Mauritius is literally a water-lover's paradise, and holiday-makers can have fun in the sun for weeks on end windsurfing, sailing and taking leisurely trips in glass-bottomed boats. It is, however, the island's scuba diving opportunities that elevate it to one of the most renowned watersports venues in the world, and it's generally agreed that those who don't dive have seen only half of what the island has to offer.

The diving sites that surround Mauritius are incredibly diverse and range from intricately formed coral reefs to shallow sandy slopes where the spotlight is firmly on the gregarious local waterlife.

In Mauritius the avid diver can find several of the underwater world's most intriguing wreck dive sites, and, as most of these wrecks are situated in fairly shallow - and crystal clear - water, they are incredibly easy to explore. The Japanese fishing trawler, the Stella Maru, with its resident giant moray eels, and the twin sunken barges Emily and Waterlilly, where the fish outnumber the divers by thousands to one, are among the isle's more popular wreck diving sites.

The Mauritian coral reefs must be seen to be believed, and the large displays of gorgonian fan coral on their basalt blocks, in their caves and clinging to their underwater arches are unparalleled examples of the underwater beauty that is endemic to the island's marine playgrounds.

Popular coral reef sites include the coral garden just off Trou aux Biches, Snake Reef with its rays and lionfishes, as well as the site known locally as "the aquarium" at Grand Bay. Most of the best dive sites lie to the north-west of the island, and all teem with, among others, scorpionfish, goatfish and carp.

There are several professional companies in Mauritius that specialize in scuba diving charters, [http://www.prodivemauritius.com/index.html] and their luxury diver cruisers are always available to the public. Some of these charter services also offer PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) accredited training courses to would-be divers, [http://www.sundiversmauritius.com/] and all specialize in providing divers with unforgettable experiences that including night dives and daily group dives. Boats can also be chartered for full days, and these trips are fully catered and include delicious BBQ lunches.

Going to Mauritius and not scuba diving is like going to Italy and not eating pasta: it makes no sense not to take advantage of the best a country has to offer.

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