Mauritius: Know Before You Go

Mauritius is a beautiful island with white sandy beaches and crystal blue water. Located off the coast of Madagascar, it was famously described as “paradise on Earth” by Mark Twain. When your plane start its descent into Mauritius, you are blinded by the light reflected off the placid lagoons.
I lived in Mauritius for the first 19 years of my life, which makes me very qualified to write about it.

Mont Choisy Beach, Mauritius

There are few things that you should know before going to this paradise island, such as,

1. Mauritians are very friendly

Mauritians are the friendliest and most hospitable people (I am not at all biased). They will happily give you directions and help, and will never let you leave their house without feeding you – even if you drop in unannounced.

2. Multi-cultural

Mauritius is a multi-cultural nation with Hindus, African Mauritian, Caucasian Mauritian and Chino Mauritian all living peacefully.
The population is predominantly Hindu and as such you can expect a lot of Hindu traditions.

3. Best time to go

The Best time to go to Mauritius is in Autumn (April to May) and Spring (Sept-November).
Mauritius is pretty temperate year round but it can get very hot in summer. You should also avoid the cyclone season which is between January and March.

4. Food

The food is a reflection of the multiculturalism of Mauritius and it is one of things that I miss the most about Mauritius.

Street food is big in Mauritius, less so in the capital, where the government has imposed a ban. You will often see motorcycles with boxes on the back, containing all sorts of tropical fruit (pineapple with salt and chili), pickled olives, or my favourite, dholl puri (split-pea flatbread with vegetable or bean curry and pickles). Don’t be afraid to eat on the street or the small shops, if in doubt, just go where the queues are.

Umbrellas at Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis, Mauritius

5. Currency

The currency in Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee (MUR). I will not advise exchanging your money at the lesser/street exchange booths. You are just asking for trouble and might potentially get fake bills. The best place to obtain Rupees is from ATMs.

6. Language

There are over 10 languages spoken in Mauritius with the main three being Creole, French and English. Mauritians are more fluent and predisposed to French than English.

They will however understand all three including some oriental languages such as Hindi. Interestingly, all education in Mauritius is conducted in English.

7. Religion

The majority of the population is Hindu but there are various religions and traditions observed in Mauritius.
If you are there at the right time of the year, make sure to check the Cavadee or Mahashrivati festival. Thousands of people walk long distances carrying heavy statues on their shoulders to pay respect to their deities.
It is a very powerful moment and you will not regret taking part in it. Just make sure to wear the appropriate clothes and do not wear shoes while walking in the procession.

8. Beaches

Mauritius has some of the best beaches in the world. See my best sightseeing guide for more advice on where to find the best beaches.

Poolside at the Outrigger Resort, Mauritius

9. Mauritius is not cheap

Considering that 95% of goods are imported, Mauritius is not a cheap destination.
Being such a popular tourist destination, prices are comparable to places like Australia or Paris. It is however considerably cheaper than somewhere like the Maldives.

10. Getting around

The only form of Public Transport are buses. My advice is to skip them; they are rickety, never on time and very hard to figure out unless you are with a local.

My advice would be to hire a car as it is cheaper than taxis (which can be quite expensive). Just make sure to bring an international license. Mauritius drives on the left, like the UK and Australia. The roads can be quite narrow in towns and villages, with people parking haphazardly. The highways are large and well looked after, but can be treacherous when dark and/or raining. Often there are very few street lights and finding house numbers can be a challenge! However, stopping and asking a local will help you in the right direction. As I said before, Mauritians are more than happy to help. Parking is usually not an issue except in the centre of Port Louis.

Maconde lookout, Mauritius

11. Sim Card

Orange is the biggest network provider and SIM cards can be purchased at the airport. You can purchase scratch-off recharge vouchers at many of the local tabacs (small shops). The basic sim package costs 100MUR and includes calls, data and texts.

Remember to bring your passport when buying as they will require identification.

12. Safety

Mauritius is generally quite safe but as any other places there are trouble spots and you should avoid walking at night especially in deserted spots.  Also, something that surprised Scott was the large number of stray (or semi-stray) dogs, which can be an issue if you are walking at night.

13. Dodos

The famous dodos were endemic to Mauritius. Having never had to defend themselves from predators, given that Mauritius had none, they were very slow and hence got captured and eaten.

 

I hope that you found these tips useful.  Have you ever been to Mauritius?  Let me know your tips in the comments below.

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