There are plenty of island paradises in the world today, but few as opulent, historic or culturally diverse as Mauritius. Located east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is more than just gorgeous beaches and azure seas, it’s an enchanting melting pot best explored slowly. Coral reefs, volcanic craters and jaw-dropping cliffs are a few of the geographical accoutrements that set the island apart. Sèga music provides the backdrop for the island's healthy party vibe while the fusion of Asian, French and African cuisine is guaranteed to keep your taste buds dancing. Peruse the labyrinth of stalls in the bustling garment market, snap photos of colonial architecture in Port Louis or simply escape for a day to one of the many islands off Mauritius' coast. Explore 17th century ruins of once grand estates, visit a Hindu temple built in 1819, inhale the sweet aroma of tropical fruit orchards and exotic flora. Mauritius is home to some of the rarest bird species on the planet, including the kestrel and pink pigeon, so make sure to pack a set of binoculars. Choose from five-star resorts or thatch-roofed bungalows, though the warm, clear waters and white-sand beaches may make it impossible to stay in your room.