Cultural Travel in Mauritius
June 14 2019
June 14 2019
Mauritius is a sublime destination; the gorgeous island nation with its thick undulating forest-like interior is surrounded by cyan waters and glittering golden beaches which are fringed by world-class four- and five-star luxury hotels that offer guests a plethora of incredible experiences and moments. It’s the kind of destination that deserves to be explored at least once in a lifetime and practically guarantees a memorable holiday spent enjoying thrilling activities in the African sun.
But this destination is particularly distinctive, not just because of it’s exotic volcanic island allure; the country itself is so beautifully unique because of its extraordinary multi-cultural landscape, worthy of dedicated exploration in its own right.
The amazing and varied culture of Mauritius is a surprising and sublime by-product of its chequered past, which has influenced so many aspects of local life in Mauritius, from the religion and food to the music, annual festivals and more. Soaking up the sun on the glorious beaches is certainly a must when visiting this island paradise, but don’t miss out on the cultural aspects of this destination.
Interested to find out more? This is what cultural travel in Mauritius is all about:
Embracing the local music
Sega, the upbeat rhythmical local music in Mauritius, is said to have been inspired by African slaves who used it as self-expression, a way to communicate their sorrows and joys, which also doubled up as a form of entertainment, although the exact origins of Sega are not 100% known. Today Sega, and the Indian-inspired Bhojpuri music, is lively, colourful and fun-filled, and the songs and the spectacle of Sega as a whole, are enjoyed across the island as immersive cultural experiences at hotels and amongst the locals during times of celebration.
Sampling the traditional Mauritian fare
If you’re someone who enjoys amazing food, then you will be thrilled to hear that local Mauritian fare is absolutely extraordinary, and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in cultural travel in Mauritius is definitely through the culinary scene. The traditional local dishes here have clearly been inspired by the blend of cultures present in the island nation - from Indian and Chinese to East African and European (specifically French cuisines).
Some of the very best local street food can be enjoyed in Port Louis (a food tour of the city is a fabulous idea!), specifically in the local markets and in Chinatown, but when in doubt, look for the places with locals queuing up outside, and you will know you are on the right track. Some of the delicious dishes to try include dhal puri (a dish made up of flatbread, dhal and curry), boulettes (the local dim sum), one of the fragrant curries (such as fish vindaye) gateau piment (chilli cakes), Mauritian biryani, mines frites (a noodle dish) and alouda (a sweet pink milky drink), among many, many others. At your hotel, see if they offer sea urchin dishes (a delicacy here) which is definitely worth a try as are any of the gorgeous fresh Mauritian seafood offerings and the legendary palm heart salad.
But when it comes to gastronomic experiences, we don’t just recommend tasting as many of the local dishes as possible, but visiting some of the places where many of the island’s fabulous food products come from. The top suggestions include a visit to the Manioc Biscuit Factory, Biscuiterie Rault, the island’s famous sugar factory, L’Aventure du Sucre, the incredible tea plantation, Bois Cheri and at least one of the famous local rum distilleries (ask about having a traditional pineapple and chilli snack with your rum).
This way, you will not only be able to sample the actual local products but gain greater insight into how they are produced and how they came to be in Mauritius in the first place - a visit to any of these incredible sites is sure to add to a cultural trip to remember.
Marvelling at the architecture
A visit to the capital city of Port Louis deserves an entire day, that way you can feast on all the wonderful gastronomic delights, do a spot of shopping and sightseeing and also take in the gorgeous and varied architecture of the city. Port Louis was originally used as a harbour and when the French arrived in the 17th century, it also became the administrative hub. As slaves and indentured labourers arrived, the architecture took on the different influences and became quite varied. You can see this in the array of colonial buildings and some of the old spice shops but also in the Jummah Mosque and the Chinese Pagoda.
While you are at it - if you didn't go to Chinatown for some of the food, it’s definitely still worth a visit. Once slavery was banned, many Chinese people moved to Mauritius as voluntary migrates and the Chinese population became an important part of the community. Many Chinese-owned general stores, grocery stores, restaurants and bakeries appeared in a similar area, now called Chinatown, despite the Chinese only being 3% of the population. There is incredible street art here and amazing surprises virtually at every turn! It’s a magical place to explore.
Learning about the island’s religions
One of the most incredible things about Mauritius is that despite its diverse population, it’s a peaceful, accepting nation, one where all religions are welcomed, accepted and celebrated. The predominant religion in Mauritius is Hinduism, but there are also Christians, Muslims and Buddhists in Mauritius. There are a number of religious holidays on the island which are celebrated by all of the locals across the island. There are a number of religious buildings or temples scattered throughout the island from the Hindu, Islamic and Christian faiths in particular, which are truly beautiful and worth visiting.
Visiting Le Morne Brabant
The iconic Le Morne Brabant casts a shadow over the area’s popular beach and holds incredible historical significance in Mauritius. More than a fabulous hiking trail and recognisable landmark, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, found in the southwestern part of the peninsula, has a sad past, but today is seen as an incredible symbol of hope and freedom.
Taking a tour of Aapravasi Ghat
Speaking of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mauritius, another one is located in the heart of Port Louis and is a pivotal stop when it comes to cultural travel in Mauritius. This incredibly important Mauritian site, especially for Indo-Mauritians. Once slavery was abolished under British rule, indentured labourers were brought in, many of which came from India and this site served as the immigration depot (which is also the direct English translation of “Aapravasi Ghat” in Hindi).
Enjoying the breathtaking view at Citadel (Fort Adelaide)
This incredible fort sits on top of a 100 m hill and overlooks the Port Louis harbour and city. This fort was once a British fort used to guard the island against outsiders but today it’s a National Monument and is often enjoyed as a venue for shows but also for its amazing views.
Relishing the magic of Grand Bassin
A hugely significant religious site for Hindus, this crater lake can be found in the central part of the island. It requires modest dress and no shoes are allowed to be worn in the temple, but it’s a fabulous sight, with shrines fringing the lake on the one side. This site is the focal point of the Maha Shivaratri pilgrimage, which happens towards the beginning of each year.
Absorbing the beauty of the Château de Labourdonnais
This gorgeous colonial house is a wonderful cultural attraction and allows visitors an insight into what life was like for a colonialist in the 19th century in Mauritius. The grounds are stunning, with orchards full of fruit trees and spice plants. There are also a plethora of delicious locally-made products available for sampling and for sale.
Exploring the museums in Mauritius
When you embark on cultural travel in Mauritius, it’s highly recommended that you make a stop at some of the excellent museums on the island. Some of the best include the Blue Penny Museum, the Mauritius Post Museum, the Chinese Cultural Heritage Museum, the Mahebourg Naval Museum, the Frederick Hendrik Museum, La Maison Euréka in Moka and the Natural History Museum in Port. Many of these can be found in Port Louis.
If you are interested in cultural travel in Mauritius, then we have the perfect array of hotels to suit your needs for your holiday in paradise. Any of our luxury resorts are sure to be the perfect “home away from home” and the ideal place to rest your head after a day of exploration. Get in touch with us for more information or to make a booking.