Words and pics: : Laurent Nevarez
Raphael Filippi and ISA SUP Racing World Championship runner up Olivia Piana discover what this little corner of Indian Ocean paradise has to offer stand up paddlers. Maybe Mauritius is one to add to your winter SUP holiday bucket list? Over to Laurent Nevarez for the story.
The sun has just started to appear slowly on the east side of the island when at 6am our noisy alarm marks the beginning of the first Mauritian day. The warmth of the early rays are passing through the windows and the sweet melody of the birds whistling are welcome. We meet our friends in front of our hotel and prepare to discover the waves of the south west part of the island.
Forecasts are looking really promising and we’re excited. Boards and equipment securely strapped to the back of the pick-up truck, we left the lagoon of Belle Mare with line of sight towards Ilot Sancho, one of the most consistent surf spots.
After an hour we finally come upon the coveted break that holds all its promises. Located below a curious island of volcanic rock is a coral reef where very fast 4-5ft lefthanders are peeling – there’s also a slower but still perfect right. Despite the wrong tide, Raf and Olivia can’t wait one minute more and prepare to hit it while they carefully watch the lineup.
A few minutes after they reached the peak, an impressive set of waves approached. Raf paddled hard to catch the first one and committed on a long and straight wall. The reef is still very shallow and the different sections of the wave close out very fast. Olivia catches the second wave and, despite a very precise backside bottom turn, she is forced to dive as she could not pass the large closing out section. Her second attempt is much better and is ridden for over 150 metres to the channel. The four paddlers could not have dreamed for a better start, with every glide complete perfection.
After a while Raf tried out the slower and more predicable lefthander. Offering a big vertical drop and perfectly peeling wall, this idyllic setting is great for Maude and Julien who find some great medium-size waves. Raf and Olivia challenge each other to get the biggest set of the day and charge as much as they can on solid sets. After three hours of paddling it’s time to can it.
Despite a very bright midday sun and an impressive warm temperature, the thermal wind doesn’t seem to rise and the conditions are still very glassy. To enjoy the exceptional conditions offered that day, Julien proposed eating and surf at Le Morne, 20 minutes drive to the west.
An unmissable tourist site, classified a world heritage location by UNESCO, the Morne Brabant is a huge column of very steep rock overlooking a turquoise lagoon. Renowned for kitesurfing and windsurfing when the wind is strong, the discontinuous barrier reef also offers incredible surfing. Manawa is a spot 1km offshore and super consistent – totally adapted for stand up paddle surfing.
Seated on the beach under the Filaos trees, we can clearly see big sets breaking on Manawa’s reefs. The distance from the shore and the absence of any kind of mark makes it really hard for Raf to get the right position on the peak but he waited patiently and finally caught a very nice left that he ripped all the way to the deep channel where a fishermen’s boat passed. At the centre of the lagoon, 300m from the shore, the spot named Little Reef offers some fun rights. Maude got a perfect long wave here and was stoked.
Ile aux Cerfs
After several days of excellent SUP surfing on the south of the island we hit the east coast. We met Maude and Julien at dawn to get to Ile aux Cerfs, arguably one of the most unique places on Mauritius.
We all took inflatable boards on the little boat and we enjoyed the privilege of discovering paradise in a wild and remote setting. With the mountain in the background, beige sand and turquoise lagoon, the scenery is truly breathtaking. Everyone has all their senses on fire, admiring the different species of fish and enjoying this absolutely unique moment.
Bats and waterfalls
After cruising across the large lagoon, we arrived at the entrance of a small bay. Raf and Olivia were very excited to discover this place and started to paddle in the green water of the river – a very different landscape to the bright tropical lagoon.
The atmosphere changes as they advance in the shade of large, very steep rocky banks with many trees with long hanging branches. While the whole group is paddling, a very surprising noise breaks the silence of the place. Maude tells Raf and Olivia to look up, and with amazement they see imposing flying bats with wings spread 20 metres.
Continuing along, the group hits upon a great waterfall. Olivia can’t stand far from it and tries to get as close as she can. The contrast between the inland and ocean scenes is amazing – everyone appreciates what this little island has to offer.
Leaving Mauritius came around all too soon, but the whole group realises their luck to have seen such an incredible place. If you get the chance you should try it too!
Republic of Mauritius, independent from UK since 1962
1.3 million citizens
Capital: Port Louis
Official language: English and French
Money: Roupy (1 € = 40 Rs)
Mahebourg Airport (SW of the island)
Paddle surfing spots
Trou d’eau Douce Pass: 400m offshore, can get good.
Blue Bay/Ile aux 2 Cocos: Lefthander with a lot of current.
Ilot Sancho: Well exposed to swell, good reef peak mid to high tide.
Le Morne reefs: Swell magnet, Little Reef (easy right hander), Manawa (outside reef, massive but easy), Chameau (outside massive peak), One Eye (hollow left for experts only), Ambulante (outside left that can be good).
Tamarin: Needs more consistent swell, public beach (easy beach break suited for beginners)
Black Stone: World class right on the opposite side of the bay),
Beware: Tamarin’s reef (named Dal) located at the left side of the bay is seriously governed by local surfers (white shorts) and absolutely forbidden to SUP-riders. Don’t try it, trust us.
Flacq/Trou d’eau douce: Apartements Manguier, Villa Orchidée, Hotel Lux Belle Mare.
La Gaulette: Apartements Ropsen, Villa Hibiscus, Maison Papaye.
Morne: Picpic bungalow, Hotel Lux Morne.
Tamarin: Chambres Chez Jacques, Sweetbeach Bungalow, Hotel Tamarin.
Flacq/Trou d’eau douce: Chez Tino, Chez Gildas, Restaurant Seasons (in Villa Orchidee).
La Gaulette/Morne: Liverpool Snack, Sirokan, take away van at Morne.
Tamarin: Les Salines, Frex Café, Pizzeria Cosa Nostra.
Flat water spots
Trou d’eau douce and Ile aux Cerfs.
Blue bay (Mahebourg).
Bay of Tamarin.
Flic en Flac.
Grand Baie and Pereybere.
Gear to take
Boardshorts and bikini, rash vest and sunblock (Factor 50 to protect from strong UV). Regular paddle surf SUP for waves – not too wide or flat rockered as it needs to fit into hollow reef waves. If you have an inflatable touring board for cruising then bring that as well.
Rentals and school
Trou d’eau douce: SUP Mauritius (Kitesurf Paradise).
Morne/Gaulette: Yoaneye, Club Mistral.
Tamarin: SUP Tamarin.
La Gaulette: Tou Korek, Son of Kite, Gaulette Surf Shop.
Tamarin: Tamarin Surf Shop, Son of Beach.
Mahebourg: Mahebourg Surfshop.
Grand Baie: Kite and surf shop.