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Three of the best ways to experience Mauritius

Rally in Mini convertibles
With the weather pushing 29 degrees, a three-hour rally around the west part of the island in Mini convertibles was an easy sell. After an early morning departure from Trou Au Biches resort, we gathered in the hotel’s car park and split into three groups, armed with some detailed or confusing directions, depending on which event planner you spoke to, water and a lot of faith in our designated drivers, with the repeated warning of ‘this is not a race’, ringing in our ears. Luckily for us – or rather them, Emotions DMC followed the groups at a respectable distance.

Getting out of the hotel car park proved the first obstacle but once we’d all driven around in circles desperately following each other and trying to work out where the exit was and what was causing that incessant beeping sound (those who have convertibles will know what I mean) the different groups made a break for it. Luckily for us Brits, the Mauritians drive on the left hand side of the road, which left us plenty of time to admire the views, focus on the task in hand and balk at some questionable driving skills.

One group found the right town only after having driven straight through it, while another was escorted by the police after going down a one-way street in the opposite direction. And despite the detailed directions, the third group got lost but Mauritius being the size it is, no one was lost for very long. Apprentice-style, we had three hours to find and buy some local vegetables (a task purposely made harder by the fact that some of the vegetables requested were out of season), find out more about the local culture including its religion and how Mauritians deal with envy.

The rally took us through the town of Pointe Aux Piments, past the botanical gardens (Jardin de Pamplemousses), across the Nicoliere Reservoir, and past Saint Pierre to our final destination of Maison Eureka. This had to be one of the best ways to experience the island and larn about the local culture too.

Helicopter ride
We transferred to our third hotel, Le Paradis Hotel & Golf Club in the early afternoon on day four of the fam with the promise of a tour of the golf course. We should have known better – the itinerary had so far been packed with surprises and having seen the island from the sea and the road, all that was left to do was view it from above – literally. An aerial tour, with 20-minute helicopter flights provided by Air Mauritius, gave us the opportunity to see another side of the island, including its various lagoons, waterfalls and stunning coastlines. Each helicopter can seat four passengers and the pilot so we took it in turns to admire the views, alongside expert commentary. This was one definite highlight and airport to hotel transfers can also be arranged (cutting the less than an hour travel time to just 20 minutes) as well as heli-lunches, where you can take in a one-hour sightseeing tour combined with a two-hour stop for lunch.

Catamaran cruise
We left for Black River Bay on our last day, for an adrenaline-fuelled hour of seakarting, an activity exclusive to Mauritius and a cross between a jet ski and a speedboat – namely a speed jetboat. You don’t get much time to admire the views when you are accelerating on the waves but there was plenty of shrieking and laughs from our group. If you opt for the half-day option, your trip will take you in the direction of the lagoon of Benitier’s Island, le Morne and also the famous coast of Flic en Flac. We left Black River for a leisurely catamaran cruise with a stop for snorkelling and lunch on board before heading, regretfully, back to base to get ready for the flight home.