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Whether it’s action packed adventure or shopping till you drop, Mauritius is more than just simply stunning beach resorts.

WORDS Gemma Kightly

Mauritius is situated off the southeast coast of Africa, 870km east of Madagascar. Famous for its caster-sugar sand fringes, the nation was appropriately built on sugar cane. It has had its fair share of colonial overlords including the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British, bringing with them African slaves and Indian labourers, which today produces a unique multi-ethnic community who can speak up to four languages.

The food that is produced from these different cultures is astounding, something I quickly discovered at the Sofitel L’Imperial’s international buffet; perfect for the hearty breakfast, relaxed family lunch or authentic French, African, Indian or Mauritian themed dinners. If buffets aren’t really your thing and you want to be spoiled, I highly recommend making a reservation at Jacaranda at sunset. This exceptional restaurant will tickle the whole family’s taste buds with its fresh lobster and delicious crème brûlée.

The Sofitel L’Imperial is a great family property and well equipped with all the activities needed to keep your little rascals occupied. Free sport facilities include windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, water skiing, snorkelling, glass-bottom boat, beach volley ball, badminton, archery, tennis and table tennis, as well as The Mini Club for the younger ones.

There is plenty of choice for family resorts in this alluring destination. Le Touessrok Resort and Golf Course is another major player for the luxury demographic, boasting a stunning location. This, combined with an immaculate resort and more kids' activities than they could ever wish for; golf, snorkelling, cooking, windsurfing and kids’ clubs designed for all ages, means happy children and we all know that happy children (combined with babysitting) means happy parents!

As lovely as the resort is, adventure is calling and begins with me speeding over rubble and earth on a Segway in the Casela Nature Park, Mauritius – I feel as though I’m on an African safari. Our guide points over to a heard of Zebras just a few metres away and we come to a halt right in front of them. These magnificent and gentle creatures are just as spectacular in reality as in images and children will love the fact that you are encouraged to get hands-on and pat the guide’s favourite, Aka, which means ‘mother’ in African.

Main image: Palm trees and lazy beaches in Mauritius
Above: Fun in the sun at Le Touessrok Resort and Golf Club  and Sofitel Mauritius L'Imperial Resort Spa

From above: Enjoying the water activities at Le Touessrok
Fun is child’s play at Le Touessrok
The mountains in Mauritius

We continue on our journey befriending the likes of 112 year-old giant tortoises, ostriches and even antelopes. For those a little more daring, children over 15 (or more than 1.5 metres tall) can try the Big Cat Experience, as I did, armed with a small stick, my only protection from half a dozen lionesses, and an indemnity form (nervous parents please note that my guide cheerfully advised, “just sign your life away!”) I have a fond love for their domestic descendants and am imagining that I’m about to have my own ‘Christian the Lion’ experience. We walk into the enclosure and head towards one of the fearfully large females sitting in a tree; our guide declares HE is actually the king of this jungle, and everyone else in the group relaxes as we all take turns in patting and scratching the lions. It is a remarkable experience, definitely one for the bucket list.

Another day we head to Domaine des 7 Vallees, an hour’s drive from the centre of Mauritius. This unique concept in Eco tourism allows you to explore 4000 hectares of pristine wilderness through a range of family friendly activities including quad biking, horse riding, hiking, nature tours and cycling. I hop onto my quad bike and take off in style spitting mud from behind as we zoom to one of the park’s waterfalls; along the way we spot a herd of deer resting in the forest. We hike to the top and reward ourselves with hand-picked quinces from a nearby tree.

A short drive through the cane fields brings you to the capital, Port Louis, and the Le Caudan waterfront. This upmarket shopping complex is a perfect mix of historical structures and modern architecture with over 170 shops that include high end brands such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein – all selling at duty-free prices. Following tourism and the sugar industry, textile production is the next biggest earner on the island making it the perfect place to stock up on cashmere items as well as prêt-à-porter garments from high-end fashion labels.

After I shop till I almost drop we head back to our resort and experience the ultimate night spa treatment and dinner at the award winning So Spa (thank goodness for the resort’s babysitting services). The evening of relaxation begins with a dip in the musical pool following a hamman session to release any bad toxins. I am then treated to an aromatherapy body scrub and massage.

Mauritius certainly proved itself to be a world-in-one island. Its intoxicating blend of French, African and Indian culture, perfect beaches, shopping heaven and exhilarating adventure make it a great destination for the family who want to do more than laze on the beach – but of course, you can do that too.

Fly: Air Mauritius  Qantas
Stay: Hotel Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial Resort & Spa   Qantas  Le Touessrok, Resort & Golf Course  Beachcomber Fly: The Casela Nature & Leisure Park  Domain de 7 Vallees Info: Mauritius Tourism



Click here to discover our five-star selection of places to stay so that you and your family will make the most of Mauritius.

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