In one of my earlier posts, I gave you 10 reasons as to why you need to head to Mauritius. Hopefully, you have now all been convinced about it and are already researching this destination. I know so as I have been getting a few messages on practical suggestions and travel tips for this gorgeous island country. And therefore, my attempt to capture it all into a concise post that can serve as a travel guide to Mauritius. I have attempted to capture all aspects of your visit to Mauritius – from pre-planning to considerations when booking or finalizing an itinerary to your actual visit. Hopefully, this should answer many of the common queries. So without further ado –
My Travel Guide to Mauritius
1) Best time to Visit Mauritius
Mauritius is one destination that has a lovely weather throughout the year. Having said that, the peak tourist season is October to April. The rainy season here is from January to March, which is when there is a likelihood of cyclones here. Though you will be safe in the hotels of Mauritius, the cyclones could interfere with your sea activity plans. Hence, it is advisable to check the weather charts before booking. The winter months here are between April to September – a reverse for most of us as Mauritius is in the Southern Hemisphere. During these months, the weather is still pleasant and not too cold, with lesser rain.
2) Getting to Mauritius
There are plenty of direct flights from most major cities of the world into Mauritius. Air Mauritius is the official airlines of this nation and the flight experience that I had with them was pretty pleasant. In the case of India, Air Mauritius has a code sharing with Air India, which makes the connectivity from the rest of India to Mauritius much easier. However, note that the these are long flights and the minimum flight time from anywhere in Asia or Europe will be 6 hours. Remember to book well in advance for the flights as these do tend to get full, especially during the tourist season.
For a different experience of Mauritius, you can even opt for a luxury cruise to this island. There are plenty of operators who offer these, a lot of them in South Africa.
3) Visa requirements for Mauritius
For most countries, Mauritius offers a free visa-on-arrival, with a tourist visa valid for 60 days. You can check if your country is in this list by clicking here. All you need to have is a passport that is valid for at least 6 months, your hotel bookings sorted out and a return ticket. In case, you are not eligible for this visa-on-arrival, you can apply for one by sending in your application, your photos, your hotel bookings and return tickets, your passport sized pictures and your passport copy to the Mauritian embassy. You will also, need to give them a document that assures that you are not involved in any business or profit activities in Mauritius. This entire documentation and procedure are available on their official site and you can click through to know more.
4) Handling the Mauritian Currency
Mauritian currency is roughly 1.5X Indian one and is termed as Mauritian Rupees (MUR). You can exchange your nation’s currency for MUR at any of the exchange counters in Mauritius. There are plenty of exchange centers and banks in the towns of Mauritius. However, the density of these counters is comparatively lesser than a lot of other countries.
Thrilling Travel Tip: The best exchange rates are offered at the Mauritius airport itself. Best to exchange your currency here before you head out to the city.
You can also, withdraw cash in MUR from any of the ATMs in the country. You frankly, will need cash only if you are street shopping. I did not really use my cash anywhere else as most merchant outlets in Mauritius, including the various ticket counters, accept universal credit cards.
Another important thing to note is that it does not matter whether you have INR or Euros or USD. The conversion rate for the MUR is quite uniform and all these currencies are well accepted across Mauritius.
5) Understanding the Island
Mauritius is a cute, small island and you can easy traverse from North to South in less than 2 hours. What is even simpler is the way the entire Island is divided. Just four directions – North, East, West and South. There is plenty to see in each of these directions and understanding this is what will help you make a perfect itinerary for this island. I feel this is the most important part of my travel guide to Mauritius. The North of Mauritius is where most tourists flock – for its beautiful Grand Baie area, the numerous beach activities, popular hotels and restaurants. This is also, where a lot of commercial activities take place.
Port Louis, which is the capital of Mauritius, lies in the West and is a hub for all the major offices, shops and banks. This is where you can find the heritage center of Apravasi Ghat, the lovely shopping by the bay at Le Caudan waterfront and the local street shopping in China Town.
The famous Ils Aux Cerfs – a private island famous for its sea adventure activities is located off the East. Also, located here are some uncrowded and unspoiled beaches like the Belle Mare and Roche Noires. This area is not as frequented as the rest of Mauritius but is a paradise in itself
The South of Mauritius is where you get a combination of beach and hills. This is again, not as crowded as the West and North but more than the East. The Bel Ombre area has some of the choicest of hotels and activities that Mauritius has to offer. The famous animal park Casela and the lovely hills of Chamarel are closer to this part than the North of Mauritius.
6) Hotels in Mauritius
One of the main reasons I chose to include the earlier point of understanding the island in this travel guide to Mauritius was to make your choice of hotels much easier. While you will find hotels for all budgets here, the one important consideration that you must have is its location. Depending on the activities that you wish to do, try and pick a hotel in that part of Mauritius. This will reduce your time on the road and give you more time at the destination.
My stay was divided between the North and the South. In the North, I stayed at the Trou Aux Biches Beachcomber resort on the same beach as its name. The hotel was an absolute luxury with rooms that ranged from a basic villa room to a family room with its private pool. The resort was bang on the beach and I absolutely loved walking along the same at any time of the day. I particularly, enjoyed the Pier here in the morning, where I found a lot of turtles circling around. The resort was so huge that you needed a golf cart to take you around to your rooms and if you are directionally challenged, you might have just lost your way to it if you were on your own.
In the South, I stayed at the Hotel Shanti Maurice, which had its own private beach. The hotel rooms ranged from basic to a villa with its private jacuzzi that faced the beach. Hotel Shanti Maurice also, had some unusual restaurants, including a rustic rum shed that housed some of the best drinks from across the world. The best experience here was at their unique restaurant by the beach – Le Kaze Mama. It is here you get to meet an Indian, now Mauritian Grandmama who prepares fresh food using the herbs grown by the hotel and serves it. She is quite famous for her hot paranthas and what is more is that you can even learn to prepare the same with her, while you dine out here.
Both these hotels were a unique experience and allowed me to explore the length and breadth of Mauritius conveniently.
Thrilling Travel Tip: A lot of these hotels in Mauritius offer you packages that include the non-motorized Sea sports like snorkeling and kayaking. Make sure you clarify the same and use it when at the resorts.
7) Local conveyance
The one thing that I was in awe of were the roads of Mauritius and the amazing traffic discipline that it has. The fact that the number of vehicles on the road are fewer is also, what makes a difference. The best way to experience this is to drive around. The driving here is on the left-hand side of the road and as long as you have an international driving license you can drive here safely. You can even opt for 2-wheeler rentals though I found very few people using these here.
Should you not want to ride or drive, then taxis and private cabs are the best options. These can be arranged by any of the tour operators or hotels. You can even hail a few or call them if there is a taxi point close-by. However, the one thing that I must warn you is that I did not sight many taxis or taxi points, especially when I visited the South of Mauritius. I would recommend that you pre-book your ride and ensure that you have a round trip booked for the day.
You can even opt for the local buses, which looked pretty comfortable. I found this website quite useful in figuring out the various routes and timings for the same.
8) Local language and food in Mauritius
Creole is the main language here – which has a major influence of French with a bit of African and Indian words. However, with a tourist, they are quite comfortable in English. Mauritians on the whole, are quite tolerant and hospitable. They are very polite and will always, be happy to guide you around. You will find a lot of French influence here – whether it is the way they serve their food to their manner of addressing people.
When it comes to food, you will find a combination of French and Indian dishes in their local menu. Dhol Puri is one of the most recommended local breakfast items, which essentially is Dal Puri from India. The French breads are available in plenty on every me. I have shared a lot of my experience on food in this post of Mauritius. Skip over to have a look at what are my food recommendations for this island.
On the whole, the cultural experience here is just pleasing and adds to the pleasure of your stay in Mauritius.
9) Local SIM cards in Mauritius
There are 2 – 3 mobile operators in Mauritius and one can pick a local SIM from various outlets in the city and Airport by showing their passport as a documentation requirement. However. I personally, found the local plans a little on the dear side. For a new SIM and a basic data plan, I would have to shell out MUR 350. This would have given me MUR 85 worth talk time and just 50 MB of data.
There are several other data plans to choose from but for a one-week stay, I felt this was a bit on the higher side. I chose to rely on the Wi-Fi that is available at most major hotels and restaurants for free.
10) Packing for Mauritius
No matter when you are headed to Mauritius, beachwear is an obvious item on your packing list. Besides the same, I would advise carrying a light shawl, especially if you plan to visit the hilly regions of Mauritius. In terms of footwear, flat-heeled shoes are the best – given that there is plenty of walking to be done. For the evenings, I do recommend a few semi-formal evening dresses as a lot of hotels have special banquets and feasts. If you are a person who likes nightlife, there are plenty of options in Mauritius for you to experience the same and thus, you may need to pack accordingly.
Bug repellant will be fairly useful in the evening as there are a few lurking around the tropical lands. Sun-tan lotion is also, recommended during the day. In terms of other accessories, please carry a universal charger. The plug points here cater to the European standards.
11) Places to visit in Mauritius
While technically this should be a separate blog post, I have included a small section in this travel guide to Mauritius. I have linked some of them to the detailed articles on the place or activity and you can always click through these to know more.
- Beaches – There are just plenty of them and among the ones that I visited, I fell in love with Trou Aux Biches. The beaches are key to some unique sea adventures like submarine ride and the Seakart. The coral reefs here are just amazing and if possible, you should either do some scuba diving or snorkeling to see it all. And then, there are regular beach adventure sports like jet ski, kayaking etc that you will find everywhere.
- Chateau de Labourdonnais – for its heritage tour of the chateau of one of the Sugar Lords. You can even indulge in some rum tasting here
- La Vanille Nature Park – for a lovely interaction with the giant tortoise, a glimpse of the largest private collection of insects and a tryst with the crocodiles
- La Vallee des Couleurs Nature Park – you can take one of the longest ziplines in the world here or just try some Quad biking while you see 23 different colors of sand in one single place.
- Chamarel – This was one of my favorites owing to its unique 7-colored sand dunes. And then, there are its waterfalls, distillery and the unique Curious corner of Chamarel.
- Aapravasi Ghat – the UNESCO site that marks one of the largest immigration centers in the world. This is where the various migrants from India, Africa and China disembarked to make Mauritius their home
- La Venture du Sucre – A Sugar museum complete with its factory, distilleries and history to explain all about sugar in Mauritius. Here too, you can try out the various types of sugar as well as rum produced in Mauritius
- Casela – the animal park where you can feed the giraffes and meet the ostriches and rhinos. This interactive park is great for not just the kids but the adults too.
These are just some of the suggested places. There are plenty more and depending on your duration of stay, you can cover them all.
12) Shopping in Mauritius
In my earlier post, I had mentioned the unique cane articles that you can buy in Mauritius and the key marketplaces for you to shop. You can always refer back to it by clicking here. Just remember one thing that most markets here open by 9 am and close by 7:30 pm on all days except Sundays and public holidays when they shut by noon. There are plenty of duty-free shopping zones around Mauritius and you can take advantage of some quality products at low cost in these.
Well, that is it for this travel guide to Mauritius. Hopefully, I have assisted you with some useful information to get you booking for Mauritius. Do share this travel guide to Mauritius with all those who are headed there. And keep checking back on this site for more articles from my experience in Mauritius.