I took this Photo Friday at dusk one day at La Grande Baie in the north-east of Mauritius. A calm had settled on the waterscape and all the fishermen and kids had left the boats. I love the saturated colors and the reflections in the waters.
What to do at La Grande BaieLa Grand Baie is the country’s burgeoning St. Tropez whose bay is filled with catamarans and big game fishing cruisers alongside traditional fishing dinghies. Seafood restaurants frame a wide sandy beach and upscale boutiques offer the latest fashions. Nearby beaches at Pereybere, Mont Choisy or Trou aux Biches offer even better swimming.
Take a day-sail on a large catamaran out to Flat Island where you can snorkel around fringing coral reefs to see clown and parrot fish darting around anemones and brain coral. You’ll enjoy a barbecue on board the boat and often catch sight of humpback whales breaching on the way back into Grand Baie.
Where is Mauritius and what is it like
It seems to be in the middle of nowhere in the wide blue Indian Ocean but it is actually 20 degrees south of the Equator and about 2000 kilometers off the south eastern coast of Africa.
Sixty-five kilometers long and 45 kilometers wide, Mauritius has beaches and water sports for all tastes
Today, Mauritius markets itself as a luxury island retreat with more than a dozen five-star resorts dotted around its coastal rim offering golf (there are six 18-hole and three 9-hole courses), tennis, spas, fine cuisine and all manner of water sports not to mention tax incentives and Mauritian citizenship for foreigners who decide to buy a piece of paradise. Indeed, this high-end tourism (as well as textile manufacturing and cyber business) has picked up the slack from the faltering sugar industry.
What is its History
Known to Arab traders as early as the 10th century, but officially discovered in 1505 by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas, the island was first settled by the Dutch in 1598 as a supply base for the Dutch East Indies Company. Naming it Mauritius after Prince Maurice of Orange who pioneered the lucrative spice trade in the Indian Ocean, they introduced sugar cane and tobacco (and the slaves from Africa to harvest it) as well as Java deer and wild boar. They also wiped out the ebony forests and the indigenous flightless bird, the dodo. Their old settlement ruins can still be found at Vieux Grand Port.
The French took over in 1710 colonizing Mauritius for a mere hundred years and although their name for the island (Ile de France) never stuck, their language and culture blossomed so that today Indian, Chinese and Creole Mauritians still speak French and shop at boulangeries and boucheries.
Mauritius was ceded to Great Britain in 1814 through the Treaty of Paris as part of the spoils from the Napoleonic wars. And while they allowed the French language and legal system to continue they eventually abolished slavery and brought Indian and Chinese indentured laborers to work the cane fields.
In 1968 Mauritius became an independent nation and today the one million plus population is 60% Hindu, 20% Creole (descended from the original slaves), 15% Muslim, 3% Chinese and 2% white. The currency (Mauritian rupee) and curries reflect a dominant Indian culture, yet French and Creole are the patois of everyday. English is also an official language.
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