Tours to Mauritius are often designed around beaches, water activities, hotels and museums, but there are many options for alternative itineraries that explore the less-well-known parts of the island. Travel agents can suggest more unusual places – such as a small traditional restaurant offering home-cooked local meals or a naturally formed lava rock bridge that juts out from the side of a cliff – to travellers who have already experienced the traditional features of the island. Visits to these landmarks and others, can be organised through and facilitated by local DMC, Hello Islands.
* Natural wonder at Gris Gris
Pont Naturel in southern Mauritius is a naturally formed bridge made entirely out of lava rock, created over time by waves crashing against the side of the Gris Gris cliffs.
The 2m-long bridge crosses high above a cove below that seawater flows into and leads into caverns underneath what is left of the rest of the cliffs. Visitors to the area can hear the whistling of the water below through tiny holes in the ground as they explore the rocks and neighbouring forest.
The attraction is supported safely by cliffs on either side and is stable and large enough to cross, but is rugged and uneven. Swimming is not allowed in the area due to the rough waters.
As the road leading to the bridge sometimes becomes waterlogged, the last kilometre or so may have to be completed on foot, weaving through the sugarcane fields to reach the famous rock formation.
* Historic fort with a view
Formerly known as Fort Adelaide, the Citadel is a piece of historic architecture that overlooks Port Louis from the side of a hill. Offering expansive views of the city, the landmark was built between 1834 and 1840 as a military measure to protect Port Louis against potential uprisings on the island.
The fortress features a walled courtyard and is a good opportunity for photographers to get panoramic shots of Port Louis from above.
* Gastrotourism at Escale Créole (See video below)
Travellers wanting to sample traditional local cuisine can visit Escale Créole, a restaurant in a large tropical garden in the village of Moka.
Marie-Christine Forget and her mother Majo, who have been running the establishment for the last 25 years, pride themselves on an authentic and friendly experience for their guests. All food is homemade by Majo, who has a lifelong passion for sharing her Créole cuisine with the world.
Guests can expect food like the manze lacaze (typical homemade meal), Créole sausages rougaille (stew), cabbage and salted fish cangraillé, traditional chicken curry, Créole wild deer salami, and many others.
* Port Louis Market and Waterfront
The Central Market can be found on a 200-year-old site on Queen Street, amidst the bus stations linking Port Louis to the rest of Mauritius. It is open every day of the year, except in extreme weather, and is home to an endless collection of vegetables, fruit, spices and more.
Not far away is Le Caudan Waterfront, an open-air space near the port that sells crafts and is home to several restaurants. The waterfront is characterised by its outdoor ceiling of umbrellas that are changed to different colour combinations to celebrate different holidays and occasions throughout the year.
* Sacred Lake at Grand Bassin
Grand Bassin is one of the two natural lakes on the island. Located near Mare aux Vacoas, it occupies the crater of an ancient and now dead volcano.
The lake is also a religious space where Mauritians of Hindu faith go on pilgrimage and make offerings of flowers and fruit to the statues in the lake.