Ah Mauritius – what a dream!! Affectionately known as paradise on Earth, Mauritius is a place that I’ve been wanting to visit forever. I mean the picturesque beaches, warm oceans, array of sea life and the soft, white beach sand, what more could a beach lover like myself ask for?? Although Mauritius is a relatively unheard of and obscure destination to international tourists, it’s a common holiday destination for South Africans. Located off the Southeast coast of Africa, it’s only about a 4 hour flight. But having lived in South Africa all my life, the first time we visited Mauritius was this year. Ironically while living abroad! I’m lucky enough to have a very generous mama who decided to take our family on a beautiful holiday to Mauritius before Peter and I headed back overseas! And I think she may have found the best place to stay in Mauritius.
We spent a week at Veranda Grand Baie hotel & spa in Grand Baie, Mauritius and it was such a special time. Not only is Mauritius an exotic paradise that I could have stayed at forever, but it was also incredible spending time with my family before we headed abroad again. If you’re planning a trip to this tourist hotspot you’re probably wondering “where is the best place to stay in Mauritius?” With a huge variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts, guesthouses, and other places to stay across the island, travellers can be left feeling overwhelmed with choices. But not to worry because I’m here to give you the lowdown on what this paradise island has to offer.
Why Grand Baie is the best place to stay in Mauritius?
It goes without saying, as with anywhere you travel to, the best area to stay in will depend on what you are looking for. But for most travellers, Grand Baie is the best place to stay in Mauritius. The only drawback for us was that it’s located in the Northern part of the island. It’s about 73 km away from the airport, and is about an hour airport transfer. But aside from that Grand Baie is the place to be.
This is the all-happening tourist hub, with a vibrant nightlife and an amazing coastal beach. We spent our days frolicking in the sun, sipping cocktails with our toes in the sand, and snorkelling the crystal blue waters off the coastline. We spent our evenings exploring the town and taking in the fresh sea air. If that sounds like paradise to you, that’s what it felt like to me.
Adding to our incredible time was the experience that we had with Veranda Grand Baie hotel & spa. We spent a wonderful week here, the perfect place for an island getaway that feels like a true home-away-from-home experience. Veranda Grand Baie is a beach resort surrounded by palm trees and exquisite tropical gardens. The resort is on the edge of a beach that opens onto the most famous bay of the island. It offers incredible views across the water. The view from here is even more magical in the evening.
How to get there
Mauritius is situated in the Indian Ocean to the East side of Madagascar and the south-east Africa coast. The closest other island is the French island of Reunion. Travelling to Mauritius from South Africa you will be able to find flights on Air Mauritius and Emirates. From Europe you can check out Lufthansa, AirFrance, KLM, and Emirates. From South Africa the flight will only take about four hours, and the average flight time from Europe is +/- 11 hours.
Once in Mauritius you will need to make your way to your accommodation. If you book through a hotel or resort, such as Veranda Grand Baie, you will most likely be provided with an airport transfer. However, if not, you may want to organize one prior to your arrival. There is public transport available, like the local bus service; Triolet, which is reasonably priced. But it’s always a bit of a hassle trying to use the public transport service in a new country. Especially when you’ve just landed and just want to get to your hotel. If you haven’t arranged a taxi services prior to your trip, make sure to have about 2,000 rupees on you to hustle a good taxi fare.
What to do in Mauritius
Grand Baie is the tourist capital and as such there is no shortage of things to do here. Since our hotel was situated on the beachfront we spent plenty of time lounging under the palm trees, swimming, and basking in the sun. We also visited the local market, a few pubs, and enjoyed some sundowners on the beach. But Two of the best days that we had were day trips that we took to different islands.
Boat trip to Ile Aux Cerfs
On our first day of exploring the Grand Baie town, we came across an Indian restaurant. It’s run by a South African woman, Nitah and Mauritian man, Palma. They also owned a tour operating company and were thrilled to put together a good excursion package for our family.
The package consisted of a day trip out to Ile Aux Cerfs island – a privately owned island near the east coast of Mauritius – as well as a Parasailing experience, lunch on another private island, and an underwater sea walk experience. It cost 15,000 rupees (about $435 USD) for the five of us and was well worth it! The boat left from Trou d’eau Douce which is all the way in the East and we were situated in Grand Baie which is in the North so they were also kind enough to include a taxi service in the cost.
Palma fetched us from our hotel at 08:30 on Saturday morning. He drove us all the way down to Trou d’eau Douce – it’s about an hour drive. Once there he handed us over to a Mauritian guy who would be transporting us by boat to Ile Aux Cerfs. When we reached the island we were all completely in awe of the beauty. Home to crystal clear water, sandy beaches, several water sports, and restaurants, Ile Aux Cerfs is one of the most popular tourist islands for day trips. We spent a few hours here snorkelling, taking in the sunshine, and parasailing – which is now my new favorite thing to do. Parasailing was one of the most exciting and beautiful things that I’ve done (I’ll write a post about it soon).
After being transported by boat to another private island we enjoyed a delicious local lunch and some rum before ending our day off with our last activity which was the undersea walk. Unfortunately the water was very choppy by this time and we didn’t have the best experience. I won’t bore you with the details now, maybe another day 🙂 Once we were transported back to shore by speed boat Palma was waiting for us and we headed back to Grand Baie.
Day trip to Ile Plate and Ilot Gabriel
Another trip that we took was a catamaran tour that went out to Ile Plate and Ilot Gabriel. This boat leaves from Grand Baie. We only had to walk along the beach a few hundred meters from our hotel to take the trip. The whole trip cost us 1,250 rupees each (about $35) and included lunch as well as unlimited drinks! The catamaran left at 08.30 and we returned at about 5pm. To be completely honest I was a little worried about the whole trip when I first set foot on the catamaran. It was not particularly well looked after, the bathroom was pretty gross, and all-in-all it just wasn’t what I expected. Thankfully there wasn’t really anything wrong with the outside area of the boat – and that’s where we spent most of our time.
Our first stop was Ile Plate. This is also where we enjoyed a delicious local beach braai with some tasty traditional cuisine. It was my first time trying El dorado fish and it was delicious. But before eating we spent some time snorkelling in some of the clearest, most beautiful sea water that I’ve ever seen. Ile Plate for me was everything that I imagined Mauritius to be – clear blue water, white sandy beaches, beautiful fish found in the coral reefs, warm waters, and incredible views. I was very much in my element here.
After lunch we were transported by speed boat to Ilot Gabriel which is just across from Ile Plate. Although I preferred the beach at Ile Plate, the snorkelling here was the best that I have ever done. I’ve never seen such colorful, interesting and beautiful fish as we saw here. We only spent about an hour here and then it was time to head back to Grand Baie. This is a trip that I would recommend to just about anyone. It’s such a great way to experience other parts of the island.
The best time to go to Mauritius
Since Mauritius enjoys a tropical climate with pleasant temperatures all year round, it’s a great place to visit just about any time of the year. The peak season is from October to April which is hot, humid, rainy. There is a slight risk of cyclones from January to March. Winter is from May to September and typically sees warm and dry conditions.
During the summer months, the north and west coast of the island are more sheltered, and during winter the east coast enjoys more sheltered conditions. Mauritius has a micro-climate. This means that it could be raining where you are, yet the sun will be shining five minutes away. You should keep this in mind when planning activities.
We visited in January which is one of the busier months, but it didn’t feel overcrowded. Summer falls between December and February, and during this time you can expect average temperatures of 30 °C. Because of its tropical climate, summertime often brings about the islands rain. On the plus side, the sun is not known to stay away for too long. The rain will pass-over and you should be back on the beach in no time. We experienced a few tropical rainfalls which passed over in no longer than 30 minutes and the sunshine was back out in no time. The January rains really aren’t anything to be concerned about.
The best places to stay in Grand Baie
While I would say that Grand Baie is the best place to stay in Mauritius, the decision is obviously based on what you are looking for. If you’re looking for something secluded and off the beaten track then you might want to explore other areas. However, you can also find a few very private hotels in Grand Baie.
Beachcomber has two hotels in Grand Baie; Royal Palm and Mauricia. Royal Palm is the most expensive hotel in all of Mauritius – your airport transfer is by helicopter! Other good options to check out are The Bay Complex, Seapoint Beach Bungalows, and, of course, Veranda Grand Baie. There is also the option of renting an apartment through airbnb.
I had high expectations for Mauritius and it turned out to be so much more than what I expected. It’s not just about the sandy beaches and clear water. Whether you’re into nature, food or adventure, travelling with family or friends; Mauritius won’t disappoint. I spent the most amazing week here with my precious family and given the chance, I would return in a heartbeat.