Because of its rather rough and windy climate which can be chilly on a winter evening, this part of Mauritius was not deemed fit for tourist development until relatively late, which is why there are many original and old-fashioned customs and buildings still to be seen and enjoyed. Small villages where fishermen proudly bring in the catch of the day; farmers tending to their crops; chicken running freely and women washing their laundry in one of the many brooks or rivers are not a rare sight to behold in this part of the country.
As the East is swept by the trade winds during rainy season and in winter, its landscape is a shiny, brilliant green almost all year round. Together with the stunning colours of the ocean, the blue of the rivers criss-crossing it and the white sandy beaches, some of them among the longest and most spectacular on the island, the East indeed is a wonderful and breezy place to be and certainly one of the best spots for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.
Rather hilly at some places, the landscape offers nature sites such as the dramatic waterfalls of Grand South East River which can be accessed by boat and by foot alike and forms part of any boat tour to Ile aux Cerfs or the waterhole at Trou d’Eau Douce with its picturesque harbour. Other areas are completely flat, like Ile d’Ambre, where tremendous pirate treasures are supposed to be hidden under the sand. Brisée Verdière, quite some way inlands, features a series of deep hollows: lava tubes caused by volcanic activities as old as the island, where remnants of extinct plump dodo birds have been found in the past.
The beaches of the East are amongst the finest on the island and are framed by spectacular hotels and guest houses. Various water activities, predominantly anything to do with sails, can be enjoyed all year around; although in winter wetsuits in the ocean and long-sleeved sweatshirts or cardigans are a must. The two largest isles off the east coast could not be more different: white sandy beaches frame tourist landmark Ile aux Cerfs, where Dutch settlers once kept their imported java deer, and which is literally flooded with visitors on a daily basis; especially during the high season. It even has its own golf course, several restaurants, a beach bar and various shops. Ile d’Ambre on the other hand, is very quiet and except for some day tourists and kayaking activities around its mangrove-overgrown shores, nothing disturbs its calm and serene atmosphere. The East indeed has two very different faces to show: a dazzling and active one and a calm and serene one, whichever one likes to explore first.
Poudre d’Or is the place where Bernardin de Saint Pierre’s fictional heroine Virginie lost her life in the (real) disaster of the vessel Saint Geran that sank during a cyclone. A much-visited monument serves as a reminder of this long bygone tragedy.
Riviere du Rempart
Located between Poudre d’Or and Roches Noire, Riviere du Rempart sits in the south eastern part of the island on the beach and by the river bearing the same name. Just before this same river flows into the ocean a few kilometres up north, it opens into a picturesque canyon bordered on one side by the landing of Pointe aux Lascars and the Peace Park of a well-known Indian guru.
Tiny Pointe Lascar is located by the mouth of Rempart River and features a Peace Park with many interesting statues and an aura of calm and serenity, where meditations are practiced on a regular basis. It is a unique spot to visit for those interested in a spiritual experience.
Situated in a picturesque area with shady coves and black lava rock formations, Roches Noire has become a very sought after place where prices for beach property on its wild and rugged shore have been rocketing during the past few years. A few guesthouses offer leisurely comforts in a quiet and still rather rural neighbourhood.
Poste Lafayette is located a few kilometres below Roches Noire, on the windswept eastern shore and offers nice views from its beach over the untamed beauty of the lagoon. Except for a few guest houses and some beach villas, this area is still vastly untouched by tourism.
Poste De Flacq
Not far from Poste De Flacq is what is believed to be the best hotel on the island, exclusive and out of this world Le Prince Maurice that stretches between mangroves, sandy beaches and black lava rock formations in an unspoilt nature environment. Further inland, the old French well at Bras d’Eau offers a sight into great depths. An interesting nature walk featuring lava tubes and fish basins leads from the visitors centre beside it right down to the beach.
Central Flacq is more than just a central bus terminal, but a lively small town with lots of shops, restaurants, and a weekly market.
Legendary Belle Mare is the place where luxury hotels such as the Belle Mare Plage, the Saint Géran, The Residence, LUX Belle Mare and the Long Beach can be found along an irresistibly white sandy beach. Doubtlessly one of the best beaches of the island, nice and refreshing on even the hottest of summer days, The breeze can be rather cool though in the evenings and in winter, so it is definitely wise to bring a sweater along.
Palmar is a small exclusive part of Belle Mare Plage, where turquoise waters meet the white sandy beach after beating onto the protective coral reef. This is the place to go for a leisurely day at the beach. Lucky ones are already there, staying in one of the fancy hotels located on the spot, such as Ambre hotel, le Palmar or latest the boutique hotel La Palmeraie.
Trou d'eau Douce
As its name indicates, there is a sweet water hole at Trou d'Eau Douce but far more than that; as all the boats leaving for Ile aux Cerfs just off its coast leave from there, the place has the busiest jetty on the island except probably for Grand Bay. Famous and romantic Le Touessrok resort is situated just beside it.
Ile aux Cerfs
Ile aux Cerfs is actually a part of Le Touessrok resort. Besides a golf course, several shops and two restaurants, it offers a wonderful beach and is thus one of the most sought after places to be in Mauritius. Daily catamaran and speedboat trip with starting point from Blue Bay or Trou d'Eau Douce are offered by hotels, local tour operators and the trips can be pre-booked online
Ile d'Ambre was once harbouring a small settlement, ruins of which can still be found all over the rather large island. Today rather quiet and serene, the island is nevertheless frequented by boats from Pereybere taking tourists for island picnics and a swim by its shores. Highly recommended: kayaking in the mangroves surrounding the island is an out of this world experience.
Despite its pretty name, and except for the waterfalls of the Grand South East River which are accessible by foot and boat, nothing exciting was ever happening at Beau Champ until Four Seasons Resort and Anahita, a rather stunning IRS project was realised there. Guests are offered bungalows grouped around a golf course and an artificial beach. The Four Seasons Resort forms a part of Anahita, which derives its name from an ancient Indian water deity.
Grand River South East (GRSE) is a historic village that was used by the Dutch in the 17th century to stock and ship ebony wood. Nowadays the villagers mostly make their living from fishing, and there is also an active small planters community. Tourists flock to this area as at the mouth of the GRSE, where the river meets the ocean’s tide, there are some impressive ravines, great basaltic rocks and a stunning waterfall. Many tour operator combine a visit to the GRSE with a trip to nearby Ile aux Cerf. The Laguna Beach hotel is also based here.
Domain de l’étoile
The Domaine de l’Etoile is the largest natural and private reserve in Mauritius, conserving the wild flora and rich in fauna. The land stretches over 1,200 hectares and is situated between the villages of Montagne Blanche and Kewal Nagar Belle Rive. This nature reserve composed of dense vegetation, lush valleys and native forests offers more than just spectacular views, visitors can hike, or ride a mountain or quad bike or even a horse to explore the land! The more adventurous can also try ziplining here and there is also a ‘fun village’ for the kids to enjoy.