Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands, a volcanic chain extending as far as the Seychelles. Fringed by 160km of sandy beaches and an azure sea, with a backdrop of rugged peaks and shimmering sugar cane, this pear-shaped tropical island is a dream holiday destination. An islander once told Mark Twain that “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius”. Thanks to year-round sunshine, the island’s beaches are its key selling point, many lined with world-class hotels, top-notch spas, championship golf courses and gourmet restaurants. But the “pearl of the ocean” is no longer the preserve of the jet set, with an ever-expanding range of accommodation and activities for all tastes and budgets. Watersports are a particular highlight: it’s possible to swim with dolphins in the morning and then go diving, kitesurfing or paddleboarding in the afternoon.