Five Things First Time Travellers To Mauritius Should Know
- Take the bus. While there are plenty of taxis on the island, a ride for MUR 200 will cost you only MUR 25 with the local bus. Don't let the taxi drivers try to fool you into thinking the buses aren't coming; they arrive every 15 to 30 minutes. Plus the drivers are friendly and willing to help you with directions to your final destination.
- The official currency is the Mauritian Rupee. Instead of exchanging money at the airport, rather withdraw from the ATM. You'll get a better rate of exchange.
- The best way to explore Mauritius is with a car. A day's rental costs around MUR 1,000 to 2,000 and all you need is a valid driver's license from your country of origin. Just remember that Mauritians drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- English and French are widely spoken. The majority of the population is bilingual, and you shouldn't have any problems communicating with the locals.
- Beware of the spice. Mauritius is known around the world for its gastronomy, but their dishes do tend to be spicy. If you don't like your food having a kick, be sure to tell the waiter to go easy on the chilli.
Best Time To Visit Mauritius
With a mild tropical climate, Mauritius is a year-round destination. In fact, it's rare not to get at least eight hours of sunshine a day.
The most popular time to visit the island nation is during its winter months. From June to September, temperatures drop to a comfortable 20°C and rainy days are few and far between. The drier conditions also mean that mosquitos will be scarce and outdoor activities more bearable.
However, the idyllic weather means this is peak tourism season for Mauritius. If you're planning your trip during this time, expect the pristine beaches to be crowded and high rates at hotels. It's also recommended to book everything in advance to get ahead of the rush.
December to March is the hottest time of year to visit Mauritius. Temperatures rise to 25°C, and the humidity is at its worst. There's also the threat of cyclones during this period, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't visit. Conditions are at their best for diving, with excellent visibility and the waters teeming with marine life.
You'll also find cheaper rates at hotels and better deals on airfare. Just be sure to pack enough mosquito repellent, as the pests are at their worst during this wet season.
Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius and the second most important financial district in the whole of Africa.
One of its most interesting attractions is the natural history museum. Although it's small, it includes a reconstructed Dodo bird from the only complete skeleton in existence.
If you want to get your finger on the pulse of the city, head to the Le Caudan Waterfront. It's full of shops, plenty of restaurants and a buzzing nightlife scene.
Located in the Riviere du Rempart District, the town of Grand Baie is a must-visit. It's home to excellent beaches, nightlife and shopping districts.
Grand Baie is also a departure point for cruises to the north of Mauritius to destinations such as Round Island or Gunner's Quoin. The town also has plenty of water-based activities to choose from like sailing, windsurfing and water skiing.
Curepipe is a beautiful town located near Port Louis. It's made up of colonial houses, lush public gardens and a bustling vegetable market.
But its most famous attraction is the Trou-aux-Cerfs. The dormant volcano offers visitors incredible views of the island as well as the tea plantations.
Just make sure you bring an umbrella as the town is known for its damp weather.
Top Attractions in Mauritius
Black River Gorges National Park
Stretching over 6,574 hectares, the Black River Gorges National Park covers almost 4% of Mauritius entire land mass.
The park is home to over 300 species of plants as well one of the world's rarest birds, the endemic Pink pigeon. Wildcats, bullfrogs and monkeys are also some of the other wildlife you may spot along the way.
Spend your days exploring the plethora of hiking trails, and make your way to its most jaw-dropping viewpoint Plaine Champagne. If you can, plan your trip during flowering season (September to January) when the park is at its best.
Chamarel is a small village in Mauritius that's home to some of the nation's most impressive natural scenery.
Its most famous attraction is The Seven Coloured Earth. This unique natural phenomenon is the result of volcanic activity that has layered different colours of sand dunes. There are small test tubes of the sand that you can buy if you want to take this unique natural wonder back home with you.
But that's not all Chamarel has to offer. It also boasts the tallest waterfall in Mauritius. The Chamarel Falls are an impressive 100 metres high with a range of stunning viewpoints to choose from.
La Vanille Crocodile Park
Located on the south coast, La Vanille Crocodile Park houses over 2,000 Nile crocodiles and 1,000 giant tortoises.
There's also a range of other wildlife to see such as the region's giant bats, monkeys and the largest private collection of insects in the world. The park's fossil museum and an aquarium are also worth exploring.
La Vanille also boasts an on-site restaurant and a Jungle Adventure Playground for children, making it a great day trip for families. Tickets cost MUR 395 and include a tour with a park guide.
Pamplemousses Botanical Garden
Covering an area of 60 acres, the Pamplemousse Botanical Garden is the oldest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It's also one of the most popular attractions in Mauritius, and it's not hard to see why.
Inside you'll find 80 varieties of palm trees, giant lily ponds and trees planted by Nelson Mandela and Indira Gandhi. Once the private garden of a French governor, it's estimated to take a week to explore the site in its entirety.
If you don't have that kind of time on your hands, hire one of the local guides for as little as EUR 1 per person to see the best of what the gardens have to offer.
The Grand Bassin is Mauritius's most important pilgrimage site. It's a lake inside an extinct volcano crater, and it's believed the water was sourced from the sacred Ganges River in India.
Near its northern banks, you'll find a 108-foot statue of Lord Shiva. It's the second tallest statue in the world dedicated to the Hindu god.
The lake is also the site of the biggest Hindu festival outside of India. Every year, thousands of believers make their way to Grand Bassin for the final day of Mahashivratri. While visitors are welcome to attend, you'll need to make sure you respect the customs and avoid going for a dip in the sacred lake.
Major International Airports in Mauritius
- Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport