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Mauritius Information North

The North of Mauritius, with the village of Grand Bay as the cheerleader, is the most tourist-orientated region of the island. The North of Mauritius counts approximately thirty hotels>, as many guesthouses, tens of restaurants in addition to several bars and discotheques, many shops and now shopping centres.
Climate
The wind being generally offshore, the beaches and lagoons are sheltered making the northern region recommendable for the windy winter months.

Even so, a sweatshirt or something warmer is necessary for the winter evenings of June to September.

In summer, (November to March) the North and especially Grand Bay can get very hot and humid where a T-Shirt is the only thing you can wear.

Topography

The Northern region is known as the "Northern Plains" for it is generally as flat as Belgium. Its beauty and interest definitely being the seaside as the open sea off the coast is wonderful and is attractive all year round.

Apart from the Grand bay area itself, the seaside of the North is rich in colours and variety. The sea surface inside the lagoons is often smooth as in swimming pools, with an unmatched transparency. The view of the lagoons fading from green to blue, delimited by the white surf of the coral reefs, topped by the deep blue of the open sea is simply breathtaking.

The generally good sea conditions are best, making the North / Northwest region the ideal place for nautical activities.

Access to the sea being quite restricted by the presence of hotels and private bungalows, the interesting features of the north are its several fishermen's villages found along the coast. Taking half a day for a sightseeing drive along the coast, taking time to stop in villages like Pointe-aux-Piments, Grand Gaube and Poudre d'Or is the right thing to do when you have had enough of the beach. The North also has at least two inland places of interest, which are "La Nicoliere" drive and the Pamplemousses botanical Garden.


La Nicolière
La Nicoliere is on the way to the East and can be a country road access to the centre of Mauritius. La Nicoliere is a small lake / reservoir, surrounded by nature preserved hillsides where the vegetation is totally different to the one along the coast, just a few kilometres away. Wild monkeys and bats can be spotted while driving uphill in late afternoon and it is possible to stop at two or three viewpoints along the road and enjoy the view and fresh air and why not take a short walk in the bush.
The Pamplemousse Garden
The Pamplemousses garden was created under the initiative of former French Governor Francois Mahe de Labourdonnais (1699-1753), initially as his residence, after he had decided to develop Port Louis as main port in 1735. Labourdonnais, had decided to grow in this garden, the widest variety of trees, plants and spices collected from several French counters along the spice route.

"Pierre Poivre" (Peter Pepper if literally translated) who dedicated part of his life to spices, settled in Mauritius after the departure of Labourdonnais and further developed this project, which finally turned up to be a financial fiasco for the "Compagnie des Indes." What's left today is only a small portion of the whole garden, but remains a pleasant break especially if called at on the way back from Port Louis.

Opposite the garden is the welcoming village of Pamplemousses and the oldest church of the country, an ancient cemetery where one can learn about the names of the first French settlers as well as a few restaurants.

Grand Bay
Mauritius is generally not a busy place (except for road traffic) but the village of Grand Bay with its amount of restaurants and, to a lesser extent, its bars and discotheques is probably the only place, together with Flic-en-Flac and Black River on the  West Coast, giving the impression of nightlife. Depending on the period, it can get busy if not “buzzy” in peak seasons, especially in December / January.

Since most restaurants stop serving food as from 10.00 p.m. it is advisable to keep the drinks short prior to dinner and find out about the few late night bars for a night cap. For the most zealous night owls, these bars would be your waiting area until activity in the night clubs pick up, generally around midnight.

Due to the fact that it was the first coastal village to be frequently visited by tourists, some aspects of Grand Bay are typical of all the tourist destinations. Grand Bay has also attracted several people from the other villages and regions to a point where it is difficult to identify today who are the true people of Grand Bay. Commerce and tourist attraction is the common denominator. 

The last remnants of Grand Bay as a fishermen village are now gone, thanks to the lack of urban planning and the respect of laws, to the frenzy "investors" in apartments remaining empty, to immobilized mobile food outlets, to tireless tricycles and food lorries obstructing the sea view and lately to shopping centres. Seen as chaotic by those who regret its quiet old times, folkloric for those who just spend a few days.

Therefore Grand Bay remains a convenient place to stay for its location, as it only takes half a day by car to discover several other regions of Mauritius while taking advantage of the  shopping opportunities and of the restaurants.



Due to favourable sea conditions, Grand Bay offers the best opportunities of Nautical activities and nearly all excursions proposed in Mauritius can be booked from the numerous local tour-operators on the street side. Some of them may not be reliable and we advise contacting agencies from licensed receptive agents working with foreign tour-operators. 
In & around Grand Bay and the North
Restaurants
There are so many of them that recommendations are difficult as their quality keeps oscillating. Grand Bay nonetheless counts several good addresses proposing cuisines of very different origins.

Activities
Spending days out at sea is the thing to do when staying in the North. It is of course possible to step on board one of the numerous catamarans for a day trip around the isles of the North; rates being affordable, it is an easy way to enjoy a minimum of the sun and sea; undoubtedly the main reason for coming all the way to Mauritius. However, being on board with 20 persons to moor next to 10 other boats is the not best way to enjoy the pleasures of the sea, calm, peacefulness and the feeling of total freedom. We thus strongly recommend to rent one of these boats on an exclusive basis, even if it represents an important financial effort, and to choose a mooring away form the other boats. Boats can be rented for a full day or a sunset cruise.

For real intense enjoyment in real Mauritian style, we would suggest an overnight trip on board a Sailing catamaran or on board a Power catamaran.

Outside sailing, there are several good dive sites and diving centres along the North coast. There are also some other original ways to dip into the blue, by making undersea walks, dive with a “Subscooter” or on board a submarine.

On land side, one can go for a horse-riding trip inside the Mont Choisy park, with Horse Riding Delights or at the Maritim Hotel (Balaclava.)

Yemaya Adventures proposes trekking or mountain biking at La Nicoliere (and kayak trips among the mangroves of Ile d’Ambre).

See our guide on Mauritius excursions, sports and activities for further guidance.

Exportal Ltd
Phone: +230 5421 1070
Royal Road, Haute Rive
Rivière du Rempart, Mauritius

By
Publisher: Tropicscope.com

Update January 2013

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