Floating in the Indian Ocean with open-water access to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Australia, the African island of Mauritius is a cultural melting pot cradled by bone-white beaches and azure water. Even if you're short on time, Mauritius' relatively small size means it's easy to see the island in its entirety. Sightseeing tours that stop at top attractions such as the Chamarel Waterfall, the Black River Gorges National Park, Grand Bassin lake in Ganga Talao, and the Trou aux Cerfs Crater are a popular choice among first-time visitors. Cultivated gardens of giant water lilies, ebonies, and palms paint the landscape at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden (also called Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden), while the Seven Colored Earth lures photographers and ecologists with its vibrant sand dunes. Off the coast of Mauritius, opportunities for diving and other water sports abound. Swim with dolphins off the coast of Port Louis, surf the waves at Le Morne, snorkel off Grand Baie, take a catamaran cruise to nearby Île aux Cerfs, or comb the beach at Trou d'Eau Douce. Kid-friendly options such as the Bois Cheri Plantation or the Vanille Réserve des Mascareigne nature park make Mauritius ideal for families too, while romantic beaches and luxurious resorts attract honeymooners in equal measure.