The island paradise to end all island paradises, there’s an indefinable magic about Mauritius. From its tropical, coral reef-laden waters to its lush green interior and numerous exclusive resorts, Mauritius is in a world of its own, one that’s more beautiful, peaceful and restful than other mere mortal destinations. Here are some things to note before your stay.
You can fly direct from the UK to Mauritius in around 12 hours. Choose a night flight and just as soon as you’re closing your eyes to catch up on beauty sleep you’ll be touching down on the white sands of the island.
Mauritians drive on the left, a welcome fact when arriving from the UK with the intention of hiring a car. The density of traffic during rush hour on major roads is rather surprising to first-timers who expect a more serene environment, but rural and coastal routes are often deserted during the week. Road conditions are generally great too, with good signage and occasional police checks (make sure your always have your documentation to hand).
There is very little crime in Mauritius; although pickpockets do operate, their numbers are few and the vast majority of Mauritians are honest, warm and welcoming in nature and do not encourage risk taking. Nevertheless, it’s sensible to remain vigilant when visiting markets or anywhere with heavy foot traffic. Avoid walking at night in poorly-lit areas or on the beaches, especially in Port Louis.
The Mauritian currency is the rupee, there are ATMs dotted about everywhere and various banks where you can exchange money. Hotels will often also exchange money, with the usual commission. US dollars are also widely accepted and many travellers keep small dollar bills handy for tipping. All hotels and most restaurants and shops accept credit cards. Haggling is practically mandatory in Mauritius. Most traders can spot a tourist a mile away and increase prices accordingly, so don’t be shy to enter into a light-hearted verbal sparring match with a market stall holder or street seller.
Talking of money, tipping is common and the guides and drivers, while well paid by us, will expect a monetary form of thanks at the end of their service. At restaurants, it’s customary for 5% of the bill to be left, while in hotels, maids and porters will expect one or two US dollars. You can negotiate with taxi drivers who are unmetered – before taking your journey agree on the price to avoid any unwanted surprises.
Mauritius is a pantheon of gods with a fantastic array of temples, pagodas, mosques and churches. Before entering, ensure you take off shoes. Shorts and miniskirts are a no-no and shoulders must be covered. Beaches are often teeming with Mauritian families enjoying family barbecues on weekends and there is no nudism or topless sunbathing on beaches.
If your holiday includes internal flights, it’s helpful to know there’s a maximum baggage allowance per person of 15kg, so pack light and go easy on the souvenirs between destinations. After all, the most valuable thing you’ll bring in are memories.
Mauritius is a treasure trove of beautiful sights and experiences just waiting to be dived into. Head this way on holiday and every other trip you take, past and present, will pale in comparison.