Every kiter has a secret bucket list of kite spots to explore during their kite life. Mauritius was such a spot for us – we’ve seen it featured in magazines and YouTube videos years before even thinking of going. Located in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar, Mauritius is one of those tropical paradises that we did not want to miss. Lush mountains, stunning views, blue water and plenty of wind make Mauritius a top kiteboarding destination.
From an American perspective, Mauritius is positioned on the opposite side of the globe and therefore not within an easy reach. But this is what adventure is all about: exploring diverse cultures, meeting people, and making new stories. We booked flights for the 8 day trip just two months prior to departure. The flights were not super expensive because Mauritius in July is actually southern-hemisphere winter, and off-season for tourists. We snatched first class tickets for the 11 hour flight from Paris for $300 and 60,000 miles round-trip per person.
The temperatures for water and air hover around 72 F (23C) and hotels and AirBnB offer great deals on stays. AirBNB’s in the near town of La Gaulette cost $35-60 per night depending on amenities desired, and as we found out basement opposed to top floor. We split our time between AirBNB ($38) and an all-inclusive experience at the Rui Le Morne ($195). While the first allowed us to be
more entrenched in the local culture, the second put us on right on the actual kite beach with 24/7 pampering.
During the peak winter months of June, July, and August, the winds are cranking and the infamous One-Eye Wave can be firing to 20 ft. While many go to challenge themselves at One-Eye, Le Morne also has a waist-deep flat water lagoon with dedicated grass rigging, excellent kite schools, and equipment rental. Every morning, around 9:30 am, the minivans of kite schools roll in with extremely helpful and friendly instructors, even if you don’t take lessons. Gary from Paradise Kitesurfing Mauritius (PKM) was our go-to person about local wind conditions, how to get out to the reef, and even loaned us a shorty. Rental prices are very reasonable and around 70 Euro per day for a full setup.
The lagoon was also our playground most days. Either you play here and watch freestylers practice kite loops or head upwind to Manawa through the shipping channel and pass on either side of the flags marking a protected reef. The shipping channel is a bit like a super highway for kiters, wingers, and windsurfers….Exit Manawa left!!! Exit One-Eye on the right!!! At times you see groups of wave warriors returning from battle giving you a quick nod of approval.
When you cut further upwind you can pick your poison at Manawa from large 10 ft to smaller swells. Manawa is like a battery of swells that approach the reef at decent speed. Anyone can find their level of challenge in any of the swells. Manawa seemed a bit rippled which made keeping control on a short board at speed more work. The bumps made my feet slip a couple of times nose diving into the deep blue. Go a bit downwind to the other side of the channel and the kite world looks a bit different. One-Eye is an extremely fast wave with loads of energy and you can easily get trapped between reef and crushing wave if you miss the bail out.
As a word of caution: Once you leave the lagoon, the wind is off shore, but as long as you stay inside the reef things are relatively safe. One-Eye and Manawa lie outside the reef carrying a stronger current thus requiring more punch in the kite. I’d leave the lagoon a bit oversized (9 m) to make up the difference. Also, leaving the reef is best with a buddy or somebody who can get help if in trouble. Rescue boats are not dedicated rescue boats patrolling the area, more like locals charging you $100+ for a lift to the beach.
All the things I just mentioned are quickly forgotten once you actually cross over the swell. The floating mountains appear to swallow up windsurfers and wingers in its trough only for them to reappear on the next swell. Once done with the fun, just make your way back to the shipping channel and exit right to the lagoon. And while the thundering wave noise is fading in the distance and beach palms grow as you approach, you can’t shake the feeling that you just participated in one of nature’s most wonderful spectacles.
Mauritius’s main source of income is sugar cane, and sugar cane means there is rum….lots of rum. Rum distilleries are a great way to discover the island and take you places away from the touristy part. Criss- cross through sugar cane forests, small villages, and discover hidden waterfalls on the way. Things are fairly undeveloped and pathways through the jungle are slippery and steep but heighten your experience by thinking you are the first to find the path. Rum exploration and stunning views will burn lasting images into your memory.
The island is laid back and filled with local smiles. Whether you are being served food, drinks, or purchase groceries at the local market, people genuinely want you to have a great time on the island. Eight days and countless impressions later, we are left with a feeling of wanting to return to this paradise rather sooner than later.
FYI: Airport Code – MRU, Currency – Mauritian Rupees, Main Language French/English, Left hand driving.