DISCOVER THE NORTHERN REGION OF MAURITIUS

The north of Mauritius is a popular destination among beachgoers and sea lovers. The proximity of the Indian Ocean, scent of the sea breeze and spellbinding turquoise-blue shades of the lagoon endow the coast with a very special atmosphere. Sheltered from trade winds, the north boasts the mildest temperatures on the island with little rainfall.

The legendary chilled-out Mauritian lifestyle takes on its full meaning here. You will get to experience it first-hand once you take up residence in Grand Gaube.

Come and discover a bustling tourist destination, especially Grand Baie, but where even today, one can still stumble upon traditional villages that have retained their rustic look and feel with lively alleys living to the gentle rhythm of markets or traditional fishing such as Goodlands or Poudre d’Or. The countryside commands luxuriant landscapes, pine or araucaria forests, sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see, dotted with the remains of the 19th century sugar industry, at Mont Choisy or Mapou which is home to Domaine de Labourdonnais.

The multicultural population lives in harmony and the different religious groups interact in the most natural way without any conflict. Tamil temples, churches and mosques speckle the urban landscape, whereas religious festivals and processions form part of everyday life.

Among the must see, four very different spots in the north illustrate its multifaceted charm: the islands off the north coast to explore on board a catamaran or during a scuba diving session, the village of Goodlands famous for its traditional market just off Grand Gaube, Pamplemousses Botanical Garden for an immersion in tropical nature and the Red Roof Church of Cap Malheureux – Mauritius’s picture postcard. Other favourites are: Cave Madame (Women’s Cave) in Roches Noires or the village of Poudre d’Or forever linked to the legend of Paul and Virginie and so much more.

19th century sugar industry, at Mont Choisy or even at Mapou which is home to the Domaine de Labourdonnais castle.
The multicultural population here live in perfect harmony and the religions mix together naturally without conflict. The Tamil temple, churches and mosques speckle the urban landscape, whereas religious festivals and processions make up part of everyday life.

Among the northern region’s must-sees, we can think of four very different places to illustrate its different facets: the islands off the north coast can be discovered during a catamaran cruise or a Scuba diving session, the village of Goodlands and its traditional market situated close to Grande Gaube, the Jardin de Pamplemousses to immerse yourself in tropical nature and the Chapel of Cap Malheureux – Mauritius’ picture postcard. Roches Noires and its Cave Madame is also somewhere to see or there is the village of Poudre d’Or, forever linked with the myth of Paul and Virginia.

The village of Grand Gaube

Grand Gaube is situated 10 kilometres from Grand Baie, 29 kilometres from Port-Louis – the capital of the island – and 56 kilometres from the airport of Mauritius, requiring a transfer time of about 1h30. Grand Gaube is a small and very quiet fishing village with Creole accents renowned for Saint Michel Church and the manufacture of traditional jackfruit-wood canoes. In addition to stretches of white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Grand Gaube offers absolutely jaw-dropping views of Coin de Mire Island, Ile Plate (Flat Island), Ile Ronde (Round Island) and Ile aux Serpents (Serpent Island).

The Northern Islands

The northern islands are easily accessible by sailing off from Grand Baie or Cap Malheureux, even if some of them are protected and cannot be visited. The islands offer sublime landscapes that can be enjoyed during a catamaran cruise or a scuba diving session: guaranteed change of scenery!

  • Coin de Mire, 8 km to the north of Mauritius, is one of the best diving spots in the north of the island. At an average depth of 6 metres (the depth varies from 3–9 metres) in crystal-clear waters offering high visibility, the conditions are ideal for diving all year round. The island is a protected nature reserve where boats cannot be docked. It boasts large cliffs where a number of native birds can be observed, including the famous national bird of Mauritius, the “Pailles en Queue” (white-tailed tropic bird) flying over the island or nesting in cliff cracks.
  • Ile Plate (Flat Island) is located about 11 kilometres north of Cap Malheureux. Spanning over 253 hectares, it is the largest of the northern islets. As its name suggests, it is flat but it features only one large hill from which one of Mauritius’s two operational lighthouses rises. The surrounding reef is much appreciated by divers and snorkellers. Its beautiful white sandy beaches are an invitation to idleness.

To the north of Ile Plate (Flat Island) is “Pigeon Rock”, a steep coast home to the famous “jumping fish”. Small fish that can only be found in this area. They have the ability to live out of water. Observe hundreds of them on rocks but as you draw near them, they dive back into the water.

  • Ilot Gabriel (Gabriel Island)
  • Le Pain de Sucre
  • L’île aux Serpents (Serpent Island)
  • L’île Ronde (Round Island)

Red Roof Church of Cap Malheureux

Don’t miss the famous Notre-Dame-Auxiliatrice church in Cap Malheureux, eponymous to all the shipwrecks that have occurred on its coasts.

Situated on the northern tip of the island, the small red roof church stands out against a backdrop of the turquoise lagoon and Coin de Mire Island. A picture-perfect setting and one of the highlights of Mauritius worth a visit!

The church, famous for its surprising basalt altar and stoup, is open to visitors.

Its architecture is very simple, the white walls, exposed frames and red roof are reminiscent of the colours of flamboyant flowers on the island.

Masses are open to all and are held on Saturdays at 6 pm and Sundays at 9:30 am. The church is not very big, so do not hesitate to come early to secure a seat inside. It is a place of recollection and praise singing for the faithful ones, especially on Sundays. Feel free to stroll around and admire the panoramic view or rejoice in the shade of a huge Banyan with impressive visible roots. Not far, you can visit the marine cemetery and a beautiful Tamil temple.

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Pamplemousses Botanical Garden

While the village of Pamplemousses owes its name to the fruit that the Dutch imported when they occupied the island, the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden is steeped in French history. It was Pierre Poivre, Intendant of Isle de France (now Mauritius) who, in 1967, created the botanical garden by acclimatising plants from all over the world. It is the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere, recently renamed Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden in memory of the Father of the Mauritian Nation.

Extending over 37.5 hectares, it is home to more than 600 endemic plant species from all over the world, as well as animals such as java deer, hinds and tortoises.

The garden contains an incredible collection of more than 80 species of palm trees, rare and precious species such as mahogany and teak and fruit trees such as mango trees and lychee trees. A feast for all your senses: spices and aromatic plants including cinnamon, camphor, vanilla, eucalyptus … so many fragrances that will guide you through your stroll along the garden paths. A small paradise and one of the most visited spots in Mauritius!

Goodlands village and market

In Goodlands, a large village populated by some 14,000 inhabitants and located 5 kilometres from Grand Gaube, sits a traditional market well worth your time!

Immerse yourself into Creole culture and interact with merchants and residents who come to shop there. Browse through the innumerable stalls. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, fruits, vegetables, fish and handicrafts abound but you will also come across many small Mauritian street food stands for a little bite on the spot or for take away. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the clothing and fabric market is famous for Indian clothing, especially saris.

The market and main street of Goodlands, which boasts a large selection of stores, offer an enchanting ambience and make for pleasant strolls. Just a short distance from the market, discover the Hindu temple Mariammen Kovil and reputed model ship factory Historic Marine.