Mauritius was made for romantic holidays thanks to its sensational white sands, honeymoon-worthy hotels and divine sunsets. For couples looking to go beyond the paradise beach to experience culture, authenticity and adventure, the Indian Ocean island offers a wealth of activities and places to visit for a romantic getaway with a difference.
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We visited Mauritius with long-haul holiday specialist Southall Travel for a true taste of the island's delights while lapping up the luxury and serenity at its most iconic hotel, Shangri-La's Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, and discovered that you really can have it all on this far-flung island.
Romantic couples looking to travel in the utmost comfort will adore flying with Turkish Airlines from London to Mauritius via Istanbul in the fantastic business class cabin, where you can experience delicious Turkish and international cuisine served by a 'flying chef', massage chairs and an array of movies and in-flight entertainment. During your stop in Istanbul, a visit to the amazing airport lounge is a must to sip on another glass of bubbly before you rest up on the second, longer leg of your journey to arrive in Mauritius without the jet.
A five-star beauty on the east coast of the island, Shangri-La's Le Touessrok Resort & Spa offers all the privacy and exclusivity every couple seeks on a dream holiday. The highlight of this chic resort is its own pristine island, Ilot Mangénie, which is only open to guests and complete with butlers (they'll even polish your sunglasses and spray your face with a refreshing mist on arrival), a trendy beach club and the most gorgeous turquoise waters and coral sands for an unforgettable day of relaxation and tranquillity. Back at the hotel, the sophisticated decor is inspired by the natural island setting, while the toes-in-sand rooms and suites are contemporary, stylish and fit for VIPs. Book the Junior Suite Frangipani Beach Access for its sprawling bathroom and preferential privileges, such as sunset cocktails and a complimentary mini-bar. The restaurants take you on a culinary tour of the island, with dim sum, noodles and seafood served in Le Bazar, while refined Indian and Mauritian dining can be experienced in elegant Safran. Don't miss the diverse selection of Mauritian rums and live music at the beautiful Sega bar.
Get your hike on
Exploring the natural scenery of the island is one of the first things you should do and the best place to start is the Black River National Park, where you can discover a lush, unspoilt setting teeming with exotic birds, plants and trees. On a romantic hike 200 metres up to the Plateau Remousse viewpoint, you'll witness the sheer beauty and verdant landscapes Mauritius has to offer as you reach the top and take in the far-reaching views, while keeping an eye out for the Mauritian flying fox and the island's nine endemic birds, which include the kestrel and fody.
Sample the exciting street food
With its Indian, Chinese, African and Arabic communities, the food in Mauritius is as diverse as its people and the best way to experience it like the locals is by hitting the streets of the capital city Port Louis to try the tropical fruits topped with chilli salt or pickled in tamarind as confit, dhal puri and ghajak served from glass boxes on the backs of motorbikes or at food stalls. Most street food specialities can be found in and around the bustling Central Market, where you can browse the array of fruit and vegetables on display, from lychees to cho-cho. Here, you'll also find alouda sellers persuading thirsty passers-by to stop for the sweet, milky drink, along with freshly-pressed sugar cane, pineapple and watermelon juice on offer. Once you've tried the culinary delights, be sure to stop at Fort Adelaide before leaving the city. Built by the British, the fortress offers superb views of the capital and the harbour - it's a terrific spot to watch the sunset together.
Explore the natural wonders
Nothing takes you further away from bustling Port Louis than the breathtaking sight of the crashing flow of water at Mauritius' best waterfall, located in the southwest of the island. Watching from the viewpoint, you can take in the magnificent 95-metre Chamarel Waterfall surrounded by the dramatic Black River Gorge. Thrill-seekers can get up close to the tumbling water by abseiling down into the pool below for a romantic adventure you'll never forget. The village of Chamarel is also home to the Seven Coloured Earths, a unique geological phenomenon featuring seven colours of earth swirling in surreal dunes.
Take a walk through a tropical paradise
For a mesmerising day out that you'll never forget, head for one of Mauritius' most splendid attractions, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, founded over 300 years ago by French botanist Pierre Poivre. From the moment you walk through the majestic wrought-iron gates which were inspired by the railings at Buckingham Palace, you'll be blown away by the incredible plant, spice and tree species at the 37-hectare site. The 225-year-old baobab, the twisted baobab amoureux (baobab in love) and the king, bottle and talipot palms are truly impressive. One of the most picturesque sites in the garden is the 90-metre giant water lily pond and those in search of fauna can meet the giant tortoises. Once you've explored the exotic wonders, enjoy a delightful lunch in the town of Pamplemousse at the lovely Chez Tante Athalie, with its vintage cars from colonial times displayed for diners. The 19th-century farmhouse serves traditional Creole cuisine in a beautiful rural setting.
Head north for beach bliss
When it comes to experiencing some of the clearest waters and powder-white sands loved by locals and tourists, you should hit the beach at Trou aux Biches for a fantastic day of sunbathing, stand-up paddle boarding or snorkelling in the shallow sea. Considered by many as the best beach on the island, Trou aux Biches has the swaying palm trees, picture postcard views and glorious sunsets you expect in Mauritius. Further north, the fishing village of Cap Malheureux offers culture and history, being the place where the British defeated the French in 1810 and took over the island. The pretty red-roofed church and view of the island of Coin de Mire make it the perfect spot for a romantic picnic.
Book it: Jet off on a seven-night holiday with Southall Travel staying at Shangri-La's Le Touessrok Resort and Spa from just £1,289 per person, including return economy flights (£2,485 for business class) with Turkish Airlines from London Gatwick Airport and seven nights' accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis. Visit southalltravel.co.uk or call on 0208 705 0086.