Curepipe, Mauritius’ second biggest town, lies inland just south of the island’s center and is a great day trip destination if you want a break from the beach.
Beautiful colonial architecture lends the town a lot of charm, while its attractions are varied, from peaceful botanical gardens to a colonial mansion-turned museum.
The town is also known for its shops. If you’re looking for something special to take home, this is the place to come for pashminas, jewelry, jade, antique porcelain, silk, carpets, and model ships.
Just outside of town, there’s lots of nature to explore, including a volcanic crater with the best views of the island, an indigenous forest reserve with scenic walking trails, and a challenging waterfall hike.
One kilometer outside of town, the Trou aux Cerfs is a 100m (328ft) deep dormant volcanic crater (one of the oldest on the island) that makes for a great walking spot.
Paths lead down into the forested crater and up the summit, which is easily reachable and offers fantastic views. You can see the entire island from some points, and on clear days, you can see as far as the neighboring island of Reunion.
History buffs shouldn’t miss a visit to the beautiful Domaine des Aubineaux, a colonial mansion built in 1872, where you can find out about colonial Mauritian family life in the 19th century and the history of tea on the island.
Stroll in the lush garden, filled with camphor trees and indigenous exotic plants, and don’t forget to have tea and scones in the house’s old billiards room.
If you’re looking for a quiet time in nature with hardly any other people around, make a trip to Monvert Nature Park, which conserves 73 hectares of rehabilitated indigenous forest.
Visit the nursery to see endangered indigenous plant species before heading out on one of the walking trails that lead through the beautiful forest up to a viewing platform.
The 19th-century Curepipe Botanic Gardens are a serene attraction with far fewer tourists than the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens.
Explore two hectares of exotic and indigenous plants, including the national plant of the island, the Mauritius Trochetia, and the world’s rarest palm tree, the last remaining specimen of its species. There’s also a playground for kids.
Tamarind or Tamarin Falls is one of the island’s most spectacular waterfalls and is only a short drive out of Curepipe. Also known as the Seven Cascades, the seven waterfalls tumble down a lush forested canyon full of birds.
It’s a beautiful hiking destination. Take half a day to hike up four of the waterfalls, stopping to swim in the river on the way, or a full day trip to hike to the top of the seventh waterfall, a challenging but rewarding walk.
You can also go canyoning, jumping, and abseiling down the cascading falls.
Due to its altitude of 550m (1804ft) above sea level, Curepipe has cooler weather in the hot summer months than the rest of the island destinations, so it’s an excellent place to visit if you want a break from the heat. It gets a lot of rain so pack a waterproof jacket.
Curepipe is well connected by bus to other towns on the island, so you can easily visit the town if you don’t have your own rental car. However, if you’d like to see some of the attractions near the town you’ll need to get taxis.
If you’d like to hike to Tamarind Falls, you should only do it with a guide, as the trails are not easy to follow on your own.
You can either book a guided tour through your hotel or an operator or hire a local guide in the village of Henrietta, close by to the waterfalls.
The hike can get pretty challenging in parts, so it’s best to do it if you’re fairly fit. If you’re going on a guided trip, the minimum age is usually 12. For canyoning, the minimum age is 10.
Families on holiday looking for a quieter side to the island and a break from beach activities will enjoy a day trip to Curepipe.
The botanical gardens are small but peaceful, and walks along the volcanic crater are easy, while the Montvert Nature Park offers a serene escape into nature.
If you have kids older than 12, a hike up the Tamarind Falls and swimming in the waterfalls is a real highlight of the area.
Solo travelers in Mauritius will enjoy browsing Curepipe’s shops and the historical Domaine des Aubineaux, while adventure travelers should definitely have hiking and canyoning Tamarind Falls on their must-do list.