Different people look for different things when planning vacations centered around relaxation. Some people relax by hiking in mountains, while others relax by plopping down by the pool or on the beach with a good book.
Even within the category “beach/pool relaxation,” there are several types of amazing destinations you can visit. For example, Bali and the Maldives are both destinations known for relaxation, though they’re completely different.
The Maldives is spectacularly gorgeous, with the most perfect beaches and water I’ve seen anywhere. The catch is that it’s really expensive and secluded. Most resorts are on individual islands, so you won’t be able to experience much of the local culture. Instead you’ll just be exposed to artificial life at the resort. Which is great if your goal is simply to relax, but less great if you’re looking to mix relaxation with sightseeing.
Bali is completely different than the Maldives. Contrary to popular belief, most of the beaches in Bali aren’t that incredible, and the ocean isn’t crystal clear. I love Bali for the resorts with beautiful pools, the (comparatively) reasonable prices, the cool cultural activities (Bali has amazing coastline and also beautiful rice terraces and jungles), and most importantly, the people. The Balinese people are among the friendliest in the world, in my opinion.
Well, a bit over a weeks ago I made a brief visit to Mauritius, which I’ll be sharing more details of later. I didn’t know what to expect going into the visit, though Mauritius is a place which has always fascinated me. It’s a pretty tiny island off the coast of Africa, and I was curious to compare and contrast it to Bali, the Maldives, etc.
To sum up my thoughts in a sentence, I was absolutely thrilled by Mauritius, and can’t wait to return.
We rented a car for our short stay there, and for one, it was a joy to drive in Mauritius. While they drive on the left side of the road, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed more civilized driving anywhere. The roads were consistently empty, and the landscape was beautiful. I’m someone who loves driving, so being in a place where I feel comfortable renting a car and it’s actually enjoyable to drive is a big plus for me. The infrastructure was fantastic.
The island has varied terrain, from huge fields to massive hills; pictures can’t do justice to how beautiful it is. When we arrived we were driving to the St. Regis, located on the opposite side of the island of the airport. We had to take a winding road down the side of a mountain, and the views of the sunset were spectacular — unfortunately the pictures can’t do justice to how tranquil it was, as we pulled over on the side of the road to take some pictures, and heard complete silence, aside from some nature.
So, how are the beaches in Mauritius? Nice, but not amazing. I’d say on average they’re on par with Bali, though can’t really compare to the Maldives. The quality varied across the island, though overall I found the beaches to have a surprising number of rocks. The water was beautiful and in some places crystal clear, nicer for sure than in Bali, but not quite to the level of the Maldives.
But I loved the backdrop of the island in general, as you had all kinds of huge mountains along with endless greenery.
What also pleasantly surprised me about Mauritius were the people. Whether at the St. Regis or otherwise, I found the Mauritian people to be exceedingly friendly and hospitable, almost to the level I’ve experienced in Bali.
It’s tough to explain, but what I also loved is that on the weekends the locals were all having barbecues on the public beaches, and seemed to be spending time with friends and family. There’s something nice about being in a place where it seems like the locals are happy and have a decent quality of life.
While you shouldn’t visit a destination for a hotel alone, the St. Regis was spectacular. Physically the hotel was beautiful, with French Colonial architecture. Beyond that, they had service, food, and amenities to match.
Seasonally the hotel isn’t that expensive, especially if you can use the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit to lower the cost of your stay.
I can’t wait to return, and when I do, I’d also love to visit the Seychelles and Reunion as well, which are the islands in the general vicinity.
Have you been to Mauritius? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t been, is it on your list of places to visit?