We're still in the North of Mauritius for a couple of a days after a week of kiting at Le Morne. In the video below we head out for some sightseeing around the Northern parts of the island - we visit some beaches, seek out the Botanical Gardens, explore the Sugar Museum to taste the rum and even make it to the Champ de Mars horse-racing track in Port Louis!
We were determined to make the most of the day and had an early start. We especially planned to be in the North on a Saturday and wanted to make it to Port Louis in time to watch the horse races at the Champ de Mars. But first, we had to look at some more beaches on the way - first stop Grand Baia.
The Grand Baia public beach is situated at the very centre of Grand Baia and it is impossible to miss. Unfortunately, due to the very active boat and catamaran traffic inside the bay, the public beach has only a small area in which you can enter the water. Although there is no doubt the beach is very nice and provides a great view of the beautiful bay, you should take into account that due to all the boat traffic inside the bay, the water is probably not as clear as in the other beaches.
Our next stop was the Mont Choisy public beach. Wow, what a stunning beach!
The beach is almost 3 kilometres in length with white sand bends around the coast creating a bay of beautiful turquoise water, lined with plenty of trees to provide shade. As this was a Saturday morning the beach was far from empty but it was winter and still incredibly pleasant. There seem to be many water-based activities on offer such water-skiing, parasailing and jet-ski rentals along the beach. We patiently waited for the nearby ice-cream truck to open up for business to make full use of the blue skies and warm sunshine.
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden (say that a couple of times!), commonly known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, is a popular attraction near Port Louis, Mauritius, and the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere.
It's not only famous for its long pond of giant water lilies but is also home to the most beautiful botanical species in the world.
The giant water lilies were discovered by a German horticulturist in Amazonia during 1801 and he dedicated them to Queen Victoria - thus naming 'Victoria Regia' which was later changed to ‘Victoria Amazonica’. They were introduced to the Mauritius Botanical Garden in Mauritius by the then director, a Mr O’connor, in 1927. The leaves can reach a diameter of up to 3 meters and float on submerged stalks up to 8 meters long. They give birth to a white flower which turns pink/violet the following day. The flower sinks to the bottom of the pond on the third day. It will develop into a seed capsule containing about 500 seeds. The lily pond in itself makes a visit to the Gardens worthwhile but you will spend many a happy hour there. If you're really interested in learning as much as possible about the plants and history of the area best is to hire a guide at the entrance who will show you fascinating tree species and share interesting stories.
Close by we found L'Aventure de Sucre - a former sugar factory houses. Surprisingly it houses one of the best museums in Mauritius which not only tells the story of sugar in great detail but also covers the history of Mauritius, slavery, the rum trade and much more. We ended our visit with a rum tasting - which almost made us feel like a nap!
Time was running out and we made a dash for Port Louise to get to the world-famous Champ de Mars Racecourse. The Champ de Mars dates back to 1812 and attracts tens of thousands of people on each racing day during the racing season. Traffic gets rather challenging around the venue but we managed to get parking nearby the track and had a peek over the fence just as a group of horses raced past! It can be a rather intense atmosphere once you enter the track but we had a lot of fun looking around and watching the horses and people. This is a highly recommenced activity for Port Louis!