Who cares about the beach
I was surrounded by the turquoise water and beaches of Mauritius, but my feet did not touch sand.
Instead, on a recent trip to the island, my beach flip-flops walked roads paved with history that are often excluded from itineraries.
While many travellers soak up the sun and sip colourful cocktails, those who want to leave with more than a suntan and shell keyring must start a cultural experience at the Aapravasi Ghat, a Unesco World Heritage Site. This is a complex located on a small piece of land near the dock where the then British colony's officials received indentured labour.
At first glance, the historical site in Port Louis, capital of Mauritius, is poorly maintained. Scary paper mache sculptures, whose limbs are not proportionate to their bodies, represent historical people.
But the guide assured me the site was under renovation, and its true value was the 16-step stairway over which almost half-a-million indentured labourers had to walk to enter Mauritius. She was right.
Although the walk was short, retracing the steps of every person who had arrived from India between 1834 and 1920 gave rise to admiration for the people of Mauritius and their democracy.
A day later, at a festival to celebrate the Creole culture, I discovered that Mauritians, like South Africans, were inspired by symbols of oppression to keep their diversity and identities from being lost on an island that markets itself as a "do nothing on the beach" paradise.
A visit to a sugar museum while on holiday on an island paradise sounds almost absurd to many, but I discovered that L'Aventure du Sucre, set in an old sugar mill, makes for a sweeter stay.
While education on the country's largest export is entertaining, the sugar tasting will make you think about different types of sugar. Dished up from a teaspoon onto your palm, the nine types of sugar offered by L'Aventure du Sucre are described by the guide after a guessing game for which products they could best be used.
Although sachets of the various sugars are sold individually or in gift packs, most visitors leave with bottles of the delicious rum or liqueur served after the tasting.
I attended four weddings in Mauritius, none of which I was invited to, and all of which I attended while I was afloat in the swimming pool.
With at least one wedding a day at many Mauritius hotels, guests on holiday or business often find themselves trying to avoid a semi-clad bikini appearance in strangers' wedding DVDs.
While the blushing bride and groom take in their dream wedding, many of their guests try to pacify dolled-up children who want to be in the pool instead of at the ceremony. As the couple are pronounced husband and wife, applause erupts from around them, and from the pool.
Nair was a guest of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority
L'Aventure du Sucre