Mauritius What is known for

SURFING

On the west coast, laid-back Tamarin has been a favorite with traveling surfers ever since it was featured 30 years ago in a surf flick called The Forgotten Island of Santosha. The break is a big left (6-to-10 foot), a speed-run down a long line over a reef. Surfable year round, it's at its best June through August.

CULTURE

For a moveable feast of another kind, just look at the calendar of festivals on Mauritius. Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Maha Shivratee, a Hindu celebration honoring the god Shiva are important events, but the most exotic is Cavadee. This Tamil fete in January features processions of devotees whose bodies are pierced with silver needles, their tongues and cheeks with skewers, as they carry pots of milk on a flower-bedecked arched wooden frame to a temple.

DINING

Like Singapore, Mauritian dishes reflect a distinctive medley of cuisines. Here in the Indian Ocean, those cultural influences include French, Chinese, Creole, and Indian. Most dishes start with seafood, and tomatoes are the key ingredient in most Creole recipes, notably in rougaille (a sauce of tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic). Whether your main course leans toward Indian curries or Chinese sweet-and-sour fish, you'll likely top off the meal with gajak, savory cakes found in both fine restaurants and street stalls.