There’s so much more to Mauritius than just its beautiful beaches. Travel to the east coast, where you can enjoy wild adventures in unspoilt nature and authentic cultural experiences...
There’s so much more to Mauritius than its (admittedly beautiful) beaches – especially on the east coast, where unspoilt nature and authentic culture take centre stage. We’ve teamed up with SALT of Palmar, a boutique hotel that connects its guests with local people and places, to reveal the best of this wild and wonderful region...
Step inside the lava tubes of Roches Noires to witness Mauritius’s epic volcanic origins for yourself. The twisting, turning confines of Cave Madame and Princess Margaret Cave are the easiest to explore on foot (no expertise necessary) – with colourful snorkel sites where the area’s freshwater streams meet the ocean.
An adventure of discovery awaits those who take to the East Coast Road. Driving between beautiful beaches and tangled rainforests from Palmar to Poste Lafayette, road trippers can find hidden spots such as the Old Sugar Mills outside Belle Mare and admire the small, picturesque villages with traditional wooden pirogue fishing boats bobbing in the sea.
From its lushly forested valleys to its soaring mountain tops, Domaine de L'Etoile is the island’s biggest private nature reserve: 1,200 untamed hectares just waiting to be explored. Saddle up for a horse riding trip into the wilderness – before tackling the hiking trails, mountain buggies, zip lines and more.
The loftiest peak in the Bambous range, this isn’t a climb to be taken lightly: the path isn’t marked, and some sections will see you scrambling or blazing a trail through the bushes. But that’s all part of the fun! Hire an experienced guide for this epic day hike – and enjoy spectacular summit views that stretch as far as the ocean.
Even on hot days, Bras d'Eau National Park is a cool retreat – thanks to its dense forests of mahogany and eucalyptus, and the shady Mare Sarcelle mangroves. A 30km cycling trail runs from the visitor centre (where there are bikes to hire) through the thicket, its trees a-flutter with exotic birds.
You’ll feel like the luckiest castaway on this paradise isle, where wild woodland meets white sands and sun-sparkling shallows. It’s every beach cliché brought to life: beautiful enough to tempt even the most itchy-footed adventurer into a few days of sunbathing and snorkelling. Catch the 30-minute boat shuttle from Pointe Maurice.
At Wanderlust, we’re always on the lookout for hotels that go the extra mile: that champion sustainability, support local communities, and do everything they can to make your trip unforgettable. That’s why SALT of Palmar, on the east coast of Mauritius, caught our eye.
Not only is it a looker – a colourful riad-style hotel set right on the beach, complete with a pool and ocean-view rooms – but it celebrates island culture at every turn. You can feast on homegrown flavours in the bakery and restaurant, explore the coast on local-led adventures, and brush up on island heritage everywhere from the library (curated by Mauritian authors) to the beach bar (with its lively sega soundtrack).
Mauritius’s salt-producing heritage is centuries-old, but this white gold has inspired more than just a name for the hotel. Renowned for its calming, anti-inflammatory properties, it’s used everywhere from the welcome meditation ritual to the spa – where you’ll find a treatment room made entirely from salt.
And, most impressively, the hotel treads lightly on the landscape: not only has it banned single-use plastic (there are filtered water taps, and bamboo toothbrushes), but food miles and imports are kept to an absolute minimum. From toiletries to tea, everything is produced locally and responsibly: proof that sustainability and style can go hand-in-hand.
With SALT of Palmar’s unique ‘Skill Swap’ initiative, you can connect directly with local people – sharing knowledge, stories, and unforgettable good times. Fish for your supper with Kishor, an east coast fisherman; or enjoy a Mauritian meal cooked by Mirella, who hosts guests in her family home. And, if you’ve been eyeing up the bespoke art and ceramics throughout the hotel, you can take a workshop with the very people who made them: from hand-woven beach bags with Reotee Buleeram, to exquisite clay pottery with Janine Espitalier-Noel.
These local craftspeople – also known as ‘SALT Shakers’ – will not only teach you a new skill or two, but give you an insight into life in Mauritius while they do. “I’ve been making baskets for so long, honestly I don’t remember when I started,” says Reotee – who, even at 74, still has fast hands and a twinkle in her eye. “All the beach bags I have created for SALT of Palmar are made from recycled materials… it’s great that we can make use of the plastic other people just throw away.”
And if you’ve got a talent or expertise to share, SALT of Palmar would love to hear about it too. Perhaps you can exchange it with a local person, broadening their horizons and skillset? What an incredible way to leave your mark on Mauritius.
SALT of Palmar knows all of its farmers and fishermen by name – and buys only the best, most sustainably-produced ingredients. Forget fixed menus and pile-’em-high buffets: dining here is all about what’s fresh on the day, whether that’s fiery chicken curries, fragrant biryanis, or sizzling seafood barbecues.
Inspired by the island’s African, Asian and European roots, the east coast’s foodie scene is wonderfully eclectic. For authentic Indian, try Amari by Vineet Bhatia (Belle Mare), while Chez Manuel (St Julien) serves Chinese favourites with a Mauritian twist. La Case du Pecheur (Bambous Virieux) is the spot for seafood, and Chez Tino (Trou d'eau Douce) specialises in Creole-spiced curries.
Local life in Mauritius revolves around its many markets – and Flacq Market, on the east coast, is no exception. Open on Wednesdays and Sundays, it’s THE place to try local street food – with stalls selling everything from freshly-cooked rotis and parathas, to Chinese-inspired dumplings and wonton soup. Don’t miss the locally-grown Victoria pineapples, too.
For long sunny days and balmy evenings, visit Mauritius between May and December. The island’s bus service is cheap and convenient, but hiring a car gives you real independence – and the roads and highways are well-maintained.
While the east coast’s highlights are a short drive from SALT of Palmar, the island’s other main sights are within easy reach too – including Port Louis (50 minutes), Chamarel (1.5 hours), Black River Gorges National Park (1 hour) and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (1 hour).
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