Diving in Mauritius features almost exclusively reefs as the island is virtually surrounded by coral and over 100 sites to select from. The depths range from 23 feet (7 meters) to depths of up to 147 Feet (45 meters) for those who hold the necessary qualifications. The water temperature is bath-like most of the year round but due to the trade winds, the best time of year to dive is between November and May.
On the Southern coastline, the Blue Bay Marine Park offers divers staghorn and cabbage corals and a host of damsel, butterfly and angelfish that swarm the reef. If you are in search of that heart-stopping moment that only the bigger species can provide, then the drift dive off the Pass St. Jacques is where bull shark, barracuda and grey and whitetip reef sharks are often spotted.
The intricate and mysterious spaces inside the many artificial wrecks are another of the islands great diving attractions. The Le Sirius, Tug 11 or the Djabeda are spread out around the island’s shorelines and house lion fish, eels and rays.
St. Jacques – Some say this drift dive is the best dive in Mauritius. Divers start inside the lagoon in less than 5 metres/15 feet of water. As they descend, the current takes over and carries them through the pass, past rock pinnacles and coral walls, while they keep an eye out for the local grey reef sharks. Eagle rays and stingrays, turtles, white tip reef sharks and other large pelagic species abound. Divers will finish the dive on the outside wall of the reef and the maximum depth is about 30 metres/100 feet. Hoi Siong No 6 - Lying at the bottom of the Indian Ocean at a depth of 29 metres/95 feed, the Hoi Siong 6 wreck has been given a new lease of life as an artificial reef. The transformation from seafaring vessel in to a marine life sanctuary draws all manner of divers and sea creatures. Barracuda regularly patrol the wreck, while tuna, lionfish, and butterfly fish are never far away. This historic wreck twinned with fantastic visibility and marine life make this the perfect draw for the keen underwater photographer. The Cathedral - The name gives it away, divers know they’re in for some stunning underwater topography when they hear the name of this beloved Mauritian dive site. The Cathedral features grand caverns, caves and arches. The dive starts at about 18 metres/60 feet and it’s about 30 metres/100 feet to the sandy sea floor. But, it’s the walls divers pass on the way down (and up) that harbor the many grouper, wrasse, angelfish and clown fish. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for massive morays and crafty crustaceans under ledges and in coral crevices. The light that filters through the many cracks and crevices of the massive cavern really makes this feel like a visit to a famous, magical, cathedral.
On the list of ‘what to see in Mauritius’ is an extensive list of treasures of the sea. Vast coral beds extend almost all the way around the island and form part of the intricate ecosystem between turtles (5 different species), shrimp, octopus, sea grass gardens and a range of shellfish in amongst the schools of tropical fish species. Bull, white tip and grey tip reef sharks and barracuda are amongst the larger game species that feed on the buffet of smaller fish and take care to avoid the lionfish.
For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.
Land of the magnificent turquoise lagoon Mark Twain immortalized this picture postcard perfect paradise when he famously quoted a local citizen as telling him that, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.” You’d be forgiven for assuming that the local was a diver. Mauritius is as close to the middle of the Indian Ocean as anywhere. It’s about 2000 kilometres/1200 miles east of Africa and 900 kilometres/540 miles from Madagascar. This island nation is best known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs, which surround and protect the 330-kilometre/200-mile coastline, creating a magnificent turquoise underwater playground for divers. The mountainous interior is covered in rainforests and waterfalls and was the only known home of dodo, unfortunately made extinct soon after the island’s human settlement. Today the interior is a big draw for naturalists with many endemic species enjoying the protection of national parks.
Water sports are the order of the day in the resort lifestyle of Mauritius and for a day outing, a trip to the market of Port Louis is always an experience. Parasailing, water skiing, windsurfing and a canoe are all readily available on the beach either from the resorts or private suppliers only too happy to help. There are also packages to the outlying islands from tour operators also to be found selling their services from their sandy offices.
The national airline has daily direct flights to London, British Airways has 3 weekly flights to Port Louis and Austrian Airlines flies nonstop from Vienna once a week. Cruise ships touring the Indian Ocean often dock in Mauritius.