Must see attractions in Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mauritius

    Île aux Aigrettes

    This popular ecotourism destination is a 26-hectare nature reserve on an island roughly 800m off the coast. It preserves very rare remnants of the coastal forests of Mauritius and provides a sanctuary for a range of endemic and endangered wildlife species. Visits are only possible as part of a guided tour, and these leave from Pointe Jérome, close to Le Preskîl. Highlights include Aldabra giant tortoises, ebony trees, wild orchids, and the endangered pink pigeon and other rare bird species. As the guides to Île aux Aigrettes rightly point out, this is the last place in Mauritius where you can see it as the first explorers did almost five centuries ago – everywhere else, the land has been tamed. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manages the reserve and conducts tours.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Praslin

    Anse Lazio

    Anse Lazio, on the northwest tip of the island, is picture-perfect everywhere you look and often turns up in lists of the world's most beautiful beaches. The long beach has lapis lazuli waters with great waves, a thick fringe of palm and takamaka trees, and granite boulders at each extremity. There's some good snorkelling among the rocks along the arms of the bay and there's a beachside restaurant. Despite its popularity, it never feels crowded, but watch your valuables here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Other Inner Islands

    Anse Maquereau

    Quite possibly the world's most beautiful beach, petite Anse Maquereau is flanked by granitic monoliths, backed by palms and caressed by waters of the deepest blue. But with so few guests on the island, it's often yours alone – and you can keep it that way if you simply turn the sign atop the steps from 'Beach free' to 'Beach in use' before heading down. No matter when your feet hit the sand, you'll find a cooler full of ice cold drinks waiting (it's just that kind of place). If your beverage of choice isn't chilling, there's a phone direct to the bar.

  • Top ChoiceSights in La Digue

    Anse Marron

    Perhaps the most stunning natural pool and beach combo on the planet, Anse Marron sits nestled behind Gaudíesque granite boulders at the remote southern tip of La Digue. The tiny inlet is truly a hidden morsel of tranquillity, with its sheltered, crystal-clear waters providing a surreal location for a swim or snorkel. The sand on this fantastically wild beach is blindingly white, and the fact that it's a difficult journey to reach by foot only adds to its allure.

  • Top ChoiceSights in The North

    Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens

    After London's Kew Gardens, the SSR Gardens is one of the world's best botanical gardens. It's among the most popular tourist attractions in Mauritius and easily reached from almost anywhere on the island. Labelling of the plants is a work in progress, and you can hire one of the knowledgeable guides who wait just inside or use the maps for a self-guided tour. Golf-buggy tours (adult Rs 250, child Rs 100) are available on request for those with limited mobility. The centrepiece of the gardens is a pond filled with giant Victoria amazonica water lilies, native to South America. Young leaves emerge as wrinkled balls and unfold into the classic tea-tray shape up to 2m across in a matter of hours. The flowers in the centre of the huge leaves open white one day and close red the next. The lilies are at their biggest and best in the warm summer months, notably January. Palms constitute the most important part of the horticultural display, and they come in an astonishing variety of shapes and forms. Some of the more prominent are the stubby bottle palms, the tall royal palms and the talipot palms, which flower once after about 40 years and then die. Other varieties include the raffia, sugar, toddy, fever, fan and even sealing-wax palms. There are many other curious tree species on display, including the marmalade box tree, the fish poison tree and the sausage tree. Another highlight is the abundant birdlife – watch for the crimson hues of the Madagascar fody – while there are captive populations of deer and around a dozen giant Aldabra tortoises near the park's northern exit. The gardens were named after Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the first prime minister of independent Mauritius, and were started by Mahé de Labourdonnais in 1735 as a vegetable plot for his Mon Plaisir Château (which now contains a small exhibition of photographs). Close to the chateau is the funerary platform where Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was cremated (his ashes were scattered on the Ganges in India). Various international dignitaries have planted trees in the surrounding gardens, including Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandhi and a host of British royals. The landscape came into its own in 1768 under the auspices of French horticulturalist Pierre Poivre. Like Kew Gardens, the gardens played a significant role in the horticultural espionage of the day. Poivre imported seeds from around the world in a bid to end France's dependence on Asian spices. The gardens were neglected between 1810 and 1849 until British horticulturalist James Duncan transformed them into an arboretum for palms and other tropical trees.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Praslin

    Vallée de Mai

    Gorgeous World Heritage–listed Vallée de Mai is one of only two places in the world where the rare coco de mer palm grows in its natural state (the other being nearby Curieuse Island). It's also a birding hotspot: watch for the endemic Seychelles bulbul, the lovely blue pigeon, the Seychelles warbler and the endangered black parrot, of which there are between 520 and 900 left in the wild. It's a real slice of Eden. Three hiking trails (plus a number of connecting minor subtrails) lead through this primeval, emerald-tinged forest, which remained totally untouched until the 1930s. The shortest is about 1km and the longest is 2km and all are clearly marked and easy going – perfect for families. As you walk amid the forest, the atmosphere is eerie, with the monstrous leaves of the coco de mer soaring 30m to a sombre canopy of huge fronds. Signs indicate some of the other endemic trees to look out for (there are more than 50 other indigenous plants and trees), including several varieties of pandanus (screw pines) and latanier palms. This is also home one of only two populations of the giant bronze gecko, and 14 endemic reptile and amphibian species. There are free guided visits at 9am and 2pm, but we recommend taking a private guide for a 1½- to two-hour guided walk (Rs 1000 per group) through the forest – you'll miss so much if you go it alone. There's an informative visitor centre, cafe and excellent shop on-site.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mauritius

    Vallée de Ferney

    Protecting a 400-year-old forest, this reserve is an important habitat for the Mauritius kestrel, one of the world's most endangered raptors, and a visit here is far and away your best chance of seeing one. Guides take you along a 3km trail, pointing out fascinating flora and fauna. At noon (arrive no later than 11.30am, or 10am if you're also doing the hike), staff feed otherwise wild kestrels at the trailhead. Bookings for the tour are essential. As an important habitat for endemic species, Vallée de Ferney is a hugely important conservation and ecotourism area. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which helps to train the reserve's guides and provides important input into its policies, has reintroduced a number of other endangered species, including the pink pigeon and echo parakeet, here. Keep an eye out for them if on a hike. There are currently 14 to 15 pairs of Mauritian kestrels in the reserve. The Vallée de Ferney is also well known as the site of a conservation demonstration that ignited when a Chinese paving company sought to construct a highway directly through the protected hinterland. Attempts at development were unsuccessful, but scars remain: trees daubed with red paint alongside the walking trail were to be chopped down to make way for the road. The turn-off to the 200-hectare reserve is clearly marked along the coastal road, around 2km south of Vieux Grand Port.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Port Louis

    Blue Penny Museum

    Although dedicated to the world-famous Mauritian one-penny and two-pence stamps of 1847, the Blue Penny Museum is far more wide-ranging than its name suggests, taking in the history of the island's exploration, settlement and colonial period, and even detouring into the Paul and Virginie story. It's Port Louis' best museum, one that give visitors a then-and-now look at the city, although travellers with mobility issues should know that the stamps are on the 1st floor and there’s no lift. Central to the museum's collection are two of the world's rarest stamps: the red one-penny and blue two-pence 'Post Office' stamps issued in 1847. To preserve the colours, they are only lit up for 10 minutes at a time: every hour, at 20 minutes past the hour. The stamps are considered a national treasure and are probably the most valuable objects on the entire island. On the ground floor you'll see a fantastic selection of antique maps, engravings from different periods in history, and photographs, as well as the country's most famous work of art: a superbly lifelike statue by Mauritian sculptor Prosper d'Épinay, carved in 1884. Based on Bernardin de St-Pierre's novel Paul et Virginie, the sculpture depicts the young hero carrying his sweetheart across a raging torrent.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mauritius

    Eureka

    If you're only going to visit one attraction related to Mauritius' rich colonial history, choose Eureka. This perfectly preserved Creole mansion was built in the 1830s and today it's a museum and veritable time machine providing incredible insight into the island's vibrant plantation past. The main manor house is a masterpiece of tropical construction, which apparently kept the interior deliciously cool during the unbearably hot summers, and boasts 109 doors and more rooms than a Cluedo board. Rooms are adorned with an impeccably preserved collection of period furniture imported by the French East India Company – take special note of the antique maps, a strange shower contraption that was quite the luxury some 150 years ago and the mildewed piano with keys like rotting teeth. The courtyard behind the main mansion contains beautifully manicured grounds surrounded by a set of stone cottages – the former servants' quarters and kitchen. Follow the trail out the back for 15 minutes and you'll reach the lovely Ravin waterfall. The estate's unusual name is believed to have been the reaction of Eugène Le Clézio when he successfully bid to purchase the house at auction in 1856.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Port Louis

    Père Laval's Shrine

    The shrine of French Catholic priest and missionary Père Jacques-Désiré Laval is something of a Lourdes of the Indian Ocean, with many miracles attributed to pilgrimages here. The padre died in 1864 and was beatified in 1979 during a visit by Pope John Paul II. Père Laval is credited with converting 67,000 people to Christianity during his 23 years in Mauritius. To get here, take a bus signed 'Cité La Cure' or 'Père Laval' from the Immigration Square bus station. Père Laval is a popular figure with Mauritians of all religions. Pilgrims come from as far afield as South Africa, Britain and France to commemorate the anniversary of his death on 9 September. Notice the coloured plaster effigy of the priest on top of the tomb – it's been rubbed smooth by miracle-seeking pilgrims. At other times of year the shrine is fairly quiet, though the services held on Friday at 1pm and 5pm attract a reasonable crowd. In the same complex is a large, modern church and a shop with a permanent exhibition of Père Laval's robe, mitre, letters and photographs.

  • Top ChoiceSights in La Digue

    Anse Source d'Argent

    Famed for being one of the most photographed beaches on the planet, Anse Source d'Argent is a sight to behold. Its dazzling white sands are lapped by shallow emerald waters, backed by some of La Digue's most beautiful granite boulders and shaded by craning coconut palms. Unless you want to wade through watery depths, you'll need to pass through the old L'Union Estate coconut plantation to access the beach, which means paying Rs115 (valid for a day). The beach is justifiably popular, so the sands can get crowded with beach goers, particularly as the beach area shrinks at hide tide. Coming in the early morning and returning in the late afternoon is a great way to avoid many of the island's day visitors (keep your entrance ticket). As the sun starts to descend you can walk around or curl up under the shade of the trees and feel like you have this uninhabited piece of paradise all to yourself. During the day a couple of shacks sell fruit and refreshments, and there are transparent kayaks for rent.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mauritius

    Tamarin Beach

    Locals like to wax nostalgic about Tamarin Beach and its surfing heyday, and in many ways this sandy cove still feels like a throwback to earlier times, although things are changing. Tamarin remains a popular place and its beach has one of the most spectacular backdrops (looking north) in the country. Once upon a time the area was known as Santosha Bay and offered wave hunters some of the best surfing on the planet. In fact, before the bay earned the name Santosha, locals refused to give the beach a moniker because they didn't want outsiders to discover their cache of surfable seas! Today, the waves and currents have changed and the surfing diehards have moved down the coast to Le Morne. The walk between Tamarin Beach and southern Wolmar is very scenic and not accessible by car. (Women are advised not to walk it alone for security reasons.)

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mauritius

    Monday Market

    Don't miss the central foire de Mahébourg, near the waterfront. The initial focus was silks and other textiles, but these days you'll find a busy produce section, tacky bric-a-brac and steaming food stalls. It's the perfect place to try some local snacks – gâteaux piments (chilli cakes), dhal puri (lentil pancakes) and samousas (samosas) – usually dispensed from boxes on the backs of motorcycles. The market is open every day but doubles in size on Monday. It doesn't take long to navigate the snaking rows of vendors, but it's well worth taking your time to explore every last corner.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Victoria

    National Museum of History

    Housed in Victoria's restored colonial-era Supreme Court building (1885), this terrific museum opened in late 2018. While the architecture itself is worth admiring, the museum's exhibitions are outstanding. Downstairs is an informative journey through 300 years of Seychelles history, with plenty of information to put the model ships, old cannons and other historical pieces in context. Upstairs focuses on Creole culture, with displays on music, clothing, fishing and architecture. The separate building on the south side was being restored to house a cafe when we visited.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Victoria

    Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market

    No trip to Victoria would be complete without a wander through the covered market. It's small by African standards, but it's a bustling, colourful place nonetheless. Alongside fresh fruit and vegetables, stalls sell souvenirs such as local spices and herbs, as well as the usual assortment of pareos (sarongs) and shirts. Early morning is the best time to come, when fishmongers display an astonishing variety of seafood, from parrotfish to barracuda. It's at its liveliest on Saturday.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mauritius

    National History Museum

    This terrific museum is one of Mauritius' best. It contains fascinating early maps of the island and Indian Ocean region, paintings from colonial times, model ships from important episodes in Mauritian history, archive photographs, and a rare, intact skeleton of the dodo and another disappeared species, the Rodrigues solitaire. One real curio is an engraving of Dutch gentlemen riding in pairs on the back of a giant tortoise, a species that also went the way of the dodo. The colonial mansion housing this museum used to belong to the Robillard family and played an important part in the island's history. It was here in 1810 that the injured commanders of the French and English fleets were taken for treatment after the Battle of Vieux Grand Port (the only naval battle in which the French got the upper hand over their British foes). The story of the victory is retold in the museum, along with salvaged items – cannons, grapeshot and the all-important wine bottles – from the British frigate Magicienne, which sank in the battle. The bell and a cache of Spanish coins from the wreck of the St Géran are also on display. The ship's demise in 1744, off the northeast coast of Mauritius, inspired the famous love story Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de St-Pierre. Recent additions to the museum include a retrofitted train carriage out the back and a replica of Napoleon's boat used in the infamous battle that defeated the English.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mahé

    Takamaka Bay

    On this popular tour you learn the story behind the island's main distillery and about the rum-making process. The tour runs for between 30 and 45 minutes and concludes with a tasting and an opportunity to purchase bottles of rum. There is also a forest walk and a small stand of sugar cane. It features a highly regarded restaurant.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Praslin

    Anse Volbert

    This long, gently arching beach is among the most popular strands on the island. It's great for safe swimming and sunbathing, and it's also good for water sports. There are plenty of facilities, including restaurants and hotels. A small islet – Chauve-Souris – floats offshore. You can swim to it for snorkelling.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Port Louis

    Central Market

    Port Louis' rightly famous Central Market, the centre of the local economy since Victorian times, is a good place to get a feel for local life, watch the hawkers at work and buy some souvenirs. Most authentic are the fruit and vegetable sections (including Chinese herbal medicines and aphrodisiacs).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Rodrigues

    François Leguat Reserve

    In 1691 François Leguat wrote that there were so many tortoises on Rodrigues that 'one can take more than a hundred steps on their shell without touching the ground'. Sadly the Rodrigues version of the giant tortoise became extinct, but this reserve is recreating the Eden described by the island's early explorers. Hundreds of tortoises from elsewhere (the outcome of a breeding program) roam the grounds, and more than 100,000 indigenous trees have been planted. Cave visits are also possible. In the caves, spirited tour leaders point out quirky rock shapes and discuss the island's interesting geological history. Keep an eye out for the tibia bone of a solitaire bird that juts from the cavern's stone ceiling. There's also a small enclosure with several giant fruit bats (the island's only endemic mammal) and a handful of recently arrived, critically endangered ploughshare tortoises from Madagascar. The on-site museum recounts the history and settlement of the island, with detailed information about the extinct Rodrigues solitaire, cousin of the dodo. The reserve is in the island's southwest and is poorly signposted off the main road around 1.5km northeast of the airport.