One of the most exotic islands on earth is also one of the most family-friendly.
Your children might not have heard of Mauritius. They will have heard of its close neighbour, Madagascar, thanks to the hit animated film, but while this may put it in some sort of geographical context, this colourful island paradise is more about beaches, fantastic resorts and a rich local culture than cartoon animals on the rampage through the jungle. As well as being one of the most exotic destinations on earth, Mauritius, a drop in the Indian Ocean is a short 4.5 hour flight from South Africa, and is also one of the most child-friendly destinations on earth, one that will offer the whole family a wealth of memorable experiences as well as every luxury you can dream of.
Imagine a perfect sunset over a pristine beach backed by soaring forested peaks; then add colourfully dressed dancers swishing their colourful skirts to the beat of local drums, illuminated by torchlight. Hypnotic, exotic, and stunningly beautiful. Just as gorgeous are its people, a racial potpourri of Creole, Dutch, French, British, Indian and Chinese that has developed over the past 400 years.
Accommodation in Mauritius ranges from cost effective hotels to world-class resorts, many of which are located on its 160 kilometres of coastline. Mauritian hotels are renowned for their excellence in service and hospitality, and most offer activities for children. The Mauritian people have a special way with little ones, and once they settle in, you may find it hard to extract your kids out of the kids’ club! Some of the family-friendly options include Sun Resorts, Veranda Hotels and RIU Hotels, and other World Leisure Holidays Hotels, all offering beachfront locations and free kids’ clubs. Sugar Beach Resort, located on the west coast of Mauritius, is a Sun Resort set in 20 acres of tropical gardens with half a kilometre of white sand beach to explore. Its kids club is simply irresistible – a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread cottage with giant liquorice allsorts guarding the entrance! Inside is a fully equipped child-sized kitchen with its own pizza oven, so the children can get involved in preparing their own lunch! Other family-friendly activities include dolphin watch cruises, windsurfing and water sports and of course, Sega lessons.
While it’s possible to have a fantastic Mauritian experience without leaving the resort grounds, it’s always fun to take the family out exploring the countryside. The best way to get around is to either hire a taxi for a day or to rent a car. This is a great way to find hidden beaches, to explore the markets and to find the ultimate sunset viewing spots.
One thing that may interest your children is the fascinating and rather tragic story of the dodo, a Mauritian docile, this slow-moving creature was easy prey for Portuguese sailors who feasted on its flesh, destroying not only a whole species, but also interfering with the delicate ecosystem of the island. The dodo has become a symbol of the harm mankind can bring to the environment, a lesson we should all heed as more and more species face the threat of extinction.