The West & South-West
The west and south-west coast of Mauritius will offer you a completely different experience of the country. It is the sunniest and driest region of the island, with a nature and landscapes that will remind you of the African savanna. There are many places to discover and a lot of activities and leisure to experience, at sea or inland, in the heart of nature. The beaches of Flic en Flac, Tamarin and Le Morne are the most popular for family outings, surfing and kitesurfing and for its heritage as well. Leisure parks will delight young and grown-ups alike, and nature lovers will also be delighted to discover the Black River Gorges National Park or take a trip out to sea and watch dolphins. The region benefits from a pleasant temperature all year round, during summer and winter, and has a myriad of activities and leisure for the whole family during your holidays in Mauritius.
What to see in the West? The west and southwest of Mauritius consist of several coastal villages, each with its own characteristics. These villages, although residential, and all located in the Black River district, offer visitors remarkable experiences in terms of leisure, food, nature and encounters with locals.
When you leave Port-Louis to the south, take the Black River Road that will lead to all the villages in the west and southwest. Pointe aux Sables and Albion are the first on the way. Rather residential, these coastal localities are quiet and visited by the inhabitants of the region. At the entrance of Pointe aux Sables, you can have a quick stop at the Martello tower, a defensive stone structure built by the British in the early 19th century. For the daring, there is “Montagne Zako” between Pointe aux Sables and Albion, a cliff of about twenty meters high, from where you can jump into the sea below. But it is better to ask the seasoned divers on site to know the right time to dive, it can be dangerous, but so thrilling!
Flic en Flac is known for its beautiful beach with casuarina trees that stretches over a few kilometres, but also for its many food outlets and its nightlife. The beach is very popular among Mauritian families for the weekly picnics, being easy to reach from the urban centre of the island; tourists also love it. Take the opportunity to discover the local street-food in the many food trucks on the beach or try one of the restaurants along the street. After sunset, the coastal road teems with people on weekends next to the various pubs and nightclubs. You could opt for a restaurant-club evening, and try to meet the Mauritian night owls.
Heading south, it is a completely different landscape that lies before you; the mountains and vegetation take various shades of ochre, recalling the African savannah. Once isolated fishing villages, Tamarin and Grande Rivière Noire are today very populated and prized by wave lovers and those who seek a quiet life by the seaside. Surfing enthusiasts will be delighted by the different spots in the region, including the one in Dal, made famous by «The Forgotten Island of Santosha», a film produced some 40 years ago.
At the entrance of Tamarin, you cannot miss the salt pans, the only ones in activity today. You can visit them and bring back some souvenir products from the shop. At dusk, great pictures can be taken there, with La Tourelle Mountain in the background. At La Preneuse beach, in Grande Rivière Noire, you have another Martello tower, which has been converted into a museum since 1999. Follow the guide!
When leaving Grande Rivière Noire, drive off the main road to head to the Black River Gorges National Park. It is a lush forest, house to a great variety of native and endemic trees, but also treasurable animal species, such as the Pink Pigeon, the Mauritian Parakeet or the Paradise Flycatcher, highly monitored protected birds. You may be impressed by the size of the Mauritian Bats that go out in broad daylight above the trees. The park is also one of the favourite places for nature lovers and trail amateurs; several marked trails are accessible, and some will lead you to the forest of Macchabée or Pétrin, in the heights of the island.
After driving along the the scenic route of Petite Rivière Noire, Case Noyale and La Gaulette, small fishing villages, are appreciated by kite surfers for their proximity to the sea and the affordable holiday rentals there. Case Noyale’s landing station is an interesting stopover for photos. It is a unique place, out of time, with its small stone post office protected by an impressive Banyan tree that has been there for ages. A stunning place to shoot at sunset. Benitiers Island, a very touristic island, can be reached from La Gaulette. On the menu, watch the dolphins, dive next to Crystal Rock, and enjoy a nice barbecue on the island.
Le Morne, which lies further south, is popular for its beautiful white sandy beach and surf and kitesurf spots, but is also a place steeped in history and forms part of UNESCO World Heritage. Popular for family picnics on Sundays, Le Morne beach is also very prized by surfers. All surfers have heard about the famous «One Eye» spot at Le Morne, which is said to take its name from the human profile that can be seen on the side of the mountain and from which one can distinguish an eye formed by a hole in the stone.
Le Morne also forms part of the history of Mauritius. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. During the colonial era, some of the runaway slaves climbed this mountain and, in order not to be taken back, are said to have thrown themselves into the void out of spite. Communities of slaves had formed in some hidden cavities of the mountain. A memorial site with sculptures can be visited at the foot of Le Morne Mountain.
There is a wide range of activities available in the Black River region, between leisure parks and wildlife, Nature Park, water activities and climbing. Leisure parks such as Gros Cailloux and Casela, offer a myriad of activities for the whole family, such as quad, wake board, zip line. At Casela Park in particular, you can discover the Mauritian and African fauna. Safaris and other interactions with wild animals and other savannah creatures are proposed. Exceptional moments await you!
If you are more attracted by the sea, make your childhood dream come true and venture out at sea to watch the dolphins, various packages are available with the several operators in Black River. Surfers and kite surfers can indulge in their favourite sport in Tamarin and at Le Morne, the equipment can easily be rented nearby. For information, the practice of sailing sports is regulated, there are specific sites dedicated to them.
Those who want to immerse themselves into nature can opt for hikes at the Black River Gorges National Park, or try climbing Le Morne Mountain, with or without a guide, the second part which is higher, is not within the reach of everyone.
The main shopping centre in the region is the Cascavelle Shopping Mall, at the junction of Flic en Flac and Black River. You will find several clothing, accessories, jewellery, souvenir shops, a wine outlet, a supermarket, a bank and a food court. Towards the south, in Black River, you will have the Ruisseau Créole Shopping Mall which also includes shops, restaurants, bank, and wine shops, among others. You will have smaller commercial complexes in the different villages on your way.