Unless you count shopping as an activity, the main (some would say only) activity here is to hike some of the Central Plateau's peaks.

Feature: A Tour of the Central Plateau

The area southeast of and inland from Port Louis can seem like one great conurbation, and in a sense it is. While most travellers pass right on by en route from coast to coast, there are enough sights to warrant a half-day excursion by taxi – we suggest you don't drive yourself or you'll waste valuable time trying to find each place.

The Central Plateau's main attractions are Eureka and the two culinary options in Moka, and the Trou aux Cerfs volcano in Curepipe. They're probably the only attractions worth visiting in their own right.

Elsewhere, attractions relate mostly to architecture or shopping. Rose Hill (pronounced row-zeel by locals), wedged between Beau Bassin and Quatre Bornes in the heart of the Central Plateau's urban sprawl, is virtually a suburb of Port Louis. Here, architecture buffs will appreciate the unusual Creole structure housing the Municipality of Beau Bassin-Rose Hill. The building was constructed in 1933 as a municipal theatre. The attractive Creole manse next door – Maison Le Carne – houses the Mauritius Research Council.

Another satellite of Port Louis, Quatre Bornes has little to detain you, other than on Thursday and Sunday, when scores of locals flock to the city to rummage through stall upon stall at the bustling produce and textile market; there's also a popular veggie market on Saturday.

In Phoenix, the Mauritius Glass Gallery produces unusual souvenirs made from recycled glass. You can see pieces being made using traditional methods in the workshop, which doubles as a small museum.

The neighbouring town of Vacoas is home to the oldest golf course in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius Gymkhana Club. It's the fourth-oldest fairway in the world (the three older courses are in Britain and India).

Another possibility is Floréal, the 'Beverly Hills' of Mauritius and a rather posh suburb northwest of Curepipe. The area has become synonymous with the high-quality knitwear produced by the Floreal Knitwear company. Fill your suitcase with clothes at Floréal Square, on the main road from Curepipe.

If you're in the neighbourhood, we highly recommend seeking out La Clef des Champs, the table d'hôte – and pet project – of Jacqueline Dalais, chef to the stars. Known for her impressive library of self-created recipes, Jacqueline has earned quite the reputation on the island for her unparalleled cuisine: she is regularly called upon to cater for government functions, especially when foreign dignitaries are in town. Dishes served in her quaint dining room lean towards Provençal flavours; the presentation is exquisite.

Feature: Hiking the Central Plateau

The mountain ranges fringing the Central Plateau offer some memorable rambles and hikes. Two of the best introductions to hiking in Mauritius are Le Pouce (812m), a thumb-shaped peak on the plateau's northern edge, and Corps de Garde (719m), a wedge-like ridge to the southwest that makes for a slightly more challenging endeavour.

Both hikes offer resplendent views down to the coastal plains but are best appreciated when tackled with a local guide, who can annotate the hike with detailed information about the flora and history. If you decide to go it alone, check out Fitsy (www.fitsy.com), a brilliant website that has mapped out the walks with extensive GPS and satellite detail. For planning purposes, allow about two hours for each hike if you're starting at the trailhead.