Guide and tips for first time visitors to Mauritius
I have travelled to Mauritius more than 15 times over the last 30 years and consider myself an expert when it comes to Mauritius. Petra and I consider ourselves xenophiles, people who like foreigners or foreign things. This explains our love for this multicultural island with powder-fine, golden sandy beaches.
Where is Mauritius?
Mauritius, the land of coral reefs and Dodos (extinct flightless birds the size of swans), is located 900 km East of Madagascar and 180 km North-east of Reunion.
This small island is surrounded by the Indian Ocean which explains the water’s magical shades of blue. You will notice from the many videos and photos on our Instagram page, that above the coral reefs, the shallow water appear to be an intense turquoise colour while in the deeper water, the colour is more grey-blue.
The best time for good weather and great deals to visit Mauritius
Mauritius is considered a luxury travel destination, but you can find good deals and great packages if you travel outside their peak seasons. The peak season is between October to early January and again during the Easter holidays.
The island is prone to receive cyclones during November and April. Although, in all the years that we have travelled to Mauritius, we have never experienced a cyclone during these months.
Mauritius has a subtropical climate which means you can enjoy the island the whole year because it doesn’t really get very cold in the Winter. However, in our experience, the best time to travel to Mauritius (while still enjoying warm weather and getting a good deal) is from September to November and then again from mid-January to March.
Get packing for the tropical palm tree lined island of Mauritius
What is the best way to book a trip to Mauritius?
Do your homework carefully when selecting a travel agent, particularly during these uncertain times. We have lost a lot of money because we used a travel agent to book our trip to Mauritius two years ago (but that’s a story for another day and a blog on its own). Although, that was the norm before COVID-19, as most hotels on the island did not accept direct bookings from guests. This situation has now changed dramatically.
The trip we took in April 2022 was a result of our Mauritius trip being cancelled twice due to COVID. We were supposed to travel the first time in December 2020 and then again in December 2021. This time we used the online booking site booking.com for our accommodation because it allowed us to cancel for free at the last minute, and we only needed to pay once we got to the resort. In general, we use this site for most of our accommodation bookings.
PRO TIPS for booking accommodation in Mauritius
Always book accommodation in the North or West of the island, no matter how attractive the other deals sound. Remember, the wind comes from the East, causing a drop in the daily temperatures.
Is renting a house in Mauritius a good option?
If you don’t wish to stay in a resort or B&B, you can rent a house on the island. Just be aware that this option doesn’t necessarily work out much cheaper. We have tried this option, and it worked out more or less the same for us because it is difficult to beat the fly and stay packages offered by groups such as flight centre and club med.
What is the best way to get around in Mauritus?
Mauritius is a small island. It takes one hour (70km) by car from the SSR Airport in the South to get to Grand Baie in the North.
How to rent a scooter in Mauritius?
In Mahebourg, we rented a scooter for Rs 1000 (22 Euro or R360) for the day and cruised to Grand Baie on the North and back to Preskil Hotel on the South-eastern side of the island. On route to Grand Baie, we took the coastal road, which took us two and a half hours to cover +-80 Km. However, on the way back, we took the motorway, got caught in a heavy rainstorm, and still managed to complete the journey in two hours. This is a fantastic way to explore the island. You only need your passport and driver’s licence to rent a scooter.
How to hire a taxi in Mauritius?
Taxis are convenient and safe to hire. We enjoy taking taxis because they often have knowledgeable drivers who can advise you about activities, events or festivals happening during your stay on the island.
How to rent a car in Mauritus?
Although we have rented cars before on the island, we found it inconvenient and expensive because the weather is unpredictable; you do not want to drive around on a beautiful beach day. You must book a rental car a few days in advance because limited cars are available on the island.
What to see and do in Port Louis, Mauritus harbour?
Mauritius is a shopper’s paradise with several shopping malls and bazaars (markets). Le Caudant Waterfront, Grand Baie and Bagatelle are our favourite malls, while Grand Baie and Port Louis have the best cultural markets. We highly recommend visiting the Port Louis Waterfront for its many duty-free shops, local restaurants, and cultural market selling spices, souvenirs, and beautiful textiles.
What are the best attractions in Mauritius?
Curious Corner of Chamarel
The Chamarel waterfall near the Black River is spectacular and worth the visit. Spare yourself the effort to visit the seven coloured sands nearby, as this attraction is overrated. However, don’t miss the Curious Corner of Chamarel! It is a gallery of interactive illusions and art to awaken everyone’s curiosity and offers outstanding photo opportunities. The Pamplemousses Botanic Garden, with giant water lilies and Talipot palm trees, another favourite of ours. Blue Bay is an enjoyable day trip if you want to visit the Southern parts of the island. It is great for snorkelling and boat trips. The L’Aventure du Sucre, Chateau de Labourdonnais, and Rhumarie de Chamarel (Rum distillery) are interesting places to visit if you stay nearby.
How to book a catamaran cruise in Mauritius?
If you’re on the island for at least a week (we recommend a 7 to 10-day stay on the island, considering everything there is to do), we also highly recommend booking a full-day catamaran cruise. They are affordable (around Rs 1800 pp) and include a snorkelling trip (with equipment), lunch and a visit to one of the smaller islands, such as Ile Aux Chefs.
Where are the best resorts and location in Mauritius?
Lastly, how do you choose a resort because there are so many to choose from? In our experience, base your decision on location, location, location! Our favourite areas on the island are Flic-en-Flac, Grand Baie, Pereybere and Mont Choisy. Our favourite resorts are La Pirogue, Sugar Beach, Sofitel L’Imperial Resort & Spa, Victoria Beachcomber, and Spa and Preskil.
In some parts of the island, the beach is not great, and you need to wear water shoes not to get your feet cut or to step on sea urchins.
Also, ensure you find out which non-motorised and motorised water sports activities are included at the resort. Some resorts are more family orientated, thus less vibey and have less evening entertainment.
What is the difference between half-board, full-board or all-inclusive meal plans at Mauritius hotels?
Another important consideration when booking hotels is selecting half-board, full-board or all-inclusive. Half board is better if you enjoy venturing out of the resort and are not a big alcohol consumer. The difference between the options is that half board includes breakfast, lunch, or dinner daily, while full board includes three meals daily. Both these options don’t include any soft drinks or alcohol. The all-inclusive option includes three meals plus soft drinks and a selection of alcoholic drinks.
PRO TIP! Watch out for supplement charges at resorts
Not all the restaurants at the resorts are often included in your meal plans. The hotels charge a supplement for eating at these restaurants, and several alcoholic drinks also have one. Ensure you inform yourself of these supplements to ensure you don’t get surprises upon checkout.
Flights, visa and immigration regulations
Safair, South African Airways (SAA) and Air Mauritius offer flights to Mauritius. Most of the flights are direct four-hour flights.
Mauritius is a visa-free country for 60 days. You must produce a return ticket and a confirmed hotel reservation at the immigration counter in Mauritius. The immigration process is quick and easy.
Concluding thoughts about visiting Mauritius
Mauritius is the place to go if you enjoy palm-tree-lined white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, breathtaking mountain and hiking scenery, markets immersed with local cultures and handicrafts, and snorkelling. From family-owned B&Bs to five-star resorts, you are spoiled for choice, making sure you can enjoy a fabulous island holiday on a budget of your choice.
During our trip, we stayed at Preskil Resort near Mahebourg. If you would like to know more about this fabulous resort and others in Mauritius, subscribe to our blog to receive reminders when we release new blogs.
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