Say “Mauritius” and most people think romantic breakaways, honeymooning, or maybe even a summer holiday for the whole family at a seaside resort.
The Mauritian capital Port Louis, however, is also a popular business destination and business travellers often find themselves on the island with a day to kill.
Although you could keep yourself busy for a whole day in Port Louis itself, Mauritius is small enough – about 60km in length (north to south) and 45km in width (west to east) – to book a day trip out of the city and get to explore quite a big part of the island.
Here are a few things with which you can keep yourself busy the next time you have 24 hours to spare in Mauritius:
Discover Mauritian history
The Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site, the remains of an immigration depot built in 1849, is located in Port Louis, where the island nation’s modern indentured labour diaspora began. It was the first site chosen by the British government in 1834 for the use of indentured rather than slave labour. It’s strongly associated with memories of almost half-a-million labourers moving from India to Mauritius, to work on sugarcane plantations or be shipped to other parts of the world.
A visit to the Blue Penny Museum, which will keep you busy for about an hour, is ideal if you don’t have a lot of time. It boasts an impressive stamp selection (only lit up for 10 minutes every hour of the day, so check the times) and old Mauritian money.
Shop where the locals shop (and make sure you bargain)
For a truly Mauritian experience, visit the Central Market in Port Louis. Here you’ll find souvenirs such as brightly coloured, hand-woven handbags, as well as fresh produce, delicious street food and spices. Don’t be afraid to practise your haggle skills (or take a Mauritian friend with you) to get a good deal.
Put on those hiking shoes
Being a volcanic island, Mauritius has several beautiful summits and valleys to explore on foot. The guided climb from the Moka Museum up to the summit of Le Pouce mountain, the third-highest in Mauritius, takes about an hour. From here you’ll have an amazing 360-degree view of Mauritius – from the northern, small islands of Mauritius to the capital and the Plaines Wilhems district.
Go on a day trip
There are several day tours available from Port Louis if you’d like to spend some time at the beach or in the ocean, but one of the most popular ones is a full-day catamaran cruise to Bénitiers Island, off the west coast. You’ll glide along the island’s shores on the lookout for dolphins, have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear turquoise water, and enjoy a tasty meal on board.