Mauritius is a country extremely rich in natural beauty. It’s surrounded by gorgeous reefs, the weather is perfect, it has decent sized mountains, and the dodo was at one time an endemic species here. Unfortunately, a lot of that natural beauty is now gone. Most of the forest on the island was long ago cleared away to plant sugar cane and traffic filled roads are everywhere. The beaches and weather are still perfect, but in my opinion it doesn’t have an abundance of cultural charm (like Rodrigues for example). Tourism here is big business and in the more touristy parts, like Grand Bay, you get hassled constantly for taxis and other services.
Despite all the above criticism, I still had a great time here and met some really awesome, warm people.
The biggest city is Port Louis, and that’s where we had to come in to clear customs and immigration. It’s crowded, relatively clean, and completely dead after 9pm. We were at a marina for the first time since I joined to the boat, so we had access to showers and a hose to fill the water tanks, both of which were really exciting. The only memorable or notable things about Port Louis is the horse track, Champ de Mars. It’s the oldest track in the southern hemisphere, second oldest in the world and has some real character.
The infield is free but you have to pass over the track to get there. We got there about 20 minutes before the first race, but they had already closed the gates and were making people wait until after the race to pass over the track. We told the guy working the gate that we really needed to get our bets in and could he please let us pass. He said no but that if we went down the track about 50 meters we could just jump the fence and run across the track. Running across the track just minutes before the horses are let out of the gate is definitely the most exhilarating entry to a track I’ve ever made.
We had a great time here and I even ended up going back a week later. There wasn’t much else to do in Port Louis though and after about 4 days we made for 3 hour sail up to Grand Bay.