One of the best features of this area is doubtless its wonderful climate. 350 days sunshine, glorious sunsets, a long and white sandy coastline, well protected by coral reefs, which all add up to it being one of the favourite and most exciting places in Mauritius. Flic en Flac is undoubtedly the busiest of its coastal towns, featuring many hotels and combining great beach life; numerous water sports activities and a breezy atmosphere with a budding nightlife. Further down the beach, Tamarin is also fast developing, the Tamarina Golf Estate and Riverside sports centre adding to the lifestyle in this once surfer and hippie-colony and nowadays high class environment.
Dolphin watching is the magic activity and so far the poor bedraggled sea mammals have been surprisingly patient about it. Of course there is also some surfing going on and when the waves are big, a crowd comes watching the braves in the pounding waves. As the vast West embraces various microclimates, it extends over the winding roads leading to charming mountainous Chamarel with pineapples, coffee fields and coloured earth, the dry, African savannah-like stretch between fishermen villages Case Noyale and La Gaulette, deep sea fishing paradise Black River, around towering La Tourelle Mountain, right to the Martello Tower in La Preneuse, the salt pans at Tamarin, the hotel-studded beaches of Wolmar and Flic en Flac, up the coast to Albion, where a red and white striped lighthouse warns seafarers from towering cliffs.
With all its great features, the West seems to be just too good to be true. This is what some developers must have said to themselves when they started to develop the area. So they built hotels, developed shopping centres and malls, spattered once pristine mountainsides with houses and villas and threatened to even dig up the salt pans. Thanks goodness, the West is really so beautiful that up until now, they were not able to cause devastating damage.
Located close by the beach at La Gaulette is local artist Brigitte Haberland’s small gallery, where she welcomes customers on appointment. The silt beach is not fit for swimming, but a great landing place for the kayaks of the Eco tours and excursions that take place out of La Gaulette regularly, taking off for lovely banana shaped ile aux Benitiers with its great white sandy beach.
The church at Case Noyale by the huge Banyan tree serves as a landmark for all those who are looking for the right turn onto the road for Chamarel. The church itself is quite nice to visit, especially when the children are rehearsing their song repertoire for mass.
After either driving up or down a windy road, one approaches the only “mountainous” village in Mauritius: Chamarel; its name sounding like something sweet that melts on the tongue. Situated in the crater of a long extinct volcano of about 450 metres in altitude, this small Creole settlement features its own microclimate and thus hosts many rare endemic plants. Once only famous for its waterfalls, coloured earth and illegal rum distilleries, Chamarel nowadays has more to offer! The rum trade has been legalized and a large rum factory welcomes the visitor. Beside St. Anne church, tiny snack Le Barbizon offers most authentic island food and real Chamarel coffee, whereas the Roots Crafts Shop on the road to the coloured earth features colourful handmade Rasta-fashion and lots of other island art. Try the nature trail behind the forestry office up to the viewpoint. It’s worth it!
The Mecca of anglers in Mauritius is definitely at Rivière Noire, where the Blue and Black Marlin can be tagged and released during season. The mountainside is dotted with grand villas and below by the Royal road, Ruisseau Creole shopping mall beckons with great clothes and souvenir shops, restaurants and more. A good place to stop for lunch and a stroll through the shops. The road to the bottom entrance and visitors centre of the National Park branches off the main road close by.
Ile aux Benitiers
Right opposite La Gaulette lies palm studded Benitiers Island, the place to spend a leisurely time on a white sandy beach or have a swim and a cocktail, before setting out on a romantic sunset dinner cruise for two.
La Preneuse is situated in a strategic position overlooking Black River Bay. The English noticed that and built Martello Tower, a smallish rotund and surprisingly spacious structure that has been rebuilt and turned into a museum. The wealthy noticed that too and overbuilt the area with charming houses, from the white sandy and very beautiful beach up to the slopes of Tourelle Mountain.
Tamarin rhymes with dolphin and so the story goes...since ancient times, the resident pod of dolphins came into its vast bay to take a break after a good night's hunt. As they are mammals, they cannot lie on the bottom of the sea and take a snooze, but have to come up for air once in awhile. So they swim in a big lazy circle and are happy to welcome two-legged land creatures to share their wet realm. But alas the two-legged ones became too enamoured with their sea mammal friends and went overboard.
An armada of floating devices, boats, catamarans, kayaks and swimmers follows the dolphins around in their sleeping space, trying to catch a glimpse of them and take a picture. Dolphin watching has indeed become big on the island and we encourage everybody to have a look at those magnificent and highly intelligent denizens of the sea. Fortunately it is possible to book with eco friendly suppliers who respect the needs of the pod. Kayak tours that take place in the early mornings as well as sensible dolphin and sperm whale watching boat tours with nature guides and adequate information provided en route leave from Black River daily. When the waves are up, the dolphins share their space with eager surfers, as Tamarin is also a legendary surf spot.
Cascavelle rum is rather sweet and has been very popular amongst those who favour sweet alcohol. It comes from a place that is also known for its unique nature and leisure park which is popular amongst entire families: Casela, where one can sing with the birds, purr with the cheetahs, cuddle with the rabbits and walk with the lions. Apart from above activities, Casela offers hikes and quad bike tours to rare nature sites, a very large turtle area, colourful fish in stone basins, and last but not least, a restaurant with a great view.
Golfers find a veritable haven at the newly set up and already well established Tamarina Golf Course. Beginners and budding talents can be taught by a pro at the golf academy that features state of the art equipment. As the first of its kind, this beautifully located golf estate also offers five star villa IRS Tamarina Golf Estate and Tamarina Golf, Spa & Beach Club. The estate extends from Tamarin right across to Wolmar; offering splendid views and a magnificent setting. Cascavelle also now boasts a large, modern shopping mall with a supermarket, boutiques, restaurants, a nightclub and a go-karting track.
Flic En Flac
Watch out Grand Bay, there is another fast growing beach town on the rise, not as glitzy as you yet, but with a large and long palm studded beach, great restaurants and a budding nightlife; offering some shopping and great restaurants: Flic En Flac, one of Mauritius’ favourite weekend spots.
Two well known beach hotels Villas Caroline and Anelia (Ex Klondike) and one city hotel Aanari are centrally located in the village.
After leaving the public beach of Flic en Flac behind, one will be delighted to see, that the best is yet to come: Wolmar! Consisting of a long stretch of white sandy beach, Wolmar is home to various hotels, such as the Hilton, the Sofitel and the Pearle Beach. Colourful tropical sunsets and a warm sunny climate make it one of the island's most perfect beach destinations.
Time seems to have passed by without even touching Albion. This small ocean-side town still lies dreaming like the sleeping beauty, spoiled by the warm and sunny weather of the West Coast. Featuring one of only two remaining working lighthouses in Mauritius and a rather rocky coastline with spectacular cliffs, Albion is one of the places where serious rock climbing takes place. Dolphins can frequently be spotted off its coast; some claim they may be taking a break from crowded Tamarin.
Mare Longue is a small village which is situated in the west of Mauritius. It is visited mostly everyday by tourists and local people who are fond of nature and who wish to discover the rich tropical fauna and flora of the island. The place is perfect for those who want to go for activities like canyoning and hiking among others.
Macchabée is a lovely place which is ideally situated in the west of Mauritius. Usually people go there because of the preserved indigenous forest which is the pride of this part of the island. The views across the gorges and down to the coast are breathtaking.
Plaine Champagne is the highest part of the central plateau in Mauritius (740m/2430ft), from where there is a superb view of the Black River Mountain Range and the sea lining the horizon. A few steep and winding roads are the only way to reach the Plaine Champagne plateau from the coast, while some narrow roads link the area to the central highlands. Plaine Champagne is part of the natural reserve area and as such still contains some wildlife such as deer, monkeys, and wild boars.