Created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago, the African country of Mauritius has only been inhabited by people only for the last 500 years or so. And what a history in this short time has it had.

Mauritius has seen its fair share of Dutch, French, and English explorers, pirates, and slave traders. Today it sees its fair share of visitors looking for the best diving and beaches in the Indian Ocean.

Located some 1240 miles off the African coast, Mauritius has over 200 miles of pristine coastline, as well as offering all sorts of watersports from kitesurfing, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and even deep sea fishing.

If you're a land lubber, Mauritius accommodates. No where else will you find stores filled with tax-free luxury (and bargain) items, and some of the most spectacular landscape.

The Black River Gorges National Park is one of the best places to see the natural side of Mauritius; and the Casela Bird Park boasts 140 species of these flying creatures. The Colored Earths is another must-see, a natural terrain created by volcanoes. Walk a little further and you'll find a romantic waterfall. The 360-degree view from atop Le Pouce at 2,664 feet is another romantic spot--most definitely worth the 2-hour walk up and 2-hour walk down.

It isn't all walking in Mauritius, there's an extensive network of roads around the island, and you'll find plenty of taxis (you don't have to tip the driver, but they'll certainly appreciate it). A good way to see the island is by motorbike or bicycle, but if you want to leave the driving to someone else--just hop on the bus, where you'll probably hear all sorts of languages being spoken, although mostly Creole, French, and English.

A ferry is needed if you want to go to Rodrigues Island, also created by a volcano. The almost empty beaches are a true getaway from your getaway.

This paradise does come at a price; while pretty much sunny all year long it can get hot & humid during the Summer Rainy Season from November to April, and the most likely time for a cyclone to hit is January to March.

You'll also need to keep in mind that you should take precautions against Dysentery, Typhoid, Hepititis A & B, and Meningitis (usually for stays December-June). Don't worry about Yellow Fever vaccinations unless you've come from an infected area, but Dengue Fever, while uncommon), can happen. If you're out in the water, be careful as stone fish stings can occur. Plus it's a good idea to have your veggies cooked, fruit peeled, and boil water or used bottled.

Yes, it's a lot to take in--but all the activities, natural wonders, and history are more than worth it.