INTRODUCTION

Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. Mauritius is a remarkably cosmopolitan place. Since it was first settled some 400 years ago, it has accumulated a diverse collection of people from India, Europe, Africa and China, and could serve as a poster for multicultural harmony. The island is well known for its exceptional natural beauty; "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius", as Mark Twain noted in Following the Equator.

WEATHER & CLIMATE

Together with Reunion and Rodriguez, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands. The local climate is tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; there is a warm, dry winter from May to November and a hot, wet, and humid summer from November to May. Cyclones affect the country during November-April. Weather Overview arguably the best time for a Mauritian visit is when the rain eases off from May to December. Maximum temperatures during these months average around 25°C (77°F) compared to only slightly warmer 30-32°C (86-89°F) in January, and you'll stay drier.

CULTURE

The mixed colonial past of Mauritius is reflected in its culture. For example, the cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian Cuisine, Creole, Chinese and European. The "caripoule" or chicken curry, for example, is a very popular dish and eaten by all sections of the community. Mauritian Cuisine is a great leveler and brings together all sections of the community. Most restaurants are owned by the Sino-Mauritian community, thus it is not surprising that well-known 'Chinese' dishes have become Mauritian favorites’. Moreover, since the food stalls by the streets are mainly owned by the Muslim and Indo-Mauritian communities, the 'Aloud a' (a milky drink with basil seeds) has become a typical Mauritian drink and the 'dholl puri' is the favorite of all communities. In 1847, Mauritius became the fifth country in the world to issue postage stamps. The two types of stamps issued then, known as the Red Penny and the Blue Penny are probably the most famous stamps in the world, being very rare and therefore also very expensive. Mauritius has from time to time also been chosen as setting for films, most of which are Bollywood productions from India. The latest Hindi film to feature Mauritius has been Garam Masala (2005).

PLACES TO VISIT

Port Louis Port-Louis, the administrative and financial capital of Mauritius is situated in the North West of the Island. It was founded by the French Governor Mahé de Labourdonnais in 1735. It is the only commercial port of the island. The port is active, with many cargo and fishing vessels stopping over or based there. The elegance of Port Louis shows in fine French colonial buildings, especially the Government house and the Municipal Theatre which were constructed in the 18th century. There are also two eye catching Cathedrals, Anglican and Catholic and also a mosque. The Supreme Court and natural history museum are also the ideal places to visit in Mauritius. There is also the Worldwide Masks museum where a visitor can find a wonderful collection of various tribal masks from Africa, America, Asia and Oceania

Curepipe

The wet and cold climate Curepipe makes it the most european of all towns. Curepipe has some good shopping addresses. "Trou aux Cerfs" Volcano crater is the town's biggest natural attraction. This crater, which is 85 metres deep and 200 metres wide, offers a unique panoramic view of the central plateau at its summit. Other interesting features of Curepipe are its Botanical Garden which are well kept and informal, with nature trails branching off of the main paths. The other major attraction of CurePipe is the distinctively designed colonial houses. One such example of colonial architecture is the Municipal Hall at the centre of the town.

Rose Hill and Beau-Bassin

The most commercial of all the towns, Rose-hill has a number of shopping arcades and shops which gives you the various options for shopping. An interesting feature of Rose Hill is its theatre, Le Plaza, which has become the most important landmark of the cultural life of the island. Plays, concerts, operas are regularly held within its walls. Next to it is the Max Boullé art gallery where Mauritian artists regularly hold exhibitions. Beau Bassin is mostly residential and has an unfortunately not very-well-known public garden - Balfour Garden -which offers an extraordinary viewpoint.

Champ de Mars

Constructed in 1812, Chem De Mars is the oldest race course (1812) in the Indian Ocean and the second oldest in the southern Hemisphere. The ideal time to visit is during the racing season (May to December). It is at the centre of all life during weekends when races are held and a thrilling and adventurous experience to live. Domaine Les Pailles This typical Mauritian Estate inflames the harmonious union of history, culture and nature of Mauritius Island. It contains a replica of an 17th century sugar mill whre the famouse Domaine Rum is made. Pamplemonsses garden Also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens, Pamplemonsses garden has a collection of indigenous and exotic plants, including the giant Victoria Amazonica water lilies, many species of palm trees especially the unique talipot palm, said to flower once every sixty years and then die. It is away from the coast and existed almost directly south of Grand Baie. Pamplemousses stretches for four hectares and features plants from all over the world - wild bananas, camphor trees, clover and nutmeg trees from Manila and huge water lilies, known locally as 'flan tins' as well as a number of palms. There is also an art gallery and a cemetery.

HOTELS /RESORTS/BEACHES

Mauritius is surrounded by beautiful beaches along its 100 miles of coastline. Some of the best beaches in the North are; Grand Bay, Pereybère, Mon Choisy, Trou aux Biches. Flic en Flac, Tamarin and Le Morne are the favourites in the West. Belle Mare, one of the longest beaches in Mauritius is found in the East. And Blue Bay is the most favoured spot in the South East.

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT

Shopping in Mauritius is more than just an interesting experience. It is a journey in time and space of the civilisation and cultures that have come across its history. There are a number of shopping centres/arcades in all the towns and some big villages of Mauritius.