My favorite 27 Things To Do in Mauritius - Understand
Mauritius can be summed up as being the "Hawaii" of Europe (or Africa). It's of a volcano origin with green, hilly interiors and many sandy beaches at about 20 degrees latitude.
Mauritius is located about 3.5 hours off the coast off Eastern Africa and it spent almost equal time as both a French and a British colony. Mauritius has since become a fascinating mix of French, British, Indian, and African culture. The country feels distinctly developed and it manages to build wealth without the racial strife that is often visible in Africa. Mauritius is known for its beaches and while some of them can be rocky, they usually do not disappoint.
Northwest Mauritius resembles the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera) closely enough that you will likely have to remind yourself that you are not in France several times a day.
Mauritius has the highest population density of any African country, but the island is about 40 miles by 40 miles and feels much bigger than that, although the mountainous interior isn't lending itself well to settlement.
Creole is the de-facto language, but almost everyone is fluent in French and English as well.
Mauritius is a good value, certainly better than many African countries or other islands like Seychelles. Expect prices outside the resorts to resemble something more like what you'd see in a small, French town.
While it is certainly a tourism hotspot, the island does not feel like that. The resorts often fit into the landscape beautifully.
Tourists buses and crowds haven't overtaken the local feel. I find that lovely.
My favorite 27 Things To Do in Mauritius - Connectivity
While it is possible to get fast Internet (10Mbit or better) in Mauritius, it takes considerable energy to do so. T-Mobile SimpleChoice includes Mauritius in its plan, and local SIM cards are cheap and easy to buy (there is LTE nationwide). However, the "backbone" Internet speed is often very slow, especially during the evening times as the country suffers from poor--quality Internet cables. Download and Upload speeds were typically around 1 Mbit, but a few locations had 50 Mbit at all times (and likely a very different ISP).
My favorite 27 Things To Do in Mauritius - Get Around
Mauritius is a big suburb without a distinct center. There are plenty of taxis (usually very modern cars) and prices are reasonable at about $50 per hour. Most roads in Mauritius are paved well but are VERY narrow. The local drivers are EXTREMELY aggressive. They drive around blind corners without thinking about the risk of getting into an accident.
Renting a vehicle is a good option if you can deal with driving a tiny car with a manual gearshift. You'd also have to drive on the left side, cruise over hilly terrain, and deal with uber-aggressive drivers. Most rental car companies at the airport rent out cars for $30-$50 per day and seem rather honest (I used OLA Car Rental
which worked out just fine.)
Uber is rumored to be starting service on the island soon. This would be a boon to tourists, especially for airport transfers.
There is a decent public bus service, but it uses old and somewhat nostalgic buses. It's a slower option, but it is a good, safe, and somewhat clean alternative if you have time.
My favorite 27 Things To Do in Mauritius - Safety
Mauritius is likely the safest country in Africa, bearing minimal levels of violent crime and property theft. Still, it is a bad idea to leave valuables in a car, especially at night. But again, that is a terrible idea in places like San Francisco too. The biggest danger stems from the aggressive drivers who ignore any posted speed limits and don't use common sense. Sidewalks are usually nonexistent so you usually share the same narrow roads with vehicles, often speeding at 80mph through a village.
My favorite 27 Things To Do in Mauritius - See
Most people head straight for their resort and stay there most of the time. Although there is nothing wrong with that, it's definitely a great idea to head out and see the beauty of the island and the well-protected beaches. There are public beaches all over the island. Generally, you can use any hotel beach, as long as you can reach it. There is no dedicated public beach access anywhere, but once you are at a beach, you are free to use it.
Flic en Flac Beach
My favorite beaches are on the southwest side of the island, namely the wonderful Flic en Flac that is calm and pretty with white sand and clear water.
Le Morne Public Beach
Further south, you can find Le Morne, which is equally pretty and has a huge rocky backdrop from the high hills right behind it.
Mont Choisy Beach
If you are staying in the Grand Baie, this is s decent beach, but it is often overcrowded and not as clean as others. There is no reason to come here if you can go to Flic en Flac.
Cap Malhereux Beach
This is technically called a beach, but it's more like a small port area where you can hang out and get a tan. It gets busy here though!
Balaclava Public Beach
Balaclava Public Beach is right in between Westin Turtle Bay, Intercontinental Mauritius, Oberoi Mauritius, and the Le Meridien. It has a great vibe to it and it offers fantastic sunset views. This was one of my favorite 'low-key beaches' on the island.
Grand Baie Beach
Grand Baie Beach is likely the busiest beach on the island. It's not particularly attractive, but it gets a lot of upscale boat traffic and there are many restaurants. There is often a live DJ that "pumps" out techno beats as well. This beach is more like a busy Mediterranean island in the summertime than it is a relaxing oasis.
Poste Lafayette Public Beach
Poste Lafayette Beach has a huge, protected bay with warm, clear water. There are good snorkeling opportunities and plenty of sharp corals at low tide (be careful!)
Watch the sunsets
The huge, western coastline has stunning sunsets and it is a "crime" to not watch those every day.
Mauritius has a decent amount of malls (like La Croisette
) that are usually not too crowded. The stores are often European and US chains though.
Black River Gorges National Park
Even a tiny island like Mauritius can have a national park. Black River Gorges features lots of bamboo forests and lovely waterfalls. The last time I was there, I got seriously lost with the bamboo forest that makes orientation impossible at times. Bring water and good maps, as well as a compass and some extra chargers for your phone.
The rugged south is likely the least developed area and it looks more 'African.' However, there are beautiful views to be had in the 'Savannah' region as well.
My favorite 27 Things To Do in Mauritius - Eat and Drink
As with France, food tends to be closer to the mean distribution. There are less positive and less negative surprises, typically. The French heritage is strong in Mauritius. You will find no shortage of Boulangeries/Patisseries and upscale restaurants. There is plenty of French food which tends to be expensive but good. Food isn't a quick and healthy affair but often a feast that takes a long time.
If you are fed up with that dough and butter and sugar, you can always get good Indian or Italian food on the island.
Ocean Basket (multiple locations)
This chain of high-end seafood has outlets in several African countries. If you have been to Europe, it's like their 'Nordsee 'brand - good seafood for a fair price.
Luigis is the brainchild of South African entrepreneurs and Italian chef Luigi churns out good pizza and Italian dishes in a setting that could be in Italy. There are a number of similar restaurants "dotted" around the north coast.
Zub Express is run by an uber-friendly and entrepreneurial Indian family. You can get Indian/Chinese/European food and can even rent cars here. Whatever you choose to eat, you won't be disappointed. The prices are very moderate and the location is right at the Flic en Flac beach - what a find!
Rajah is a typical Indian restaurant. I liked the curry but thought it had too much cream and sugar. It's not cheap, and you pay for the neighborhood it is in.
French hypermarkets are like a marriage between Costco/Whole Foods at much lower prices. If you have a place to cook, these hypermarkets will make you happy. I like the Super U at Grand Baie
the most, but the bigger towns in Mauritius all give you a choice.
Vida E Cafe
This South African coffee chain has set up shop in Mauritius in mostly mall locations. The espresso drinks are pretty good and the service is usually jolly. I liked the outlet at Le Croisset Mall the most - an airy yet cool setup with modern colors. The Internet is lightning fast and the atmosphere is hard to beat.
The breakfast offering isn't great at Vida e Cafe, so eat somewhere else if you can.
Les Caprices De Gervais - Quatre Borne
Despite its name, most people stop by here for the excellent food (many take it to go.) I had the seafood salad which was fantastic and cheap.
Le Fournil is like a typical neighborhood bakery that went upscale. You get the same fresh bakery items, but you also get fast Internet and ok coffee in a beautifully designed setting.
My favorite 27 Things To Do Mauritius
Although you will most likely love your own Mauritius resort, why not go explore a few others. Most welcome visitors (though you are not suppose to use any facilities.)
Westin Turtle Bay
The property looks beautiful, but I could not shake the feeling that it was very artificial.
Intercontinental Turtle Bay
The Intercontinental in Mauritius definitely looks
upscale. I liked the setup and this is one of the few places in Mauritius where you can swim in a man-made lagoon and avoid the rocky corals that usually hinder swimming. Parts of the resort look towards the Port Louis port - not ideal!
The Oberoi Mauritius easily wins the price for the most stunning landscape and architecture. It blends so well with the island that you can easily get confused when you are in India, Europe or Mauritius constantly. If you can afford it, give this place a try.
Radisson Blu Poste Lafayette Resort & Spa
The Radisson Blu Poste Lafayette is brand new and it reminded me of the Radisson Blu Dakar
since it is built into a cliff. It looks stunning and it feels small. The beach isn't great and it has some rough surf. Make sure you end up in the main building and NOT across the street which has boring forest views.
This place is enormous and feels just like an abandoned - weird Hawaiian vacation rental vibes here.