After 2 days in the Seychelles, we headed onwards to more of island paradise in Mauritius.
I first heard of Mauritius back in 2009 when a former girlfriend of mine idealized it as her top honeymoon destination. It has never escaped my mind since, and after so many unbelievable coincidences, happenstances, and stories in the past 10 years of travel (looking at you Keneesa, Emily, Nicole, even you Maria…) that has beckoned me closer and closer to this place, I can now see why she and many others would choose to retire to this isle of paradise.
And now I’m finally here. It’s is a personal big deal.
To get here, we said goodbye to our impromptu travel companion Duaa (whom we had met at our hostel only 4 days ago in Madagascar, leading her to join us on our trip through Seychelles!) and boarded a 2.5 hour Air Seychelles flight HM 49 at 10:30am from SEZ to MRU airport.
We also celebrated Evan’s birthday on the plane!
We landed at 1:05pm local time.
First impressions after landing? This country is developed.
Their passport control kiosks even look like check-in counters!
Instead of the usual taxi pickups on this trip, this time in Mauritius birthday boy Evan opted to rent a minivan and drive us to our accommodations at Citadelle Mall.
The company Evan found was so legit they didn’t even bother to send a guy to greet us. His sign was left on the window.
We were actually pretty lucky to have found the only 7-person minivan on the island that drives automatic.
But again, whatever Evan found was so legit that the entire transaction took place on a corner of the airport parking lot. No office, no paperwork. And the gas tank was empty.
Once we got settled in and filled up on gas for $50 USD, we began a road trip and scenic drive towards Port Louis via the southern coast. These guys in front of us on the pickup was just kicking it with the sugar cane:
Along the south coast in the Baie du Cap area, we briefly stopped for photos at Captain Matthew Flinders viewpoint:
We then drove up to take a look at La Morne, infamous for the sad but true story where slaves in hiding threw themselves off these cliffs as they saw police approaching, not knowing they were simply coming to deliver them the news that slavery had been abolished.
Then we drove up to La Morne viewpoint while on the way towards the Seven Colored Earth:
However, we found that the Seven-Colored Earth site had closed promptly at 5pm so we turned around and drove along the western coast just in time to catch the sunset.
We arrived back to Port Louis at 7:30pm and checked into our lodgings at Citadelle Mall Apartments.
Then I would meet Celine an hour later, who stopped by our apartment with a birthday cake and candles for Evan!
Celine is the elder sister of Emily, whom I befriended last year in NYC at a rooftop party. She had grown up in Mauritius and thanks to our time together in the city the following year, she referred her sister Celine to come by and show us around when I arrived!
Celine soon took us for dinner at the Caudan Waterfront, a meeting place for teens and young lovers and comprised of a shopping centre, kiddy carnival and a huge food court.
The Blue Penny Museum is also right next door — a charming museum with stamp, coin & art exhibits devoted to Mauritius and its cultural heritage.
There in the parking lot I ran into and reunited with Keseena, one of my favorite monsooners simply for the crazy story how 16 months ago she followed the signs: Within 24 hours of meeting me randomly while backpacking through NYC (Thanks Dave!) she would change her plans from Panama to join me for 3 days in Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna, and Linz instead.
Our story is proof of magic in travel because not only do we have that story, but that she also had not expected to even be in Mauritius until she flew here from South Africa 3 days ago for an emergency work assignment.
To top it off, I had joked to her 16 months ago that if I would ever come to Mauritius, she better be there (when she had said she never expected to return). WTF?!!!!!
Mark Twain once wrote that “heaven was copied after Mauritius.” With all the coincidences in my life that have led me here, it’s hard not to believe Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.
After dinner Keseena, Celine, Ann, Keseena’s cousin Joanne, and I continued on to celebrate Evan’s birthday by dancing with local Mauritians at Backstage in the Hennessy Park Hotel. The videos and photos turned out awful (we were too busy dancing!), and we eventually headed back to our apartments at 2:30am (but not before enjoying Celine’s chocolate mud cake that she brought us!).
The next morning we woke up to this view on our balconies at Citadelle Mall:
After a slow morning, we headed north at 10am for the laidback beaches at Pereybere:
Then after a quick Thai lunch at nearby Wang Thai, we set out at 2pm to drop off Evan and Ann for their 4pm flight out to South Africa. About 45 minutes into the drive, we were met with fire and brimstone:
We nevertheless made it to the airport on time at 3pm. Bye Evan and Ann! See you in less than a week back in NYC!
Afterwards Sarah took over the driving and we headed out about 18 minutes from the airport for Vieux Grand Port: the cradle of Mauritian history. This is where the first human inhabitants of the island landed on September 9, 1598 under the command of Wybrandt Van Warwyck to first settle this slice of paradise.
Then driving an hour back to Port Louis, we stopped at the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site, a former immigration depot for indentured labor that came from India. It is now an Interpretation Center.
Heading back into the city, we got out of the car for a quick walk by the Jummah Masjid:
It just so happens to be located in the middle of Chinatown:
We were recommended to then walk down and stop by Corner House a few blocks back west. It’s known as a stationery shop selling all kinds of pens, pencils and books. Its the most eccentric shopkeeper may be worth the visit.
Finally, we finished off with some shopping at the Central Market. Here we found varieties of exotic food, fruits and other items. Mauritians from all over the country come here to shop!
Then we turned around at St Louis Cathedral:
And quickly stopped at Port Louis Theatre before turning in for a night:
If you have time, Champ de Mars Racecourse to our southeast remains the oldest racecourse in the Southern Hemisphere and the second oldest in the world. The first races were held in June 1812, the same year that British forces took over the island from the French. Mauritius declared its independence right here at the racecourse 156 years later.
For our 3rd and final day in Mauritius, we enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning dim sum at First Restaurant with Celine.
And thanks to Celine’s unceasing hospitality, the goodbye was united in their appreciation for her patience with us:
We then drove the 46 minutes over to the airport, dropped off our sketchy car rental via a simple phone call, and checked into what probably is the nices airport lounge of the trip so far, the Air Mauritius Amédée Maingard Lounge:
Boarding in 5 minutes for Réunion!
- At time of posting in Mauritius, it was 71.6 °F - Humidity: 74% | Wind Speed: 10km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny