More, More, Maur

Settled by the Dutch, seized by the French, and taken over by the Brits, Mauritius has been sought after forever and has of late caught the attention of the beautiful sun-worshiping set. But there’s more to this African island than dazzling beaches. Slice the country into quarters and discover what lured everyone here in the first place.

The North
Port Louis, the capital, is the best place to start. Get a feel for Mauritius’s storied past at the Blue Penny Museum (Le Caudan Waterfront; +230-210-8176), then venture to colorful and crazy Bazaar Port Louis, an old marketplace selling fruit, souvenirs, and clothing. Have a dholl puri (a tortilla-like flatbread made from crushed yellow split peas, filled with vegetable curry) for lunch and wash it down with an ice cold alooda (a sweet milkshake immersed with agar beads): Mauritian street food at its finest.

barachois beauty!

The East
Luxury hotels line the amazing beach along the Flacq coastline. Check into One&Only Le Saint Géran (Pointe de Flacq; +230-401-1688) for gracious service, lush landscaping, and blissful spa treatments. Hotel guest or not, make reservations at restaurant Rasoi by Vineet for Michelin-awarded chef Vineet Bhatia’s fragrant, spicy dishes, especially anything made on the tak-a-tak grill.

Road trip along the southeast coast through picturesque villages to Le Barachois (Anse Bambous-Vieux Grand Port; +230-634-5643). The off-the-beaten-path resto has gorgeous views, is surrounded by a natural fish reserve and mangroves, and serves an amazing lunch of local seafood and venison.

The South
A handful of charming colonial houses still holds ground throughout Mauritius. One of our favorites is Saint Aubin (Rivière des Anguilles; +230-626-1513), where they grow vanilla and make rhum agricole. Tour the property, visit the distillery, and stroll the tropical gardens.

eureka -- you found it!

The West
For more throwback architecture, Maison Euréka (Moka; +230-433-8477), poised across the stunning Moka mountain range, is a must. Have a cocktail on the veranda and dinner at the restaurant, where the chef cooks Mauritian Creole specialties in an outdoor kitchen.

Just south of Moka is Quatre-Bornes, home to the best bazaar in town. Go Thursdays and Sundays for factory seconds on big labels or Wednesdays and Saturdays for the farmers market. Expect to be seduced by heady aromas and juicy, fresh, bizarre, and beautiful local fruits. This is delicious Mauritius.

While you’re in Africa:
+ Insider’s Guide to Kenyan Safari
+ DailyCandy Goes to Zanzibar