Mauritius Has Been Called Heaven On Earth. Here’s Why.

Every article I’ve ever read on Mauritius has started with this quote from Mark Twain: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and heaven was copied after Mauritius.”  In 1896, Twain was actually repeating what he overheard from an islander but fast forward to over a century later, perhaps a truer sentence has not been spoken.

Mauritius, which can still be fittingly described as heaven (though heaven may not have been the only place copied after Mauritius) is an African island located in the Indian Ocean with a distinctive Caribbean-like vibe.  

Was I imagining this?

 Was there a real connection to the region where I was born, or did being on an island make me homesick?  It tuned out there was a real connection because similarities were everywhere. Mauritius’ subtropical geography blankets the island with plush foliage, its lush rolling hills contrast with the feathery plains alive with dancing sugar cane arrows. Majestic pitons are interspersed throughout the island, alongside rushing rivers making their way past the white sand beaches into the clear blue waters of its coast. 

Heavenly, right? Then again, I could also be describing any one of the islands of the Caribbean.  

But it wasn’t just the topography. The familiarity went deeper. Turns out that even though the Caribbean and Mauritius are over 13,000 km apart there is a shared history of imperialism and colonisation. My tour guide explained that European colonizers used a familiar blueprint in a desire to claim Mauritius as their own with their pirates, explorers, East Indies spice traders and wars. In its history,  Mauritius was admired,  claimed and/or populated by Arab seafarers, Dutch navigators, the Portuguese and the English, French plantation owners with slaves from Mozambique and Madagascar and migrant labourers from India and China.

This saga was set on a flowering the Indian Ocean paradise that was deemed one of the earth’s last Edens.

On Mauritius with a history that linked to my own region, I found a mosaic culture shaped by diverse races and religions that formed a harmonious and masterful expression of life there. When you travel around Mauritius it’s typical to find mosques, temples, churches and in some areas even Chinese pagodas side-by-side. Mauritius is petite, just 60km in length and 50km across; but in spite of its size, there are several reasons why Mauritius is said to be the most popular island in the Indian Ocean. 

Even Lonely Planet have chosen it as one of their top places to go on holiday in 2018.

It is the only known home of the now extinct dodo bird and the only place where you find a continuous reef that encircles the island and forms a natural lagoon of warm pristine water. Its beaches illuminate with a talcum-white powder that passes for sand and is dotted by luxury hotels and world-class golf courses. Mauritius’ economy is built on tourism so nothing is spared when it comes to their hotels and resorts all of which are staffed by attentive, gracious employees in lovely settings enhanced by live entertainment and perfectly prepared cuisine. 

One of the few challenges I had on the island was actually stepping away from this lux living to venture outside of the hotel. However, once I left there was no turning back, since the sites in and around Mauritius are equally alluring.  The choices are endless:  cascading waterfalls, volcanic coloured mounds, schools of playful dolphins, bales of giant turtles, lush green tea fields, great trekking, among other things for the actively minded.  

Though at first I couldn’t help but comparing some of Mauritius’ similarities to my beloved Caribbean islands, Mauritiuis able to strongly distinguish itself, all the while securing quite a spot as an enchanting travel destination.  

I can’t wait to share more about Mauritius, as I break down the must-see sites and activities because in my journey, I found Twain to be spot on, heaven awaited.  

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1 Comment. Leave new

Stephanie M Howard
October 18, 2018 6:21 pm

Bellissima

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