Mauritius

Mauritius Travel Guide

Mark Twain said, 'Mauritius was made first, then heaven was copied from it', and when you consider the natural beauty of the volcanic island, with its steamy forests and running streams, palm-fringed beaches and teeming coral reefs, it's easy to understand his sentiment.

Most visitors to Mauritius choose package-tour holidays and stay at one of the island's magnificent resorts. The capital, Port Louis, is the tourist hub of the island, but there are literally hundreds of excellent beach resorts lining the Mauritian coast. The pick of the bunch, The Royal Palm Hotel, has been hailed by Forbes as one of the best beach resorts in the world. Most of the resorts sport luxury amenities such as golf courses, spas and watersports like diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing and fishing.

The one drawback to a holiday in Mauritius is the long flight time for British and American visitors. This is a shame because those who do brave the gruelling trip will be richly rewarded by one of the world's true island paradises, a place that somehow manages to be both comfortable and exotic, luxurious and pleasantly 'off the beaten track'.

Best time to visit Mauritius

The climate in Mauritius is hot and tropical, tempered by cooling trade winds. Winters are warm and dry and summers are hot and humid, but the merciful sea breezes keep things from ever getting too unbearable. Mauritius can be visited at any time of year, though bear in mind that it rains heavily from January to March and that this is also cyclone season. The peak tourist season in Mauritius is from October to April, so if you're planning on visiting during this period be sure to book accommodation well in advance. Read more about Mauritius Climate and Weather.

What to see in Mauritius

-The Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve is a premier eco-tourism site, offering guided jungle tours of an island rich in endemic fauna and flora.

-The small town of Moka is the academic centre of Mauritius, and home to the Indian Folk Museum and a gracious manor house that offers interesting tours.

-Relax on Mauritius' legendary beaches, including Flic en Flac, Grand Baie (great for watersports), and Trou-aux-Biches (for diving and snorkelling).

-A visit to Grand Bay, the centre of tourist activity in Mauritius, is a must for visitors to the island. Read more about Mauritius Attractions.

What to do in Mauritius

-Get involved in some watersports such as surfing, sailing, fishing, diving or parasailing.

-Search the nooks and crannies of the open-air Flacq Market for great bargains and souvenirs.

-Take a jungle hike to a refreshing waterfall in Black River Gorges National Park. Read more about Mauritius Activities.

Getting to Mauritius

Mauritius is perceived to be practically unreachable for British and American tourists, though in reality this is not the case. Direct cheap flights to Mauritius are available from a number of UK airports, with the flight taking a manageable 10 hours. American tourists will have to book a connecting flight, meaning they might be in transit for a full 24 hours. Get more information on Mauritius Airports.

Read

Georges by Alexandre Dumas and The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian.

Watch

Ready (2011)

Eat

Creole rougailles, spicy biryanis or tandoori curry dishes are common mains, with gateaux or traditional Indian sweets for dessert.

Drink

Cane rum, Mauritius' main alcoholic product, which is delicious with coconut water and a dash of lime.

What to buy

Carved wooden figurines, home-made jewellery, perfumes made from essential oils, hand-woven rattan bags and local spices all make great souvenirs.

What to pack

Make sure you have a small backpack with you to take on day excursions, and always carry plenty of bottled water around. Pack sturdy shoes to protect your feet on some beaches, as there is a threat of sharp coral and stonefish stings.

What's on in Mauritius

The Festival International Kreol (November/December) is a celebration of Creole culture held in various venues across the island: poetry readings, Sega dancing, music performances, art exhibitions and epic parties characterise this jubilant event. Mauritius celebrates its Independence Day on March 12, prompting impressive firework displays and wild parties in the capital of Port Louis.

Did you know?

-The dodo, the famous flightless bird, was native to Mauritius until it was hunted to extinction by European settlers.

-Mauritius is the most densely populated country in Africa.

A final word

An enticing and exotic destination, Mauritius is a great choice for an island getaway packed with brilliant sunshine, beautiful beaches and unbeatable outdoor activities.

mauritius_map

The Basics

Time

local time is GMT +4.

Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs and round two-pin plugs are commonly used.

Language

English is the official language of Mauritius, but the most widely used language is French and the local dialect, Creole. Hindi, Urdu and Chinese are also spoken.

Travel Health

No vaccination certificates are required for entry into Mauritius, unless travelling from a country infected by yellow fever or where yellow fever is classified as endemic. Vaccinations are usually recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. It's also a good idea to pack shoes that can be worn in the sea to protect against sharp coral, sea urchins and stonefish. Stonefish stings are uncommon but can in some cases be fatal. You should obtain urgent medical attention if stung; many hotels stock anti-venom serum. Visitors should take precautions against mosquito bites, as there have been several cases of the Chikungunya virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, although this is more common from October to May. Malaria medication may also be necessary, if visiting rural areas. Travellers should stick to bottled water. Medical facilities are good and free in public hospitals, but private clinics are expensive and medical insurance is recommended.

Medications are usually easily available, but for peace of mind it is better to take any prescription medication with you, in its original packaging, with a signed and dated note from your doctor detailing what it is and why you need it. Note that visitors can bring common medicines for personal use but must carry a copy of the prescription and proof that the drugs have been obtained legally. Other drugs like tranquillisers, hypnotics, narcotics and other strong pain killers will require prior authorisation.

Tipping

Tipping in Mauritius is discretionary. However, some extra money paid for services, such as a taxi ride, waitering or cleaning, is appreciated. In the hotels travellers can add around five percent of their incidental expenses when paying the bill on departure, if service has been good. Government tax is added to all hotel and restaurant bills and this is included in the basic price. However, all incidental hotel expenses will incur tax, which is generally included in the price quoted.

Safety Information

A holiday in Mauritius is usually trouble free; however, petty crime can be a problem and it is not wise to wander alone at night outside the grounds of hotels. Visitors should be aware of pick pocketing in the central market in Port Louis. Care should be taken of bags and valuables when visiting popular tourist areas such as Pereybere, Grand Baie, Flic en Flac and Tamarin. There has been an increase in break-ins in self-catering accommodation and visitors are advised to only rent accommodation from registered proprietors. Cyclone season is from November to May.

Local Customs

Homosexuality is not technically illegal in Mauritius, but sodomy is and it is best to exercise discretion as the locals are sometimes conservative. Penalties for drug trafficking and use are severe, and any personal medicinal drugs should be covered by a prescription. Scheduled drugs, such as tranquillisers, morphine and other strong painkillers require by law authorisation before import.

Business

Port Louis is the main business hub of Mauritius. Standard business practice applies to the island: punctuality and politeness is important, handshakes and the exchanging of business cards takes place at meetings, and business attire is worn. It is, however, possible to be somewhat more casual in terms of dress and visitors can take the cue from their hosts. Lightweight materials are recommended due to the tropical climate. Business hours vary, but most businesses are open at least from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, with some businesses open for a half-day on Saturdays.

Communications

The international access code for Mauritius is +230. The whole island is covered by the mobile network; the local mobile phone operators use GSM and 3G networks, which are compatible with most international operators. Handsets and SIM cards can be hired at the airport. Internet cafes are widely available.

Duty Free

Travellers to Mauritius over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 1 litre spirits and 2 litres of wine, ale or beer; perfume and eau de toilette for personal use. Prohibited items include sugarcane and fresh fruit from parts of Asia. No dogs or cats from a 62-mile (100km) radius where rabies has occurred in the past 12 months are allowed into the country.

Visa Info

Entry requirements for Americans

US citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required, for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for UK nationals

British citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required for holders of British passports (irrespective of the endorsement regarding their national stuatus contained therein), for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Canada

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required, for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Australians

Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required, for stays of up to 90 days.

*Entry requirements for South Africans

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required, for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required, for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for the period of intended stay in Mauritius. No visa is required, for stays of up to 90 days.

Passport/Visa Note

All foreign passengers to Mauritius must hold (i) a confirmed booking for accommodation in Mauritius, (ii) return or onward tickets to their country of origin or residence, (iii) the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and (iv) sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country (a minumum of USD 100 per day). Note that the final decision to admit any passenger into Mauritius rests solely with the Immigration Authorities, and that any visitor who remains in Mauritius after expiry of the period granted on their visa or entry permit, shall be deemed to have committed an offence, and shall be liable for prosecution by a Court of Law. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Mauritius, if arriving within 10 days of leaving or transiting through an endemic area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.

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