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Through the Mountains and Towards the Sea in Mauritius

It almost feels like a relief when you return home after a long time. It’s exciting to rediscover things you were once familiar with, even if the changes that have occurred while you were away can be quite overwhelming. That was what I kept thinking as our car weaved its way through the mountains, the sugar fields and by the beaches. It was my first time returning to Mauritius, an island East of Africa, in 3 years and things had changed: more tourists on the beaches, luxury housing had invaded the West Coast, a new highway cut through the mountains and the buses spat more fumes than they used to. Luckily, Mauritius has a mystical charm that neither time nor construction sites can change: mountains peaking through the morning mist and the sugar-cane fields, the deep blue ocean and some of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.

Mauritius had gained popularity in the surf world following the release of the film “Forgotten Island of Santosha” in 1974. The country was depicted as a faraway paradise, lost in the Indian Ocean. An island surrounded by epic waves, hidden from the rest of the world.

The country was depicted as a faraway paradise, lost in the Indian Ocean. An island surrounded by epic waves, hidden from the rest of the world.

As years passed, an increasing number of surfers travelled to Mauritius to uncover its surfing spots and explore this hidden gem. Unfortunately, this resulted in the rise of localism, even among Mauritians, which became increasingly evident to me during my return home. I grew up in Mauritius, watched people surf, but had never attempted it while living there. I didn’t know much about surfing at the time and was probably scared of getting into trouble with the local surfers. I took up surfing for the first time on a trip to South America and would later buy my own board, go on surf trips, and spend much time surfing the Great Lakes while developing a passion for surf photography. During a short span of time, I became hooked to the lifestyle.

Evidently, on this trip to Mauritius, I was pretty set on going surfing for the first time in my home country. I had heard that the winds might pick up, so I decided to head to the west coast of the island to try to catch some waves. As I watched the waves break in Tamarin Bay, the sun warmed up my skin and the salty air filled my lungs while the mountain behind watched the surfers. I headed to a local surf shop and rented 7’4 egg-shaped board. I started talking in creole to one of the local employees in the shop and he immediately warned me of the heavy localism in the area. I decided to surf the beach break, which was more open to non-locals and beginners. The waves were smaller, but so much fun to ride. While in the water, I met other Mauritian surfers and paddle boarders that were non-local to that area of the island. They were really friendly and we chatted between sets; they explained to me that Mauritius offered beautiful spots and some spots were friendlier than others. As most tourists, beginners and non-locals attempted the beach break, I watched the local surfers of the area ride the bigger point break in the far back. This made me realize how little I knew about the surf culture in my own home country. I decided that in the month I was spending in Mauritius and time-allowing, I would try to find as many surf spots as possible.

Early morning drives, 5 PM tea time, daily road trips, mountainous hikes, afternoon snorkeling, and late sunsets made up the rest of the trip. I didn’t surf as much as I had hoped for, but I did get to uncover and rediscover some of the hidden beauties of Mauritius.

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