Mauritius

Indian Ocean Beach Destinations

Mauritius, known officially as the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation located off the southeast coast of the African continent in the Indian Ocean. It is a volcanic island of lagoons and palm-fringed beaches with coral reefs surrounding most of the coastline.

The island is situated approximately 2400 kilometers off the South East Coast of Africa. The island covers an area of 1,865 square kilometers or 720 square miles, with 330 kilometers of coastline. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length.

Mauritius is a densely populated island of around 1.2 million people. It has a reputation for stability and racial harmony among its mixed population. Mauritius is known as a plural society where all the ethnic groups present: Hindus, Muslims, Creoles, Chinese and Europeans live in peace and where all the ancestral cultures have been preserved. These features make the island a unique place in the world, and the Mauritians known for their tolerance and kindness towards all people.

Most Mauritians are bilingual being equally fluent in French and English. English is the official language, but French and Creole are widely spoken. Oriental languages also form part of the linguistic mosaic.

Mauritius has preserved its image as one of Africa's few social and economic success stories, being a sugar and clothing exporter and a center for up market tourism.

Around 1,200 miles from the east coast of Africa, the island is hemmed by 330 kilometres of immaculate white beaches. Take to the waters, meanwhile, and you'll spot pods of dolphins playing. The south, west and east coasts are defined by beaches that wouldn't look out of place in Aruba, while in the north, shallow bays give themselves over to watersports like wind and kite-surfing.

Mauritius has a trove of natural history. The 800-metre-high mountains and forests in the interior are home to some of the world’s rarest animals. The island is also ring-fenced by one of the largest unbroken barrier reefs in the world, so the scuba diving opportunities are on a par with the Maldives.

In the 600 years since Mauritius was first discovered, the island has been a cultural sponge. Its proximity to Madagascar has rubbed off on it in the form of creole cooking. Grand Baie, close to Grand Gaube in the north, is the culinary capital of the island. And the island’s time under French rule has added chateaus to its architectural assets, including the Chateaux de Labourdonnais, in northern Mauritius.