A tiny little island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, just east of Madagascar, Mauritius is one of those places that seems to be the perfect little slice of island heaven. From the turquoise seas to the pristine white beaches stretching out for miles and the luxurious accommodations allowing you access to plenty of sunbathing and swimming, Mauritius is absolutely an island paradise for the beach-lover. But the island also has a unique history dating back several hundred years, with plenty of colonial towns and ruins, ethnic and cultural diversity, and variation in the scenery.
Over the years the island has seen a variety of cultures. It was first discovered by Arabian sailors around the ninth century, but it wasn't until the Portuguese arrived in 1505 that civilization began. However, it was the Dutch who actually first colonized the island in 1598, and they remained until 1710, when they abandoned the island after deforesting it. This led to a nearly-100 year occupation by the French colonials, and then the British colonials from 1810 till the island gained its independence in 1968.
The island boasts a variety of geographical wonders. From mountains to rain-forests to beaches and some of the best diving on the planet, Mauritius combines it all into an amazing experience. Relatively unknown to the modern traveler, Mauritius is nevertheless one of the most beautiful and safe places to experience an island adventure. Distinctly different from the Caribbean, travelers can explore such wonders as the Black River Gorges National Park with its massive waterfall, or the coastline along the Le Morne Peninsula. The colonial mansion of Eurka, nearly perfectly preserved, provides a look back into 1830s life, or visitors can tour the Grand Bassin of Ganga Taloa, a lake within the crater of an extinct volcano.
While relatively safe for all levels of travelers, with the native language as English, be sure to bring plenty of mosquito repellent and prepare for the island experience of a lifetime.