Laid-back luxury in Mauritius
island offers a fivestar
with plenty to see,
learn and do, writes
We’ve flown in at dusk and the
craggy mountains we saw
from the air now rise
majestically out of lush
green sugar cane fields as
we drive to Lux Belle Mare, the resort we’ll be
calling home for the next six days.
Like many developing island nations, the
settlements we pass by on the way are simple
homes and shops built out of concrete and tin,
but a wall here and there has been painted bright blue, pink or yellow, framing dogs
standing expectantly by the roadside, as if
waiting for their owners or next meal to appear.
A tropical melting pot
Located off the coast of East Africa near
Madagascar, Mauritius was settled by the
Dutch in 1638 but later abandoned, leaving it
for the French to establish a flourishing sugar
industry with African slave labour. French
plantation owners stayed on when the British
invaded in 1810, and when slavery was
abolished in 1835, more than 350,000 Indian
workers arrived to work, this time for a wage;
followed by Chinese immigrants with dreams of
setting up businesses of their own.
History is all around when you visit, in
language (Creole, French and English), the incredible food, and the island traditions.
Tourism is now the major industry here, but on
the sleepy east coast in particular, you’re
immersed in an Eden that feels all your own.
"History is all around when you visit, in language, the incredible food and the island traditions."
The French touch
I’m travelling with 13-year-old Bianca and
seven-year-old Jarrah and we’ve unwittingly
timed our arrival with that of Tropical Cyclone
Carlos, making its presence felt with heavy rain
when we wake. We don’t mind a bit; it’s the
perfect day for a relaxing spa treatment
(Bianca’s first), a workout at the gym, and for
Jarrah to get to know the kids’ club.
But first, the breakfast buffet. The buttery,
flaky croissants rival the best I’ve had in Paris
and I decide trying to resist a daily pastry fix
here will be futile. The kids are just as
impressed with the crępes, along with the
sheer number of breakfast choices on offer.
Jarrah makes a smooth entry into the kids’
club, and gets a kick out of being the only English speaker until guests from London
arrive later in the week. He’s soon happily
making masks, feeding fish, playing foosball,
and cooking pizza with his French pals.
Teenagers are spoilt for choice, with outings
ranging from water skiing to archery, and the
Play programme for younger kids is split into
age groups (three to seven and eight to 11).
When the skies clear and the sun comes out
the next day, the colours of the palm trees,
white sand and blue ocean come to life in all
their vibrant beauty and the resort turns into the
island paradise I’d hoped it would be. The only
thing to do is head straight to the fabulous
2000-square-metre pool. An all-day ice-cream
bar keeps kids happy and there’s a food truck,
bar, restaurant and cafe for drinks and snacks,
with kids’ menus that are refreshingly healthy.
The 26-degree-Celsius ocean is as aqua
when you’re swimming in it as it is when you’re
admiring it from afar. The protected lagoon is
perfect for families, and you won’t encounter
any creatures that sting or bite here.
There are plenty of water sports on offer:
snorkelling, diving, kayaking, sailing, and more.
We soon settle into a heavenly routine of
relaxation, fun and indulgence.
At a Junk Art Workshop, we upcycle old
magazines and turn them into beaded
jewellery. We fly a drone, take a Creole class,
and head out in a glass-bottomed boat to
snorkel. Bianca jumps in without fear; Jarrah
needs some persuading. But soon the three of
us are mesmerised in a world of coral and fish.
Horse riding on the beach is another big
highlight. Two friendly helpers walk alongside
our gentle horses, but novice rider Jarrah is
soon confident enough to ‘steer’ his horse
alone as we make our way around the curve of
the bay, the morning sun glistening off the
water. Every time I look over at Jarrah he grins.
We dress up to dine at Duck Laundry for
Chinese fare better than any I’ve ever tasted;
get carried away with a performance of wild
drumming and traditional dancing after dinner;
and enjoy the novelty of a pieds dans l’eau
(feet in the water) breakfast on the beach.
There’s plenty to do beyond the beachfringed
perimeter of Mauritius too; the island’s
interior is a wilderness of forests, waterfalls and
mountains worth exploring, and be sure to go
‘on safari’ to Casela Park, the 250-hectare
adventure park that combines adventure with
the chance to see and interact with lions,
camels, rhinos and more.
Family-friendly things to do in Mauritius
1. Swim with Dolphins
The early start (5.30am) will be worth it.
Take a speedboat to Black River Bay on
the west coast to encounter dolphins in
their natural habitat. Spinner and
bottlenose dolphins gather in large
numbers in the bay.
2. Go wild at Casela
The 250-hectare African-themed
Casela Park offers an action-packed day
for all ages. Walk with the lions, ride a
camel, go on safari, or get adventurous on
the ziplines, canyon, swing, mud karts and
3. Sail to Île Aux Cerfs
You'll sail upriver to an idyllic island off
the east coast, swimming beneath a
waterfall on the way and enjoying lunch on
board. It's a great family day out.
4. Horse ride along Belle Mare beach
What a way to explore the beaches beyond
your resort! Quiet, well-cared-for horses
suit all experience levels for kids five and
over. The group is limited to four riders.
Mauritius is an
eight-hour direct flight from Perth with
This article appeared in volume 52 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.