Mauritius is a beautiful mountainous island, with stunning beaches, fertile plains and some of the best resorts and hotels in the world, and is located just off the southeast coast of Africa in the tropical Indian Ocean.
The main languages in Mauritius are English and French, but there is also a diverse mix of cultures on this island, and Creole, Hindi, Urdu and Chinese are also widely spoken. The main religion in Mauritius is Hindu, but Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic) is also well represented. The currency is the Mauritian Rupee (Rp) and you can change money and travelers cheques at mainland banks and wherever you see the sign ‘bureau de change’.
Mauritius has a number of top class facilities, including excellent hotel spas, golf courses and restaurants, and the landscape is truly stunning, with beautiful tropical sandy beaches and turqouise lagoons. Mauritius also has one of the world’s largest coral reefs, and this is a popular spot for diving.
Here are some of the things to do in Mauritius:
* If you are feeling energetic, then a fantastic way to see the Moka mountains and the Domaine Les Pailles national park is by horseback, or you could try some of the excellent water sports on offer at Grand Baie, such as sailing, water skiing and windsurfing. You could also take a speedboat trip to one of the lovely surrounding islands such as the tropical paradise of Ile aux Cerfs.
* Walking is a good way to explore the plants and wildlife of the Black River Gorges National Park, which has some challenging trails around the surrounding mountains and gorges.
* The northern side of the island is calm and perfect for swimming, and there are some very pretty little coves to explore such as Péreybère (located between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux).
* The La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes reserve is worth a visit as it is home to a number of interesting animals, including thousands of Nile crocodiles, aldabra tortoises, boar and monkeys.
* Eating out in Mauritius is a pleasure and the cuisine on offer is a wonderful mix of French, Indian, Creole and English, but the island does not have a large produce trade itself so you will find many of the ingredients, even seafood and fish, imported from other nearby countries and islands. There are some local special dishes on offer though and these include Gateaux piments (chili cakes) and fresh venison (cooked in a number of ways from spicy to simply grilled). It is usual to tip 10% of the bill in most restaurants if you have enjoyed the food and service, and some larger establishments may add this to your bill.
* There are many excellent bars, nightclubs and casinos in Mauritius, particularly in the Grand Baie area, and the nightlife is both lively and laid back, and casual dress is suitable for most occasions. There is also a good range of shopping facilities, from high-class boutiques selling designer clothing and jewelry, to affordable souvenir and crafts stalls in the busy local markets. Shopping is duty free, and many people stock up on bargains whilst they are here, and with plans to turn Mauritius into a tax free shopping area by 2010, the bargains are only going to get better in the future.
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