Made up of several islands in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a rich melting pot of influences and cultures. African and Indian elements mingle with Chinese, French and British elements to create a unique combination.
Far from being just another idyllic island, Mauritius has much more to offer than some Indian Ocean luxury getaways. Carpeted in sugar cane, with dramatic mountains erupting from the green fields, the countryside is spectacular.
Port Louis is the main port and capital. A bustling commercial centre, it showcases the country's diverse cultural influences, with street names in French and English and a mass of architectural styles on display. Visit the Natural History Museum to learn the fate of the hapless dodo, Mauritius' most famous bird, and trawl the main market for bargains.
Grand Baie in the north is a lively spot with some great shopping and nightlife opportunities. Nearby Triolet Shivala is home to the island's largest Hindu temple, Maheswarnath, dating from 1819.
Visit the old Balaclava estate and take time to explore the world-renowned Pamplemousses Gardens, which house an impressive collection of indigenous and exotic plants, including the talipot palm that flowers once every sixty years, and a group of tortoises, some over 100-years old. Set out on foot in the Black Gorges National Park to explore virgin forest and see wild monkeys.
On the west coast, surf the big waves created by giant ocean swells that break around Tamarin. In the shadow of the Riviere Noire Mountains, the beaches here are good and the swimming in a protected lagoon is excellent. The village of Chamarel in the south west is home to the island's highest waterfall and some spectacularly coloured dunes, made up of seven different shades of volcanic rock.
Away from the main island, visit Ile aux Cerfs, off the east coast, to relax on Mauritius' best beach and enjoy some world-class watersports.