Located on a sparsely populated stretch of the south coast of this Indian Ocean island country east of Madagascar and the African mainland, Bel Ombre is a village of fewer than 5,000 permanent residents, and about an hour's drive south of the capital Port Louis, . But since the advent of tourism in the past few years, this area has developed a diverse lodging as well as dining scene, from upscale luxury resorts to relatively modest inns and guesthouses. And here are the half dozen top nearby beaches and attractions which make Bel Ombre a delight to visit (and the best time to do so, by the way, is from May to December), and all are easily reachable with an affordable car rental from Mauritius agency InnCarsHolidays.

St. Felix Beach

Also known as Chemin Grenier Beach and located between Bel Ombre and the neighboring village of Souillac, this sandy 1.5-kilometre (just under one-mile) slice of paradise (top) is fantastic for beachy lounging (and getting married, if you're looking for an idyllic tropical backdrop for your nuptials) as well as bathing and snorkeling.

Rivière des Galets Beach

Also between Bel Ombre and Souillac, a half hour drive south, this beach is striking because it's made up not of sand but rather countless smooth pebbles and stones, deposited here by a nearby river. An unforgettable sight!


Gris Gris Beach

A bit down the coast closer to Souillac, one of Mauritius' most beautiful beaches is more of a "look but don't touch" proposition, because the surf is rough and the riptides very treacherous (but on the other hand, there are tide pools in from the beach which are suitable for a cool dip). Watching the waves crash against the jagged rocks here is an awesome and inspiring sight!



Le Morne Brabant Peninsula

Just over 20 minutes west along the coast from Bel Ombre lies perhaps the most extraordinary place in the entire country: dominated by a 556-metre (1,824-foot) massif whose unique microclimate, flora, fauna, and history (as the place where escaped slaves jumped to their deaths in 1835 when they feared they would be captured and re-enslaved) gained it admission to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Activities include beautiful beaches, inspiring hikes, and viewing another extraordinary local feature: an the illusion of an "underwater waterfall" formed by sand falling into a slit in the ocean floor, visible from the shore, the top of the massif, or best of all, via helicopter tour.

Alexandra Falls/Black River Gorges National Park

Also just over 20 minutes drive from Bel Ombre, but inland north, this national park includes more than 67 square kilometers (26 sq. miles) of rain forest, drier lowland forest, and marshy heathland. Fauna includes deer, wild boar, maquaque monkeys, and myriad birds, and one of the park's stars is majestic, multitiered Alexandra Falls.

Rochester Falls

This waterfall on the Savanne River near Souillac tumbles just 10m (33 ft.), but it's a favorite because of its rectangular rocks, framed by lush tropical greenery, and cool pool below for a refreshing dip.

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