MAURITIUSWhere the Locals Go Mauritius

Time for some winter sun? Here’s how to get beyond the super spas and beach resorts of one of the world’s most gorgeous islands and live it like the locals do.


Where the Locals Go Mauritius

Time for some winter sun? Here’s how to get beyond the super spas and beach resorts of one of the world’s most gorgeous islands and live it like the locals do.

Flip through a travel story on Mauritius and it may seem that the tropical island is little more than chic beach resorts, jungle trails, honeymoon couples and super spas. But behind the glitz lies a buzzing island culture led by locals descended from a vibrant mix of French, British and Dutch heritage interwoven with the dominant Indian population. Behind the increasingly dynamic business culture, life lilts to island rhythm, long days spent with friends aboard boats trailing the crystal waters and dancing under the boughs of century-old Flamboyant trees, toes in the sand. “One thing I love about Mauritius is that the culture is multi-generational – you’ll go out and find 3 generations of families eating and dancing together”, explains Estelle Desmarais. A fashion entrepreneur, Estelle grew up on the island and studied at the French school, before university in Paris and then moving to Rio de Janeiro with her husband Balthazar, who is half-Mauritian, half-French. “There’s some thing very similar about the Brazilians and the Mauritians – they are very open-hearted, warm, welcoming people. At some point, we plan on moving back when we are ready to have kids and think about buying a property in Mauritius. The lifestyle here growing up here was so great, everyday you are in the ocean and part of a beautiful community. Although there are 300,000 people on the island, you start to feel you know everyone by name and who their grandparents are. It can be a bit crazy as a trip to the supermarket can take hours if you stop to talk to everyone, but life is easy and you feel like you are living in one big family. If you want to start something or do something, there’s always someone happy to step in and lend a hand”.

Estelle’s Insider Guide to Mauritius

Where to Sleep:

20 degrés Sud – Set in the north near Grand Bay, this is a peaceful, charming and chic boutique hotel with an amazing restaurant.  You can book a special dinner on their lovely vintage boat Lady Lisbeth, one of the oldest on the island.

Coastal Road Pointe Malartic, Grand Bay, Mauritius,

Otentic Eco Tent in Deux Frères (East). This eco-friendly lodge is where to go for the full Mauritian experience: great local food, immersed in nature, and different activities like paddle boarding on the river and kite surfing.

Coastal Road, Deux Freres, Grand River South East,

Airbnb is a great option if you don’t want to be in a hotel on a beach full of tourists.

Where to Eat:

Street food – Dewa’s Dholl Puri.  “This little local spot in the cultural hub of Rose Hill, close to Port Louis makes the best Dholl Puri on the Island!! There is a nice fair on Thursday in the area too. 70% of population in Mauritius is from India, so the food is a real mix. The Dholl Puri is an Indian crepe made from yellow lentils that you can only find in Mauritius – The place can be tricky to find, but it’s worth it.  It’s very relaxed, you eat standing up, on a little bench or get a take-away.  It’s still very local.

Coastal Road, Deux Freres, Grand River South East, Mauritius

City- Le Café de L’Atelier This chic-casual restaurant in Port Louis is a great spot to go to after exploring the Port Louis Bazar.  My brother who works in the capital love to go there with his friends.  They do great Mauritian food and have a ‘library’ area upstairs where you can stop in for coffee.

12 St Louis Street, Port Louis, Mauritius

Beach-Vibes – #36 Resto Bar: Set in the very south near the beautiful beaches of Mont Choisy, the 36 is part of a hotel called Mystik that opened just last year, which combines little bungalows with a bar and restaurant. It’s super chilled and great value, a bit like Bali, set on beach, and the chef is young and local.  The best thing to do is to watch the sunset from the rooftop bar and then head down for dinner.  It’s also nice to have overlooking the ocean and use the pool.

Royal Road, Mont Choisy

Smart Seafood – Pescatore: Everyone knows this spot for its amazing seafood – if my parents are celebrating or have a business meeting, they will book a table at Pescatore.

Coastal Road B36, Trou-aux-Biches, Mauritius,

Hip – Sauterelle & Le Whatever: Sauterelle is a great fusion restaurant opened two years ago by a Belgian owner and specialises in great magret and steak au poivre.  Le Whatever Restaurant in Black River, near to Tamarin is the new hip fusion spot, it serves great food in a beautiful space with a cool local/expat vibe.  Black River is becoming one of the coolest places to live, with lots of South Africans moving here.

La Place Cap Tamarin, Tamarin, Mauritius,

Dancing – Banana Beach Club:  Every generation is going out there since forever. Expect live music, local music in a bar set part inside and part out, and where you dance under a huge flamboyant that has been there forever.  Our parents used to go there and we always go there when we are in Mauritius.

Route Royale, Grand Baie, Mauritius,​

Italian – Botteghita: If you are craving something different, try this wonderful Italian spot – the place is small and basic but the food is amazing.

Royal Road, B13 Grand Baie, Mauritius,

What to do:

Shop – Port Louis Bazar: It’s a great experience to trawl through this food market and soak up the spices, fruits, and vivid colours. You can find anything here and its worth it just to watch the locals buy their fruits and vegetables.

Adventure: Kite-surfing in Le Morne or the North and east, or go sky-diving – amazing views!

Sail: You can’t come to Mauritius without exploring the ocean and islands – you can book a private boat or join a group from the main boulevard in Grand Baie or in Black River at La Balise Marina.

Culture: Some of my favourite museums are also rum distilleries, so you can combine tastings with culture. Start with the Rhumerie of Chamarel and its museum, the Curious Corner of Chamarel. Also, don’t miss paying a visit and lunch at Le Chateau Labourdonnais (where we got married!). It is a museum in an old colonial house and the restaurant is great (the chef is Italian but has been in Mauritius for years). You can also taste the rum from there and all the products of their “verger”.

Hiking: Mauritus has some fantastic hikes – my favourites are Les 7 Cascades and Les Gorges de la Riviere Noire. If you are looking for an easy option, try Le pouce, its one of the mountains you can see from the capital, but if you want something more challenging then try Le Morne – which involves climbing towards the end.  You can find all the details on and how to connect with a local guide.

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