Enjoy global gastronomy
'Eating local' in Mauritius is a global experience. The island's culinary traditions come from French, Indian, Chinese and African settlers. In any language, a lobster lunch translates as a good meal, and the smartest is served at La Cravache d'Or in Trou aux Biches (+230 265 7021), a verandah beach restaurant in the north. At Le Café des Arts (+230 480 0220), a converted sugar mill in Trou d'Eau Douce – one of 300 on the island – a Mauritian and French duo cook up Creole feasts, from butter-grilled langoustine to a spicy catch of the day steamed in banana leaves. You won't be stuck for talking points: the stone walls are hung with bright canvases by the late Yvette Maniglier, the last private pupil of Henri Matisse. If you're looking for less pricey alternatives, there are plenty of restaurants that offer well-cooked local food – Chez Tino (+230 480 2769) in Trou d'Eau Douce has superlative fish dishes that you can enjoy on a balcony overlooking the bay.
Capitalise on the culture
The buzzy capital of Mauritius, Port Louis is worth leaving the beach for. Its bustling Central Market sells everything from curios to fruit and veg and the fish section has exotic species on sale. Historic sites include the Citadel-Fort Adelaide (built in 1835 by the British to watch out for riots), while the Caudan Waterfront is great for local crafts and international fashion. If you like a flutter, Champ De Mars, the oldest racecourse in the southern hemisphere, has racing every Saturday or Sunday afternoon from May to November. Before you leave the capital, be sure to try a passion- fruit crème brûlée at the restaurant of Le Suffren hotel on the waterfront – locals swear by it.
Take time for tee
Mauritius is home to the oldest golf course in the southern hemisphere, at the Mauritius Gymkhana Golf Club, which dates from 1844. With verdant mountains, white-sand beaches and emerald lagoons as a backdrop, the island's courses are as varied as they are spectacular. The 18-hole championship course at Le Telfair ( letelfair.com ) was carved out of sugar-cane fields, while the hillside plantations along the east coast were the inspiration for Ernie Els's course at the Four Seasons Anahita (fourseasons.com/mauritius ). Belle Mare Plage (bellemareplagehotel.com ), home of the Mauritius Open, offers two championship courses. But perhaps the most spectacular course of all is at Le Touessrok ( letouessrokresort.com ). Designed by Bernhard Langer, it is set on the picturesque Ile aux Cerfs, and on several holes, tee shots must be hit across the sea to find the fairway. Not for the faint-hearted.
Leave the sun lounger and head into the island's green interior, much of which is protected by nature reserves. Get up close to the wildlife on a 4x4 safari-style tour in Casela Nature Park ( caselayemen.mu ) or Yemen Nature Reserve in the west, where zebra, antelope and wild pig roam. For a family-friendly nature experience, the Domaine les Pailles Park ( domainelespailles.net ), at the foot of the Moka Mountains, offers tours in a horse and carriage. Ardent twitchers and the mildly curious alike shouldn't miss taking the boat ride to the tiny nature reserve of Ile aux Aigrettes, an uninhabited conservation site off the east coast that's home to several near-extinct bird species. If you're lucky, you may spot the pink pigeon, one of the world's rarest birds. Wherever you go, take binoculars.
Take a hike
Put your best foot forward on some of the many walking trails and explore mountain lakes, waterfalls and what's left of the island's indigenous forest. The volcanic interior is not short of peaks offering 360º views. Even beginners can manage the gentle 9km loop to the island's highest point – except for a scramble near the top, the route up Black River Peak (827m high) is an easy hike. Equally spectacular is the climb to the top of Trou aux Cerfs, the extinct volcanic crater in Curepipe, which is carpeted with woodland.
Make a big splash
For all-year-round water sports you're in the right place – most resorts have lots to choose from. The Blue Bay marine park is bursting with enough staghorn coral and brilliantly coloured butterfly fish to lift the spirits of even the most jaded snorkeller. At the tip of a private peninsula, the Shandrani resort ( shandrani-hotel.com ) has pitched its dive centre on a wild beach with a vast lagoon. The One&Only Le Saint Géran ( oneandonlyresorts.com ) has the island's first dedicated kite-surfing centre to coach beginners and advanced riders in the joys of sailing through the air at up to 30 miles an hour. At Tamarin Bay, you can swim with spinner dolphins – several operators run popular trips from the beach.