21 Nov 2017 Royal Park, Mauritius

Off the beaten track

Mauritius is very different than one first expects. I had imagined another atoll, but as I soon found out, it is very different. You’ll find the epic beaches, lagoons and azure waters, but I must admit to mild surprise at the undulating beauty of the landscape.

In the mountains of Salaize, 40 minutes from Royal Park, the resort has a private lodge and some 500 hectares of nature reserve and park land filled with wild deer. It’s available exclusively to owners, who can organise picnics there, a catered lunch or even a camping trip. Mountain bike excursions, guided hikes, horse riding or 4×4 tours can also be arranged for you to explore via their dedicated concierge team. Climbing to the highest point of the estate allows you to capture a 360 degree aspect of the island, taking in the sugar cane fields, the surrounding reefs and islands beyond.

We chose to return back down to Balaclava on mountain bikes, which takes you on a romantic descent through jungle fringed roads and past huge banyan trees, before plateauing by an enormous lake reserve. The morning’s activity behind us, we elected to visit some of the uninhabited island’s close to Grand Baie for a picnic and the chance to see dolphins and quite possibly, blue whales. The trip is a well organised affair and leaves from R Beach Club in Mont Choisy on the resort’s Sunseeker with two crew. The itinerary starts with a run north passing the island’s most beautiful beaches and leading hotels, before reaching the small islet of Gunner’s Quoin or swimming and snorkelling, after which, the boat reaches Flat Island, home to the legendary ‘Shark Pit’ dive site, where divers can witness sharks swirling within the pit after the rich oxygen created by the crashing waves.

The picnic is unpacked by the crew, with a selection of chilled wines, brochettes of white fish, crabmeat sandwiches and assorted salads. The return trip takes in nearby ‘Round Island’ before the 40 minute run back to R Beach Club for sundowners at the bar. It’s an action packed day out and proves that there is a lot more to Mauritius than just sandy beaches. To arrange excursions, call the Royal Park concierge team on 0207 873 2009.