Mauritius, the beautiful island discovered by the Portuguese in 1505 is sublime.  Superlatives about its breathtakingly gorgeous beaches, scrumptious cuisine and unlimited outdoor fun even in winter have been well documented. Yet there is so much more and my recent diary of Mauritius was different from what one had imagined. It’s no secret that I love Mauritius. Perfect weather, friendly people, and service is always dispensed with a gleaming smile. To my surprise, on my third visit, I had not even touched the water. I had a whale of a time on the beach 100 metres away from my villa on the plush Four Seasons resort in February. Yes, there is much more to Mauritius than its beautiful beaches.  Of course, travelers will know that it is a tropical island with just two seasons, summer and winter, though the latter could hardly be the spur to send one rushing out to purchases winter woolies. The sun shines in winter, too, in Mauritius. Not just a tourism destination, Mauritius is a place to do business with textile, sugar cane and information and technology industries, and its ‘blue’ economy ocean state enjoying a boom as investors take advantage of generous tax and other benefits. The island which gained its independence 45 years ago and became a Republic in 1992 is renowned for its natural beauty. To mark the occasion of becoming a Republic, the reddish-orange flower Trochetia Boutoniana was declared the national flower. Long extinct, the Dodo is still fondly connected to the history of the island. Souvenir shops still carry items depicting the bird. Easy to access, the island is broken up into nine Districts, made up of Black River, Flacq, Grand Port, Moka, Pamplemousses, Port Louis, Plaines Wilhems, Riviere du Rempart, Savanne and Rodrigues is an island of Mauritius. Most people speak Creole but English is the official language. Exploring Mauritius by road is easy. One can travel the island by car, never missing awesome views of the sea and abundant natural beauty. With Ambre Hotel on the coast of Flacq as my base, one is to able traverse all four corners of the island, starting with a visit to Ile aux Cerf and the magical Le Touessrok, which boasts an international golf course with a sea view guaranteed to make one gasp. Golf is fast becoming one of the most attractive sports tourism hooks in Mauritius. Next up was a trip nearby to Domaine de L’Etoile, a beautifully expansive pleasure dome set in mountainous landscape with breathtaking flora and fauna and the opportunity of a 4×4 adventure.  And if one is so inclined, there’s also the opportunity to go horse-riding. While leisure is the goal, there are resident snappers on the resort to ensure memories made are retained for posterity on a DVD. However, the difference in the detail was to follow the next morning when the soldiers from the Department of Civil Aviation gave us a two hour helicopter ride that showed Mauritius like one has never seen before. Now that was awesome. Panoramic views to leave one marveling at such a haven, one could not help but feel drunkenly shaky with delight. After such a fanciful flight, it was only right that one was brought down to Mother Earth with a visit to the giant statue of Lord Shiva at Ganga Talao en-route to Grand Bassin.  After such highs, the next day was an early start for an hour-long drive to watch dolphins before a drive back along the North East Coast to Ambre. Mauritius is incomplete without taking in a tour of the bustling capital Port Louis which has the propensity to remind one of Johannesburg with its plethora of malls with a South African flavour and some taxi drivers who would be comfortable in South Africa. The marketplace in Port Louis was filled with the aroma of spices, fruit and vegetables and lined with stallholders selling souvenirs and clothing. Lunch at Lambic, across the road from the offices of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority was simple, yummy fish and chips served London-style in newspaper wrapping. Mauritius never fails to disappoint. There is something for everyone in this paradise. Holidaying, sports, just relaxing or the new buzzword is MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) with special packages for visitors. There’s so much to do here, that’s why I love Mauritius.

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