The warm tropical air hits you straight away like a big hug – you’ve arrived. Smiling faces welcome you, palm trees bend over slightly as if they’re trying to say hello, their fronds waving gently to you in the breeze. This is Mauritius, and you’re in for a treat.
For a small island, Mauritius’ main island seems endless. As you drive towards your hotel, the landscape constantly changes, from highway to city, to mountains, to coastline. There’s nothing like the fresh air feeling after stepping off a long-haul flight or the adrenaline of seeing a new destination for the first time, and the inspiring landscapes of Mauritius make it all the more breathtaking.
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How to get to Mauritius
Air Mauritius is the national carrier of Mauritius. They’re not the fanciest of airlines in terms of comfort – no Qatar or Singapore, for example. However, their fares are spectacularly well-priced in both economy and business class. When we booked, we were able to fly in Business Class Perth-Port Louis-Antananarivo in business class cheaper than we could have flown in economy on South African Airways. Air Mauritius fly several times a week from Perth.
Because of this, I’ve booked many clients to fly to Africa through Mauritius. Air Mauritius flies to Johannesburg every day except Wednesday, to Cape Town on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to Nairobi up to four times a week depending on the flight schedule, and to Dar es Salaam on Saturdays. Most flight schedules out of Australia require a stopover in Mauritius on the way over, so it’s the perfect excuse.
From Europe, Air Mauritius fly from Paris and London several times a week. Alitalia and Austrian Airlines offer seasonal services while Turkish Airlines serves the route regularly from Istanbul and Air France flies from Paris. From Asia, direct flights on Air Mauritius depart from Chengdu, Shanghai, and Hong Kong as well as several cities in India. Other airlines flying to Mauritius include Emirates, who have great connection times.
Air Mauritius offers flights to Reunion, Seychelles, and Madagascar as well as codeshares with other Indian Ocean airlines including Air Madagascar and Air Austral, making it really easy to island hop.
Where to stay in Mauritius
The first four nights of our Mauritius holiday were spent at the Radisson Blu Poste Lafayette (which is amazing, and you can book it here). It’s now adults-only though, so if you’re planning a parents only getaway, try it! If not, I have plenty of other recommendations. Read my Ten Family-Friendly Mauritius Resorts post for ideas.
The Radisson Blu is lovely and set on a glorious beach. It’s classed as 4-star, but it’s 4.5-star for me. Huge rooms with a really comfy bed and cable and all the room amenities you need. The service is really accommodating and the food is amazing. I could have sat and eaten at the resort all day. We also booked a couples spa package (which we were given at a large discount because we were honeymooners!) and it was sublime.
I’m not going to talk too much about what happened after we moved hotels (if you need to know, click here).
We were on a slight budget though so the Radisson Blu was perfect for us. It had absolutely everything we needed and more, but at a fantastic rate. However, if you’re after something truly luxe, Mauritius is the place to be. Based on client feedback, some of my favourite truly five-star options are the One&Only Le Saint Géran or the LUX*, both in Belle Mare, or for something not quite so extra but still honeymoon worthy, the Trou aux Biches Beachcomber is a wonderful option.
Another awesome option if you prefer to stay in Port Louis is Le Suffren. This five-star hotel is right on the waterfront. We stayed for two nights here at the end of our trip and, while we weren’t up to exploring a great deal because we were ill, our experience of the hotel itself was flawless.
The best time to travel to Mauritius
Mauritius has two distinct seasons – summer and winter. That said, the weather remains warm all year round.
Mauritius’ summer is November through to April, when the days are hot and can be quite sticky (average temperatures in the low 30s Celcius). January is technically cyclone season and usually I kind of ignore this type of thing… but we actually did get stuck in a Cyclone around New Years in Mauritius and it really wasn’t fun. So take this as my personal recommendation to avoid late December and the month of January.
The ‘winter’ season in Mauritius is May to October. It doesn’t get cold though; average temperatures are still in the mid-high 20s Celcius. It’s drier in the winter with plenty of sun. That said, if you’re longing to stay on the gorgeous East coast, July and August get super windy so maybe give it a miss, or book something in the West.
For me, May and September-October are the perfect sweet spot.
Things to do in Mauritius
One thing I really, really loved about Mauritius is the cosmopolitanism. I didn’t expect it to have a big, bustling city, but Port Louis is beautiful. Like a mini Paris to walk around an explore, but it has a cool harbor too (the Caudan Waterfront) and water taxis will take you across. The Waterfront features several groovy restaurants. The shopping is great if that’s your thing, but I loved walking around taking in the eclectic mix of African, French and British architecture. Port Louis has a cool Chinatown too, which adds an extra layer to the architectural and cultural delights.
You’ll find several museums, mosques, and temples to explore in Port Louis. The Mauritius Tourism Board has great list here. And if you have a spare afternoon, I highly recommend the National Botanical Garden. It’s just glorious.
Grand Baie is in the North-West corner of Mauritius. Think of Grand Baie as the upmarket beach area – its Riviera region. You’ll find heaps of trendy, luxury fashion brands here as well as world-class restaurants and hip nightlife. If you want a night out to let your hair down, Grand Baie is the spot. It’s a pretty area but the beach isn’t great for swimming due to the multitude of motorised boats… But in Mauritius you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to other beach options.
If you’re heading out to eat, try Le Capitaine for fancy seafood, or La Rougaille Creole for some authentic local cajun food.
Mauritius has the highest Hindu population outside of India, and this is reflected at Grand Bassin, a huge lake in a crater where the Ganga Talao temple stands. This intricate temple is an absolute must-see, as is the crater. At the entrance of Ganga Talao is Mangal Mahadev – a 33-metre high statue of Shiva. There are also several other temples in the complex dedicated to other Hindu deities.
In the South-West corner of Mauritius is Chamarel, a village famous for its “seven coloured earth” geopark. Here, you’ll find vivid colours in the hills formed naturally from the different mineral properties in the earth. There’s also a large dramatic waterfall roughly 100 metres in height. For the daring, abseiling down the waterfall can be arranged.
Also in the village is the Rhumerie du Chamarel, a rum distillery with connected restaurant, L’Alchimiste. Here you can sample the products neat or have them make you one of their signature cocktails. The distillery is set within a sugarcane plantation and is pretty famous for the sustainable way the products are manufactured and the byproducts reused. If you’re a nerd about this kind of thing (like me) you can read more here.
Ile aux Cerfs sailing and parasailing
The best activity we booked was a sailing trip to Ile aux Cerfs, so I can’t go past recommending this to you. Spend a whole day cruising around on a catamaran… Think crystal waters, drinking Mauritian rum and eating a gorgeous Mauritian barbecue on board. There’s was the opportunity to get off the boat and walk around the island, or you could just float around in the water and enjoy the day. You can also take a separate boat ride up to a waterfall.
Snorkel with beautiful fish or go parasailing off a pontoon off the coast. The views are just incredible. I can honestly say our Ile aux Cerfs sailing trip was one of the best travel days I’ve ever had.
Ile aux Benitiers
Ile aux Benitiers can be found off the coast of Le Morne, in the South-West of the island. We took a private sailing trip out to Ile aux Benitiers to see the Diamond Rock (sometimes known as Crystal Rock) and laze by the water… another day spent swimming, snorkeling and eating that delicious seafood barbecue lunch Mauritians do so well. The beach is stunning and the mountains loom in the distance. You will find quite a few people on the beach trying to sell you things though.
I think we would have preferred to do this activity with a group, because we’re quite social and we had a blast with our new friends sailing to Ile aux Cerfs. The other reason for this is our guides told us “you have to eat everything on the boat!” I’m sure this was a joke but we felt so full we thought we would sink!
You’ll find providers all over Mauritius offering a sunset cruise – usually this is on a catamaran with dinner and drinks.
It depends how much sailing you like to do; for us we’ll take any possible chance to get out on a boat. If your sea legs are a bit wobbly, prioritise Ile aux Cerfs. But what is more romantic than sailing off into the sunset with a cocktail in your hand? For us, not much!
A note about dolphin swimming
We tried a dolphin swim a couple of times but inclement weather ruined one outing. On the other, it was pretty disgusting to be honest and not something I’d ever try again. Picture twenty boats chasing around one terrified dolphin and hundreds of people trying to swim with it. So I have to recommend ditching the dolphin swim and focus on all the incredible scenery you’re surrounded by.
You might think an island as small as Mauritius (in size and population) wouldn’t have cultivated much of a foodie culture. You’d be dead wrong. Mauritius is one of the most incredible foodie destinations I’ve been to… and you know how I love my food.
Owing to its history, you’ll find French, Cajun, Indian and even Chinese influences in Mauritian cooking. One of my favourite aspects of Mauritius travel is the food, and how the different cultures within Mauritius shine through each dish. Fresh seafood, flavour-packed curries, and creole spices all combine to produce a cuisine unlike anything else I’ve ever tried. Any sort of fish curry was my go-to, but the street food was surprising too. You’ll find a lot on Indian street snacks such as vada (my fave!) as you walk around.
I’ve attempted to recreate several Mauritian dishes at home but I just can’t get them quite right… I think this is because some of the street food, in particular, are made from family recipes handed down through generations and not found in recipe books.
Travel costs in Mauritius
The currency is the Mauritian Rupee, but be warned: a lot of pricing is in line with the Euro, especially in resorts and for tourist activities. This means if your currency doesn’t compare favourably (like, say, the Australian Dollar) Mauritius is going to be expensive.
ATMs are found in local shopping centres; payng by card is easy in hotels and shops, but always have cash on you for cafes (particularly ones that aren’t near the major towns) and for street stalls.
We found getting around the worst: there’s no public transport outside of Port Louis so you’ll need private taxis to get from place to place. If you’re taking a taxi, the cost needs to be agreed upon first: there will be no meter for the fare. Be willing to walk away if the fare feels too high: you’ll absolutely be paying the tourist tax.
You could also cut costs a bit by hiring a car if you’re comfortable. Mauritians drive on the left, which is nice for those of us from the colonies! Many of my clients have done this and it’s definitely what we’ll do next time to keep the costs a bit more reasonable.
You’re never far from a grocery store in Mauritius. Especially if you’re staying in a resort, it really pays to stock up on snacks and drinks at the local shops. Especially if you want to buy alcohol.
Grocery stores are well-stocked with all the items you’d find at home so if you forget your toiletries or you need more supplies you won’t experience any dramas. Costs for various items were reasonable (I paid roughly the same amount in Mauritius as back home for things like shampoo, toothpaste, razors etc).
I think this is a big tip no matter where you travel: eating at locally owned cafes and restaurants is certainly cheaper than eating at the hotel. But more than that – it’s an excellent way to experience more of the country’s culture. As I mentioned above, street food is a thing in Mauritius owing in part to its Indian heritage, and a quick snack is cheap and delicious.
Mauritius is like many of the once-in-a-lifetime paradises you dream of: it comes at a price. But with careful planning you can keep the costs manageable.
The big surprise, I think, is just how much there is to do on this little island. In fact, it can be overwhelming. So make sure to schedule in some rest days so you can relax, hit the spa, or just go with the flow and be open to anything that comes up.
Lastly, be health conscious. Mauritius is a safe and friendly place to explore but don’t drink the water, practice mosquito-avoidance procedures and check with your travel clinic about the recommended vaccinations. From experience: parasites can really ruin your Mauritius experience.
Now go forth and book that amazing Mauritius getaway! You’re going to have a blast.
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