For my 30th birthday, we planned a trip to escape the London winter and enjoy a relaxing week in Mauritius, an island off the coast of Eastern Africa.
Mauritius is known for its beautiful beaches, rich culture, gorgeous lagoons and diverse landscape. We stayed in the northern part of the island at the InterContinental Balaclava Fort. The hotel was near Grand-Baie, one of the largest villages in Mauritius and full of great restaurants right along the water.
We spent half the week relaxing at the pool/beach and reading lots of books by the water (fortunately, for once books not for school!). The other half of the week we adventured around the island. One of the reasons we selected Mauritius is we knew that we (read: Cole) couldn’t spend the entire week laying out and Mauritius offers plenty to see and do apart from its beaches.
One of the days we drove to the very southern part of the island, the peninsula of Le Morne Brabant. Le Morne is probably the most iconic spot with its stunning mixing of clear blue waters and striking rock formation. Unfortunately, it’s history isn’t as nice, as its legend is that it used to be a refuge for slaves given its difficult location. We woke up very early in the morning to hike up to the top of Le Morne Brabant before it got too hot. It was a pretty steep hike, especially the final 30 minutes of it, where you have to climb on your hands and knees on certain parts. The views along the way and the top were all worth it though.
After we finished our hike, we headed to Wapalapam Island Eatery, a delicious restaurant where we stopped for a light breakfast and enjoyed it so much we went back for lunch. After lunch, we drove over to Black River Gorges National Park. In the park, we checked out some of Mauritius’ famous attractions such as the Chamarel Waterfall and Seven Colored Earths (not anything special in my humble opinion, although it had just rained which apparently masks the various colors of sand). The drive through the mountains in this area was gorgeous. We didn’t want to drive the long ride back at dark so unfortunately didn’t have as much time as we hoped to stop at the local rum distillery on the island, Rhumerie de Chamarel. We were bummed to miss it but at least got to check out the beautiful views of the distillery as we drove past it.
Another one of my favorite days was also spent down near Le Morne Brabant, where we did the one thing that’s been on my bucket list forever – WE SWAM WITH WILD DOLPHINS!!! This was seriously a dream come true – we had such a great experience with JPH Charters. The boats and facilities were so nice. Also, we were on a boat with only 6 other people and they leave earlier than most of the boats so some of the dolphin swimming is more intimate. We found pods and pods of Spinner dolphins and got to jump into swim with them multiple times. Fortunately, on our boat are some full-time travel bloggers who were able to capture some amazing videos and photos of the experience.
Afterwards, I was still on cloud nine and we drove back down to our now favorite spot on the island Wapalapam Island Eatery restaurant (yes, we went there 3 times during our vacation haha). We finished off the day by heading to only ‘brewery’ on the island Flying Dodo (Cole had tried their beer at a bar and wanted to check it out). It was more restaurant than brewery, but it was still good to see.
Besides the two days I described above, Cole and I had a wonderful day of exploring almost the entire island by car. Hopping between villages and checking out the various parts of Mauritius. There aren’t as many dense villages that we anticipated, but it was beautiful to drive through the endless sugar plantation fields and beautiful scenery.
Apart from relaxing at the hotel, the rest of our time was spent in Grand Baie. Some of our favorite spots we discovered were Beach House (amazing spot for cocktails at sunset), Luigi’s Pizzeria (casual authentic pizza place), and Sauterelle (charming more upscale Italian).
We really enjoyed our time in Mauritius – it was a wonderful combination of relaxation and adventure in a gorgeous setting. One of the best parts of our trip was also getting a long layover in Amsterdam. This meant we had a chance to see our friends and meet Michael Holland, the newest adorable addition to our ‘Chip Room’ crew.