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The secluded Le Chaland beach by the recently opened Anantara Iko Mauritius Resorts & Villas

If you’ve ‘done’ southeast Asia and the Maldives and you’re looking for something new, something perhaps a little further afield, Mauritius is the obvious next step.

This stunning tropical island is located 2,000kms off Africa’s southeast coast in the Indian Ocean and is a laid-back, multi-cultural delight of a destination.

The beaches

Think crystal clear water and endless white sand. If you’re looking for picture postcard perfection, the less-developed east side of the island offers up amazing, pristine beaches. In the north there is a wide range of watersports and on the west coast there’s surf, deep-sea fishing and dolphin and whale watching.

The food

Mauritian cuisine is a rich melting pot of Indian, Chinese, Creole and European influences. Local chefs are renowned for their flair in combining traditional and local ingredients to create delicious dishes.

The history

The first to visit the island were Arab sailors and the first to inhabit it were the Portuguese in the early 1500s. The Dutch then claimed Mauritius from 1638 to 1710 and gave it its name, but in 1715 the French bagged it and renamed the island Ile de France. The Brits captured it in 1810, renamed it Mauritius and gave it up as an independent island in 1968. Official languages are English and French but most locals speak a French-based creole.

The wildlife

Mauritius boasts 330kms of coastline encircled by a barrier reef that protects the turquoise lagoons of the island. This means incredible diving with most dive sites close to shore. In fact the majority are within a 20-minute boat ride from the beach. You can also head out from the west coast to view and snorkel with bottlenose and spinner dolphins and also see humpback, sperm and pilot whales between July and November. Mauritius was also the home of the infamous but now-extinct dodo.

The adventures for kids

If the kidlets aren’t quite ready for a dive or a snorkel, check out underwater walking at at Solar Under Sea Walk. The attraction uses eco-friendly, solar-powered diving equipment which enables you to walk along the seabed just three metres down. You don’t have to be able to swim, but kids do need to be aged six and up. Each walk lasts 25-minutes while you get up close and personal with the fish.

Another dive-alternative is Blue Safari Submarine. The Blue Safari fleet includes two subs and several subscooters and is one of only 12 leisure submarine operations in the world, and the only one in the Indian Ocean. Dive to 35m and view fish, coral, crabs, stingray and a shipwreck.

Out of the water, head in to Port Louis, the capital, and check-out its buzzing, multi-cultural markets. Kids can spend their pocket-money rupees on souvenirs in Chinatown.

Where to stay

Anantara has just opened the luxe Iko Mauritius Resorts and Villas.

The pool at Anantara Iko Mauritius Resorts & Villas

The property offers secluded rooms and suites on Le Chaland beach along the relatively untouched south-eastern coast of Mauritius. Take advantage of a kids club, multiple dining options, signature Anantara Spa and local activities including hiking, quad biking and zip-lining. The resort is just ten minutes from Sir Seewoosagur International Airport.

Other child-friendly resorts on the island include LUX Grand Gaube with a LUX Kids Club for three to 11 year olds; Shangri-La Le Touessrok Hotel which offers the T-Club (four to 11 years and 12-17 years) hosted in a Robin Hood-style clubhouse with dedicated play areas, tree house, pool and restaurant; Le Meridien Ile Maurice Hotel which has Penguin Kids Club for four to 12 year olds plus complimentary windsurf lessons, water ski lessons, glass bottom trips, face painting and night beach movies; and Sofitel So Mauritius with a dedicated villa hosting two kids clubs for three to six years and six to 12 years.

When to go

Peak season is in December and January when temperatures are at their warmest. Rainy season runs from January to April.

Getting there

Air Mauritius flies from Hong Kong once a week.

Anantara opens on Malaysia’s Desaru Coast.