Perhaps it doesn’t matter where you staying in this beautiful Island but if you are staying in Le Morne on the island’s south west corner, then you’re moments away from the B- 9 coast road – one of the loveliest stretches of highway in Mauritius. Whether you hire a chauffeur driven taxi, rent a car or choose the healthy option and go by bike, this is an unspoiled, less-visited part of the country you will be pleased to discover and explore it’s aura.
Le Morne itself is the ideal place to start. The peninsula is not only home to some of the finest resorts and beaches on the island, it’s also a place of immense historical significance for Mauritians.
Le Morne Brabant, the sheer-sided mountain which dominates the landscape, is a UNESCO world heritage which was inscribed in 2008 to recognize and contribute to our understanding of slavery. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, escaped slaves known as ‘maroons’ came to shelter in the mountain’s barely-accessible caves, and the site remains a powerful symbol of the slaves’ resistance and ultimate fight for freedom. The mountain can be explored in various ways – including climbing at top – or simply pay a visit to the UNESCO monument at the foot of the monolith, where the cultural relevance of the landscape is explained in greater detail.
Now it’s time to get onto the B9 and begin the drive east in the direction of Souillac, passing through tiny, tumbledown Le Morne Brabant fishing village as you leave the peninsula behind. Cast your eyes over the ocean towards Fourneau islet and you may spot some of the settlement’s 150 fishermen hauling in their catch. From here, the road skirts the coastline all the way to Bel Ombre, where it cuts slightly inland, but before we get there we’ve a few more things to see along the way.
Just around the corner from Le Morne is the equally tiny village of Baie-du-Cap, located at the point where the Riviere du Cap empties into the sea. The road swings inwards in a wide inverted ‘U’ shape before rising up to meet one of the best known viewpoints in Mauritius. Here, right at the narrowest spot on a challenging hairpin bend is a jagged headland formed of solidified lava. The landmark, known as Macondé Rock, is navigable by way of a zig-zagging staircase and offers great views of the ocean and – even more interestingly – of the winding road behind; a truly impressive feat of engineering whose improbable tightness can only really be appreciated from above.
The south coast road is an easy, breezy drive with little traffic. However, the popularity of Macondé draws coachloads of tourists to this particular spot, and this is the only point in our drive where you’re likely to run into lots of other people. This can occasionally make it difficult to park despite there being several places to pull over. But if you do find a space, don’t just snap a few photos and jump straight back into the car. On the inland side of the road you’ll find several street food stands where you can chat with the locals while slurping down the juice of an expertly-sabered coconut or freshly peeled pineapple.
Bel Ombre itself is well-known in Mauritius for the 2,500-hectare Domaine de Bel Ombre estate; home to luxury hotels. It’s also the home of the famous Heritage golf club.
Either way, it’s a fabulous day out.
Book your next Mauritius vacation with www.ouitaximauritius.com and get a customized Road Trip, and remember to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.