With natural wonders, recreational pursuits and a diverse cultural heritage, Mauritius brims with possibilities.
Updated May 30, 2012—With one foot in Africa, the other in Asia and a toe or two in Europe, Mauritius is a true melting pot, a cultural and linguistic mélange kissed by tropical sun and massaged by trade winds. Uninhabited when discovered in 1507, the island is now a harmonious stew of its early visitors, who included the Dutch, French and English, along with workers from Madagascar and the East Indies.
This cultural melding continues in the landscape itself. For centuries, sugar cane was the island’s top industry, and it can still be seen everywhere between the airport and Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita. But sugar cane is not native; the Dutch brought it nearly four centuries ago. The lush, jagged volcanic peaks are certainly original denizens, but one notable mountain evokes nearby Africa: La Montagne du Lion so eerily resembles a crouching lion that one almost expects it to pounce.
From its mountains to its offshore coral reefs, Mauritius enjoys almost an embarrassment of natural wonders. Foremost among these is its diverse flora, with more than 700 species of indigenous plants and ferns. The island boasts several botanical gardens, nature preserves and formal gardens where they can easily be seen.
The other natural highlight is under water, where aquatic life and visitors thrive. One of the most popular spots is the lagoon at Ile aux Cerfs, where the island’s longest river empties into the sea. The heart of the lagoon is a patch of nearly pure white water, dissolving around its edges into the azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
The combination of Mauritius’ natural setting and outgoing populace has helped it explode onto the world tourism stage, and the two converge at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius. Rather than just escorting guests to their rooms, staffers use the Resort’s open-air design to introduce the island. By the time the key reaches the door, guests have a taste of the island’s history, culture and nature. An outpouring of local knowledge leaves resort guests feeling more like house guests.
Snorkelling, diving and fishing excursions start right at the private beach. Here you will find water sports equipment and glass-bottom boat tours. Back on land, the Resort’s golf course is the finest in the Indian Ocean. Created by three-time major winner Ernie Els, the gorgeous oceanfront layout employs all the latest agronomical breakthroughs and top-performing Bermuda grasses.
The most delectable evidence of the island’s diversity is its cuisine. It is quite possible to have lunch at Bambou—the Resort’s open-air beachfront, poolside restaurant—every day for a week without repeating ethnicities, let alone dishes. The menu has subsections for Asian—Japanese, Indonesian, Indian and Thai—and Western dishes, and a fresh sushi bar and traditional teppanyaki grill. Bambou’s multicultural menu is Mauritius itself in microcosm. Yet it is just one of four restaurants in the Resort. While no wines are produced on the island, guests perusing the large cellar can still rely on local knowledge, thanks to one of Mauritius’ only qualified native sommeliers.
Dining is an adventure at Four Seasons, but the great outdoors is the main attraction, and this permeates every aspect of the Resort. Each guest room has a private plunge pool, al fresco dining area and private outdoor shower. Virtually every moment of a guest’s day can be spent outdoors, from bathing and breakfast to dinner on the waterfront deck of Acquapazza. Diversity is the hallmark of the island nation. By choosing from a vast array of pursuits, some relaxed, some active, some cultural, every visitor creates the Mauritius of his or her dreams.