While Mauritius may be more closely associated with couples' getaways and honeymoons, don't discount it if you're looking for a fantastic family break. This Indian Ocean island is well set up to cater for visitors of all ages, making it a brilliant choice if you're after something a little different on your next family holiday.
There may be some outstanding all inclusive resorts in Mauritius, but don't think that this is all that the island has to offer in terms of holidays, as it's also perfect for active trips. The following are just a few of the great family-friendly activities you can try during a stay in Mauritius.
Domaine les Pailles
The Domaine les Pailles estate was once a sugar plantation and now its 3,000 acres of land are put to another use, namely providing a fantastic outdoor space for tourists and locals alike to enjoy. This is a wonderful place to blend fun and learning, with its attractions including a working replica of an ox-driven sugar mill, a spice garden, a miniature railway, a quad-biking circuit and a museum.
Your journey along the estate can include a fun train ride on Lady Alice, a wonderfully preserved steam train, or you can get in character and get out and about in true colonial style on one of the estate’s horse drawn carriages. To give your children an insight into the local culture, the Mask Museum will be loads of fun, while they can learn about the island’s spices on the fragrant Spice Gardens. Adults are not forgotten and can also enjoy a rum tasting session. If you want to make a day out of your visit, it might be a good idea to book a half day tour (taking approximately 4 to 5 hours) and offering you all these experiences as well as a meal at the onsite restaurant.
There's no better way to experience the natural beauty of Mauritius than to get out and about and see it for yourselves, with horseback riding providing the perfect opportunity to do just that. There are various stables located across the island, so no matter where you're staying this should be an activity you can have a go at.
There are many places in Mauritus from which you can arrange unforgettable horseback riding excursions for the whole family. Some have an age limit (usually around 7 years old and up are allowed but some cap this limit at 12). If your children than this are younger there is one stable that can accommodate them and that is the Forbach Stables, a family-run estate in the north of Mauritius, where children from as young as 5 years old can try their horseback riding skills, even those without any previous experience. There are 30 minute lessons for children over 5 in which an instructor eases them into the art of riding with a taster class. There are one-hour lessons for adults too and these are recommended for older children and adults of all abilities.
Visit Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden
Mauritius's national botanic garden is well worth a visit with the kids, who will no doubt be captivated by the tortoises that amble around its open spaces and the deer that graze on the grass. There are also some truly striking plants to look out for here, including giant water lilies, baobab trees and a wide variety of palm trees.
Popularly shortened to the SSR Botanical Garden due to its long name, and more commonly known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, this is the oldest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and one of Mauritius’ major attractions. They have even been ranked third in the world “among all the gardens that could be admired over the surface of the globe”. Entry is free of charge for little ones under 5 and they’ll have a great time wandering around, spotting the deers and turtles that freely roam the grounds. For more information and to arrange a guided tour please check Pamplemousses Garden, Sugar World and Grand Bay and Goodlands excursion.
Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park is the largest protected reserve in Mauritius and one where you and your family can enjoy an action-packed day out. Among the options for exploring here are hiking and mountain biking - make sure you keep a keen eye open for some of the local wildlife, such as macaque monkeys, wild boars and pink pigeons.
Especially ideal for active children and curious little explorers, this park encompasses most of the islands’ remaining rainforest with plenty of little creatures to be spotted along the way. Nature trails abound for little trekkers of all abilities and the whole family will love discovering the majestic Chamarel waterfall and going for a dip in its crystalline waters.
Family fun in Mauritius
Long regarded as a destination for couples in love due to romantic beauty of its serene beaches and untouched landscapes, and long seen as a haven for tourists seeking peace, isolation and rejuvenation, families may easily overlook Mauritius when planning a family holiday. And while it might be true that Mauritius isn’t typically mass-marketed to families, that isn’t to mean that this place is not suited to children, in fact most will absolutely love visiting it.
After all, on the famous words of American writer and humorist Mark Twain:
“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
And this is true for anyone that discovers its paradisiacal beauty. Regardless of age, Mauritius is as attractive to privacy-seeking adults as it for fun-seeking families also needing to unwind and relax with their little ones. When the beach gets too boring for inquisitive little minds, as I’ve shown on the previous sections, Mauritius has plenty of natural attractions to keep them entertained and satisfied.