Distinct from its island neighbours in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius offers everything from exotic wildlife and unique topography to sophisticated luxury, popular for honeymoons as well as family holidays. For those wishing to get close to nature, the Black River Gorges National Park in the southwest of the island is a must as it plays host to an abundance of protected native flora and fauna, including the endemic pink pigeon, fruit bat, gecko and orchid. Yet perhaps the image one has of Mauritius is its endless white sandy beaches melting into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, where over 1000 species of marine life exist amongst the coral reefs which encircle the island. The kaleidoscopic waters make Mauritius particularly rewarding for divers and snorkelers. Mauritius is as much fascinating as it is beautiful - a melting pot of ethnic cultures where India meets Africa and where Hindu, Chinese, Christian and Muslim festivals are celebrated with equal passion. Music, dancing and language - Creole, the Lingua Franca and Sega - are practiced with passion, a result of mixed culture passed down through the ages.