Mauritius holidays

Experience Mauritius

Best Places to Visit

For such a small place, Mauritius holidays pack it all in. In particular, Port Louis in the north-west of the island is a must-visit spot. With mountains on one side and a stunning bay on the other, it's a truly beautiful city. Built in 1835, it's one of only two colonial cities on the island. Fort Adelaide, for example, has notably great views across the city and out across the bay.

Port Louis is also a fantastic place to shop and pick up souvenirs, with the Central Market one of the most popular. Here, tourists can pick up local crafts and clothes alongside fresh fruit and vegetables. Central Market is also a great place to grab a bite to eat or enjoy a few drinks, such as the locally distilled rum. The best way to see all of the historic buildings in Port Louis, including its cathedral and mosques, is to simply go for a wander and get lost.

Champs de Mars Racecourse, just outside the capital, is a Mecca for horse racing enthusiasts. The racecourse was built in 1812 and the racing season lasts from late March to early December, with races held most weekends. The whole community gets involved, producing a real party atmosphere.

For Mauritius holidays by the seaside, it has to be Grand Bay. Grand by name and grand by nature, this small fishing village on the north coast is now the most famous seaside resort on the island. This is most likely thanks to the emerald green lagoon here, near to which many luxurious hotels sit. There is no end of restaurants, bars and shops for tourists, along with practical things like doctors and pharmacies. There are water sports including scuba diving available, with plenty of coral reefs to explore.

Souillac is located on the southernmost tip of the island and has a ruggedly beautiful quality. Once a fishing village, it is now more famous for its natural wonders, which include the Gris-Gris, the magnificent Rochester Falls and the ever-popular Telfair Garden.

To the south-east, visitors can find Mauritius' old colonial capital, Mahébourg. In spite of being well known for its lagoon, it is also the town closest to Mauritius' only airport. With a unique mix of Creole and colonial architecture, Mahébourg is a quaint, picturesque town, which seems to suddenly come to life on Monday market days and festivals.

Top Landmarks

With its diverse culture and stunning geographical sites, holidays to Mauritius offer something for everyone. Le Chateau de Labourdonnais is a tourism hybrid; it's a museum, a garden and a restaurant, and even has its own distillery. Built on a property that was originally an old concession obtained in 1777 by two young orphans, the building is weathered but has been expertly restored over the last few years.

For those wanting to get some exercise, Le Morne Brabant peninsula is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Along with many hiking trails and clear lagoons, this site is also home to some of the rarest plant species in the world. Here, hikers and tourists alike can get an amazing view right across the crystal clear seas.

Another stunning site is Black River Gorges National Park. Proclaimed on June 15, 1994, this park is a great place to see some wildlife. Although the dodo, originally found in Mauritius, is long gone, there are kestrel and parakeets, along with rusa deer and the Mauritian flying fox.

For those more interested in hunting wildlife as opposed to spotting it, Domaine des Grand Bois in the Anse Jonchee Hills has a hunting ground of around 900 hectares. Hunting parties can track down stags and boar here. There are also bungalows available to hire, and most have stunning sea views.

Mauritius has a stunning coastline, but there are also two natural lakes. Ganga Talao is a pilgrimage site for Hindu Mauritians during certain festivals. There are giant eels in the lake, which rests in the crater of a now extinct volcano.

Entertainment

There's plenty of nightlife in Mauritius, and the best way to experience it is to visit Grand Bay. Here, there is no end of nightclubs and bars, and most are open until the early hours.

There are cinemas in the major towns; however, the majority of the films screened are dubbed in French. English films are occasionally shown, but it is best to check locally before heading to the cinema.

Gambling is popular on the island and there are several casinos in the big cities, such as Port Louis, with many hotels having their own gaming rooms. City Casino in Port Louis is the liveliest place to head after midnight. Its ship-shaped design makes it stand out, and there's all the games expected of a high-end casino, such as slot machines and roulette.

Horse racing is also popular, and Champ de Mars Racecourse just outside Port Louis is the place to experience it. The weekend thoroughbred races held here from late March to early December are a thrilling experience for first-timers and racing enthusiasts alike.

Thanks to the diverse cultures on the island, there's a huge amount of festivals and celebrations to enjoy. Along with Chinese New Year and the Diwali Festival, there's the Holi Festival. Held in March, this Indian festival is a riot of colours and fire shows, as the Hindu population splash festival-goers with coloured powders and waters. It’s hard to dodge the flying water or the infectious party atmosphere across the island at this time.

Dining Out

Thanks to the wide variety of cultures, the cuisine in Mauritius is a real mix, with influences from Chinese and Creole to Indian and British cooking. There are also strong French influences, so traditional French meals such as coq au vin (chicken cooked with wine) and bouillon (meat and vegetable broth) can be found throughout the island.

A staple of the cuisine is spice, so for those visitors who aren't keen on spicy foods, it's best to state this at every restaurant. The main tourist spots offer Italian food such as pizza and pasta, and thanks to British influence, afternoon tea is very common.

A traditional dish of the island is Creole curry. It can be made with fish, chicken or beef, but is always served with white rice and extremely spicy!

Many Chinese cuisines are available, such as beef and black beans or fried rice, but as Mauritius is an island, the seafood is a must-try.

If visitors are just after a quick bite, the street stalls are fast and cheap. An everyday meal is dholl puri with roti, which is a pancake served with a hot bean curry, along with tomato chutney and plenty of chillies. Whatever your food preference, package holidays to Mauritius cater for all tastes.

Beach

The whole island boasts amazing beaches, all with crystal clear waters. Many beaches, such as Grand Bay, have been developed along with hotels and bars. But the likes of Mont Choisy, a stunning stretch of white sand in the north, and Péreybére, a small cove slightly further north of Mont Choisy, are where visitors can find some of the best spots on holidays to Mauritius.

Romance

Ile aux Cerfs is the epitome of paradise. This tiny island is truly stunning and little developed. Boats go from the village of Trou d'Eau Douce in the east of the island daily and tourists can take their own supplies, so why not pack up a picnic and spend time on the beach watching the sun go down? Catamaran cruises also depart from Blue Bay. Boat tours are available from the island too, with onboard seafood barbeques a nice touch.

Family

Take the kids on a dolphin-watching trip on one of the many speedboat trips available on the west coast of the island. There are many species of dolphins here throughout the year, and the beaches along this coast offer many other family centered water activities such as fishing and glass-bottom boat trips, so the family can enjoy the sights of the deep blue sea without even getting wet! Package holidays to Mauritius are sure to keep the whole family entertained.

Adventure

For adventure, it has to be Yemen Nature Reserve Park. Quad biking through the park is a real experience, and along the way visitors can spot zebra, deer and antelope. Mauritius is also an amazing place to scuba dive. There is coral and wildlife along every coast but the most popular dive sites are around Flic-en-Flac on the west coast.

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Need to know

Language

There is a mix of languages spoken on the island, including Indian, Chinese and some African languages. However, the main languages spoken are Mauritian Creole, English and French. Mauritius, formerly a British colony, has kept English as its official language, although French is more widely spoken. French tends to be used in business and publications, like newspapers. Mauritian TV channels tend to broadcast in both English and Hindi. While it's not necessary to buy a phrasebook, a basic knowledge of French can surprise and delight the locals.

Currency

The official currency of Mauritius is the Mauritian rupee (Rp). The rupee is divided into 100 cents and cash is the most widely accepted form of payment. If tourists find themselves out of cash, there are ATMs across the island which accept major credit cards. They can be found in banks and some supermarkets and shopping centres. Services in the main tourist towns accept credit cards, although most charge a small fee for this service. Outside of the main tourist locations, cash is king. US dollars, pounds sterling and euros can easily be exchanged at bureau de change and banks, while travellers' cheques are easy to cash at banks. As a rule of thumb, Mauritius' exchange rates are alarmingly low and money-minded visitors might be best advised to change up their currency at home, before travelling.

Visas

UK citizens, along with citizens of many other Western countries, do not require a visa to enter Mauritius. Visitors are granted a 60 day stay on arrival and need to be able to provide evidence of onward or return travel. Check with your embassy to find out individual visa requirements.

Climate

Mauritius enjoys a mild, tropical climate throughout the year, but the weather here can also be split into two distinctive halves. Summers are gloriously warm and humid, while winters are cool and dry. Travellers will be pleased to know that the average summer temperature comes in at around 24.7°C, leaving plenty of opportunity for sunbathing and sightseeing.

Main Airports

The major international airport in Mauritius is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. The airport is the main base for the country's national airline. There's also Sir Gaëtan Duval Airport on the offshore island of Rodrigues, a one and half hour flight from Port Louis.

Flight Options

A whole host of airline carriers fly direct to Mauritius from London. Flights are also available from Manchester and Newcastle. Paris has many flights, so in some instances it may actually be cheaper to fly to Charles de Gaulle Airport and then take a connecting flight to Mauritius. The average direct flight time from London is around 11 hours, 45 minutes.

Travel Advice

Flying to Paris and then on to Mauritius may be able to save you money. Multiple flights run throughout the week. Prices for both flights and hotels sky rocket in high season, around December especially. Booking early or visiting in May is advisable, when many tourist places are still open but the crowds thin as the weather is hot and humid.

Other Transport Options

It's possible to enter Mauritius via sea. Although it is mostly cargo ships that dock at Port Louis, a number of cruise ships have started including Mauritius in their Indian Ocean routes. It's also possible to travel from Tamatave in Madagascar to Mauritius by boat, which takes several days, although there are only a few scheduled services a month.

Getting Around

There is only one domestic air route in Mauritius, between Rodrigues and SSR Airport. Rodrigues is a 400-mile flight from the country's main airport. It is, however, possible to arrange transfers by helicopter via Air Mauritius Helicopter.

Bus

For those wanting to save money, the bus is a great option. Express buses are by far the quickest and some have air conditioning. All services are operated by the National Transport Authority so are of a similar standard.

Air

With only one airport on the main island, domestic air travel is not available here. Yet domestic flights connect the offshore island of Rodrigues with SSR Airport. There's no end to taxis, both in and out of the capital city, but meters are uncommon so tourists should agree a price before the journey. Car hire is also extremely popular.

Car

Travelling by car is without a doubt the quickest way to get around. Hire prices are reasonable and for those visitors wanting to hire for longer than a week, there are discounts available. The roads are varied; the main motorway is well maintained but some of the minor roads are in poor condition. Roads criss-cross the island and it's easy to get to even the most obscure locations by car. It's advisable to drive with caution as Mauritian drivers tend to have a relaxed attitude to the rules of the road.

MAP

MAURITIUS`S WEATHER TODAY

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Sugar cane occupies 85 per cent of the arable land in Mauritius and is the main source of industry.
  2. Mauritius is the most densely populated country on the African continent.
  3. Mark Twain said "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then Heaven, and that Heaven was copied after Mauritius".
  4. The Dodo, although long-extinct, is Mauritius' national animal.
  5. The coral reefs that surround Mauritius act as a barrier to jellyfish and sharks.
  6. More than 40 per cent of the island's population lives in the capital city, Port Louis

FACTS

  1. Sugar cane occupies 85 per cent of the arable land in Mauritius and is the main source of industry.
  2. Mauritius is the most densely populated country on the African continent.
  3. Mark Twain said "You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first, and then Heaven, and that Heaven was copied after Mauritius".
  4. The Dodo, although long-extinct, is Mauritius' national animal.
  5. The coral reefs that surround Mauritius act as a barrier to jellyfish and sharks.
  6. More than 40 per cent of the island's population lives in the capital city, Port Louis

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