Sunlife holidays in Mauritius give you beaches, sunshine and add extraordinary experiences into the mix as well. It’s a combo that works beautifully for families as John Lewisohn recently found out.
Hands up if you know why Mauritius’ endemic Dodo became extinct back in 1681? No, it wasn’t because they tasted good and so were decimated by musket fire from settlers. Back then anyway you were more likely to shoot your foot off than hit what you were aiming for. Dodos infamously couldn’t fly so they had to lay their eggs on the ground. It was like Deliveroo without the doorbell for all the imported pigs and deer which European settlers brought with them. Not to mention all the many rats they’d stowed away on their boats.
Fascinating insights into bio-diverse Mauritius
This was just one of the fascinating facts we learned from the resident botanist on our Come Alive tour of the Biodiversity Park started in 1994 in the grounds of Long Beach Hotel. He also told us that in a cyclone the only trees that remain upright are those endemic to Mauritius. And apparently the British and French cleared most of the island’s mangroves believing they harboured mosquitoes. The flipside of that was more devastation every time a cyclone blew in.
Explore experience-rich family holidays in Mauritius
The Come Alive Experiences, of which Biodiversity Park is just one of many, had their genesis during Covid. As the Sunlife management team had time to think about how to evolve their well-loved brand. They came up with a reimagined philosophy which both evoked the magic of Mauritius and ensured every guest went home with a lifetime worth of wonderful memories. The cynical might say it’s easy to come up with these marketing plans, but how do they translate in practice to make every day of a holiday more fulfilling?
Come Alive Experiences complement traditional Mauritius beach holidays
If you choose Mauritius you want to lie on the beach, right? Well, yes, up to a point and of course everyone has different aspirations, particularly families. So Come Alive Experiences aim to complement traditional beach holidays in Mauritius. So all members of the family go home having enjoyed some unusual and memorable activities without even leaving the hotel. But of course, it it’s always worthwhile exploring other parts of the island too and that’s something Sunlife can also arrange.
Why this Indian Ocean island before all others?
Mauritius is chock-a-block with great hotels. All the big international brands are here for good reason, as well as a few home-grown ones too. The weather is dependably great: read dry, for much of the year, unlike the Maldives. Plus, the scenery can be awe inspiring, although much of the interior is a bit scrubby with sugar cane fields. As for the culture, it’s a magical fusion of Africa, Asia and Europe. Of course the beaches are top-notch, framed by turquoise seas and the island’s infrastructure is very much first world. So, quite apart from the added allure of the Come Alive Experiences, which Sunlife resort is right for your family?
Find the perfect Sunlife resort for your family
There’s a well-known phrase in Mauritius, “west is best”, and both Sugar Beach and La Pirogue Sunlife Resorts are close neighbours on the island’s west coast. In fact, so close are they, that to reach one from the other requires only a gentle stroll down the beach.
Take afternoon tea or play croquet on the lawn at Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach a Sunlife Resort, where we stayed, has more of a grand colonial plantation style, right down to sweeping white staircases. Echoing this theme, there’s a certain sense of opulence and grandeur reflected in some of the Come Alive Experiences here. So you can look forward to afternoon tea in the grand reception area. Or perhaps you prefer croquet on the shaded lawns facing the beach, accompanied by refreshing Aperol Spritz, naturally.
Find fun Sun Kids Clubs at all Sunlife resorts in Mauritius
The resort also features three pools, one dedicated to kids. Plus, Sun Kids Club for 2 to 11 year olds is open until 9pm. And there’s even a Teens Club where they organise beach barbecues and pizza nights along with sporting activities and coaching.
La Pirogue brings authenticity to holidays in Mauritius
La Pirogue a Sunlife Resort has much more of an authentic Mauritian vibe. This is immediately apparent on check-in where’s there’s a definite absence of convention. Instead, guests are immediately welcomed into the bustle of village life. Expect market stalls manned by local vendors offering island produce, including some excellent rum. And for kids, there’s a refreshing alternative to boring fruit juice in the form of glaçon rápé: hand-churned ice lollies in a choice of flavours.
La Pirogue is perfect if Indian Ocean swimming is the dream
The guest rooms are thatched as are many of the public areas. And, as it’s the longest established Sunlife resort, La Pirogue unsurprisingly feels very comfortable in its own skin. An added bonus is the beach here which shelves a bit more than it does at Sugar Beach, so you can have a proper swim in the sea.
Perfectly placed resorts for exploring amazing Mauritius
Between La Pirogue and Sugar Beach there are 11 restaurants combined, so you can dine out a different one nearly every night of a two-week holiday. However, if you want to eat local, the lively town of Flic en Flac is only a short taxi ride away from both resorts. And adventurous families will be delighted to find some of the island’s most popular attractions, such as Black River Gorges National Park, are only an hour away too.
Head east for Long Beach and stunning sunrises
I was amazed at how different Long Beach a Sunlife Resort on the East Coast immediately felt, and not just because it gets the sunrise rather than the sunset.
Dazzling entertainment lights up Long Beach piazza in the evening
Architecturally striking with lots of flowing outdoor rooms, the resort’s cool and contemporary playfulness is exemplified by its piazza style centre. This area transforms at night into an exciting showcase for local musicians and dancers and feels anything but contrived. Think stalls serving complimentary local cocktails as well as dazzling sound and light shows. The latter were clearly a highlight for kids judging by the many transfixed gazes in evidence.
Sail for a game of golf on gorgeous Isle aux Cerfs
Come Alive Experiences unique to Long Beach include Sunrise beach kayaking. I heard it was worth a very early start, however, I had a perfect excuse for not taking part. The day before, I’d enjoyed an epic but tiring schedule on the famous Bernard Langer designed Isle aux Cerfs’ golf course. Accessed from a jetty at the equally famous Shangri-La Le Touessrok Hotel, the course is less than 30 minutes from Long Beach, and one of very few in the world you can only reach by boat.
Isle aux Cerfs is owned by Sunlife and so close to the mainland that the shuttle boat feels like it’s navigating a wide river rather than the Indian Ocean.
Even kids can take golf lessons on Isle aux Cerfs
There are plenty of courses in Mauritius, but Isle aux Cerfs is the one everyone wants to play, with good reason. The golf is of a very high quality, with tight, undulating fairways and numerous water carries. Although stunning views in every direction as well as a white sand beach metres from the fairway can prove to be a constant distraction. For younger players, Isle aux Cerfs offers a Sun Kids Club, along with access to beaches and even junior golf lessons.
No holidays in Mauritius are complete without a Flacq Market Sunday
My final morning was spent at the famous Flacq Sunday market just a short taxi ride away from Long Beach. It being the beginning of December I hoped to pick up some unusual stocking fillers. Never have I seen such a profundity of fruit and veg. There must have been more than forty aisles of the freshest looking produce – one of the clues as to why the food at all Sunlife restaurants is so memorable.
Stop for Alouda, the Mauritian take on milkshake that’s not just for kids
Although Mauritian food is altogether on a different level compared to other Indian Ocean island destinations. Markets offer visitors a microcosm of the country and Flacq is one of many in towns dotted around the island. I can highly recommend a visit particularly with children in tow, just make sure you all try one of the many Alouda drink stalls. This Mauritius’ version of a milkshake is made with basil seeds, agar agar, milk and vanilla and very refreshing on a hot day.
However, there’s nothing “vanilla” about holidays in Mauritius and these three amazing, but distinct, Sunlife resorts. Good luck choosing just one, rather you than me!
How to plan family holidays in Mauritius
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Mauritius take from 12 hours.
Where to stay
Sugar Beach a Sunlife resort, Deluxe Sea View Room from £371 per night.
Caribtours offers a 7-night, half-board stay at Sugar Beach from £2,269pp, including return flights from London.
Find out more and book your stay at Sugar Beach with Caribtours
Long Beach a Sunlife Resort, room prices from £275 per night.
Caribtours offers a 7-night, half-board stay at Long Beach from £1,829pp, including return flights from London.
Find out more and book your stay at Long Beach with Caribtours