Prior to being home to Four Seasons, the Resort’s land was a sugar cane factory. Today a smaller sugar cane factory still remains just 10 minutes from the Resort. During harvesting season from July to November, tours of the factory can be arranged. Visitors can see the full cycle of sugar production, beginning with the delivery of freshly cut sugar cane and culminating with a tasting session.
The capital of Mauritius, Port Louis, is home to the Champ de Mars Racecourse, the oldest horse racing club in the Southern Hemisphere. Races are typically held on Saturdays between May and November. Also in Port Louis is Fort Adelaide. Here visitors absorb panoramic views of the urban landscape from the heights of the fort’s citadel, which was built by the British atop of one of the city’s highest peaks. Take in a piece of history at one of the island’s two World Heritage sites, Aapravasi Ghat. This landmark provides fascinating insight into the workings of the old immigration depot. Between 1834 and 1920, this location saw half a million indentured Indian labourers pass through for transport to plantations across the British Empire.
Browsing the open-air markets in Port Louis is one of the best ways to experience the island culture. The capital city’s picturesque waterfront includes a vibrant selection of shops and restaurants lining the docks. Amid the hustle and bustle of the many street markets in the area around the waterfront, pick up treasured keepsakes like handcrafted wicker bags, which are always in the brightest of exotic colours. As Mauritius was the last home of the dodo, a carved wooden image of the flightless bird, now extinct, is also a popular souvenir.