10 Reasons to Take the Family to Mauritius

While the Maldives and Seychelles are often spotlighted as ultimate honeymoon and couples destinations, Mauritius, which shares the Indian Ocean with these two islands, is equally as photogenic and memorable. It offers up lush panoramic landscapes, pristine beaches, and a rich cultural heritage on par with the Maldives and Seychelles with a more family-friendly atmosphere. From Creole-inspired seafood dishes and Indian curries to Hindu festivals such as Diwali and traditional African dances, Mauritius is a tropical haven that blends different cultures. Once home to the extinct Dodo bird, Mauritius is also home to coral islets, vibrant wildlife, and nature reserves with tons of activities for families traveling with children.

Lola Akinmade Akerstrom is an award-winning writer and photographer based in Stockholm, Sweden. She has written and/or photographed for numerous publications such as National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Fodor’s, and many more. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative and she is editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm.

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Nature reserves and botanical gardens

Created in 1750, Botanical Garden in Pamplemousses is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere, and it has over 85 species of tropical fauna such as giant water lilies and palm trees. Le Morne Brabant, one of two UNESCO heritage sites in Mauritius, is an impressive mountain which sits on its own peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Outdoor water sports

Water babies can enjoy kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddle-boarding, and sailing across Mauritius’ crystal-blue lagoons. Its waters are ideal for water sports because they’re relatively calm due to moderate temperatures and gentle trade winds.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Traditional Sega dancing

Though its roots trace back to slavery, the African Creole folk dance called Sega is an expression of freedom and is characterized by energizing hip gyrations synchronized to the rhythmic beating of drums. Female dancers often wear vibrant colorful skirts with ruffled hems. Traditional Sega is considered the country’s national dance, and most Mauritians grew up dancing this style.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Adventure activities

Mild adventurous activities such as quad biking, buggy rides, and horseback riding are perfect for families, and lush reserves like Domaine de L'Etoile Reserve take you through panoramic landscapes within the heart of the island. Families can also try zip-lining over a mile of forest canopy or mountain biking at ecotourism playground Chazal.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Global-inspired cuisine

Mauritian cuisine is among the most diverse in the world, combining different world fares like spicy Indian curries, Asian stir-fries, and Creole stews to create its own unique flavors. For picky eaters, there’s at least something edible for every palate, especially when it comes to kids. The island is also known for its seafood, including the iconic Babonne, which is a fleshy white fish similar to red snapper.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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100-year-old Aldabra tortoises

On the island of Ile aux Aigrettes, which is located off the southeast coast of Mauritius, you’ll find a wild fauna haven which has thousands of endangered species like kestrels, pink pigeons, and giant Aldabra tortoises. La Vanille Réserve des Mascareigne Park is also home to over 1,000 giant Aldabra tortoises in addition to over 2,000 Nile crocodiles.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Ile aux Cerfs

If you want to see where locals themselves get away for the day, the island of Ile aux Cerfs, a 15-minute boat ride from the main island, has white sand coves, golf courses, sunbathing spots, and clear waters peppered with starfish and colorful ocean life, making it prime for snorkeling.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Golfing

You can finally learn how to tee-off against a stunning backdrop on one of the best golf courses in the world. Designed by golf legend Ernie Els and covering 64 acres of land that was once a sugar plantation, the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita is the island’s signature 18-hole golf course—it winds along lagoons and sugarcane fields with scenic oceanfront views, making it one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Family-friendly resorts

While Seychelles and Maldives are more for honeymooners, Mauritius provides the same level of ambiance at a lower cost and is a lot-more family friendly with resorts that specially cater to children. For example, Four Seasons Mauritius has a kids’ club and its own Hobbit Village, which teaches everything from Sega dancing, cooking, and baking, to a slew of kid-friendly activities like kite-making, games, and fishing. There are also do-it-yourself pizza and breakfast stations in the restaurants and babysitting services on offer as well.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide

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Vibrant shopping markets

From fruit and spice vendors to handicrafts, artisanal wares, and street food sellers, Mauritius has several local markets that spotlight its diversity. Malls in Port Louis offer modern shopping options while local markets such as Central Market in Port Louis, Rose Hill, Vacoas, Quatre Bornes Market (known for textiles and clothing), and Flacq—the largest open air market on the island—give you a vibrant taste of everyday life in Mauritius.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Mauritius Travel Guide