Over the Christmas holidays, I vacationed on the tropical island of Mauritius for two weeks. My friends and I stayed in Grand Baie in the Rivière du Rempart District.
I fell in love with the island’s tropical beauty, its surrounding azure sea, and the fascinating mix of cultures. The island might be small (only 2 040 km²!), but there are a lot of great places to explore. Besides visiting the many beaches, you can climb Mauritius’s highest mountain, Le Morne, admire the Seven Coloured Earths at the Chamarel Waterfalls, explore the Black River Gorges National Park, watch horse races, and much more.
The village of Grand Baie (or Grand Bay) is favourite of tourists from all around the world.
Once called De Bogt Zonder Eyndt (Bay Without End), the village is located on the northwest coast of Mauritius in a large bay. The bay creates a lagoon acting as a natural harbour.
Grand Baie has something for everyone. For the shoppers, it has a variety of fashion and craft shops (the Grand Baie Bazaar flea market is probably the most noteworthy example). Souvenir tip: Buy a dodo soft toy, as the dodo is Mauritius’s national animal (I bought myself one!).
For the more sporty tourists, activities include swimming, sailing, windsurfing, parasailing, and diving. Or you can just spend the day lounging on one of Grand Baie’s beautiful beaches and enjoy the breathtaking view.
Grand Baie is the point of departure for trips to tiny islands nearby. You can go on boat excursions to the islands to the north of Mauritius: Gunners’ Quoin, Flat Island, Round Island, and Serpent Island.
At night, Grand Baie has a fun, vibrant atmosphere. The streets bustle with people, young and old. You can wine and dine at one of the many nice restaurants the village has to offer, or you can party all night at the lively bars and clubs.
Closer to land, you can find Grand Baie’s natural harbour which is dotted with many boats, from simple fishing boats to fancy catamarans. But as you go out a bit further, the flat seawater is ideal for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, and waterskiing.
There are boat tours on the lagoon all day long. I’d definitely recommend a glass-bottom boat trip. Through the glass, you can see the amazing underwater world. As you cross the reefs in the lagoon, you’ll see fascinating tropical fish species like the bluestripe snapper, goldlined seabream, moorish idol, thumbprint emperor, bluespine unicorn fish, and more.
The most special part of the glass-bottom boat trip for me was feeding bread to a school of fish. Their mouths softly touched my fingers as they took the bread from me – an unforgettable feeling.
Grand Baie’s most popular beaches are Grand Bay Public Beach, Trou-aux-Biches, Mont Choisy Beach and La Cuvette Public Beach. During high season these beaches are quite populated with people savouring the sun’s warmth. This sunny atmosphere is sure to boost your mood instantly.
Alongside the beach, be sure to enjoy the stalls selling things like fast food, fruit, and fresh juice.
Grand Baie’s bars offer a delicious variety of cocktails. My two personal favourite beach bars are Les Canisses and The Beach House.
Les Canisses is pricey but worth it. The setting is stunning: Les Canisses is right on the beach. You can have something to eat, enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail, and you can even drink your cocktail on one of the lounge chairs on the beach in front of the restaurant (admit it: having a cocktail on the beach is a bucket-list must!). The staff, moreover, is helpful and friendly. In the evenings, the live music (usually blues) makes for a relaxing atmosphere.
The Beach House, owned by ex-South African rugby player Kabous van der Westhuizen, is more laidback and beachy. The venue is also on the beach and therefore it has a great, picturesque view. Beach House is ideal for large groups. Just remember to book a table in advance! It can get very busy there, especially in the evenings when Beach House comes alive. The popular restaurant is best known for its delicious prawns and juicy burgers, so having dinner there is not to be missed.
If you feel like partying, Grand Baie is the perfect place to be. It is the host to the nightlife of the island, with the biggest variety of clubs on the entire island. Some of the hottest clubs include Banana Beach Bar, Les Enfants Terribles (“The Terrible Children”), Zanzibar, Insomnia Night Club, and AlkatraZ.
My personal favourite is Banana Beach Bar. It is absolutely “the place to be” for an unforgettable night out on the island. The open-air venue has a natural tropical setting and great music. On most nights, there are live bands performing, and the Banana has a brilliant DJ too.
And don’t forget the drinks. It has the usual ciders and beers (such as the local Phoenix Beer and Flying Dodo beers), as well as cocktails. “The Banana has an extensive menu featuring cocktails made from local fruits and the best Mojito on the island,” according to its website.
Grand Baie is an amazing village. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to experience this lively place where I had so much fun and learned a lot.
I hope to return someday.