Mauritius Travel Guide

Located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius is in reality, just a tiny dot amongst 1,000’s of miles of open water. It did however back in 2015 become the focus of my attention for 5 years as I worked for a UK tour operator successfully promoting the destination to the UK travel trade. This Mauritius travel blog will I hope, help you to understand the best things to do and places to see on this paradise island.

A brief history of Mauritius revolves around three distinct rules of the government. Between 1598-1710 the island was under Dutch rule with their most famous act being the eradication of the famous Dodo for meat consumption…I have never forgiven them! From 1715 – 1810 the island became a French territory having been abandoned by the Dutch – presumably due to them running out of Dodo meat. Then from 1810 to 1968, the island came under British rule following a takeover during the Napoleonic wars. Finally, the island gained its independence on 12 March 1968.

Port Louis, on the west coast, is the capital of Mauritius. Whilst not being the most attractive city there are signs of development and progress both cosmetically and in efforts to divert traffic around the city which has been a problem. Popular features that draw in visitors include Le Caudan Waterfront, the Port Louis Horse Racing Track, and the Mauritius Postal Museum.

 

Table of Contents

Grand Baie on the northern tip of the island is a popular town for nightlife, there is excellent shopping, local markets, and bazaars where haggling is expected and there is also a small pretty harbour.

Other key towns on the island include Flic En Flac, Curepipe, Mahebourg, Bel Ombre, Grand Gaube, and Grand Bassin.

The striking Le Morne peninsular on the southwest coast is perhaps the island’s most photographed location. The mountain is spectacular and can be climbed with a guide for beautiful views of both the interior and east coast.

Over the years I have often been asked whether you should consider Maldives or Mauritius for a holiday. Quite simply they are two totally different destinations. Maldives holidays are all about small isolated islands/atolls where relaxation, swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, and walking around the island in thirty minutes is about all you can do. A Mauritius holiday however is on a single island measuring 45kms X 65kms and where there is a wealth of attractions over and above those offered by the Maldives.

What side of the island you stay on is really down to your personal requirements. The North and West coasts generally have more going on in terms of day and night time activities and places to visit. On the South and East coasts, you will find quieter parts of the island ideal for relaxation and nature. The West coast benefits from more favorable winds given that the east coast is fully exposed to the Indian Ocean.

For nature and wildlife, there is much to see in Mauritius however it’s the birds that I always loved. Some are cheeky, some are noisy, and some are a downright nuisance but all are fascinating and a little piece of Mauritius that I cherish.

As with so many parts of the Indian Ocean the greatest asset of the island is its people. Mauritius is an extremely safe island and Mauritians are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people that you could ever wish to meet.

Useful Information

Flag

National Flag of Mauritius

Continent

Capital

Port Louis

Time Difference

GMT + 4 Hr

Currency

Rupee

(Exchange Rate)

Flight Time

11 hrs 50 from London

Visa

Language

English

Vaccinations

Mauritius on Film

Getting Around

The airport of Mauritius is located in the South East corner of the island. Its official name is the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport but to you and me let’s just call it Mauritius Airport. Daily flights arrive from all corners of the globe especially holidaymakers from South Africa, France, and the UK.

Flights
One of the drawbacks of going to Mauritius is the flight from the UK. A total of 12 long painful hours direct or you can break it up by going via Dubai. I took this image of the flight route on board my last visit. I was over Ethiopia and pulling my hair out with frustration and boredom let alone cramp! If you can afford to upgrade the flight – it’s worth every penny.

By Road
Mauritius is a small island measuring 45 by 65 kilometers however travelling distances can be long, hot, and tiring. The area around the capital Port Louis often gets snarled up during rush hour so try to avoid those times if possible. There are two major roads, the M1, which heads from the capital Grand Baie to the airport, and the new M2, which heads north from the central plateau and bypasses Port Louis. All other roads are generally fine although care should be taken due to the lack of pavements in a few towns and stray dogs.

Car Hire
The rental of cars in Mauritius is popular as it allows you the flexibility to travel around the island at your leisure. Due to the fact, that Mauritians drive on the same side of the road as the UK it makes driving easy.

Taxis
As with anywhere in the world, ensure you get a price before departing. Even though taxis are regulated by the hotel or province and they are on a meter it is still worth that peace of mind. My experience of taking taxis has been great with pleasant drivers and comfortable vehicles.

Bus
Catching the local bus in Mauritius is a really fun experience and great value for money however do not expect too much in the way of comfort. Buses operate between all the major towns of Port Louis in the North, Quatre Bornes and Curepipe on the central plateau, Flacq in the East, and Mahebourg in the South East.

Bike
Hiring a bicycle is possible although personally, I would not, given the traffic levels in the north particularly.

Boat
Catamarans, speedboats, and fishing boats are all available to hire.

Helicopter
For those of you looking to take the quickest route from top to toe… and show off, you can always charter a helicopter.

When To Go

What is the best time to travel to Mauritius? This is a question that gets asked time and time again, often from those who have heard from someone who has had a bad experience due to the weather.
 
The main thing to remember about Mauritius is that the island is in the tropics and it’s a tiny dot in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The weather changes and it changes fast so anything can happen. For example, never ever believe an online weather forecast until you are within 24 hours of arrival as it’s likely to be wrong.
 
Another key consideration worth remembering is that the weather cycle is the opposite of the Caribbean. So when it’s lovely in the Caribbean from January to April – it’s not so great in the Indian Ocean as it is cyclone season. Vice versa when it’s not so great in the Caribbean during their hurricane season – it’s lovely in the Indian Ocean – that’s September to December.
 
From May to August it is generally pleasant although cool in the evenings however, like I said at the beginning – anything can happen!
 
As a useful guide in this Mauritius travel blog, I have created this table showing you what you can expect from the weather in Mauritius month by month.
 

January is the hottest and wettest month in Mauritius.

The average maximum temperature is 30C. Rain tends to be short and sharp bursts and the sun soon comes out again.

There is a chance of cyclones in January. Mauritius gets hit by a cyclone twice in a decade.

February is a hot and humid month in Mauritius

It is the second rainiest month after January and there is still a chance of cyclones in February.

The weather in February isn’t the best time to holiday in Mauritius. The island is less busy with tourists after the busy months of December and January.

March has warm temperatures but there will be some rain.

There continues to be the chance of cyclones, although this is not common.

April is a hot, humid month with some rain.

There is still the potential for cyclones.

Depending on when the Easter holidays fall this time will be busy.

May sees a drop in humidity and average temperatures in May are a minimum of 19C

This is low season in Mauritius so hotel prices are attractive. Temperatures are mild and there is generally not so much rain.

The month of June is still generally warm, dry, and pleasant with daytime temperatures of 24C.

The evenings are cool and you will need a shawl or a jumper.

The month of July brings mild temperatures and low rainfall. Daytime average temperatures are in the low 20s.

Winds can pick up in July so choose a sheltered coast in the North or East.

Evening temperatures are cool so bring warm clothes.

The month of August brings warmer temperatures and low rainfall. Daytime average temperatures are in the low 20s.

Just like in July winds are strong.

Evening temperatures are cool so bring warm clothes.

The month of September has the lowest rainfall and long periods of sunshine with day time temperatures in the low 20s.

Once again evening temperatures drop to about 18C so bring warm clothes.

The month of October has average day time temperatures of 26C and low rainfall.

October is a very good time to visit Mauritius.

Average temperatures are high at about 28C in November.

This is the perfect time to visit Mauritius.

The early part of December is warm and dry.

However, as the month continues the rainfall and humidity increase meaning Christmas can be wet but hotels will be sure to lay on entertainment if this is the case.

Flights To Mauritius

Places To Stay in Mauritius

With over 150 hotels in Mauritius, there is a huge choice of different accommodations in Mauritius. These include luxury, budget, all-inclusive, adults-only, family-friendly, rustic eco-lodges, and business hotels. Add to this self-catering apartments and villas and Mauritius is sure to have something to suit.

Some of the top luxury hotels in Mauritius include the One & Only St Geran, the JW Marriott Mauritius Resort, the Oberoi Beach Resort, the Shanti Maurice, the Residence, the Lux Grand Gaube, the Shangri-La Le Tousserok, the Constance Belle Mare Plage, and the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita.

Popular hotel groups on the island that include some all-inclusive options include Constance Hotels, Heritage Resorts, and Luxe Resorts.

Food & Drink

One of the many delights of a holiday in Mauritius is to enjoy the cuisine which is heavily influenced by Indian, African, French, and Chinese methods.

Seafood dominates many a menu with the usual catch of the day plus the likes of blue marlin, octopus, and shellfish abundant. Often these are matched with palm heart salad and various tropical fruits.

Seasonally you may find venison and wild boar. Beef and chicken stews are popular. Indian and Chinese restaurants are prevalent throughout the island, serving up delicious curries and spicy dishes.

Local Mauritian street food is available in all the main towns and markets. Pancakes, fruits, samosas, spiced meats, and curries alongside homemade sauces and pickles. Coconut and chili flavoring is common. Chinese noodles and accompanying dishes are widespread. The African heritage can be seen in the Creole rougaille together with spices, tomato, and rice or bread.

To drink Mauritians enjoy their tea and fresh fruit juices. For beer, the locally produced Phoenix beer is light and fresh. Wines are imported with many coming from neighbouring South Africa. Rum is a tradition and varieties include Pink Pigeon, Green Island, and Chamarel.

Sports & Activities

Sea Karting
As you can see I enjoyed a couple of hours sea karting in Mauritius a few years back. While not the cheapest of excursions it is one of the most exhilarating in Mauritius. Two or three people in a Sea Kart and flying around the bay like lunatics. Great fun.

Scuba Diving
The coral reefs around the island make diving in Mauritius popular. There are over 100 sites with perhaps the most well-known the Blue Bay Marine Park on the South Eastern coast and Coin Di Mire Island or as otherwise known Gunners Point (image in the main heading) of the North West coast. Various wrecks around the island also represent good opportunities to view lionfish, eels, and rays.  If you want to see some large species of animal then the area called Pass St. Jacques is where you can spot bullshark, barracuda, and grey and whitetip reef sharks.

Swim with Wild Dolphins
A few years ago I was lucky enough to swim with wild dolphins off the Le Morne peninsula in southwest Mauritius. If you are up early just after sunrise and take a boat just beyond the coral reef there is every chance a pod of dolphins will come and join you for a swim. After a couple of hours of playtime, you can be back in your hotel for breakfast.
 

Sunset Cruise
A late afternoon catamaran cruise is one of the best ways to not only enjoy a few drinks and a BBQ with friends but also a great way to see Mauritius from a different perspective. There is always the chance to spot dolphins as well as the flying fish that occasionally jump out of the ocean.

Golf
There are nearly 20 really good-quality golf courses in Mauritius. Some are 18 holes and some just the 9 however they attract visitors largely from South Africa for both individual holidays as well as corporate events and groups. The best courses are Iles Aux Cerfs, Belle Mare Plage, Avalon, Tamarina, Anahita, Paradis, Heritage Golf Club and Mont Choisy.
 

Horse Racing
You would not really expect to find horse racing in Mauritius however the Champ de Mars Racecourse is in fact the oldest course in the southern hemisphere. It is located in Port Louis, and hosts regular meetings throughout the season.

Adventure

Casella Nature Park
For a great family day out visit Casella Nature Park on the West coast. The park covers 350 hectares and is divided into 5 zones. Thrill Mountain, Predator Kingdom, African Safari, Pangia Birds and Rides and World of Events. There is so much to do from zip lining to rollercoasters and buggy safaris to feeding the giraffes. Casella is a full day’s entertainment that the kids will never forget – and some of the adults too mind. Here is me parked up at a Zebra crossing.

Hiking Le Morne
If you are looking for adventure then an excursion to hike Le Morne mountain will definitely be on your to-do list in Mauritius. A pick up from the hotel and upon meeting a guide at the base of the mountain you start to work your way up through the forest following well-worn trails. The route gets steeper before you arrive at a plateau which is halfway and where you can enjoy views of the West Coast and parts of the south. You can continue to the top but this is for the brave. Learn also about the heartbreaking sad history dating back to 1834 of Le Morne and the slave trade.

Chamarel
In the south of Mauritius and in the village of Chamarel there is a rum distillery where you can see how rum is made as well as enjoy samples of both rum and other sugar-based products such as their jams. Many excursions offer the chance to tour the Black River Gorge National Park and they will include a stop at Chamarel for some incredible views of the valley from the Chamarel Restaurant. Alongside the restaurant is a viewing area where there are some local stalls selling souvenirs and then a picnic area where you are likely to find monkeys on the search for scraps. Also in Chamarel is a spectacular 95-metre waterfall.

Seven Coloured Earth
Not far from Chamarel is the ‘Seven Coloured Earth’. This geographical oddity is a natural phenomenon of seven distinct coloured earth in different layers and which have been formed from basaltic lava turning into clay minerals. These dunes are across a relatively small area of land which includes a cafe/restaurant, kids play area and some giant tortoises in a pen which to me seemed a bit of an afterthought.

Triolet Shivala, Grand Basin
Close to Black River Gorges National Park and the village of Chamarel is the Triolet Shivala at Grand Bassin, a sacred lake to Hindus and the most holy location in all of Mauritius. Hindus believe that it was formed when Shiva spilled drops of water from the Ganges River in India. This is the largest natural lake in Mauritius. Alongside the lake is a temple where you may get a blessing from the local priest. There are also a number of colourful statues of gods to admire.

Festivals & Events

Mauritians celebrate many festivals throughout the year. One of the most recognized music genres of Mauritius and Réunion is Sega which is often heard and seen at events or on the beaches where brightly dressed ladies dance and move to the rhythm and beat of Mauritius.

With its many cultural influences, I have summarised in this Mauritius travel blog some of the most important festivals and events throughout the year in the case and hope that your trip coincides with the celebrations and the spectacle.

At the end of January or early February the Chinese New Year takes place and is celebrated with fireworks, and festivities.

Thaipoosam Cavadee is celebrated by the Tamil Community in Mauritius in late January or early February.

At the end of January or early February, the Chinese New Year takes place and is celebrated with fireworks, and festivities.

Thaipoosam Cavadee is celebrated by the Tamil Community in Mauritius

In early February there is the Maha Shivaratri pilgrimage, when half a million Hindu people making a pilgrimage to the holy lake of Grand Bassin.

The Holi Festival is in late February or early March. The event involves plenty of music and festivities as well as the traditional throwing of coloured powder and water at one another in the streets.

The Holi Festival is in late February or early March. The event involves plenty of music and festivities as well as the traditional throwing of coloured powder and water at one another in the streets

The island gained its independence on 12 March 1968 and so this is an important public holiday for all Mauritians.

Mauritius has a reasonably large Christian community, so Easter is celebrated across the island.

Tamil New Year is celebrated in April with dance performances and live music.

Ugadi, the Telegu New Year festival, is celebrated by the Telegu population of Mauritius.

The festival Eid Al Fitr is the Festival of Fast-breaking and an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims marking the end of Ramadan.

A quiet month for festivals

A quiet month for festivals

A quiet month for festivals

Pere Laval Feast Day is on the 9th of September, a Christian holy day when pilgrims start on a long march to the shrine of Father Jacques-Désiré Laval at Sainte-Croix for prayers.

In September (and October), the festival Ganesh Chathurti see Mauritian Hindus celebrating the god Ganesh with various events.

In October (and September), the festival Ganesh Chathurti see Mauritian Hindus celebrating the god Ganesh with various events.

In late October or early November, there is Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights when there are displays of fireworks and lanterns as well as celebratory dinners

In late October or early November, there is Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights when there are displays of fireworks and lanterns as well as celebratory dinners

Celebrations take place around the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Best Beaches in Mauritius

The best beaches in Mauritius range from spectacular sandy bays to rugged rocky outcrops and from peaceful lagoons to wild and windy shores. All four sides of the island have different characteristics relating to both the weather and geology.

West Coast
Flic en Flac, with its white coral sand and a reef-protected lagoon. Tamarin Bay has no reef so it is popular with surfers and bodyboarders as well as dolphins. Le Morne Peninsula, is a popular location for kite surfing as it is slightly more exposed than other west coast locations. The views are spectacular with Le Morne Brabant mountain as a backdrop.

North Coast
La Cuvette Beach in Grand Baie is a public beach full of life and activity. Trou-aux-Biches is a narrow beach of crushed coral and sand. Mont Choisy is a public beach popular for many coming for a day out from Grand Baie.

East Coast
Belle Mare, is six miles long, overlooking a large lagoon and lined with palm trees. It is considered one of the finest beaches in Mauritius. A boat ride from the Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa takes you to the island of Ile aux Cerfs.

South Coast
The wild south coast of Mauritius is slightly wilder and has no reef. Head west on the south coast and you will find some peaceful more sheltered beaches.

Many of the lagoons are protected by the reefs so there is nothing to fear from sharks. There are nevertheless a few animals to watch out for. Stonefish and lionfish have stings that are extremely painful, sea urchins which are unpleasant should you step on one, and jellyfish which are, upon contact, painful and itchy.

Nightlife

The best nightlife in Mauritius is undoubtedly in Grand Baie which is 20kms to the north of Port Louis in the far north of the island.

Restaurants, sports, music and rustic cocktail bars and nightclubs are aplenty with my favourite having always been the Banana Beach Club where there is live music and a great vibe until the early hours at weekends and till midnight on most other days. The name – well its because a banana tree grows up through the centre of the open terrace. It also has a great restaurant and a taxi rank right outside so easy in easy out.

Port Louis has a reasonable amount going on in the evenings whereas the rest of the islands late night entertainments particularly in the south is restricted to that which is offered in the hotels.

Wildlife Conservation

La Vanille Nature Park
Created in 1985 I have visited on a number of occasions to enjoy the wonderful park dedicated to the breeding and conservation of Giant Tortoises. My highlight was seeing this egg hatching and the start of a Giant Tortoise life that could last for nearly 200 years. I do however question their need to keep the crocodiles for entertainment purposes, rolling them out for feeding time to a screaming audience. Then there are the baby crocodiles, with mouths restrained with bands and offered to visitors for photos upon entry into the park.  They so need to rethink these matters but overall it’s an enjoyable excursion.

Ebony Forest
The stunning Ebony Forest in Chamarel is one of the best-preserved native forests in Mauritius. It is an area of biodiversity and an important area for birds and endemic species of wildlife.

Iles Aux Aigrettes
The small island Ile aux Aigrettes is situated in the Mahebourg Bay, about 850 m off the southeast coast of Mauritius. It’s a wildlife haven for rare and endemic species of birds and plants. I took this photo of a rare pink pigeon here a few years back as they are enticed into feeders. A few giant tortoises roam around but they don’t seem in too much of a hurry. There is a reception center where you are greeted by knowledgeable rangers who will take you on a lovely tour of the little island.

Blue Bay Marine Park
Located in the southeast of the island, Blue Bay marine park was declared a national park in 1997. It is known for its wide variety of corals, fish, and abundant fauna. This is a really popular place for marine study as well as diving for those with PADI qualifications or for those with a snorkel closer to shore.

Mauritius National Botanical Garden
Located in Pamplemousse in the North of Mauritius the previously known Sir Seewoosagur Botanic Garden, is one of the most visited attractions in Mauritius. The gardens are over 300 years old and is populated by over 650 species of plants including Baobab and palm trees and also the giant water lilies for which it is famous.

The Black River Gorges National Park
Located in southwest Mauritius this is the best area for those looking to hike its 50kms of trails and to view unique wildlife and over 300 native plants. Bird spotters head to the forest where they can, if patient, catch a glimpse of a variety of endemic species to Mauritius such as the Mauritius kestrel, Cuckoo-shrike, pink pigeon, olive white-eye, and grey white-eye. I took the photo of this monkey overlooking the national park from a spectacular viewing point just across from the Chamarel restaurant.

Charles Darwin
Back in 1836 whilst on his famous Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin became the first British naturalist to visit Mauritius. While on the island he caught a glimpse of many parrots, giant tortoises, geckos, and various other species of bird including no doubt these weaver birds that have always fascinated me on my trips and holidays to Mauritius.

Sustainable Tourism

Mauritius proudly boasts of achieving the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Recognized Standard Status. The island’s tourism abides by several new initiatives which are so good to see. It is believed that the accommodation sector alone accounts for 21% of the total carbon emissions on the island so a range of measures has been introduced including:

Using renewable energy sources like solar panels.
Recycling includes composting waste materials.
Rainwater and stormwater harvesting to water lawns and golf courses.
Designing building codes for better air circulation and light penetration.
Using sensors to decrease water and light wastage.
Growing local vegetables and fruits.
Buying local products such as seafood.

In addition to these measures (and I really wish the UK would follow suit), the government has made travel and tourism part of the educational curriculum and with that comes education in sustainability and eco-tourism and other green practices such as understanding the damage done to our planet by litter and waste.

I took this photo of a litter collection site on Grand Baie beach – on a few occasions I have seen the caring and wonderful people and local businesses get together to spend a day tidying and de-littering the entire town. As the sign says “Our Planet Needs You”.

A generation or two, maybe more, on this planet of ours have not been educated in sustainability or eco-tourism. How refreshing that the wonderful little island of Mauritius is taking such a strong lead.

I hope you enjoyed my Mauritius travel blog. Would love your feedback.

Top Things To See & Do

Visit Port Louis
The capital of Mauritius. Enjoy the Le Caudan waterfront with its shops and restaurants, the central market and bazaar, Chinatown, the Port Louis Theatre, the Blue Penny Museum, the Postal Museum, and the Natural History Museum where you can hear the story of the Dodo.

Visit Mahebourg
A fishing village, the town of Mahebourg gives a traditional feel to Mauritius. The local market is well worth a visit.

Ile Aux Aigrettes
Located off the South East corner of Mauritius this protected island is home to some rare species of animal including the Pink Pigeon, Green Geckos, Kestrels, and the Aldabra Tortoise.

Le Morne Brabant Mountain
Why not hike to the top of Le Morne and enjoy some of the best early morning views that the island has to offer?

Casella Wildlife Park
A great family day out that the kids will love where you can go on a buggy safari or ride a roller coaster or go face to face and feed the giraffes.

Take a  Sunset Cruise
What could be better than a late afternoon cruise enjoying a few Mauritian beers, a spot of dinner, wild dolphins, and an Indian Ocean sunset?

Triolet Shivala
Head to the holiest of locations to see the beautiful Grand Bassin Lake. You can receive a blessing from the local priest or just relax in the peace and calm of this most calming of locations.

Visit Chamarel
The village of Chamarel and the surrounding area boasts ancient forests, unique flora and fauna, traditional restaurants, the three coloured earth, a rum distillery, and a 95-meter waterfall.

Party In Grand Baie
After a day on the beach, it’s time to get your Hawaiian or maybe your Mauritian shirt on and head for Grand Baie to enjoy the restaurants, bars, clubs, and the ambiance of the best night out in Mauritius.

Swim with Dolphins
Get up early and join these incredible marine mammals for a swim. Watch them playing underwater, listen to their high-pitched “ticks” and feel their energy.

Blue Bay Marine Park
Go snorkeling or diving and enjoy the majesty of the underwater world where you will see corals, fish, eel, octopus, and if you are really lucky, sea turtles.

Pre-Bookable Excursions in Mauritius

More Information

The Mauritius Tourist Office provides a wide choice of useful information including places to go, things to do and what you can expect from the weather. Below are links to their website/travel blog and social media channels which are all worth following prior to any trip.

More Mauritius Images

Mauritius Travel Blogs

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