Two small islands, Reunion and Mauritius, lie east of Madagascar about a thousand miles from Africa’s mainland Mozambique. The pearl on these islands is Port Louis, home to the island’s beautiful beaches, historic places, best shops, and most fabulous restaurants. Port Louis is the smallest of Mauritius’ nine districts, but it is the most densely-populated. About 145 thousand people live in an area of less than 50 square kilometers.
The Port Louis Citadel is an excellent example of military architecture, and it offers a great view of the harbor. Now home to the National Maritime Museum, the Citadel contains a wonderful collection of weapons, model ships, and other historic models. The Arsenal Room contains excellent models, paintings, and sculptures illustrating the history of the French Navy from the 17th to early 20th Centuries. Construction of the Citadel began under Spain in the 16th Century and was completed during the reign of France’s King Louis XIII in the next century.
Port Louis’ Aapravavasi Ghat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it was once a landing point for indentured labor (primarily from India) after slavery was abolished by Britain in 1834. The 1.6 thousand square meter site was the first in Britain’s “great experiment” in using free labor in place of slaves. From 1834 to 1920, almost 500 thousand laborers were brought here on their way to Mauritius sugar plantations or other British colonies.
When traveling to Port Louis, visitors will not want to miss Volunteer Beach. At the east end of the beach, 150 breeding pairs of King Penguin shelter in the largest sanctuary on the island. At Volunteer Point, you can see an offshore breeding colony of southern fur seals and elephant seals. The settlement at Volunteer Beach is a sleep sheep-friendly village with historic charm.
Port Louis’ Caudan Waterfront is the in-place for island tourism and the center for cultural life in Mauritius. Shoppers are enthralled with its 170 boutiques, and local artists gather there. The marina hosts boats from around the world, and the restaurants and family-oriented venues keep everyone satisfied. After 10 years since its opening, the Caudan Waterfront has become a business center, amusement center, mixing pot, and meeting place for visitors and residents alike.
Visitors can enjoy some horse racing every two years at Champs de Mars in Port Louis. The Mauritius Turf Club was established in 1812, making Champs de Mars one of the oldest horse racing courses in the southern hemisphere. Operating from May until November, races are usually on Saturdays every week through the season.
Travelers who want to visit the island of Mauritius and Port Louis by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.