Northern Mauritius puts on show the best and worst (such as it is) of the country's tourism. Grand Baie, at the centre, has a somewhat over-hyped atmosphere, but it's the sort of place where you can take what you want – Mauritius' best nightlife, some excellent restaurants and numerous excursions, for example – and then head elsewhere.
As places to stay go, we prefer the smaller beachside villages around Grand Baie: Trou aux Biches, Mont Choisy, Cap Malheureux and Pereybère. They're quickly developing, but they generally retain the uncrowded beaches and village feel that first drew travellers to Mauritius.
The inland plain of sugar cane fields – pocked with volcanic boulders stacked by indentured servants – is known as Pamplemousses and gently slopes towards the sea. Here you'll find a triptych of wonderful sites: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens, Château Labourdonnais and L'Aventure du Sucre – a museum dedicated to Mauritius' traditional colonial export.