The northernmost tip of Mauritius goes by the lyrical name of Cap Malheureux, which means “Unhappy Cape” and is so named because of the number of ships wrecked there.
But it is hard to see how anyone could be unhappy on this gorgeous island in the Indian Ocean. And I find myself smiling from the minute I arrive on the island to the minute I depart.
You will certainly never feel morose staying at the Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa, an enchanting hotel situated in the splendidly named village of Flic-en-Flac. Half an hour’s drive down the west coast of the island from the capital Port Louis, the hotel boasts 65 villas (each with a private pool), spread across 27 acres of exquisite grounds.
To enhance the wonderful garden, you are even encouraged to follow the example of film stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, who stayed here in 2017 while making the movie Serenity, and plant a tree in the hotel gardens.
The Maradiva has three excellent restaurants – Coast2Coast, which serves Mauritian and Mediterranean dishes; Cilantro, which has marvellous Indian cuisine; and Teppanyaki, a Japanese eatery where you are treated to an exciting show as the chef cooks sizzling seafood in front of you.
You are also able to dine at one of the three restaurants in the very pleasant neighbouring hotel, Sands Suites Resort & Spa. All these restaurants can be summed up by the phrase “delicious in Mauritius”.
A gloriously romantic hotel perfect for honeymooning couples, the Maradiva enjoys a spectacular location on a curved 750-metre-long beach across the bay from an eye-catching mountain called Le Morne.
But there is much to see on Mauritius away from the beach and we venture into the verdant mountain range that runs down the spine of the island. There we peer into Le Trou des Cerfs (“the hole of the deers”), the enormous volcanic crater that created the island.
Cloaked in trees, this giant hole is now a bird sanctuary. However, the birdsong is drowned out by the croaking of myriad frogs from the pond at the bottom of the crater.
Passing the town of Curepipe (which translates as “clean pipe”), so named because when people used to ride across the island, they would stop here, change their horses and clean their smoking pipes, we then embark on a hike through the Black River Gorges National Park – a stunning landscape of mountains and valleys.
Also worth a visit is the Champs de Mars racecourse in the centre of Port Louis. The oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere, it was built in 1812 to unite the French inhabitants and British forces that had conquered the island two years previously. Racing remains the most popular sport in Mauritius.
Nearby is The Citadel, a fort perched above the capital and ringed by the majestic Port Louis mountain range. Constructed by the Spanish in the 16th Century, it was subsequently commanded by the French and then the British. It even boasts a secret passage running from the fort to the port below to enable a quick escape from the city.
Back at the Maradiva in the evening, we sip cocktails on a jetty and watch the sun set over the island. We are serenaded by a DJ and visited by some unusual guests: a pair of giant eagle rays.
Later we are lucky enough to take in the Mauritian sky at night. There are few better feelings than lying on a sun lounger on the beach of an evening, looking up at a star-filled sky completely untroubled by light pollution. This is typical of the tranquillity you can experience on the island.
By the plunge pool in our villa at the Maradiva is a brass statue of one frog leaping over another. The look on their faces surely mirrors the demeanour of all visitors to Mauritius: sheer joy.
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