There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of going off the beaten path, where routes are infinite and there are no wrong turns. Mauritius is your oyster, which only yearns to be devoured. Departing from one of our Heritage Resorts in Bel Ombre, you are headed in discovery of the wild Southern Coast. Don your sunnies and lather your sunscreen – you’re ready to wander across changing landscapes, dips and rises, forests and waterfalls. Instagrammers and Snapchatters, keep your camera poised for some serious wanderlust-inspiring photos.
Your road trip begins with a visit of what could likely be coined as the Holy Grail of beaches. Any doubts you have will be quickly washed away by sweeping views of a crystalline lagoon and an intimate, untouched beach. Not another soul in sight. With St Felix ideally located only an 8-minute drive from your hotel, you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to find the most flawless powdery white sand you have ever laid your eyes on.
After a quick dip to start your morning off right, head to Domaine De Chazal to discover Rivière des Galets. What better way to admire our unique landscape than 40 metres above ground! Connected to a zip line, you will whiz past spectacular views of lush forests and waterfalls craftily hidden amid banana plantations. The combination of speed and height will have your adrenaline pumping.
Continue cruising along the coastal road for another 20 minutes, past Riambel and its renowned centenarian trees, and make your way to Rochester Falls, only a few minutes away from Souillac. If the falls seem familiar to you, it might be because they have been featured in various Bollywood movies (We can think of no better place to break into a romantic song.)
The falls make for a breathtaking backdrop, featuring uniquely-shaped basalt rocks: years of erosion have fashioned the cliff into jagged rectangular blocks, from which 10 metres of foaming water cascade into a clear pool. If you are a thrill-seeker, pluck up the courage to dive into the deep pool – a 33-feet dive is no ordinary feat.
Your hanger pangs must have your stomach growling right about now, which is why the next pit stop takes you to the heart of Gris Gris. Chez Rosy, a charming local restaurant, breathes the authenticity and warmth of a family-run restaurant. Famous for its fresh lobsters, you can choose to have it in a curry, as a vindaye (marinated in onions, saffron and spices) or as a daube (a creole, tomato-based sauce.) During hunting season, you can order the venison curry, which pairs well with a cold Phoenix beer. Cool off with a pineapple flambé – It’s safe to say that you’ve done the rounds of all the flavours Mauritius has to offer.
Your next destination is unavoidable, as it remains a landmark even amongst locals. A mere 600 metres after Gris Gris Public Beach, clear signage leads you to La Roche Qui Pleure, translated to The Weeping Rock. This spot represents the only break in the island’s otherwise perfect barrier, which explains the untamed waves colliding with the cliffs. Take a moment to stare intently at the rocks; the longer you gaze, the clearer the image of a crying man becomes.
(Safety tip: Do not even consider swimming in this area – the waves are ferocious and the current extremely strong.)
Head North on Savanne Road, past St Aubin and Rivière des Anguilles, until the winding road leads you to Camp Diable, which literally translates to Devil’s Camp. Here, Amma Tookay Temple stands tall, in its colourful glory. The kovil (a Tamil temple) is the work of skilled artisans, who have delicately painted colourful deities and designs over its magnificent façade. Take off your shoes at the entrance (you run absolutely no risk of having them stolen) and have your forehead anointed with a tikka by the priest, as a symbol of welcome and honour. Before leaving, you will be handed some Prasad, an offering that takes the form of bananas and coconut.
Often, a motorcycle laden with gadjacks (deep fried snacks) will be waiting for you at the entrance of the lane leading up to the temple. You will find it hard to resist a gato piment (chilli cakes), best eaten with some spicy satini (chutney), especially when it is served to you with our island’s human currency: a bright smile and genuine warmth.
As you make your way back to Heritage Resorts and reflect on your day, it may dawn upon you that your uplifted mood comes from having broadened your horizons. You will return with deeper knowledge about the Mauritian way of life, rather than having viewed it from a distance. Continue your immersion in the local culture with a rum-infused drink at the Cavendish Bar: after driving all day, you certainly deserve it.