Your essential guide to golf breaks in Mauritius...
When you imagine a paradise island, a land of powder- white beaches framed by sapphire gin waters, your mind is almost certainly picturing Mauritius. A 790 square-mile island in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar and somewhere very close to Eden, Mauritius is more than your imagination could conjure up.
Mark Twain famously wrote: "Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius". And it's easy to see why. It's evidently home to some of the world's most beautiful beaches, but so much more.
Hike through the forested interior, snorkel off shore, explore botanical gardens and stand mouth-gaping as the wildlife goes about its business. And then there's the golf. Mark Twain was no fan of golf, so the Mauritius of today would be somewhat wasted on him.
For despite its size, the island is home to a dozen courses. The first of those dozen was laid out as far back as 1844 and in the last couple of decades, the island's golf options have developed more impressively than other similar destinations. Mauritius has evidently embraced the game, and the game embraced it back: the International Association of Golf Tour Operators crowned the island 'Golf Destination of the Year' in Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf States.
Perhaps the most famous course here is Ile Aux Cerfs (formerly Le Touessrok), the Bernhard Langer-designed test reached by a short but memorable boat taxi – the journey an experience in itself. But there's much more to Mauritius than just one signature track.
The two contrasting but outstanding championship courses at Belle Mare Plage and the Ernie Els design at Anahita are exceptional additions too, while the aptly-named Paradis in the south-west of the island might have the most stunning location of all. Played out between the iconic Morne mountain and the crystal-clear lagoon of the Morne peninsula, it offers arguably the most spectacular views on the entire island.
The wise move here would be to stay on site at the Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa (below), where the off-course luxury is equally impressive, but the Beachcomber group has eight other hotels on Mauritius so you have exceptional options all across the island.
At the northern tip, stay at the luxurious Trou Aux Biches Resort and you're on the doorstep of one of the island's newest courses, Mont Choisy. Designed by Peter Matkovich on the site of a former sugar plantation, the South African has created an especially stunning back nine, including the sporty par-4 13th and island-green short 15th.
There is no bad golf to be found on Mauritius, but don't forget about The Heritage course in Domaine de Bel Ombre – it's another Matkovich track that hosted the European Tour's AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in 2015 – or Rodney Wright's Tamarina on the south-west Savannah coast, located between the iconic Mount Rempart and the celebrated surf spot of Tamarin Bay.
And for the kudos of playing the oldest golf course in the Southern Hemisphere and the fourth oldest in the world, head inland to Mauritius Gymkhana Club. Dating back to 1844, Gymkhana is a decent course with a British pub-style clubhouse, a nod to its former life as a service club for officers who were posted on the island between 1834 and 1849.
Evidently, then, Mauritius has more than enough top-quality golf to satisfy even the most discerning golf traveller. But that is only a small part of its lure, with a list of attractions as long as it is varied.
The weather is the most obvious plus point, with Mauritius at no point in the year requiring you to pack a jumper; it simply never dips below 20°C here during the day. The resorts are all uber-stylish and boast a comprehensive array of facilities, from sports to spas. And the service is second to none – the Mauritian staff are routinely superb. Away from the resorts, you can snorkel in the sea, explore nature reserves, kite-surf, deep-sea sh or take a tandem skydive – all in one afternoon, should you so desire.
Logistics: Air Mauritius fly direct from Heathrow four times a week. The flight time is around 11 hours.
Time difference: GMT +4