Sunrise over Baie de Grand Port, on the eastern coast of Mauritius
Snuggled into the island’s eastern coast, Baie de Grand Port is one of Mauritius’ most historic and scenic spots. In the shadow of the distinctive Montagne du Lion, this coralline bay welcomed the Dutch in 1598, who promptly established a small settlement, and named the island after their monarch, Prince Maurice van Nassau. In 1715, the French took control of the island, shifting its economic and political focus to the western coast, only to head back to this spot to fight off the British in an epic naval battle. By 1810, the British managed to defeat the French, accelarating the political decline of the Grand Port area. Today, it is dotted with sleepy fishing villages and towns like Mahebourg (named after the famed Mahe de Labourdannais) and Viuex Grand Port, and welcomes visitors with boat trips to islands like Ile aux Aigrettes, an excellent nature park, and the outlying Ile aux Fouquets, home to Mauritius’ oldest light house. The bay itself has surprisingly clear water and some great reefs, and is ideal for swimming and canoeing. Given its location on the island’s windward-facing east coast, the area also hosts some of the best sunrises anywhere.