Feature: Scenic Drive: The Heart of the Island

The divide between coastal Mauritius and the island's interior can be stark, but the small scale of everything here means that it's easy enough to experience both on a rather short drive.

Begin anywhere in the east and make your way to the regional centre of Rivière du Rempart. From there, head southwest, passing through small towns (some barely discernible) such as Belle Vue Maurel and Barlow; the signage can be a little confusing, but until you pass Barlow, follow the signs to Port Louis along the B21. After Barlow, the views open up, with some decent views of the inland mountains where you're headed. At the crossroads around 11km after leaving Rivière du Rempart, turn left towards 'La Nicolière'. A lovely honour guard of trees arcs over you for around 2km, whereupon you make a right turn, again following the signs for La Nicolière.

The traffic thins as you pass through more sugar-cane fields (no Ashok Leyland buses at last!), before crossing the dam wall. After the wall, the road climbs, alternating between lovely thick forest and some fine views out over the coastal plains to the east. After around 4.5km of climbing, the road crosses a plateau haired with agriculture. At the T-junction around 2km further on (look for the 'Selazi Forest Service' sign), turn left, following signs for St Pierre. You're largely back in civilisation with all the attendant construction, sugar cane and traffic, but it's worth it for the views away to the west from Ripailles and its approach – Calebasses (632m), Pieter Both (823m), Grand Peak (326m) and Le Pouce (812m) are all stunning.

From Ripailles it's downhill all the way – literally. In St Pierre, you could turn left (east) and return to the east of the island via Quartier Militaire. An alternative is to pause in Moka to visit the tranquil tropical mansion of Eureka.

Feature: Excursions to Île aux Cerfs

Île aux Cerfs, encircled by gin-clear waters, is many people's idea of a postcard-perfect tropical island. It's overrun by tourists and touts during peak season, when it becomes a victim of its own popularity, yet it remains one of the most picturesque island excursions for visitors to Mauritius. There's a world-class golf course, 4km of sandy bliss and a real sense of paradise beneath the palm trees.

Guests of Le Touessrok, including those who have reserved a round of golf, get whisked over to the island for free on the hotel launch. For everyone else, every boat owner in Trou d'Eau Douce seems ready to whisk you out to the island at a moment's notice. Ask at your accommodation to be set up with a reliable option, or try Bateaux Vicky, a ferry or water-taxi service that runs from Trou d'Eau Douce to Île aux Cerfs every half-hour, with the first boat at 9am and the last returning at 4.30pm.

The other way to reach the island is on a popular catamaran or speedboat day trip, which usually includes snorkelling, sunbathing and an expansive barbecue lunch (Rs 1000 to Rs 1800 per person depending on your choice of food). The day trip usually begins around 9.30am and runs until 3.30pm (if you're leaving from Trou d'Eau Douce).

Most coastal hotels across the island also offer day trips to Île aux Cerfs, or check out www.catamarancruisesmauritius.com for a list of possibilities. In Trou d'Eau Douce, try Johaness Entertainment.