Seen from above, the 9 million-year-old speck of a volcanic island is bright green - sugar crops and endemic forests - and surrounded by a reef, resulting in a vivid contrast of blues - pale lagoons and dark oceans. The coasts - blond beaches and darker volcanic rock sand - are studded with filao trees, natural windbreakers. Four centuries of colonization - its strategic location on the Spice Trade Route meant the European colonial powers fought hard for it - has led to it being a mosaic of ethnicities, religions, and cultures. More than fourteen dialects and languages are spoken daily. In many ways, Mauritius is a microcosm of the world. The population is eclectic, the result of waves of migration. It is one of the most densely populated places (600 people per square kilometre) and yet the island seems deserted: long, winding roads fringed with bright orangey-red flamboyant trees cut across sugarcane fields and villages with pale pink, green and purple houses. The laidback, open-minded vibe, warm and welcoming people and multicultural landscape seduce. If you can get up from your sunbed, an island steeped in history, a rising art scene, piquant street food and hidden locales await to be explored by the curious traveller.