The North of Mauritius has undergone extensive development over the last 2 decades, becoming one of the most vibrant, exciting parts of the island. That being said, the North has also retained its tropical allure, making it popular and favoured by expatriates, tourists, and Mauritians alike.
Over and above its authentic tropical setting, the North boasts a range of modern infrastructure from world-class medical facilities, and schools providing internationally recognised qualifications, to a number of shopping malls that include cinemas, high-end clothing outlets, utility shops, restaurants, fitness and wellness centres, and hypermarkets. The business community is also well provided for with several business parks, housing offices of major insurance and telecommunications companies, and financial institutions, providing a convenient alternative to a journey to Port Louis for business purposes.
Much of this modern infrastructure is to be found in Grand Baie, the seaside town we explored in a previous blog. Grand Baie is also known for its bustling nightlife, with clubs such as Insomnia, OMG, and Le Bar & Vous, to name but a few, and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to places to eat. Many of the restaurants are situated with stunning views over the bay, and a diverse range of cuisine is on offer, from traditional Mauritian favourites to modern European delicacies. La Capitaine (one of the island’s oldest restaurants), The Beach House (where you can feast while literally wriggling your toes in the sand!), Chez Tante Athalie (a well-hidden gem in a unique, quirky setting serving a delicious range of typical Creole dishes), and Eat with Fingers (innovative veggie and vegan cuisine with a menu packed with organic, raw and vegan choices) are all must do’s!
Mont Choisy & Anse La Raie
Grand Baie is by no means the only place to be in the North. Sure, it has the appeal and attractions of modern lifestyle, but life in the north of the island has so much more to offer. Mont Choisy, which is located 15 minutes away from St. Antoine – Private Residence, is a seaside town where you’ll find the longest beach in Mauritius. Stretching over 3 kilometres, Mont Choisy beach is an exceptional spot for gentle strolls, games with frisbees and balls for the more energetic, or snorkeling in the accessible shallows. Golfers will be pleased to know that the only golf course in the North is the 18-hole course at Mont Choisy. If you’re a kitesurf enthusiast, Anse La Raie beach is the ideal spot to engage in your favourite water sport, thanks to its shallow lagoons and steady trade winds. Located near the village of Calodyne in the North, Anse La Raie is also great for snorkeling. As with practically all the public beaches in Mauritius, there are standard facilities such as beach huts, a forested picnic area, and clean restrooms.
If you wish to immerse yourself in the rural life and culture of Mauritius, a visit to Goodlands is a must. A mere 10 minutes drive from St. Antoine – Private Residence, this village has a variety of local amenities including a bus station, snack shops, typical Mauritian restaurants, cinemas, supermarkets and even a small casino. Goodlands is perfect for excursions with family and friends for a taste of life in a typical small, rural town.
Other fun activities, and places to visit
For chocolate lovers who enjoy indulging their sweet tooth, a visit to the Van Ann Chocolaterie in Calebasses should definitely be on the itinerary. Established by a Belgian expatriate in 1992, and famous for its pralines, Van Ann is a fixture in the chocolate industry of Mauritius. Be warned though, you may find it hard to stop at sampling just a few of their delectable chocolates! But not to worry, to walk off all the chocolate you may have consumed, we suggest a visit to the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden in Pamplemousses. Filled with indigenous and tropical plant species, Pamplemousses Botanical Garden is a living and breathing monument. Visited by botanists from all over the globe, this park has spectacular flora which includes giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies and numerous species of palm trees. You can also see the Talipot tree there, which blooms only once every fifty to seventy years.
Other places you may consider visiting in the North include:
Domaine de Labourdonnais in Mapou – a magnificent, privately-owned estate, founded in 1774, and set in the midst of beautiful sugar cane fields and fruit orchards. The original Chateau de Labourdonnais has been converted into a museum, and today the Estate includes La Table du Chateau for contemporary fine dining; La Terrasse, a small café; La Corbeille, a delicatessen; as well as a nursery offering a wide variety of fruit trees and decorative plants. Hop aboard the Labourdonnais Express for a 45-minute guided tour of the Estate’s gardens and orchards!
The Red Roof Chapel in Cap Malheureux – for pure architectural beauty just steps from the sea. Officially named the Notre Dame Auxiliatrice Chapel, this Roman Catholic Church was built in 1938 and is situated at the very northern point of Mauritius, offering breathtaking views of the five northern islets, including Coin de Mire (Gunner’s Quoin). This is where the British colonists first landed before laying claim to the island in 1810, and it is arguably the most photogenic spot on Mauritius due to the way that the bright red roof contrasts with the turquoise waters and deep blue sky that surrounds it.
The Paul & Virginie Monument in Poudre d’Or – for its poignant history. The most famous story in Mauritius folklore, ‘Paul et Virginie’ was inspired by the shipwreck of the St Géran, which came to a watery end just off the north-east coast at Poudre d’Or.
As you can see, there is an abundance of activities and things to see in the North – those mentioned here are just an introduction, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy discovering the many more fun, interesting things to do in the area. Share your experiences with us in the comments section!