The Insiders guide to Mauritius: Sun, sea, sand... and an awful lot of golfing pedigree, as it happens
Would you be surprised to learn that golf was first played on the island of Mauritius 173 years ago? This paradise destination in the Indian Ocean conjures up visions of sprawling luxury resorts, still sparkling from being built little more than two decades ago. And that is of course largely true.
But golf was first introduced to the island – just over 1,000 miles from the east coast of Africa – by the Royal Navy in 1844, when golf-mad of cers laid out a nine-hole course that is now known as the Gymkhana Club. It is the oldest golf course in the Southern Hemisphere and the fourth oldest in the world.
The Gymkhana Club still exists and you can play there for around £35, a worthwhile dash of golfing history to go with your high- octane excitement that Mauritius is more widely known for.
Within the resorts on the island, there are seven 18-holers and these courses, allied to the magnificent non-golf attractions (and surely also the year-round splendid weather) helped to make the tiny island of Mauritius – whose 1.3m population speak English as well as French, Creole and Indian – the ‘Golf Destination of the Year in Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf States’ in the IAGTO awards of 2008.
This heavenly scene is an 11-hour direct flight from Britain and its most famous destination is Le Touessrok (pictured above), owing to its location on an island just off the mainland.
The journey to Île aux Cerfs – which translates as Deer Island – is an experience in itself, crossing the impossibly clear water on a small boat from a jetty next to the eponymous hotel to get to your tee time. Yet the course, designed by Bernhard Langer, is actually very demanding!
A lot of work has been done recently to make it a little more forgiving for the visiting holidaymaker and accentuate the real attractions here; not Carnoustie-like difficulty but views of the glistening ocean and white-sand beach.
A short walk along the beach from Le Touessrok’s sister hotel Long Beach is the Belle Mare Plage resort. It has two 18-hole courses, the Links and the Legend.
Since December 2009 the two courses have hosted one of the tournaments on the European Seniors Tour – the MCB Tour Championship, which has lured former Open champion Tom Lehman from America to compete on Mauritius.
The Legend, by long-time South African tour pro Hugh Baiocchi, is laid out along one of the most picturesque beaches on the island, while The Links, opened in November 2002 and laid out by Rodney Wright and Peter Alliss, is a more gentle test.
Beachcomber Paradis (pictured above) was one of the first of the new wave of courses when it opened in 1990 but remains one of the best on the island. It sits on the Le Morne peninsula in the south west of the island, squeezed between iconic Morne Mountain and the lagoon of the Morne Peninsula.
Laid out by tour pro turned commentator Tony Johnstone, it is a stunning course and, being part of the renowned Beachcomber group, is one of Mauritius’ nest resorts.
Elsewhere, Golf du Chateau is attached to the Heritage Resort in the heart of the picturesque Domaine de Bel Ombre, also on the south-west coast. This Peter Matkovich design climbs and falls successfully, offering superb views from its lofty spots. It’s routinely in good condition too, with notably slick, sloping greens.
Tamarina is further up the west coast and is a new Wright design with a classic par 3 at 13, the River Rempart to the left of a green which sits well below the tee. Part of the Four Seasons group, the Ernie Els-designed Anahita is the most recent addition to Mauritius’ portfolio.
Opened in 2008, it has six stunning ocean-side holes culminating in a spectacular closer. The rest of the course weaves through tropical landscape. The nine-hole Gary Player design at the One & Only Saint-Geran complex completes the picture on a small island that is impressively stacked with courses.
Mauritius is not all about golf...
De-stress in one of the many fabulous spas on the island or chill out on a white- sand beach. For something slightly more active, take a stroll through one of the stunning nature reserves.
In the blue water and under blue skies, kite-surf, deep-sea sh or charter a boat. For an adrenaline rush, take a spectacular tandem 3,000m sky-dive.
Mauritius' cosmopolitan populations give it a varied cuisine, incorporating Indian, Chinese, Creole and European in uences. All the resorts boast top-drawer chefs.
On the north and west coast there are plenty of nightclubs, pubs and restaurants – or head to a casino such as the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis.
The climate Their winter is our summer and thus vice versa – and although you can get rain in December and January, it is likely to be sharp but heavy showers. Usually breezy.
When to go We like September; hot enough to be in the pool but the driest month. Getting there Air Mauritius fly direct from Heathrow four times a week.
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