Located on the east coast of Africa, Mauritius is a small island nation known for its pristine beaches and luxurious 5-star resorts.
Although it’s not all about sand and sunbeds. Mauritius also offers a rich cultural heritage and incredible food scene – partly with a diverse mix of Indian, Creole, Chinese and French ethnicities.
What’s more, the island’s pristine scenery has made it a bucket list destination for nature lovers. So, if you want to experience the island more consciously, here is your guide to ecotourism in Mauritius.
See also: Mauritius Accommodation: Where to stay on the island
Ecotourism in Mauritius: Why it matters
Mauritius’ position as a small island makes it much more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The sea level has already affected the island and the primitive beaches known for it are under threat. In fact, some beaches have shrunk by more than 10 meters in the last decade!
The island’s location in the Indian Ocean puts it in a cyclone belt. Thanks to climate change, flash floods and tropical storms are becoming increasingly deadly.
Despite this threat, tourism is an important part of the island’s economy because it contributes to its much economic and sustainable development.
Like many small African states, conservation and sustainable efforts have suffered as a result of the epidemic.
According to a Commonwealth report, many nature conservation and wildlife parks have been closed for a long time and budgets for conservation have shrunk as a result of declining incomes.
As a sustainable traveler, finding activities and habitats that benefit the environment and local people is a way to support and strengthen conservation efforts for future generations.
See also: Mauritius: Incredibly colorful island
The best ecotourism activities in Mauritius
Here’s a quick guide to the best ecotourism activities to help you enjoy Mauritius responsibly.
See also: Top Things to Do and Highlights of Mauritius
Meet the giant tortoise
Did you know that Mauritius is home to giant tortoises? Sadly the native species suffered the same fate as Dodo and became extinct in the 1700s.
In an effort to restore the island’s natural ecosystem, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation launched the Aldabra Giant Turtle from Seychelles in 2000. The best place to visit them is on a small island called Ile Ox Igrates which is a protected nature reserve.
Here you can see baby and adult turtles eating and sleeping all over the land. This is a great place to see rare birds and plants. What’s more, your money directly helps save the giant tortoise.
Go hiking to Chamarel
See a different side of Mauritius beyond the beach and the lagoon. Head to the Chamberel’s ebony forest reserve inland where you can hike and support rewinding projects.
Join the guided or self-guided tour on the 300 m high walkway through the Native Bush to the Sublime Point lookout. Here you can get amazing views from the coast across the island.
Stop by the small cafe for refreshments or continue for another hour or so to the summit of Pitton Canoe for more sightseeing.
Chamarel has a stunning landscape called a small number of giant tortoises and a world of seven colors. Like Peru’s Rainbow Mountain, the small area of sand dunes is lined with different colors!
See also: Great hiking spot in Mauritius
Visit a nature reserve
Visit the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Bell-Hombre to experience one of the last castles of the island’s native flora and fauna.
Combining 3,500 hectares of protected land, the reserve is vital to the survival of rare endangered birds such as the Pink Pigeon and the Mauritian Fodi.
Also keep an eye out for giant fruit bats (don’t worry, despite having wings up to 5 feet long, they are fruitful and completely harmless)!
You can support the conservation work by doing reserve tours. Take a 5-hour trek with a ranger that takes you deeper into the obscure nature of the island.
Alternatively, choose a 2-hour 4 × 4 drive or quad bike tour with an experienced guide from the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
Go snorkeling to a reserved reserve
Explore local marine life in an eco-friendly way by snorkeling in a protected marine reserve.
Lake Anse La Rai, north of Mauritius, is home to a volunteer Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) which means no fishing or other destructive activity is allowed.
You can take the best snorkeling tour here through the Lagoon Attitude Resort on the shores of Lagoon, the main proponent of the VMCA project.
The guided tour takes you in a glass-bottomed boat to the marine reserve where you can spend a few hours enjoying the local marine life.
See also: Canoeing in Mauritius: Natural and Adventurous
Take an eco tour
One of the easiest ways to support ecotourism in Mauritius is to plan your trip with all the researched tour operators for you.
Pure Breaks offers responsible vacations made by tailors that are personalized to your interests.
The self-guided tour operator has partnered with certified eco-resorts and activities that help you explore the island in an authentic and eco-friendly way.
Eco-friendly place to stay in Mauritius
These eco-friendly resorts and lodges offer nature resorts. Enough to fit a lot of budget! Check out these top three eco resorts:
Otentic eco tent
For those on a budget, Authentic Eco Tent offers eco-friendly escape in the arms of nature. Accommodation is complete in the form of a safari tent, with comfortable beds and a shower in the back. Upholstery materials are made from rustic and cleverly upcycled materials. There is no plastic here.
There are two authentic glaming sites to choose from: one on the banks of the Grand River and the other at the foot of Mount Bumbs. Both sites are small and intimate, which keeps them in high demand for tourists.
They have gardens where they grow their own food. Home cooking is a specialty here that with village cooking the locals come every day to cook some of the best food in the neighborhood!
Lagoon Attitude is a chain resort that is committed to making a difference. A great mid-range alternative, the resort has taken huge steps to alleviate its environmental footprint.
All rooms are single-use plastic-free and all their grounds have safe water refill stations.
There is a marine discovery center where scientists, schools and local tour operators can work and learn about marine conservation. It even sells its own reef-safe sunscreen.
Probably the most impressive is the free on-site Zero-Waste Refill Station for tea and coffee. Just fill the glass jars you need and take them back to your home!
Heritage Le Telfair
Heritage Le Telfair is a luxury 5-star resort that is part of the Heritage Resorts chain. It provides staff training on green key certified and sustainable development initiatives on a regular basis.
The resort works with local NGOs who donate surplus food if needed. It has its own recycling plant for paper, glass and plastic packaging. Even excess oil is converted into biofuels.
It owns a 1300-hectare nature reserve which is a protected area of conservation. Anyone can visit and there is a strong focus on activity education and environmental protection.
Mauritius eco-friendly travel tips
Check out these eco-friendly tips to help you travel better and help ecotourism in Mauritius.
See also: Sustainable travel tips on a budget
Offset your carbon footprint
Going to Mauritius is not an easy place because it is a small island in the Indian Ocean. This means you probably have to fly which is not the most eco-friendly way to travel.
However, tourism is an important part of the country’s economy. So, offset the carbon footprint of your trip by supporting ethical and sustainable businesses while you are there.
You can also donate to carbon offsetting projects, but make sure they are Gold Standard certified because they are the best way to guarantee whether they are valid.
There is a plastic free packing list
If you travel sustainably, it’s a good idea to keep single-use plastic on your backpack. This helps you to avoid bringing extra waste to this small island to deal with.
Removing plastics is as easy as replacing a few eco-friendly ones. For example, replace plastic bottles for a recyclable water filter bottle.
Use zero waste solid cosmetics instead of mini travel toiletries. If you can, try to take the plastic waste home with you at the end of your trip.
See also: The idea of eco-friendly gifts for eco-conscious travelers
Wear reef-safe sunscreen
Protect yourself and the environment after wearing eco-friendly sunscreen.
Chemical-based sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate have been shown to kill or bleach corals at very low concentrations.
Choose a reef-safe mineral-based sunscreen with non-nano titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It is just as effective and good for marine life and your health!
Leave your resort
Resorts are well-known for having everything you need in one place. You never have to go, do you? But if you leave your resort, you will have a much richer and more authentic experience.
For one thing, you’ll see real Mauritius beyond the beach and sunbed!
And another reason? You’re backing local businesses and giving big chain resorts back into the economy instead of allowing all your tourists to deposit money for themselves.
So, leave your resort even if it is for a day or as part of a tour.
Perform ethical, eco-friendly activities
Once you start planning your Mauritius trip, think about the kind of activities you want to do.
Many resorts and hotels offer experiences that you can book directly through them. Some of the most common are marine and wildlife activity – especially if the resorts are on the beach.
Before booking anything ask how these activities are conducted and who runs them. See how many tourists they experience, how they depict and interact with wildlife, and whether they try to minimize their impact.
If it’s watching whales or dolphins, do they have boats that reduce noise pollution? If you do snorkeling, do they tell you not to touch the coral wall or feet?
Avoid activities that invite you to touch or hold animals. Although the tour operator may deny this, there is no guarantee that the animal will not be stressed or distressed.
If none of the above issues are clearly addressed, don’t be afraid to ask direct questions and let them know it’s important to you.
Local business support
Where possible, support local businesses. This is a surefire way to ensure that your money goes directly to the local economy and strengthens the local community.
This could be in a homestay or in a small, family-run accommodation. You can also visit local markets, eat at local restaurants or book with small tour operators.
The ultimate thinking about ecotourism in Mauritius
The island nation of Mauritius probably knows the value of ecotourism in preserving its fragile ecosystem. An authentic and rich experience is ensured for travelers who make sure to support it.
The small island in the Indian Ocean is fast becoming a bucket list ecotourism destination for nature lovers, adventurers, food lovers and luxury travelers who are aware of their footprints.
So, if you are planning a trip to Mauritius, put your money into an initiative that has a positive impact on the environment and the community.