A guide to Mauritius for those looking for a different kind of travel experience…
For 3 weeks we stayed on this island. We spent one week in the small beach town of Flic en Flac and then we rented an apartment for two weeks in the smaller beach town of Trou aux Biches, towards the north.
This marked the fourth Indian Ocean destination we’ve visited since the end of last year. And each one – Maldives, Zanzibar, Seychelles and Mauritius – certainly had its own unique flavor.
The impressive Maldives is the kind of place you go to be ‘wowed’, exotic Zanzibar is where you go for a more ‘raw’ tropical island experience, the mind-blowing Seychelles is where you find ‘indescribable paradise’ and Mauritius…
That’s where you go to chill for a bit in a completely beautiful natural setting. It’s a great destination for a laid-back, extended holiday where you can relax in a tropical, hassle-free location or as an ideal place to stop moving around for a while and catch up on your online work (which is why we came here).
Mauritius is definitely the most livable of the Indian Ocean destinations we’ve visited, with 1.3 million people on an island 2000 sq kilometers in size and with plenty of small towns, big towns and even a city (Port Louis) to enjoy.
It’s also the most affordable, which is why we chose it for our ‘catch up on work, three week stay’.
Let me break it down with this short guide to Mauritius…
Okay, I’m sorry Mauritius, but your beaches are nowhere near as gorgeous as those in the Seychelles. With that said, most of your beaches are nice for sure and the beach at Trou aux Biches was definitely stunning, with it’s attractive water, long stretch of while sand flanked by palm trees and holiday villas and only a scattering of people most of the time. This was our favorite beach by far. It also offered one of the most surreal collections of daily sunsets I’ve ever seen.
There are beaches everywhere in Mauritius, so as you drive around the coast, you can stop in every town and check out their public beach if you wanted to. You’re bound to find your own favorite beach before long!
On Sundays, especially in Flac en Flac, the beaches become mini-parties as large and small groups of family and friends hang out wherever they can find space, with music, dancing and barbecues creating a most lively and festive scene.
We hired a car twice, covering two weekends. And in four days, we managed to drive to every corner of the island, easily. From the very north to the very south, you’re looking at a 1.5 hour trip so in one day, you can really see a great deal.
Le Morne – a rocky mountain peninsula that’s a protected UNESCO site, and the location of an excellent hike that takes you to the top; stop halfway up (before you pass the green fence), head two minutes down the path away from the mountain and you will be treated with one of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll see anywhere in the world; the parking lot and start of the path is easy to find and there’s no entrance fee
Chamarel – this town in the south of the country is home to a few highlights, including the unique and picturesque 7 Couloured Earths, a natural area that has 7 different colors of sand that somehow don’t mix and also don’t erode
There’s also the impressive Chamarel waterfall and the Rhumerie de Chamarel (Rum Factory) where 370 MUR (about $11 USD) gets you a short tour and a taste of 9 different rums.
Black River Gorges National Park – this area is full of hiking opportunities and is even worth a drive through if you don’t have time for a hike; on Sundays the road is very crowded but you can also pull over and join the locals picking wild berries all over the place; no entrance fee to enter the park
Bois de Cheri Tea Factory – a most stunningly situated location where you can try about 10 different types of locally made tea while sitting on a balcony starting out over the tea plantations; the tea was okay but it was worth it just for the view
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden – having found this place while searching the travel photo website Trover (which I used as my guide to Mauritius), we loved these gardens; you could easily spend a couple of hours in here wandering the paths and checking out the various sections, all loaded with trees, plants, lakes and more, creating a serene and enjoyable escape from the heat; entrance costs 200 MUR ($6 USD) per person
Port Louis – the capital city and most bustling location on the island was worth a visit; from the harbor area to the Central Market full of all kinds of local foods to the busy streets offering a glimpse into the non-beachy side of the country, a day here will either be a welcome change or too much to handle if you’re get too used to the laid-back beach towns!
You can get around the island by local bus but if you really want to see the highlights and explore as many interior and coastal regions as you can, renting a car is the way to go. While the roads are very narrow and sometimes it seems like you’re spending your entire day entering and exiting roundabouts, it’s still an easy country to drive around, the signage is great and it’s pretty hard to get lost on such a small island.
Renting a car cost us 25 Euros per day, insurance included, from local car rental agencies in the towns we visited. It was hassle-free both times. For about 800 Mauritian rupees ($23 USD) at the petrol station, we had enough fuel to drive all over the island for 2-3 days.
In Flic en Flac, we stayed at Villa Osumare, a great guesthouse with large rooms in a tropical setting, only 5 minutes from the beach and center of town, for around 40 Euros per night. It was quiet, friendly and there’s an adorable group of puppies across the street that will add a smile to your face every time you come and go (trust me, we spent hours playing with and feeding these puppies!).
For our 2 week stay in Trou aux Biches, we rented an apartment at Villa Alexis. For around $50 per night, we had a modern 2 bedroom place with comfortable beds, a small living room, nice kitchen, washing machine, huge balcony and good internet. It was also a 1 minute walk from the beach and supermarket and 5 minutes from a handful of good restaurants.
When compared to the Seychelles, which can still be done on a budget, the country of Mauritius is indeed cheaper. Good accommodation near the beach, as you see above, can be found for 40 – 50 Euros per night, maybe even less for a simpler room or apartment. Meals at normal restaurants can be had for as little as $12 USD for 2 people and for $16 USD or so, you can throw in drinks and a starter.
Also, most of the activities either don’t cost any money at all or have only a very modest entrance fee. We pretty much only spent money on accommodation, food and the rental car.
We went to the supermarket and the local fruit and vegetable stand where a total of $7 or $8 USD would get us enough stuff for a few breakfasts and a couple of lunches at our apartment.
You could easily spend a month in Mauritius for $1000 per person, which is not bad for a tropical island nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean!
Given that my itinerary probably isn’t the one you’re going to take to get to/from Mauritius, I can’t say too much about flight prices. We flew from Seychelles to Mauritius and then from Mauritius to Tunisia and all of that cost about $700 USD. What I did notice is that Eurowings Airlines (which is what we flew from Mauritius to Cologne, Germany and then to Tunisia), offered the cheapest airfares by far to/from Europe. We paid a mere $434 per person from Mauritius to Tunisia, which involved a total of 15 hours of flight time.
Other airlines that fly to Mauritius include Condor, Emirates, Turkish, Singapore, South African and Air India.
One morning, my girlfriend was on her way to the beach when she saw a man abandoning, and then kicking, a tiny puppy on the side of the road. She went over and saved the puppy and brought her back to our apartment, where we spent the morning taking care of her. If we had a home and weren’t traveling full time, without a doubt we would have adopted her. But since that wasn’t an option, we drove across the island to the PAWS location in Union Vale (Protection of Animal Welfare Society) and asked them to take her in. Despite being full, the kind staff eventually agreed.
On our final day in Mauritius, we went back to Union Vale to visit our sweet friend and we were very happy to see that Chocolat (that’s what the staff had named her – French version) was looking so happy herself, and perfectly healthy. We were able to play around with her for an hour before we had to say goodbye.
If you happen to know anyone in or out of Mauritius looking to adopt a little puppy, the calm, curious and beautiful Chocolat is waiting for a home at PAWS! And if you visit Mauritius and love animals, you can always stop by PAWS and spend some time with the animals they are taking care.
That’s my short guide to Mauritius. If you have any questions about the island, please let me know in the comments or by email and I’d be happy to answer!
Is Mauritius on your list of places to visit? Have you been to Mauritius?