The endless bay
n the 17th century, the Dutch called it De Bogt Zonder Eyndt, the endless bay. Today, the coastal town of Grand Baie is the most popular tourist destination in Mauritius and it offers endless entertainment, day and night. Located in the north of the main island, about 25km from Port Louis, the nation’s capital, Gran Baie stands on a sea of turquoise waters. This tourist magnet is all-inclusive, boasting everything visitors might need: accommodation, white sands, water sports for every taste, shopping, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Cuvette Beach is a peaceful refuge, protected from the crowds and the traffic, and ideal for those seeking peaceful relaxation in waters that could pass for the Caribbean. Its proximity to the centre and its services make this a very comfortable setting. By contrast, the large public beach at Grand Baie bustles with life and activity. Accessible from any part of the city, the sands are livened up by colourful food stalls and bathers, and the waters are taken over by boats and divers. One part of the beach is closed off for sunbathing and swimming, while the rest is reserved for the numerous water sports offered at Grand Baie: catamarans, surfing, sailing, water skiing and sub-scooters.
Boats and dodos invade the streets
The dodo, a bird that went extinct in the 18th century, dominates the streets in the form of magnets, cuddly toys and every type of souvenir imaginable. One other big seller are the miniature antique boats on offer here. The craftspeople who make them reproduce the original designs of each of the boats, to scale.
The geography of Grand Baie makes it the perfect place to sail. Yachts, cruise ships, catamarans and sailing boats depart from here, offering excursions (private or group) around the coastline or to nearby islands, like Gabriel. The most popular activities include sub-scooter rides, where you can ‘drive’ underwater, at a depth of 4–6 metres. Instead of a helmet, riders sheath themselves in a diving suit that lets them breathe underwater.
To recover your strength, pop-up stores on the sands offer appetising fruit juices. You can also buy fresh fish as local fishermen go to the beach to sell their daily catch, brought directly from the fishing boats anchored in the bay.
If what you seek is more sophisticated shopping, Grand Baie has myriad options to suit every taste. Artisans inhabit the streets of this former fishing village, setting up their stalls alongside shopping malls and the best-known international brands, particularly on Sunset Boulevard.
Grand Baie is water, beach and shopping. But, first and foremost, it is nightlife. As the sun dims, the restaurants and clubs light up, as they transition into vibrant nights, particularly on the weekend. The best bars and clubs on the island can be found on Royal Road and the surrounding area. Banana Beach Club has live groups playing every day. Clubbers drink and dance around the circular Budha Bar, while on the three floors at Les Enfants Terribles, you can hear every style of music. If the Dutch visitors of the 17th century could see this central street today, they would probably call it “endless party”.