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A Local’s Guide to Mauritius

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By Sarah Khan

Samia Haroon was born in Mauritius and raised in Pakistan before returning to the island for a flourishing career as a radio and events host. While on air, she seamlessly blends French, English, Urdu, and Creole in one sentence, embodying Mauritius’s multicultural identity.

This interview is part of The World Made Local, a global collaboration between the seven international editions of Condé Nast Traveler in which 100 people in 100 countries tell us why their home turf should be your next destination.

How would you describe Mauritius?

The word I would use is nirvana: There are places here that literally feel like a glimpse of paradise on Earth. They’re still pure; the air still smells fresh; you feel happy and revived when you go to certain places where there’s greenery and where there are species you might not see in any other part of the world. Mauritius is full of beautiful surprises.

Where should we eat while there?

Executive chef Nizam Peeroo at Le Labourdonnais specializes in fusion cuisine. He meets his diners personally and comes up with a customized dish for them, like pan-fried scallops with creamy risotto and fresh turmeric and curry leaves, or roasted red snapper with pickled aubergines and tamarind and coconut milk.

My friend Lea Al Janabi’s Lea Cafe serves Mediterranean food in Port Louis’s Newton Tower. She’s a loving person, and she brings in the warmth in the food she prepares, and the magic can be felt.

Samia Haroon Photo: Jonathan Chauremootoo

What to buy?

A little handmade dodo would be a good souvenir to take home from Caudan Craft Market, or handmade baskets and colorful and fancy panniers to carry groceries from the Central Market of Port Louis.

What excites you about Mauritius right now?

Bagatelle Mall is very central, and now they have a new addition called 42 Market Street—it’s got street food, groceries, and local products under one roof. You have all the street food there: boulet, or steamed dumplings, which is a typical Mauritian dish, as well as noodles and pani puri. The market also promotes local artisans, since it was becoming a bit more difficult to import stuff during the pandemic. It’s got a nice vibe, and it’s the place of the moment. It’s nice to see people buzzing around.

Give us the elevator pitch: Why should we all travel to Mauritius?

Mauritius is a very people-friendly island. It’s not that tough to learn the local language, Creole; you catch it very, very quickly. It’s a multiracial country where people speak Urdu, Hindi, English, French, Spanish as well—if you don’t know one language, they are bilingual, so people can communicate in different languages. It’s a kaleidoscope of cultures. People visiting Mauritius feel at home here.

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler

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