Ecotourism in Mauritius: How to Have an Eco-Friendly Holiday

Located off the east coast of Africa, Mauritius is a small island nation that’s known for its pristine beaches and luxury 5-star resorts. 

It’s not all about the sand and sunbeds though. Mauritius also offers a rich cultural heritage and incredible food scene – partly to do with its diverse mix of Indian, Creole, Chinese and French ethnic groups. 

What’s more, the island’s pristine landscapes have made it a bucket list destination for nature lovers. So, if you want to experience the island in a more mindful way, here’s your guide to ecotourism in Mauritius. 

See also: Mauritius Accommodation: Where to Stay on the Island

Ecotourism in Mauritius: Why it’s important 

Mauritius’ position as a small island makes it perhaps more vulnerable than most to the effects of climate change. 

Rising sea levels have already impacted the island and the pristine beaches it’s known for are under threat. In fact, some beaches have shrunk by more than 10 metres over the last decade!

The island’s location in the Indian Ocean puts it in the cyclone belt. Thanks to climate change, flash floods and tropical storms are becoming increasingly deadly. 

Despite these threats, tourism is a vital part of the island nation’s economy as it helps fund many of its economic and sustainable developments. 

Just like many African small states, the arrival of the pandemic caused conservation and sustainability efforts to suffer. 

Many nature reserves and wildlife parks had prolonged closures and the decreased income resulted in shrinking budgets for conservation, according to a Commonwealth report. 

As a sustainable traveller, seeking out activities and accommodation that benefit the environment and local people is a way to support and strengthen conservation efforts for generations to come. 

See also: Mauritius: The Island of Incredible Colors

Ecotourism in Mauritius
View of Mauritius from Sublime Point Lookout

The best ecotourism activities in Mauritius 

Here’s a quick guide to the best ecotourism activities to help you enjoy Mauritius responsibly.

See also: Top Things to Do and Highlights of Mauritius

Meet giant tortoises 

Did you know Mauritius is home to giant tortoises? Sadly the native species suffered the same fate as the dodo and went extinct sometime in the 1700s. 

In an effort to restore the island’s natural ecosystem, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation introduced the Aldabra Giant Tortoise from the Seychelles in 2000. The best place to see them is on a tiny islet called Ile aux Aigrettes which is a protected nature reserve. 

Here you can see babies and full-grown tortoises eating and dozing across the land. It’s a fantastic spot for seeing rare birds and plants too. What’s more, your money goes directly to supporting giant tortoise conservation. 

Meet giant tortoises in Mauritius
A giant tortoise in Ile aux Aigrettes

Go hiking in Chamarel 

See a different side to Mauritius beyond the beaches and lagoons. Head inland to Chamarel’s Ebony Forest Reserve where you can go hiking and support rewilding projects. 

Join guided or self-guided tours up the 300m raised walkway through native bush to Sublime Point Lookout. Here you can get phenomenal views across the island to the coast. 

Stop for refreshments at the tiny cafe or continue up for another hour or so to the summit of Piton Canot for even more views. 

Chamarel also has a small number of giant tortoises and a stunning natural spectacle called the Seven Coloured Earth. The small area of sand dunes is streaked with different colours just like Rainbow Mountain in Peru! 

See also: Great Hiking Spots in Mauritius

Visit a nature reserve 

Head to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Bel-Hombre to experience one of the last strongholds of the island’s endemic flora and fauna. 

Featuring 3,500 hectares of protected land, the reserve is vital to the survival of rare endemic birds such as the Pink Pigeon and Mauritian Fody. 

Look out for giant fruit bats too (don’t worry, despite having a wingspan of up to 5ft long, they’re fruitarians and completely harmless)!

You can support the conservation work by doing tours of the reserve. Do a 5-hour trek with a ranger which takes you deep into the island’s unspoilt nature. 

Alternatively, opt for the 2-hour 4×4 drive or quad bike tour with an experienced guide from the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. 

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Bel-Hombre
Heritage Nature Reserve

Go snorkeling in a protected reserve 

Meet the local marine life the eco-friendly way by snorkelling in a protected marine reserve. 

Anse la Raie lagoon in the north of Mauritius is home to a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA) which means no fishing or other destructive activities are permitted. 

The best snorkelling tour you can do here is through Lagoon Attitude resort on the shores of the lagoon, a key supporter of the VMCA project. 

The guided tour takes you on a glass-bottomed boat to the marine reserve where you can spend a few hours enjoying the local marine life.

See also: Canoeing in Mauritius: Scenic and Adventurous 

Do an eco tour 

One of the easiest ways to support ecotourism in Mauritius is to plan your trip with a tour operator that’s done all the research for you. 

Pure Breaks offers tailor-made responsible holidays that are personalised to your interests. 

The self-guided tour operator has partnered with certified eco-resorts and activities that help you explore the island in an authentic and eco-friendly way. 

Eco-friendly places to stay in Mauritius

These eco-friendly resorts and lodges offer places to stay that harmonise with nature. There’s enough to suit a range of budgets too! Check out these top three eco resorts: 

Otentic Eco Tents 

For those on a budget, Otentic Eco Tents offers an eco-friendly escape in the arms of nature. Accommodation is in the form of safari tents, complete with cosy beds and a shower at the back. Furnishings are rustic and cleverly fashioned from upcycled materials. No plastic here. 

There are two Otentic glamping sites to choose from: one by the Grand River and the other at the foot of Bambous Mountain. Both sites are small and intimate, which puts them in high demand for tourists. 

They have gardens where they grow their own food. Home cooking is a speciality here with local people from the village cooking coming every day to cook some of the best food around! 

Otentic Eco Tents
Otentic Eco Tents on booking.com

Lagoon Attitude

Lagoon Attitude is a chain resort that’s committed to making a difference. A great mid-range option, the resort has taken huge steps to mitigate its environmental footprint. 

All rooms are free of single-use plastic and they have safe water refill stations all over the grounds. 

There’s a marine on-site discovery centre where scientists, schools and local tour operators can work and learn about marine conservation. It even sells its own reef-safe sunscreen too.

Perhaps the most impressive of all is the free on-site zero-waste refill station for tea and coffee. Simply fill up glass pots of what you need and take them back to your room! 

Lagoon Attitude eco resort in Mauritius
Lagoon Attitude eco resort in Mauritius

Heritage Le Telfair 

Heritage Le Telfair is a luxury 5-star resort that’s part of the Heritage Resorts chain. It’s Green Key certified and regularly trains staff on sustainable development initiatives. 

The resort works with local NGOs to donate surplus food to those in need. It also has its own recycling plant for paper, glass and plastic packaging. Even excess oil is turned into biofuel. 

It also owns a 1300-hectare nature reserve which is a protected area of conservation. Anyone can visit and activities here have a strong focus on education and protecting the environment. 

Heritage Le Telfair pool - Heritage Resorts
Heritage Le Telfair pool – Heritage Resorts

Mauritius eco-friendly travel tips 

Check out these eco-friendly tips to help you travel better and support ecotourism in Mauritius.

See also: Sustainable Travel Tips on a Budget

Offset your carbon footprint

Mauritius is not an easy place to get to as it’s a small island in the Indian Ocean. This means you’ll likely have to fly which isn’t the most eco-friendly way to travel. 

However, tourism is a vital part of the country’s economy. So, offset the carbon footprint of your travels by supporting ethical and sustainable businesses while you’re there. 

You can also donate to carbon offsetting projects, but make sure they’re Gold Standard certified as it’s the best way to guarantee that they’re legitimate. 

Have a plastic-free packing list 

If you’re travelling sustainably, it’s good practice to keep single-use plastic out of your backing list. This helps you avoid bringing excess waste for this small island to deal with. 

Removing plastic is as easy as doing a few eco-friendly swaps. For example, swap out plastic bottles for a reusable water filter bottle. 

Take zero waste solid toiletries instead of mini travel toiletries. If you can, try to take any plastic waste home with you at the end of your trip. 

See also: Eco-Friendly Gifts Ideas for Eco-Conscious Travelers

Wear reef-safe sunscreen 

Keep yourself and the environment safe by wearing eco-friendly sunscreen

Chemical-based sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to kill or bleach coral at a very low concentration. 

Choose a reef-safe mineral-based sunscreen with non-nano titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It’s just as effective and better for marine life and your health! 

Leave your resort 

Resorts are well-known for having everything you need all in one place. You don’t ever have to leave, right? But if you do leave your resort, you’ll have a much richer and more authentic experience. 

For one thing, you’ll see the real Mauritius beyond the beaches and sunbeds! 

And another reason? You’re supporting local businesses and giving back to the economy rather than allowing big chain resorts to horde all your tourist money for themselves. 

So, leave your resort even if it’s for a day or as part of a tour. 

The Seven Coloured Earth Geopark in Chamarel
The Seven Coloured Earth Geopark in Chamarel

Do ethical, eco-friendly activities 

As you start to plan your Mauritius itinerary, think about the type of activities you want to do. 

Many resorts and hotels offer experiences you can book directly through them. Some of the most common ones are marine and wildlife activities – particularly if the resorts are on the beach. 

Before booking anything, interrogate how these activities are operated and who runs them. Look at how many tourists they take on the experience, how they portray and interact with the wildlife and whether or not they make an effort to reduce their impact. 

If it’s whale or dolphin watching, do they have boats that minimise noise pollution? If you’re snorkelling, do they tell you not to touch or step on coral reefs? 

Avoid activities that invite you to touch or hold animals. Even though the tour operator might deny it, there’s no guarantee that the animal isn’t stressed or suffering. 

If none of these issues above are overtly addressed, don’t be afraid to ask questions directly and let them know it’s important to you. 

Support local businesses 

Where possible, support local businesses. This is a guaranteed way to make sure that your money is going directly into the local economy and strengthening the local community. 

This could be staying in homestays or small, family-run accommodation. You could also check out the local markets, eat at local restaurants or book with small tour operators. 

Waterfall in Heritage Reserve in Mauritius
Waterfall in Heritage Reserve

Final thoughts on ecotourism in Mauritius 

The island nation of Mauritius knows perhaps more than most the value of ecotourism in preserving its fragile ecosystem. Travellers that make sure to support it are guaranteed an authentic and enriching experience. 

The small island in the Indian Ocean is fast becoming a bucket list ecotourism destination for nature lovers, adventurers, foodies and luxury travellers who are mindful of their footprint. 

So, if you’re planning a trip to Mauritius, put your money into initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment and community. 


green

Join the green scene! Our eco-friendly packing guide.

 

Are you a scruncher, folder or a roller?

Oi, mind out of the gutter! We’re talking about packing. More specifically, how you can be greener and more ethical with what goes into your backpack when you travel. 

Buzzkill guys, but by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. 

As travelers and all around decent human beings, we have a responsibility to protect the rivers, beaches, mountains and oceans that have given us so much unconditional and unqualified love over the years. Which means thinking about what you’re taking with you from your world, into theirs. 

The good news is, both big brands and start-ups are responding to travelers’ desires for more eco-friendly and sustainable travel gear. Here are just some of our favorite green products that are currently out there. 

STAnd up, Go Green, Do Good.

Refillable toiletry bottles

Those handy travel-sized toiletries that we love so much? Great for short trips and getting around the 3oz hand luggage rule, but a nightmare for the oceans and landfill sites where the miniature plastic bottles end up. Invest in refillable bottles instead. We love GoToob by Humangear. Fresh shades, BPA-free and a lifetime guarantee.

Mineral suncream

Some of the chemicals and parabens in sun-cream are not only bad for your skin, but also for the oceans and reefs that you swim in. Using a mineral-based sun-cream like JĀSÖN will not only protect your skin, but also the environment. There are no artificial colours or animal by-products, and the packaging is bio-degradable and packaged in recycled and/or recyclable containers. Now that’s hot!

Bamboo toothbrushes

That plastic toothbrush that you replace every six months? That toothbrush never disappears. The plastic can’t decompose, which means all your toothbrushes are out there in the world somewhere.

Go for a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush instead, like Humble Brush. Their ‘Go Humble, Give Smiles’ project also means that for every brush you buy, a child in need will receive a toothbrush, oral care or hygiene education. Plus, bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so you won’t get any of that nasty bacteria that hang out on your plastic brush.

Refillable water bottles

Barbie was wrong, plastic is not fantastic. Rivers, coastlines and railway verges clogged with rubbish and plastic bottles are a familiar sight for many travellers. Which is exactly where your single-use plastic bottle will end up.

Take a refillable bottle away with you. We are OBSESSED with Dutch-brand Dopper. So many reasons… not least the dreamy shades of neon corals and cool aquas, BPA-plastic free bottles that are recyclable when you’re done, and a wicked ethos where 5% of the company turnover is pumped into their projects. Oh, and a removable cup that looks – to us – much like it’s designed specifically for wine.

Soaps and sanitizers

Just what the doctor ordered for every eco-warrior, there’s not a single occasion when we don’t have Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer in our hand and man bags. Kills 99.9% of germs, smells incredible, and doesn’t strip your skin like normal anti-bac.

We’re also all over Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid soap. You can use this stuff for literally everything when you’re away – face, body, hair, food, laundry, dishes. It comes in ten lush scents, is made with organic and fair-trade ingredients, and is packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.

Bamboo sarongs

We know what you’re thinking, another bamboo product. And what about the effing pandas, you monsters!

Okay, this does raise an important issue about checking that the natural products you’re buying are responsibly sourced. However, bamboo consumes much less water than cotton and doesn’t need high quality arable land to grow, which makes it much more sustainable. It’s also 60% more absorbent than cotton and it’s super soft (like a panda), making it the perfect travel accessory.

We love Karavan’s Bamboo Peshtemal. Bus blanket, top sheet, sarong, towel… you genuinely have to try one to appreciate how fast they dry out, way faster than a travel towel. Plus, they look sheet hot! Here at STA Travel HQ, they’re a staple for every trip.

Reusable tote bags

Did you know that carrier bags are illegal in Rwanda? Yep, totes ahead of the game.

You’re probably the kind of person that wouldn’t use a single-use plastic bag at home, right? So why would it be any different when you’re away? Take a foldaway reusable tote with you, also great for doubling as a beach and laundry bag.

Backpacks

The key to backpacks and being sustainable often comes down to longevity and not upgrading your backpack every few years. Find a size and shape that works for you, and you’ll have your beloved pack a lifetime. (On a personal note, this author’s Osprey side-loader is on its 20th year and just about to visit its 89th country. Old school).

However, there are also brands out there such as the mountain legends VAUDE, who now offer environmentally-friendly backpacks that are ethically produced and made from sustainable materials. Check out their awesome Green Shape eco-range.

Sustainable clothing

It’s perhaps fair to say that once-upon-a-time, if you wanted to buy ethical clothing, you had to be into a certain, look? We’re personally down with the whole boho hemp vibes, but if you’re not, brands like Patagonia, Lulu Lemon, and Tentree are doing sustainable gear that does good and looks good. Surfdome.com have a whole section of their site dedicated to gear that’s sustainable in some way.


We could go on…got your own eco-packing and green tips?

We want to hear them! Shoot us an email at blog@statravel.com 

Want to consume less and do good on your travels. Why not add in one of our conservation trips to your next big adventure? See here. Want to buy a eco-friendly gift for your friend? See our top picks

travel

10 travel gifts for eco-friendly travelers

 

Such is the current reusable and recycling revolution, that at home, most of us wouldn’t dream of buying single-use plastic water bottles and throwaway coffee cups or using plastic straws on nights out. Right? However, while we might be a bunch of enlightened, environmentally-conscious, and all-around excellent human beings in our day-to-day life (and our nightlife), those good intentions can often go out of the window when we travel abroad.

Which is bizarre, when you consider that many of the places we visit need our help to reduce non-recyclables the most.

It’s time to start traveling the same way we live at home – mindful of waste, and plastic-free. Be kind to the planet and your travel-loving friends and family with these super green gifts…

1. Stojo Collapsible Coffee Cup

Coffee to go? I should Stojo!

Stojo’s collapsible coffee cups not only fit in your pocket, come with a reusable straw and can be bought in a variety of gorgeous shades, but they’re also made from recyclable material.

2. Rareform bags and tags

And top of the Billboard Hot 100 goes to…

Rareform! Rareform take billboard vinyl destined for the garbage and turn them into hard-wearing backpacks, passport holders, luggage tags, laptop sleeves and more.
Because each billboard is unique in its design, color and typography, so is each bag. As a company, they re-purpose 20,000 lbs. of billboard vinyl a month into their one-off products.

3. Toilet Twinning

Show someone that you give a crap!

Help to flush away poverty. 2.3 billion people around the world don’t have somewhere safe and hygienic to go to the loo. This incentive allows you to twin your toilet, or twin another person’s toilet as a gift, with a toilet in a developing country. The money then goes to help a family build a basic toilet, access clean water and learn about hygiene – a vital combination that can save lives.
The recipient of your gift will receive a framed certificate, complete with a colour photo and GPS coordinates of their twin location. Excellent reading while on the ‘throne’.

4. Vagabands ID bracelet

Safe, eco and good-looking? We’re with the band.

These award-winning bands are one of our favourite travel gifts. Not only do they help to keep you safe (just snap open to reveal all the important safety, medical and practical information that you want to keep to hand on the road), but they also look fab and are a really lovely memento of your adventure.
As well as being virtually indestructible and potentially life-saving, they’re also environmentally-conscious. Aiming to be carbon negative by 2020, the bands are 100% recyclable and hand-made in London.

5. Pela eco-friendly phone case

Hello. Ocean here, you called?

Yep, and we’d like to share this: Around one billion new phones are bought each year. Which means that one billion phone cases (or more if you upgrade your look every year) end up in landfill or in the ocean.
Sure, you could probably live without a protective case while traveling. (Who are you, and why are you not accidentally dropping your phone off a. bunkbeds, b. out of moving vehicles, c. all occasions involving happy hours?).
But the likelihood is, that you’ll need the protective services of a phone case even more while you’re away. Pela eco cases are not only beautifully-designed with limited edition prints, colours and graphics, but more importantly, they are 100% compostable, plus have a heap of other clever science credentials like being free from lead, cadmium, BPA and phthalates.

6. 4Ocean bracelet

Trash talk! Buy someone a bracelet to pull a pound of plastic.

In the jewelery world, diamonds may be forever, but in the real world, so is plastic. A plastic bottle can take thousands of years to decompose.
4Ocean bracelets make the perfect gift for travel lovers. Supporting a different cause each month with limited-edition themes and designs, they not only look amazing and are a great talking point, but they also do good. Every time you buy a 4Ocean bracelet, a pound of trash is pulled from our oceans and coastlines. Plus, the beads are made from recycled glass and the cord is made from recycled plastic bottles.

7. House of Marley headphones or speakers

Sounds like a good idea to us.

A soundtrack to your travels is an essential. Plus, people snoring in dorm rooms, on planes, trains, buses… in fact, any situation in life, is just annoying. Therefore, a good pair of headphones are a must-have on the road. But what if they could also have an environmental impact as well?
There are a few brands out there using recycled materials to make their headphones, but one of our favorites is House of Marley. As well as looking fresh and sounding great, they’re also made from mindfully sourced materials. The full list of materials they use to do good is genuinely too long to publish, but includes CNC milled-bamboo, recycled REWIND™ fabric and reclaimed and upcycled REGRIND™ Silicone.

8. Allbirds sneakers

… And hipster points to spare.

Recognize these? Made from organic cotton and even recycled plastic bottles, 2019’s most-Instagrammed sneakers are perfect for urbanites and outdoorsy types, they’re paving the way for trainer lovers worldwide to start thinking deeper about where their kicks are sourced, one step at a time. Better yet, until they reach their goal of zero emissions, they are taxing themselves for the carbon they emit & investing in offsets to fund projects that neutralize their footprint. Hell ya.

9. Dopper insulated bottle

Be cool. Travel how you live.

We get it, the first piece of health advice you get when you travel is, don’t drink the water!
Of course, be safe and drink bottled water where you need to. But so many hostels now provide drinking water where you can refill your bottle, and lots of treks and national parks have actually banned single-use plastic on their trails.

Every refillable water bottle helps the environment, but we just love Dopper for their eco-ethos, pastel colours and the fact that the top screws off to form a handy wine glass. The insulated versions also keep liquid hot for 9 hours or cold for 24 hours. (Presumably, the same can be said for keeping white wine cold, too?).

TIP. Download the Refill app to top up your bottle with free drinking water on the go. Plus, Refill have worked with many US airports to add liquid drains at security, so that you can empty your bottle before going through and then fill it up at the other side for your flight!

10. Speakeasy Travel Supply Passport Scarf

Scarves that are crafted using fabrics from developing countries. 

Yep, the unicorn of the travel clothing world… it shouldn’t exist, but it does. These infinity scarves have a hidden pocket to safely stash valuables (like a credit card, cash, or a passport), are made from soft locally sourced fabric from developing countries.
Mind. Fully. Blown.
As well as being perfect for treks and being out and about when you don’t feel safe carrying a wallet, because of their circular shape, they’re also perfect for countries and religious sites where women need to cover up their hair.

When we’re not out exploring the world, lusting after ethically made travel accessories and, we try to be as kind to the planet in other ways too. If you want to find out how, click here.