Situated on the north coast of the island we came across this small fishing village. Considering its small size, however, it has everything you need in order to become a popular tourist center, with spectacular villas and small hotels that are being added. Its name translates as Unhappy Cape or Misfortune, due to the number of shipwrecks that have occurred off the coast in this region, and and in memory of the shipwrecks and of the deceased, this beautiful red-roofed church was built, where there is a sunset view that is priceless. You must go to church because it has a carved stone altar which is very interesting, and the holy water fonts are made of mollusk shells. I recommend you also go for a walk on the beach and watch the beautiful sunset before following the path.
Visiting Ilot Gabriel was one of the things we were most excited about during our trip to Mauritius. I’d seen photos of the island and it looked like paradise, the kind of place where nature runs free. And it was. As soon as I began to walk around the island I felt like a castaway or Robinson Crusoe or Charles Darwin…it was as close to being on a desert island as I've ever been.
Getting there is simple: every day, several catamarans leave from Grand Baie en route to Gabriel Island. Most tours leave at 9 in the morning and return at 4 in the afternoon and include lunch and drinks. The island itself is around 20km off the coast of Mauritius and is made up of about 40 acres of coral flats and grasslands. It is home to several endemic species and was declared a nature preserve in 1983. As you draw close, you see the color of the sky and sea merge and a small plot of tropical green rise along the horizon. It’s an impressive sight. Afterwards, a smaller boat takes you to the shore.
Once you arrive, the tour guides explain lunch (grilled chicken or fish, salad, rice, and unlimited beer and rum punch) and remind you to be respectful of the natural habitat. Then, it’s time to swim and enjoy the white beaches and good company, all to the tune of a few cold beers, of course. Later, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to explore the island a bit. It took me around 45 minutes to circle the entire island and one of the most interesting things I saw was an endemic plant called “Baume de l Ile Plate.” The southern part of the island is made up of tropical beaches while the northern part is a bit rockier and wilder.
I’d really recommend making a visit because while it is a bit touristy, it’s a great chance to spend a day in a privileged and untouched natural environment.
Grand Baie could be the best example of the cultural and racial integration in Mauritius. We had the opportunity to visit several times. From the bay we had a tour to Isla Gabriel. I say "had" because on the day it had to be cancelled due to high winds at sea, it was too dangerous for the catamarans to take us there. So we went back the next day, and it was worth it as its a lovely place. The bay should be a dream, but the town is a little bit too touristy, even though it retains some Mauritian flavour. One thing we loved is that on the main street there's a beautiful Christian church, a Muslim mosque and a picture that seems to emerge from the sea for the Hindus to pray at. No wonder that the town gets the most tourists in the North, it's not too overwhelmed with hotels or apartments, but there are cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. We went out one night and we integrated perfectly into a nightclub where we were made to feel Mauritian. Definitely a must visit point in the North.
Without doubt this is one of the perfect beaches for those who feel a special weakness for sunsets. This area of the island, which is in the northwest, is much more touristy than the rest, first because the easterly winds are not exactly the most suitable for kitesurfing and windsurfing, which is what seems to be fashionable at the moment, and second because this area was at the time a hippy stronghold and there still is the odd trace. However, this beach is perfect for seeing the day die and for enjoying some beach bars, and they have Creole and Indian specialties at very good prices. After a hard day of sightseeing and being in the car, the relaxation is assured.
This is another beach on the east coast, which is virtually unknown by tourists and is reserved almost exclusively for the locals. Its main asset is the calm water as it is virtually enclosed by the reef and the shape of the bay, however the water is very clean and wonderfully transparent, like most of the beaches on the island. You can access the beach directly from the road and park under the trees. Under the shaded trees, as in other beaches, there are picnic tables and other services.
This sail-shaped island we found on our way to the island Gabriel. It is about 4.5 km from the north coast of Mauritius, and is a small island (about 76 hectares) which has been declared a nature reserve by the Reserves Act in the year 1983. It is home to many birds, turtles and iguanas, some amphibious as they have survived here as if it were a copy of the Galapagos, and has even suffered their own attacks, since the introduction of rats, cats and dogs almost over to its population. The side that usually can be seen with sail boats and diving requisites is the west, where there is a very interesting "photogenic" aspect. This is the "Butt of Madamme" , just look at the crack that appears on the cliff of the pictures .... According to the captain, there are remains of a Hindu temple on the island, as well as a small dock. My curiosity piqued, but I preferred to admire from afar, without intruding in their life ....
It seemed like we were in Tahiti, Hawaii or New Zealand, not your typical church model one expects to find in South Africa but, as in Mauritius, the mixture of races, beliefs and styles is so brutal that you just end up getting used to finding curiosities along the way. The view outside the church is of a huge bay, impossible blue waters, boats and catamarans, all surrounded by trees and vegetation. Inside the church, barely twenty years old, large, is fresh and bright and we find several details. A simple altar, unpretentious, like the people of the island, there are no pictures, animistic syncretism does not need them. But best of all is the Via Crucis, innocent and naive painting prototype, heiress of Paul Gauguin or Picasso, all of that as you look, like the stained glass windows, market color, Mauritian nature. The church is unique, on an island in the middle of the sugar cane plantations it rise like the tower of a Gothic church (like we were in York or Oxford). A good mix.