It wasn’t quite the shower I needed in Mauritius as the skies opened halfway up La Tourelle mountain.
While the rain was a welcome respite from the searing 30C heat we endured while climbing the 550m summit, it made navigating the narrow and rocky descent in the dark tricky.
We compared ourselves to real life Lara Crofts As we climbed over boulders and landslides with the help of ropes and tour guides, Elodie and Anne.
This three-hour hike is the most physically demanding activity in the Veranda Tamarin Hotel and Spa’s eco-friendly Explorer program.
It was launched last year in partnership with local businesses to offer travelers an authentic experience Mauritius.
It’s not difficult to see why hiking the La Tourelle mountain is a national pastime when its summit offers such spectacular views over the entire southwestern region and unrivaled sunsets.
And to learn that children from the age of eight are regular guests on the mountain did not diminish our sense of achievement.
The Veranda Tamarin prides itself on being affordable – a much-needed addition an island that has long been considered a destination for the wealthy.
Guests who stay longer than four nights receive Explorer Credits to use on excursions such as hiking, fishing, dolphin kayaking, paddleboarding, a catamaran cruise, and beach yoga.
They can also be used to rent a mini moke, scooter, bike or for the hotel shuttle service.
And while the 3H Bohemian Hotel is reasonably priced, it doesn’t skimp on style. Renovated in 2018, it now houses one of the only rooftop infinity pools on the island.
There’s also a second, larger pool with four-poster beds, hammocks tucked between palm trees, a bar serving sky-blue tamarind cocktails, and a spa offering chakra-balancing massages.
Its 116 rooms, ranging from cozy Comfort to sea-view Privilege, are spacious with whitewashed and yellow wood furniture and colorful murals by a local artist.
Each accommodation comes with a straw mattress, sun hat, and beach towels — a nice touch for guests who forgot to pack their own.
And after you’ve used up all that energy climbing a mountain, the hotel has several options for refueling.
Breakfast and dinner are served at Ye! Man decked out with surfboards and old photos of Tamarin. It offers local and international dishes at its dinner buffet.
But if dinner and a show are what you’re looking for, guests can enjoy light snacks and calamari steaks at the hotel’s sand-floored Crazy Fish Bar, which is served with karaoke, jazz music, and DJs. Or you can get your pizza at Tribu by the pool.
Real foodies will want to book the half-day Taste Buddies tour (£42), where guests sample classic Mauritian cuisine influenced by African, Indian and European cultures.
As part of the Explorer program, guests are driven to unique restaurants and even a retired local where they savor dishes like tuna vindaloo, salted fish, squid salad and spicy heart of palm in turmeric and mustard seeds.
To me, however, your money is best spent on the water.
If you don’t mind a 3am wake up call, Fish Whisperer’s local skippers offer 6 and 9 hour small and big game trips from £240. Expect yellowfin tuna, blue marlin and marlin to be among your catch.
Or is right on your doorstep Tamarin public beacha popular spot with surfers between May and September and home to Cyril Thevenau’s decades-old school, where private lessons for two cost around £32.
In February, while avid riders sniffed the gentle swell, it was perfect for my bambi legs to learn how to catch waves – if only for a few seconds.
And if surfing isn’t your thing, there’s another, more majestic reason to visit this rugged, pristine coastline – the dolphins.
One lazy afternoon while swimming at sunset, we chanced upon two of the mammals playfully leaping out of the water. Despite regularly visiting the bay, locals still excitedly gather on the shore to see the show.
And if just one encounter isn’t enough for you, for £30 you can join Local Adventure’s Elodie and Anne on kayaks or paddleboards to see more of the pod as the sun rises.
With La Tourelle providing a picture perfect backdrop, you can be greeted by up to 30 bottlenose and spinner dolphins.
Also great for nature lovers but not included in the program are the giant tortoises and 100m waterfall at nearby Seven Colored Earth Geopark with an entrance fee of £5.50.
The main attraction is a rainbow of sand dunes that have developed from molten volcanic rock eroded over thousands of years.
For even more great views, head to the nearby Le Chamarel restaurant for lunch, set on a wooded plateau amid green pastures and coffee plantations.
It’s a popular haunt for tourists and curious macaques, and offers a delicious Creole-style “12 Flavours” tasting menu for £20 per person.
While the Veranda Tamarin offered everything we could want in a sun vacation, we ended our trip at the more luxurious sister property on the northeast coast.
With its own private beach, the adults-only 4H Veranda St Paul and Virginie — named after the island version of Romeo and Juliet — is the picture-postcard of Mauritius, with its white sands, azure waters, and Instagram-worthy terrace and jetty for candlelit dinners.
The Explorer program hasn’t been extended to St. Paul and Virginie, but the hotel offers its own list of excursions, including a cooking class under a banyan tree with the kitchen’s larger-than-life “Little Chef” and a catamaran cruise to the uninhabited island Bernache.
It was a relaxing end to an action-packed week, and while climbing a mountain might not be high on every holidaymaker’s to-do list, we felt like we were on top of the world.
COVID: All travelers must have Covid-19 travel insurance.
Those fully bitten will no longer have to undergo a pre-departure test, but will have to undergo a test upon arrival.
Unvaccinated tourists must undergo a seven-day test and quarantine upon arrival.
GET THERE: Air Mauritius flies five times a week from Heathrow to Mauritius with fares from £567 per person round trip. See airmauritius.com.
STAY THERE: A bed and breakfast at the 3H Veranda Tamarin costs from £115 for two adults.
Guests who book a seven night stay will receive an experience credit of 5,600 Mauritius rupees (£96), while guests who stay ten nights or more will receive 8,000 Mauritius rupees (£137).
A night’s B&B at the adults-only 4H Veranda Paul and Virginie costs from £149. See veranda-resorts.com.
https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8629185/holiday-island-dolphin-sunrise-mauritius/ The vacation island with dolphin kayak tours, giant tortoises and sunrise fishing