In a nutshell: A sunshine paradise, with British echoes, in the Indian Ocean.
Is it part of Africa? Is it part of Asia? Is it part of that glorious, hazily undefined section of the Indian Ocean where golden sands are nudged by waves of postcard blue? The answer is probably the third one – although, in truth, when a place is as beautiful as Mauritius, questions of precise geography cease to matter. An independent island nation pitched 1,200 miles east of the African mainland, what was once a British colony is now a go-to destination for a hot-weather holiday – and of as much appeal to rugby fans wanting a break in the middle of the Lions tour as sun-lovers fleeing the European winter.
In fact, Mauritius is probably more accessible for travellers who flock to South Africa in 2021 to watch Warren Gatland's men than it is for those who fly 12 hours from London to catch a few rays – there are direct flights in from both Johannesburg and Cape Town, which take about four hours. Those who make this short leap will find much to enjoy on an island that sprouted from the depths via volcanic activity as “recently” as eight million years ago – but has cooled into an oasis that takes lounging on the beach to artform level.
Should you just want to relax, there is no need to wander far beyond the shore, but adventure is possible too – perhaps via a day-trip to Black River Gorges National Park, where rare birds flutter amid protected forest.
There is also a good deal to recommend the capital Port Louis, whose name recalls French colonial control of the island during the 18th century, and red post-boxes sing of the British era that followed.