One of the tiniest villages in Mauritius, Mahebourg is the very definition of the phrase ?don?t judge a book by its cover?. A quaint little village that is off the beaten Mauritian tourist trail, Mahebourg is all about simplicity and a laid-back lifestyle amidst the pretty backdrop of glittering blue water and white sand beaches. Named after a very famous French governor from the French colonial era, the town is a unique amalgamation of French, Dutch and Creole architecture. Back during the imperial reign, Mahebourg?s proximity to the harbour made it a busy hub for trade, but after the French shifted the main port to Port Louis, Mahebourg receded into being a sleepy little coastal village. With the local villagers leading an extremely slow-paced life, Mahebourg is all about the simple pleasures in life - bustling markets, pretty beaches, delicious local food, and a beautiful backdrop to add to it all.
Scattered Remnants of a Colonial Past
As you would probably expect from a town steeped in colonial history, Mahebourg is home to quite a few intriguing museums, which offers a fascinating insight into the history and traditions of the village. The most important Museum in town is the Naval History Museum, which is a big draw among tourists, considering that Mahebourg was primarily a port town, to begin with. Starting from ancient maritime maps to miniature porcelain ship collections to remnants from wrecked boats and ships, the Naval History Museum promises to take you on an exciting journey into the island's past, dating to as far back as the 18th century. Located at the Château Gheude, which is a national heritage building, the museum has a plethora of exhibitions detailing various naval historical battles. With two out of three floors open to tourists, the Mahebourg Historical Naval Museum takes you on a trip back in time to learn about the naval history of the island.
The other main museum in Mahebourg is the National History Museum, which is housed in a colonial mansion which was previously used as a makeshift hospital to treat injured naval commanders during the Battle of Vieux Grand Port. The entire story of this battle where the French gained victory over the British is retold via exhibits in the museum. Other displays include ancient naval maps, artefacts from the colonial era, engraved curios of dodos and giant turtles (both of which went extinct), and a few real dodo bones as well. The museum has been renovated many times in the past, and recent additions have included a replica of the boat Napoleon used to defeat the British, and a retrofitted model of the first railway carriage to ever be used by Mauritian railways.
Another little piece of history that you can find in Mahebourg pertains to the Rault Biscuit Factory (also known as Biscuiterie Rault), and a visit to the place gives you a sneak peek into one of the island's most prestigious and unique family-run businesses. The only kind of its factory in the whole world where biscuits are made using manioc flour, the Rault Biscuit Factory gives its visitors a 20-minute tour of the entire biscuit production process, starting from the handmade dough-making to the hotplate baking even to taste the finished products, served with steaming hot cups of tea!
Mahebourg is home to one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the country, the Sir Gaetan Duval Esplanade. Located by the Mahebourg waterfront, the Sir Gaetan Duval Esplanade is a monolith that was erected as a memorial for the French and British soldiers who died in several battles fought for the control of Mauritius. The memorial is not only an excellent place to learn more about the colonial-era battles of Mauritius, but it also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian ocean, and you can even spot the famous Mouchoir Rouge island from the esplanade.
Immerse Yourself in the Diverse Variety of Colourful Marine Life
The Blue Bay Marine Park in Mahebourg is one of the few marine parks in the country with a widely biodiverse range of marine life. A sight for sore eyes, the marine park is spread over an area of over 350 hectares, and you can catch a glimpse of a vast depository of colourful flora and fauna. The park offers options for snorkelling and glass-bottom boat riding, two experiences that you really shouldn't miss out on while on a visit to the park. The crystal-clear water promises excellent visibility, and you will not only get a beautiful view of various kinds of fish, but you can also find a plethora of colourful corals as well. Right outside the Blue Bay Marine Park is the Blue Bay beach, which is one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Mauritius. With a crystal clear turquoise lagoon (the place gets its name from the lovely blue colour of the lagoon) promising a great swimming experience, the Blue Bay Beach is one of the top attractions in Mahebourg.
Mahebourg is not Mahebourg without its animated little bazaars and markets, which remain crowded at any given the time of day. The town is renowned for its high-quality fresh seafood, and there are local cafes and eateries at every other corner from where you can grab a quick bite or take a sip of some freshly-cut coconut water to quench your thirst. Mahebourg holds a weekly bazaar every Monday, where you can get good bargains for everything ranging from clothes to beachwear to souvenirs and trinkets to take back home.