Mauritius is situated east of Madagascar, and is truly the gem of the Indian Ocean. Its coastline is one of archetypal beauty – soft sand, and palm-tree line beaches protected by coral reefs which team with tropical fishes. Perhaps its biggest draw, however, is its people – the warm and friendly melting pot of Mauritian people – who will welcome you wherever you go.
What to do
Getting the balance right on your dream holiday is a must. Sure, you’ll want to explore the beaches. In the north the stretches around Grand Baie resort are most popular, and have plenty of nearby bars shops and restaurants but Flic en Flac, on the dry west coast, and Blue Bay, surrounded by the hiking trails of the south west region, are also worth a visit. Go shopping in Port-Louis at Le Caudal centre, and when the heat gets too much, sail into the breeze on a chartered yacht.
Go underwater in whatever way suits you – from snorkelling to glass-bottomed boating, you can even take an underwater scooter ride.
Where to stay
Mauritius is all about luxury, and four and five star hotels abound.
Situated on the west coast of Mauritius, Sands Suites Resort & Spa is a hideaway for those seeking tranquility, comfort and personalised service in an elegant setting.
Celebrate your most special occasions at the Royal Palm, where staff wait on the occupants of its 84 villas hand and foot. Here, you can have superlative food at the Captain’s Table, watersports tuition at the click of your fingers, or charter a crew to take you on a James Bond-style speedboat adventure.
Or be nearer the action at Grand Baie, where tourists and yachties collide. Trou aux Biches hotel, 8km from the main drag, is all about laid back days by the infinity pools, or relaxing in 35 acres of gardens. A word of warning: the cost of living on Mauritius can be high so self catering is not the most cost effective option.
What to eat
The island’s fusion of cultures – with Indian and Creole at the fore – is there on your plate, from delicious Asian-infused spices and delectable seafood. Get octopus curry from Chez Rosy near Gris Gris and as far as street food goes, gazak, Dhal Roti and chapattis, as well as mini peeled pineapples, are delicious and cheap. You will search out Mauritius cuisine – whether it’s in a restaurant or a cookbook – as soon as you’re back home.
Roads in Mauritius are getting better and they do drive on the left side of the road but be careful. If you’re taking a taxi agree the price beforehand, or you can travel by bus (‘tiptops’) like the locals. Fancy a secluded hotel? You’ll want to hire a car because evening rates for taxi transfers can be surprisingly high.
When to go
Hot all year round, Mauritius is a good option for winter sun though there is the risk of cyclones January to March. The island’s winter, from May to September, is warm and dry, with fewer mosquitoes and rates that drop by 30-50 per cent.
Three things we like
- Take a late afternoon catamaran cruise from Grand Baie harbour.
- Hike from Henrietta to the Tamarind Falls. The waterfalls are wonderful and you can swim in their cool freshwater pools.
- Enjoy a day at the races at the Champ de Mars Racecourse in Port-Louis. It’s the oldest race course in the southern hemisphere, and the perfect place to model your most chic daywear, and get to know high society’s locals to boot.
Something we don’t like
The traffic congestion in the Mauritian capital Port Louis, and in Quarte Bournes, is severe. Be aware if you’re trying to cross the island to make specific travel departure times.
High50 insider tips
- Cash machines can be hard to find, so make sure you have sufficient money when you leave the airport on arrival.
- Pack waterproof beach shoes that you can wear under water. Sea urchins and stonefish are common and sharp underfoot!
- Beaches get crowded with locals on the weekend – why not go to Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens, or the sacred Hindu temple and lake at Grand Bassin, in the south of the Island, on those days?
Getting to know the locals. The hotchpotch of Mauritian culture – with people drawn from the British, Dutch and French heritage of its colonisers as well as a wide range of Asian roots and religions – is a lesson for all in melting pot culture. Hidden away in your hotel can create a them-and-us culture; you may never realise that the people are the best kept secret in this place.
Travelling with family?
Mauritians LOVE kids and make children of all ages very welcome, especially in restaurants, and they’ll stop and say hello on the street when you’re out and about. For that reason, the hotel kids clubs’ staff are very warm and welcoming, and since travel is mostly resort-based, you should choose a hotel that really caters for their needs. Pirogue resort on Flic en Flac beach has mini golf and water sports tuition. Don’t let that stop you getting out and about though. Out West, the kids will love swimming with dolphins in Tamarin Bay and meeting turtles and monkeys at Casela Park nature reserve too.
Need to know
- The average flight time twelve hours, with the outward flight usually overnight.
- The timezone is four hours in front of the UK (GMT +4).
- The local currency is Mauritian Rupees and you get around 52 Mauritian Rupees to the £1.
- VAT is 15% and there’s a departure tax of 300 Rupees per person.
- Most plugs are British style three pin, but do check with your hotel.
- No jabs required, although speak to your doctor about any malaria risk.
- English is the official language but French, Creole and Asian languages are widely spoken.
- Sir Seewoosagur International Airport is situated in the south-east, and it’s a 90 minute transfer to get to the main tourist spot of Grand Baie. Private transfers are expensive.
- It’s coolest from July to September at around 26 degrees. it is hottest from January to April.
- Unfortunately, petty crime is pretty common especially in tourist areas and in downtown Port Louis. Don’t walk alone at night.