Many years ago we published an article about the Top 10 Things to Do in Mauritius when researching our dream destinations around the world. It ended up being one of the most popular articles on this site.
Naturally, when we realized we were actually getting to visit this beautiful island nation, we used that post as one of our resources in planning our itinerary during our stay.
With a rental in hand from Maki Car Rentals to make driving in Mauritius a breeze, we developed a new must see list during our stay on the island. This time, however, all of the attractions are oriented by those you can visit, and in some cases only visit, via car.
The best part about this list is that they are all Living the Dream approved as they are attractions we personally explored during our stay in Mauritius!
Black River Gorges National Park
Hiking and viewpoints are on the itinerary for those who want to visit Black River Gorges National Park. This large park in the south of Mauritius has many hiking trails that last anywhere from just a few hours to a full day to beautiful vistas and wildlife spotting.
For those with less time, or those who go in the summer season when it is far too hot for a full day hike, the southern road through the park cuts all the way through from east to west and has some beautiful scenic overlooks with free parking as you go.
Just be prepared for some fun, twisty roads up into the hills before entering this park. But don't let that stop you, the road conditions on the island are amazing and perfect for all drivers- even in the mountains!
Within a few moments of arriving to Mauritius, you'll notice that the island is almost completely covered with sugar cane. Processed sugars aside, there is one important product that uses sugar as its primary ingredient, and that is the spirit of rum!
Chamarel Rhumerie is one of the most acclaimed distilleries on the island and offers a combination tour and tasting for all visitors looking to learn a little bit more about rum (or just want to have some samplings).
The tour of the facilities is a bit fast paced, but well worth it to try many of their delicious rums that retail for upwards of $20 per bottle in the store. After a few sips you'll soon realize why this is the chosen brand of many upscale restaurants and the country's flagship airline, Air Mauritius.
Entry is 375 Rupees (~$12.50 per adult) inclusive of a 15 minute tour and rum tasting. The rhumerie is closed on Sundays as of January 2014. This tour is not recommended for those who are not interested in rum as the highlight is, by far, the tasting at the end.
Sugar Museum L'Aventure du Sucre
If rum isn't your thing, perhaps a visit to the Sugar Museum may be to your interests. This popular attraction is located in a converted sugar refinery that still has many pieces of equipment on display from the sugar making process that once operated there.
But this museum is far more than just the chemical processes behind sugar making and the accompanying displays cover the history of sugar cultivation, growth on the island of Mauritius, and more. With so much to see, you could spend hours here if you wish to read it all!
Entry is 350 Rupees ($11.67) for the museum and includes a sugar tasting and rum tasting at the end. This is a perfect attraction for days with poor weather as, apart from a small walking path, it is entirely inside!
Gris Gris Beach View Point
If you want to witness the raw power of nature on the island of Mauritius, the viewpoint at Gris Gris Beach in the south is the place for you.
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This particular beach gets battered with some of the strongest trade winds throughout the year.
Coupled with some pretty intense waves, these beaches are not for swimming. Instead, this one is best enjoyed from the high cliff viewpoint overlooking the sea while watching the waves splash 20+ feet into the air. (Just don't wear any loose clothing this day).
Just down the road from Gris Gris View Point is the Roche qui Pleure which is another gorgeous viewpoint looking further down the stunning coast line. There you can see a famous rock that is said to be crying if you look at it from the right angle. We didn't see it, but loved the view all the same. If you make the journey down this far, it is definitely worth the extra kilometer drive.
Tamarin Falls View Point
As one of the most famous waterfalls on the island of Mauritius, Tamarin Falls certainly has a reputation to live up to. This cascading waterfall takes you by surprise because the way in is almost entirely flat, with no place visible for a waterfall to exist.
But as you arrive to the view point overlooking the falls you understand: a massive valley opens up to the beaches below. How you ever climbed up to that elevation on the drive in, one will never know.
For those who are more adventurous, guides can be hired in the morning to hike down to the falls. We had to skip this activity in an effort of time but have it high on our list for a return trip as the scenery is supposed to be spectacular (but in Mauritius, we have to wonder if there is a place where it is not!).
Seven Colored Earths
Okay, okay, this one is kind of a tourist trap but we still thought it was rather neat.
The Seven Colored Earths is a mineral deposit in southern Mauritius where years of the heat and humidity of the local climate have degraded the soil. While most minerals within were washed away in the annual rains, large concentrations of iron and aluminum remained giving this small tract of land some rather unique colors of blue, purple, and more.
Included in the ticket for this attraction is the Chamarel Waterfall, the largest continuous waterfall on the island and our personal favorite.
Entry is 175 Rupees (~$5.83) and include the 7 Colored Earths and the nearby Chamarel Waterfall. While at this attraction, you may want to couple your day with the Chamarel Rhumerie as it is located just a few kilometers away.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens
Have you ever seen an allspice tree, jack fruit tree, cinnamon tree, nutmeg tree, or 85 different kinds of palm trees before?
If you're like us, we're guessing probably not.
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens (also known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens) were founded in 1770, making them not only the oldest in the country, but the oldest in the southern hemisphere!
These gardens are home to mostly large trees and palms from around the world and is quite an enjoyable afternoon for those who like to see some rather unique plants you may never have seen before.
Guides are available at the main gate and offer a great insight into the plants and trees found within the park. Booking with one is an absolute must as the park is somewhat lacking in signage for visitors otherwise.
Entry is 200 Rupees (~$6.67) and an hour long guided group tour is 50 Rupees ($1.66) per person which we thoroughly enjoyed. This attraction is not recommended if rain is predicted as there are very few places for cover within the gardens. Instead, we recommend L'Aventure du Sucre museum nearby to enjoy a few hours if it rains.
To end this list we cannot help but mention the many amazing beaches that Mauritius has to offer. We would be doing the country a disservice without touching upon the fact that the island is full of world class beaches from top to bottom.
Their beauty is enhanced even further due to a reef that almost completely surrounds the island, helping slow the tide to a trickle by the time it reaches shore.
But while we are partial to the beaches we visited in Flic en Flac, Trou aux Biches, and Grand Baie, these would be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of what is available in Mauritius. This is also completely ignoring all the other natural wonders you'll find like we mentioned in this post!
It is for this reason that having a car is the most important. By staying in one resort for your vacation you miss out on the gems you only discover when riding on the back roads, finding a new place in a GPS database, or just turning on any road that looks like it may end up somewhere interesting.
For all attractions featured in this list, please check their local websites before your journey to ensure they are opened on your planned day of visiting.
Driving in Mauritius is a very easy thing to do and should not be missed no matter your abilities. We'd also like to thank our friends at Maki Car Rental for helping us out with a rental car during our stay in the island and highly recommend them.
As always, all opinions in this article are our own.
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- Booking.com to find a hotel deal.
- Hostelworld to find a budget hostel.
- World Nomads to insure your trip.
- Viator for a stellar day tour.
- G Adventures for a multi-day guided tour.
- Or our gear list to update your equipment!