Located off the east coast of Africa, Mauritius is an island nation with Madagascar as its neighbour.
Its distance makes it a luxury destination for travellers.
And it certainly looks the part with plenty of 5-star resorts, dreamy white-sand beaches and coastlines that could have been taken from a postcard.
Read on to discover what makes Mauritius a sustainable escape and why it needs tourism more than ever.
Mauritius is synonymous with a tropical island paradise, but the island is more than its luxurious resorts.
It’s a cultural mix of communities, a country full of history and a place where you can climb mountains and go snorkelling in a day.
It’s also a nation combating the threat of rising sea levels and rebuilding after increasingly volatile cyclones due to climate change.
Mauritius is a sustainable travel destination
Resorts around the island are committed to supporting local businesses and taking serious steps to mitigate their environmental impact. More so than just giving guests the option to choose whether or not to have their towel washed…
How do you have a sustainable holiday in Mauritius?
The answer is Pure Breaks. The travel company specialises in creating luxury tailor-made holidays and unique experiences around the world – not just in Mauritius.
It does the hard work for you in finding eco-friendly places to stay and ethical activities that show you the real, authentic side to the destination – beyond the resorts.
And they will also show you where your trip can have a positive impact on the community.
Feeling inspired? Here’s what an eco-friendly Pure Breaks holiday in Mauritius looks like.
Eco-friendly things to do in Mauritius
Discover the very best eco-friendly activities in Mauritius:
- Learn about giant tortoise conservation
- Join a rewilding project
- Go hiking
- Tour a nature reserve
- Go snorkelling on a protected reef
- Visit a tea plantation
Learn about giant tortoise conservation
Mauritius is home to the giant tortoise.
Sadly, its native species went extinct due to the introduction of animals such as cats, dogs and rats coupled with becoming a prized food source after the arrival of the Dutch (much like the unfortunate fate of the dodo).
However, giant tortoises were a vital part of the Mauritian ecosystem as they helped with seed dispersal.
In an effort to restore the island’s natural ecosystem, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation introduced the Aldabra Giant Tortoise from the Seychelles in 2000 (the only remaining native tortoise species in the Indian Ocean) to Ile aux Aigrettes, a small islet on the southeastern coast of Mauritius.
Ile aux Aigrettes serves as a protected nature reserve for rare endemic flora and fauna.
Tourists are welcome to visit either as part of a private or small-group tour, and the money supports vital conservation projects.
A real highlight of the tour is seeing the young tortoises in the nursery before coming across their much older (and larger!) counterparts roaming, snoozing and munching their way through the undergrowth.
Join a rewilding project
If you’re a nature lover, one of the top things you can do in Mauritius is visit the Ebony Forest Reserve located near Chamarel’s Seven Coloured Earth Geopark.
Here the reserve encourages its visitors to get a hands-on experience of the natural world by getting involved in its rewilding project.
Much of the endemic Mauritian flora had been cleared for sugarcane plantations and together with the introduction of invasive plants, the flora that was left was under threat.
The reserve works to bring the Mauritian flora to its natural state by removing invasive species and rewilding with endemic plants like ebony trees.
Visitors can explore the reserve or even plant a tree and leave behind a legacy of their trip.
Make sure to visit the Seven Coloured Earth Geopark on your way there too. It’s a small area of sand dunes streaked with distinct multi-coloured sand!
Mauritius may be known for its beaches and lagoons but there are also some stunning hiking trails across the island.
One of the best places to go hiking is Chamarel’s Ebony Forest Reserve, the same place where you can plant a tree.
The reserve runs guided and self-guided tours on a 300m raised walkway through native bush up the hill to Sublime Point Lookout.
Here, you’re treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the forest sweeping down towards the island coastline and the open ocean straight ahead.
You can stop for refreshments at the tiny cafe before heading back down or you can continue to go up to the summit of Piton Canot for even more views.
The entire hike one way is about 2-4 hours depending on if you climb the peak.
Tour a nature reserve
Nestled in the south of the island, Heritage Nature Reserve is 1,300 hectares of unspoilt nature owned by Heritage Resorts. Anyone can visit whether you’re a guest or not.
Here you can explore a tropical landscape of native forest, mountainous terrain, rivers, forests and lush vegetation.
The reserve is home to plenty of wildlife too such as fruit bats, deer and birds including the Echo Parakeet, the Mauritius Kestrel, the Pink Pigeon and the Mauritius Fody.
All activities in the reserve have a strong focus on education and conservation.
An expert guide can take you on a forest trek or if you prefer to cover more ground, you can go on a guided quad bike or 4×4 tour.
For a more relaxed approach, you can also enjoy a three-hour leisurely picnic in the heart of the reserve. Bliss.
Go snorkelling on a protected reef
No island escape is complete without meeting the local marine life.
In an effort to preserve the reefs in the lagoons of Mauritius, the NGO Reef Conservation set up an initiative to protect selected marine areas – known as Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas (VMCA) – in which the local fishing community and other inhabitants agree to refrain from destructive activities there.
One such VMCA is Anse la Raie lagoon in the north of the island, an ecological restoration project covering 50 hectares of the coast.
Some tours will take you snorkelling in the area, but the best one is through Lagoon Attitude, an eco-friendly resort and project member located on the shores of the lagoon.
The activity takes you out on a glass-bottomed boat to the snorkelling trail and you can spend a few hours in the water seeing how many different species of fish you can spot.
You’ll also be encouraged use to Lagoon Attitudes own reef-safe sunscreen to protect the marine world you’re visiting.
Visit a tea plantation
Tea has been grown on a commercial scale in Mauritius since the 19th century.
Today, the island’s largest tea producer is Bois Cheri which covers 250 hectares and includes the plantation, museum, factory and tasting chalet.
Visitors are invited to take a guided tour of the plantation and factory where you can learn about the tea production process then follow it up with a visit to the museum to discover the history and importance of the industry.
Next, take a short coach ride through the tea plantation to the tea tasting chalet.
If you’re lucky, you might even come across roaming deer and long-tailed macaque monkeys among the trees.
At the chalet, you’re invited to try a range of flavoured black teas accompanied by a selection of biscuits. There are herbal and green teas too.
For something stronger, dip into the on-site shop to sample a few Mauritian rums.
Where to stay in Mauritius
An eco-friendly trip to Mauritius isn’t just about what you do, but where you stay too.
Among the luxury island resorts, there are some sustainable gems that are doing their bit for the planet.
And another thing? There are enough options to suit a range of budgets too. Read on to discover:
Otentic Eco Tents
The only tented ecolodges on the island, Otentic has two locations for guests to choose from: one by the Grand River and the other at the foot of Bambous Mountain.
Both locations offer quiet retreats in the arms of nature with the main differences being that the mountain location has six tents instead of twelve, is self-sufficient and has a 100% vegetarian menu.
The safari tents are simple and rustic complete with cosy beds and a shower at the back. All furnishings are made out of repurposed materials so there’s no plastic here.
Toilets are a short walk to the main glamping site, where you can also find a small honesty bar and dining facilities.
What makes Otentic particularly special is the home cooking. Every day, local people from the village put on a Mauritian feast you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve returned home.
Ingredients are locally sourced, either from the on-site garden or from around the island rather than imported from halfway around the world.
For more eco-lodge ideas: Check In: It’s Hikes And Hot Tubs At This Ecuadorian Eco-lodge
Nestled high in the green hills, Lakaz Chamarel is ideal for those seeking a quiet place to relax.
Accommodation is in the form of just 20 villas scattered around the main building, each one surrounded by trees and lush greenery to give you a sense of privacy.
All of the villas have their own terraces, an open-air bathroom and private swimming pools.
The interior decor is inspired by Indian, Chinese and African influences with subtle prints and bright colours to give each villa a unique style that feels warm and homely.
It’s also a fantastic spot for bird-watchers.
If you’re keen to explore the outside world, a free shuttle to the beach runs three times a day.
Lagoon Attitude is a bit more of your typical island resort. For one thing, it belongs to a chain rather than independent accommodation – but don’t let that put you off.
Sustainable hospitality has become ingrained in its operations.
All rooms are free of single-use plastic toiletry miniatures. There are water bottle filling stations across the resort too.
Perhaps the most stand out effort is the on-site zero-waste bulk shop which offers a free to use tea and coffee station.
You can fill up jars of the amenities you need to take to your room. No excess packaging or plastic here.
In fact, Lagoon Attitude is big on tackling plastic pollution inside and outside the resort.
You’re invited to take a bag with you to the beach in case you come across plastic waste. You can then join their eco workshops to turn plastic waste into DIY crafts.
There’s also an on-site marine discovery centre that offers a collaborative space for students, marine biologists, local tour operators and NGOs to study and help protect the marine environment.
Heritage Le Telfair
Here, you can find a wellness centre, swimming pools, beach clubs, kid’s clubs, 12 restaurants, a golf course and nature reserve.
Heritage Le Telfair also has a sister resort, Awali located nearby under the same Heritage Resorts brand.
Heritage Resorts is Green Key certified which means it’s audited every two to three years on its sustainability initiatives.
It regularly trains staff on sustainable development issues, works with NGOs to distribute surplus food supplies to people in need, uses eco-friendly cleaning products and sources local food as much as possible rather than importing ingredients from halfway around the world.
You certainly won’t catch salmon on the menu here.
Perhaps most impressive of all is the resort’s own recycling plant for paper, glass and plastic packaging.
Anything that can’t be reused by the hotel is sent to a certified recycler. Even waste cooking oil from the kitchen is turned into second-generation biofuel.
All that and with gorgeous luxury accommodation to boot, Heritage Le Telfair and Awali prove that true luxury does not come at a cost to the planet.
Eco-friendly escape but what about the flights?
Flying is notoriously not an eco-friendly way to travel. Until the aviation industry gets greener, flying less is the better option.
This is why we advocate for meaningful and impactful holidays that make a real difference to the destination.
As a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has the disadvantage of being a sizable long haul distance to travel to from most parts of the world.
However, in 2019, tourism accounted for 19.1% of total employment with as much as 60% of tourists coming from the European market.
The arrival of the pandemic devastated the industry. A survey carried out by Deloitte found that 88% of respondents had their salary reduced, 29% expected to be laid-off and 4% had already lost their jobs.
The lack of tourism to the island also had implications for sustainability and conservation efforts, just like many other African small states.
Wildlife parks faced prolonged closures and the reduced amount of income resulted in decreased budgetary resources for conservation and protection of the natural environment.
For this reason, tourism is a vital part of Mauritius’ economic and sustainable development.
All activities and accommodations we’ve highlighted directly support local communities and conservation efforts around the island.
They encourage you to get out of the resorts and see the direct and positive impact your money can have.
Yes, flying is problematic at best but tourism can be a real force for good – for communities and a greener world. That’s why we recommend offsetting the carbon footprint of your flights.
For the best carbon offsetting schemes, read Carbon offsets: Do they really clean your flying footprint?
Pure Breaks will help you offset the carbon footprint of your trip too. Read its commitment to sustainable tourism.
Mauritius offers tropical holidays that are so much more than beaches and glamorous resorts.
Whether you’re a hiker, nature enthusiast, animal lover or just want to make a positive impact with your holiday, this island has got it all.
And during a time when travel is no longer as simple as it used to be, Pure Breaks makes booking a trip easy and straightforward. It’s a no-brainer, really.