Mauritius

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Capital Port Louis
Currency Mauritian rupee (MUR)
Population 1,291,456 (2012 estimate)
Electricity 230V/50Hz (C or G plug)
Country code +230
Time zone MUT (UTC+4)

Mauritius (French: Maurice, Mauritian Creole: Moris) is an island nation in the Indian Ocean situated some 2,000 kilometres from the African continent. The country consists of the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega and Cargados Carajos. Mauritius is mostly appreciated by tourists for its natural beauty and man-made attractions, multi-ethnic and cultural diversity, tropical climate, beautiful beaches and water sports.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

The island of Mauritius was first discovered by Arab sailors, at some time in the 9th century, the exact date is unknown. At that time the island was uninhabited and covered in a dense forest. The Arab sailors were not interested in settling on the island which they named Dina Arobi or Dinarobin. Fernandez Pereira, a Portuguese sailor found the island in 1505 and decided to give it the name of Cerne. However, the Portuguese did not settle permanently on the island either.

The first to colonise the island were the Dutch. They took possession of the island in 1598. The Dutch settlers landed on a bay in the south-eastern part of the island which was named Warwyck Haven after the commander VanWarwyck, the bay is now known as Grand Port. Mauritius also got its name during this period; the island was named after the Prince of Holland Mauritz de Nassau.

In 1710, the Dutch abandoned the island, leaving behind macaques, the java deer, sugar cane, fugitive slaves and, also, an irreversible damage to the endemic and indigenous flora and fauna of the island - the Dodo was, by then, extinct due to extensive hunting, the bird being very easy to capture, while the once abundant black ebony tree population was almost completely depleted due to over-exploitation for its timber.

The French settled on the island in 1712, also landing at the bay in the south-east. They renamed the bay Port Bourbon and renamed the island Ile de France. They settled on the north-western side of the island and established their main harbour there, Port Louis, the present-day capital of Mauritius. During the French settlement there was a lot of development in the country. Mahé de Labourdonnais, whose statue can be seen across from the harbour in Port louis,is known as the founder of the capital city and the island prospered under his governance (1735-1746).

In August 1810, the British tried to take over the island but lost after a fierce battle against the French in the famous Battle of Grand Port - the only naval victory of the French over the British during the Napoleonic period. However, the British came back in December 1810 and successfully defeated the French. From then on, the island was renamed Mauritius and remained under British rule until it attained independence, though the British agreed to allow the locals to continue using the French language.

In 1835, slavery was officially abolished and, as most of the African slaves chose to abandon the agricultural fields and move to small coastal villages, indentured labourers (Coolies) were brought in from India to work in the growing sugar-cane industry.

On March 12, 1968 Mauritius became an independent nation within the Commonwealth. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam also known as the "Father of the Nation" led the island to independence and did a lot to develop the country but during his reign the country faced a lot of economic difficulties and political turmoil following postponing of elections for more than 9 years. On March 12, 1992, Mauritius became a republic under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Sir Aneerood Jugnauth.

A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has one of Africa's highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.

Climate[edit]

Tropical, modified by southeast trade winds; warm, dry winter (May to November); hot, wet, humid summer (November to May); Natural hazards : Tropical cyclones can occur between November and April, however are most likely from late December until March. Mauritius has only two seasons, winter and summer. Temperatures do not differ greatly over the seasons. The climate on the central plateau is cooler than on the coastal areas.

  • Hottest and driest part is the west coast
  • Windiest and wettest part is the East coast
  • December to February are the hottest months of the year
  • The driest month of the year is October
  • Coolest months are from June to August
  • Mauritius Weather - Actual weather report from the Mauritius region.

Regions[edit]

The island is divided into nine districts plus several independent minor islands.

Cities[edit]

Other destinations[edit]

Get in[edit]

Nationals of many countries, including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and most other OECD countries do not need a visa in advance. For more information, visit the Passport and Immigration Office website.

If you require a visa to enter Mauritius, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no diplomatic post of Mauritius. For example, the British embassies in Al Khobar [1], Amman [2], Belgrade [3], Guatemala City [4], Jakarta [5], Jeddah [6], Pristina [7], Rabat [8], Riyadh [9], Rome [10] and Sofia [11] accept Mauritius visa applications (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge GBP50 to process a Mauritius visa application and an extra GBP70 if the authorities in Mauritius require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in Mauritius can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.

By plane[edit]

Air Mauritius is the national carrier.

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (IATA: MRU; [12]; +230 603 6000) at Plaisance in the southeast of the island is the major gateway for travelers coming from abroad.

  • Air Mauritius is the home carrier and operates a network of routes to the local islands and to international destinations in Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.
  • Regional airlines:
  • Air Austral [13], Air Madagascar [14] and Air Seychelles [15] connect Mauritius with the surrounding islands.
  • International airlines such as Air France [16], Emirates [17], Austrian Airlines [18], British Airways [19], Condor [20], South African Airways [21], Air India [22], Meridiana [23], Kenya Airways [24], Egypt Air [25], Malaysia Airlines [26] and Corsairfly [27] all serve Mauritius from their home bases.

The arrivals hall can get rather congested in the morning when most of the flights from Europe arrive. Immigration officers tend to be rather slow and the whole immigration process can be a frustrating experience.

Visitors are required to provide accommodation details to the immigration service on arrival. If you arrive in Mauritius from a country where malaria is endemic, you may receive a visit from the government health service and be required to give a blood sample for malaria screening.

By sea[edit]

Vessels that arrive at the port are mainly cargo ships. The Mauritius Pride and the Trochetia are the Mauritian vessels that usually sail to and from Reunion Island, Rodrigues Island and Madagascar. Costa Cruises ships have recently started an Indian Ocean cruise including a visit to Mauritius.

As of April 2008, one way passage prices to travel from Tamatave in Madagascar to Mauritius by boat were €275 first class or €255 second class, compared to €212 to fly from Antananarivo on Air Madagascar. The journey takes at least four days, possibly more if transiting through Reunion. A boat leaves every other Wednesday.

The prices quoted are for a passage in a first or second class cabin. In attempting to go directly to the port in Tamatave to negotiate with a boat captain for a non-cabin berth, tourists are turned away at the gate. Visiting the Nautical Club in Tamatave to enquire about yachts that might be heading to Mauritius also yields no results.

Get around[edit]

Bus and taxi services are best used in urban areas. Bicycles and motorbikes are also available for hire.

By plane[edit]

  • Air Mauritius [28] operates daily flights connecting Plaisance Airport and Rodrigues (flight time - 1 hour 15 minutes).

By helicopter[edit]

Helicopters are available for transfers and sightseeing tours

By car[edit]

One major highway runs north to south, otherwise a good network of paved, if sometimes narrow, roads cover the island. Traffic drives on the left.

Numerous car hire firms include major international and independent firms. Prices vary widely starting from MUR800 per day. To be on the safe side, with full insurance, visitors should rent cars from companies holding a tourism enterprise license. These cars are identifiable by their yellow registration number plates, while private cars ( unsuitable for rent ) have black plates. If you hire a car at the airport keep in mind that you will need to pay a MUR20 charge when you are leaving the car park, and this has to be paid in cash.

Regulations: Drivers are required to be over 18 years old. Speed limits are 110kph (68mph) on the motorway and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas. Seatbelts are compulsory. Foreign licences are accepted.

The following chart gives approximate travel times (in hours and minutes) from Port Louis to other major cities/towns/resorts in Mauritius.

  • Curepipe 0:20
  • Grand Baie, North 0:30
  • Mahebourg, Southeast 0:45
  • Flic-en-Flac, West 0:30

By bus[edit]

Several fairly good bus services ply the island. Taking the bus is the most economical way of travelling. Air-conditioned buses have been recently introduced on some routes.

The major bus companies are:

  • National Transport Corporation (NTC),  +230 426 2938.
  • United Bus Service (UBS),  +230 212 2026.
  • Mauritius Bus Transport (MTB), Long mountain +230 245 2539.
  • Triolet Bus Service (TBS),  +230 261 6725.
  • Others. Other smaller companies have amusing names such as Apollo and Turbo.

Buses are still manned by a driver and a conductor who walks around collecting fares and issuing tickets after passengers have boarded. Tell the conductor where you want to go and he'll tell you the fare amount. Upon payment, he'll give you a ticket with the charged amount printed on it.

Most conductors are very helpful in providing directions to tourists. In the local Creole dialect, the conductors are called con-tro-lair (literally controller).

Bus routes and schedules are available from the Ministry of Transport [29] and Mauritius Buses [30] who list all the main operators and their schedules.

Try to pay with small denominations or the conductor may not have enough change. Intentional over-charging of tourists is not common.

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are the best way to visit the island. Various tours are available as from MUR2,500: The holy lake, Chamarel 7 coloured earth, Le Morne, dolphin tours in Tamarin and Ile aux cerfs are among the most appreciated by visitors.

Taxis in Mauritius do not use any meter. Negotiate the price of your trip before you enter a taxi; otherwise, you may be overcharged.

By boat[edit]

  • Coraline +230 208 5900fax: +230 210 5176, e-mail: . Sails once a week to Rodrigues Island and to Reunion island from Port Louis Harbour. Mauritius Pride, launched in 1991, and Mauritius Trochetia, in service since 2001, are the two ships operating on the Reunion route, and also have Madagascar as a destination. Both vessels are used as passenger and container ships.

Talk[edit]

See also: French phrasebook

Although the official language of Mauritius is English, in practice French is by far the most commonly spoken language, and is widely used in professional and formal settings. In fact, even English language television programmes are usually dubbed into French. Most subjects are taught in and examined in English in the education system.

Mauritian Creole is a French-based creole which has incorporated some words from diverse sources including but not limited to English, Dutch and Portuguese, and has slight pronunciation differences from standard French. Although locals generally converse with each other in Creole, standard French is also universally spoken and understood. Virtually everyone working in the tourism industry will be able to speak fairly decent, albeit heavily accented English, and all government departments will have English-speaking staff on duty. Other languages spoken by much smaller numbers include: Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bhojpuri and Mandarin. Tamils constitute around 10% of the population and speak Tamil.

See[edit]

Northern touristic zone[edit]

Please note that the photos included in this section are heavily modified and thus the colors do not accurately represent reality.

Grand Bay from offshore
  • Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom. A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay is also where Mauritians go when they want a fun-filled night out (restaurants, bars and discos). Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.
  • Pereybere — The wonderful Pereybere public beach is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs.
  • Balaclava Ruins — A few metres away from Baie aux Tortues, which 17th century sailors named after the many tortoises in the area, can be found the ruins of the old Balaclava estate. Visitors can see the sea walls, whose initial foundations were laid down by Mahé de Labourdonnais. The location of the ruins now forms part of Maritim Hotel, and public access may not be possible.
  • The Triolet Shivala — The longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.
  • The Labourdonnais Orchards — Discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, and colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.
  • The Caudan Waterfront — The Caudan Waterfront and it's surroundings has a great collection of local souvenir shops and other foreign brand materials such as clothes, spirits . . . In addition to the harbor of Mauritius, you will also find the movie theater, game arcades, local restaurants. . . .
  • The Blue Penny Museum — A modern museum dedicated to the history of Mauritius and the famous legend of Paul and Virginia. The museum is also the owner of the two most famous stamps of the world: The Post Office Blue Two Pence and the Post Office Red One Penny. Both stamps are in display in the museum but they are lighted on at the thirty of every hours for 10 minutes, first scheduled at 10:30 and are last shown at 4:30. The museum is open from 10:00 to 4:30 from Monday to Tuesday, closed on Sundays and public holidays.
  • The "Bazard" of Port-Louis — Literally translated as "The market of Port Louis" — here you will find a variety of local snacks and tropical fruits. These are the cheapest food you will find in the capital city. Numerous shops sell crafted objects such as the "goni" basket. Unfortunately you will also find a lot of stalls selling pirate versions of programs, movies and games: they are extremely cheap but still are illegal and do not guarantee quality. Like all crowded areas, be wary of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you. Food sold on the street may have health issues, but those are for the most part rare. If you have any allergies though, refrain from eating at these stalls.
  • Restaurants — Don't hesitate to go to the various local restaurants around the city. Although many of them advertise a specific ethnic cuisine, like everywhere around the world they have their own mix of traditional and local. You might discover that 'fried rice' can have more than one flavor.
  • The SSR Botanical Garden If you want to see some plants originating from Mauritius, then this is the place for you. The SSR botanical garden is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. It was founded by Pierre Poivre (1719 – 1786) in 1770, contains some flora unique to Mauritius and covers an area of around 37 hectares. It also has several animals, being especially famous for its fish, deer and tortoises, as well as an old replica of a sugar mill.

East[edit]

  • Flacq Market — Flacq is one of the most important villages in Mauritius. This meeting point for inhabitants of the East boasts the country’s largest open air market. This extremely colourful market attracts a large number of people.
  • The Waterpark Leisure Village — Enjoy sliding on the giant chutes with family or friends. Relaxation and pleasure guaranteed.
  • Ile aux Cerfs — A paradise for water sports and has one of the most beautiful beaches in Mauritius. You cannot afford to miss this tiny island, delicately poised on the ocean, a real pearl in the Mauritian landscape. Price conscious visitors would be well advised to take ample food and drink, as the only bar and restaurant on the island primarily targets well-heeled tourists. Boats depart regularly from Trou-d'Eau Douce village in the East (which itself boasts some of the best seafood restaurants on the island). There is a variety of vessels that serve the route including catamarans, yachts and "pirate-ships". Some serve food (usually barbecue, especially seafood) on board included in the price and tend to take a detour to the Grand River South East waterfalls for a visit. The island also has a 5-star hotel (Le Touessrok) and a golf course.
  • Beaches— The eastern part of the island is known for its long sand bank beaches and famous hotels such as "The Coco Beach Hotel" and the 5-star "Le Touessrok".

South east[edit]

  • Dutch Ruins — At Vieux Grand Port, the oldest settlement in Mauritius, you can see the ruins of the first Dutch fortifications. Excavation work is underway in a bid to uncover an important part of Mauritian history.
  • Ile aux Aigrettes — As a result of the remarkable work accomplished by the Mauritius Wildlife Fund, the island has become an international standard for the protection of natural resources and endangered species. A few of the world’s rarest birds, including the kestrel, can be seen there. You can also see the extremely rare Pink Pigeon, the Green Gecko Phelsuma and the Aldabra giant tortoise.
  • Mahebourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay, it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor Charles Decaën. The Monday markets are among the biggest and best on the island and are held right next to the main bus station.
  • Domaine du Chasseur +230 634-5011fax: +230 634-5261. Nestling in the Anse Jonchée hills, the Domaine des Grand Bois has splendid hunting grounds covering an area of 900 hectares. Stags, monkeys and boars live amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the hillside. One can watch a few species of endangered birds, including the kestrel. The Domaine contains four thatched-roof bungalows and a restaurant with a panoramic sea view. Take an opportunity to enjoy a meal of venison. (The view is great and well worth the visit, but the food can best be described as average. The venison is very chewy.) There is a steep hike up the hill from the car park to the restaurant. The restaurant offers a 4wd taxi service which is free if you eat one of their overpriced meals, but if you only want a cup of tea or desert they will slug you an outrageous MUR230 per person, for the 5 minute ride.
  • Souillac — A small seaside resort along the rugged coast of the Savanne district. A famous feature is the garden overlooking the sea and named after Dr. Charles Telfair. A popular viewpoint is found at the southern end of the village, right on the cliff top : Gris Gris.
  • Blue Bay — Bluest water and most amazing white sand beaches you will ever see... Take the trip across the island from Port Louis and see what this quiet place has to offer. Very busy with the locals on weekends. Try to go during the week. Glass bottom boats are an excellent outing. Part of Blue Bay has been designated a Marine Park, and the snorkeling trips by boat to this area, offered for sale on the main public beach, are well worth trying.

West[edit]

  • Tamarin Beach offers white sands and crystal clear waters and both novice to expert surfers visit for some of the best waves on the island. The bay also has its own dolphin pod and dramatic views across to the Montage du Rempart – an extinct volcano. It was voted Beach of the Week by luxury online travel magazine Beach Tomato on 29th November
  • Flic en Flac — A local fishing village that has expanded to become a popular destination for tourists and expats. Flic en Flac has a very long white sandy beach stretching down the west coast to Tamarin which is enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Scuba Diving is a major attraction here with excellent diving just a few minutes from the beach. There is a reasonable supermarket and a variety of accommodations and restaurants to suit all budgets.
Flic en Flac
Flic en Flac beach
  • Martello Towers — at La Preneuse, Black River, represent the ancient rivalry between old colonial powers and the ingenuity of mankind. They are a milestone in the island’s history; they symbolise the end of slavery and the beginning of Indian immigration.
  • Chamarel — A winding road leads from Case Noyale village to the coloured earths of Chamarel: an undulating landscape of different and contrasting shades of colours. The different shades of blue, green, red and yellow are apparently the result of the erosion of the volcanic ash. The neighbouring waterfalls of Chamarel rise from the moors and the native plant life. The site possesses a rare beauty. An adventure park has also recently been opened at Chamarel. Much of the sand has been souvenired by locals. It is now sectioned off, but is not that impressive.
  • Salt Pans — Owing to the exceptional high level of sunshine the district receives, Tamarin is the heart of salt production in Mauritius.
  • Casela +230 452-2828. Situated in the Rivière Noire district, the Casela Nature & Leisure Park stretches over 25 hectares. It contains more than 140 bird species from five continents and is home to many other animals like giant tortoises, zebras, a tiger and ostriches. Activities like walking with lions, Rando Fun (ziplines & hanging bridges), quad, buggy & Segway, a petting farm and many more promise a fun day for the whole family.
  • Yemen — Yemen Reserve may not be the largest game reserve on the island, but there is still lots to see. You will be able to get close to the herds of deer, and admire some splendid species of Mauritian fauna. A few rustic kiosks available in the reserve provide an unobstructed view of the sea. There you can sip a local punch while watching the sun going down.
  • Beaches — The west coast has some of the best and longest white sandy beaches on the island. These include Trou aux Biches, winner of the World's Best Beach in the 2011 World Travel Awards; and Le Morne Beach which is shared by a number of 5 star resorts including Paradis Hotel & Golf Club (2012 World Travel Award winner 'Mauritius Leading Golf Resort'), the all-suite Dinarobin Golf & Spa, and Lux* Le Morne. There is also a dedicated public beach between Dinarobin and Lux* Le Morne, although it must be stated that all beaches in Mauritius are public.

The interior[edit]

  • Black River Gorges — This national park of 6,574 hectares (16,244 acres) was created in 1994 for the protection of Mauritius’ remaining native forests. Visitors can enjoy magnificent landscapes, with endemic plants and rare bird species. A trail leads from the Pétrin information centre to an area of typical plant life and to a conservation area.
  • Eureka +230 326-4775fax: +230 326-9732. Is an old Creole residence built in 1830, Eureka is an essential place to visit during your stay in Mauritius if you wish to immerse yourself in tropical sweetness. Includes a tour of the colonial house with the opportunity to purchase overpriced textile products, and a tour of the gardens and a visit to the waterfalls below.
  • Ganga Talao - Grand Bassin — Beyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano. Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva. Gigantic eels live in the lake and are fed by the pilgrims. A walk to the top of the mount beside the lake is recommended for beautiful views over the area known as "Plaine Champagne".
  • L’Aventure du Sucre +230 243 06 60. Daily 9AM-6PM. Visit an interactive and ultra modern exhibition situated at the heart of an ancient sugar mill and discover the fascinating history of Mauritius and its sugarcane adventure exposed over 5,000m². Then, let yourself be tempted by their boutique with its unique gifts, souvenirs and tasting of special unrefined sugars as well as local rum. Do not miss the opportunity to relish authentic Mauritian cuisine with refined flavours at their restaurant "Le Fangourin". Free access to the restaurant and the Village Boutique Beau Plan-Pamplemousses.

Do[edit]

Glass bottomed boat in Grand Bay
  • Views — For a spectacular 360⁰ view of Port Louis and the north, climb Le Pouce or ‘the thumb', at 812 m (2,664 ft). It is an easy 2h climb from the village of Petit Verger (near St. Pierre), and takes another 2 hr to walk into Port Louis. The top of Signal Mountain also offers a spectacular view of Port Louis and the North. It is much easier to climb Signal Mountain from Labourdonnais Street as there is a tarred jogging track and it takes around 45 minutes to walk to the top.
  • Tour the Moka mountains — by quad bike, horse or 4-wheel drive at the accessible 1,500-hectare (3,700-acre) nature park of Domaine Les Pailles. Travel to the sugar mill and rum distillery by train or horse-drawn carriage before dining in one of four restaurants.
  • Deep sea fishing — Mauritius is ideally positioned for game-fishing. Depending on the time of year it is possible to catch blue or black marlin, sailfish, wahoo, yellow fin tuna, giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, bonito, dolphinfish, sharks and many more. The majority of the big game fishing boats are well equipped with VHF radio, mobile telephone, GPS navigation system, radar, radio telephone, safety equipment, Penn International reels, life jackets, medical kits, fire extinguishers, flares, and all related fishing equipment such as fighting chairs and rods (usually 9). You can choose between half day and full day fishing trips . Big game fishing is best on the west coast of Mauritius because the currents swirl around the foot of Le Morne, creating a marine environment attractive to bait fish, which in turn attracts the larger fish. Boats usually accommodate up to 5 anglers and full day trips typically include both breakfast and lunch in the price.
  • Head to Grand Baie — For watersports such as parasailing, an underwater walk, submarine and semi-submersible scooters, or to La Cuvette, a long beach with clear water between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux, for sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing.
  • Safari jeep trips — The Safari Jeep trip takes place in Yemen natural reserve park on the West Coast of Mauritius. It hosts two of the longest rivers on the island – Rivière Rempart and Tamarin River – and is a haven for all sorts of native and exotic wildlife. The actual size of this natural reserve is of around 4,500 hectares. The Yemen Park is the setting for Safari trips where you will have a thrilling ride and will be able to see many beautiful animals such as Zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, Java deer, monkeys, ducks and geese, and will see extraordinary panoramic views of this breathtaking part of the island.
  • Safari quad biking trips — Experience an adventurous Quad biking activity in the most amazing natural setting! quad-biking activity in the 4,500 hectares of Yemen natural reserve park. More than a quad bike outing, it is a trip through a real safari. During the trip it is possible to see deers, zebras, ostriches, African antelopes, wild boars and many more; this a very big added bonus to this activity
  • Swim — At the northern beaches such as Trou aux Biches, shaded by casuarinas, Mont Choisy, a 2 km (1.2 mi) narrow white stretch of sand curving north from there, and Péreybère, a little cove between Grand Baie and Cap Malheureux.
  • Scuba diving — When you dive in Mauritius you can explore coral reefs, multi-colored marine life, ship wrecks dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, or some ships sunk more recently which create beautiful artificial reefs. There are numerous dive sites strewn all around the island. One of the well-known and popular dive sites in Mauritius is the Cathedral, which is located off the Flic en Flac on the western coast of Mauritius. Other dive sites in Mauritius include the Whale Rock and Roche Zozo that is an underwater rock pinnacle, and the submerged crater near Ile Ronde. Mauritius is almost completely encircled by a barrier coral reef which is home to many sponges, sea anemones and a variety of brightly colored fish such as Damselfish, Trumpet fish, Boxfish and clown fish, as well as the orange Mauritian scorpionfish. Most of the dive sites are located on the west coast around Flic-en-Flac or in the north, at Trou aux Biches or at the Northern Islands. The best time to go diving is from November to April with very good visibility underwater. The Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA) can provide further information.
  • Watch dolphins — Up-close in their natural habitat off the western coast (Tamarin) of the island.
  • Speedboat — Rides are available from Trou d'eau Douce to the popular island playground of Ile aux Cerfs for beaches, golf and watersports. Or, for a quieter day, a catamaran to the Northern Islands - Gabriel Island, Flat Island and Gunner's Quoin.
  • Hiking and trekking — In Mauritius with breathtaking views of mountains, rivers, and forests. Enjoy a hiking trip through the fields, trekking on a zip line or on a bike, and discover this magnificent nature paradise Mauritius being a volcanic island has several breathtaking summits and valleys to explore on foot. You can visit the Black River Gorges National Park, a 6,794-hectare (16,788-acre) forest, to see indigenous plants, birds and wildlife. Black River Peak trail goes to Mauritius' highest mountain, while the Maccabee Trail starts nearby and plunges into the gorge to Black River.
  • Tandem skydiving — Experience a 10,000 ft skydive in Mauritius. Enjoy a spectacular scenic flight and a visually awesome tandem skydive. Tandem skydiving refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to a tandem instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal instruction before making a tandem jump.
  • Horse racing — The Mauritius horse racing club commonly called the Champ de Mars was founded in 1812, making it the oldest horse-racing club in the Southern Hemisphere. Horse racing is the most popular sport in Mauritius, and you can expect to have about 30,000 visitors on each race day. The horse racing season usually starts in April and ends in late November. There are an average of 9 and a maximum of 12 horses per race. On average some 60 horses participate on each racing day. It is highly recommended to go and experience the electric atmosphere of horse racing in Mauritius. For those interested it is also possible have a VIP treatment in one of the VIP suites while enjoying snacks and drinks and a clear view of the race from your private balcony
  • Parasailing — For those looking for a fun sea-air activity, you can try parasailing. You will be rewarded with a breathtaking bird's eye view of the beautiful lagoon and beaches. The parasailing begins with a short safety briefing. Then you will be taken by boat to the launch pod where you will take off and start the parasailing. No steering is actually necessary as the sail follows the course of the boat
  • Water ski — Water-skiing is one of the most popular water sports in Mauritius. You can enjoy water skiing along several of Mauritius’ coasts or in a few of the lakes. The best area for water skiing is considered to be the north area of the island, along the coasts, where the lagoon provides full protection from the big waves of the open sea and offers ideal water skiing conditions of very calm sea
  • Watch dolphins — Go on a speed boat trip and watch dolphins in the open sea. You can choose between 2 hr trip, half day and full day trips where you will get to watch with the bottlenose dolphin and the spinner dolphin, which have made of the West Coast of Mauritius a place for them to rest before going to the deep sea for their fishing.
  • Walk with lions & cheetahs — Experience a one-on-one encounter with lions and cheetahs. Feel the adrenaline rush, the sense of excitement and know how it is to be so close to these amazing creatures. From the moment you meet the lions, your adventure shall begin. Under the coolness of the trees you can take pleasure in viewing the lions from very close, see them playing and hopping on the rocks of the river banks and scaling the trees. The lions roam freely amongst the participants giving them the unique opportunity of being in close contact with them.
  • Blue safari submarine — See the wonderful underwater tropical fish without even getting your feet wet. Going underwater to 35 m depth on board of a real submarine. You will get to visit a shipwreck, explore the rich coral reefs, and observe and encounter various species of fish. The submarine is air-conditioned with fully transparent-glassed cabin so you will enjoy exceptionally clear panoramic views of the extraordinary underwater world. At 35 m undersea, you may see some rare species and will explore the underwater world just like on any other traditional safari.
  • Underwater submarine scooter adventure — Pilot your own underwater scooter by yourself or as a couple to 3-4 m depth in full safety. Comfortably seated one behind the other, you breath freely and naturally in a broad common, transparent and panoramic cupola which allow you to discover and to enjoy full the view of the reef and marine life, while communicating all along with your partner. You will receive full briefing about the easy control of the underwater scooter, and will be equipped with a diving suit for warmth and full safety
  • Sea kayaking — A great way to explore the fine greenery of the lagoons, or the open waters of the Indian Ocean. It is possible to find wide range of sea kayaking trips and packages from breezy, calmer routes, to a few days trip surrounding the island in the deep ocean waters. This is also possible to have a kayak trip to any of the small islets surrounding the main island such as Ile D'Ambre Island.
  • Rock climbing — Rock climbing on the South West coast of Mauritius. You will get to experience rock climbing in a beautiful setting Of the Belle Vue Cliffs, where the caves of "La Pointe aux Caves" are nestled and in close proximity from the famous lighthouse of Albion. This a great outdoor sport where you will learn the basic techniques of knots, safe climbing and rock progression from Mauritius’ top professional guides. As part of rock climbing excursion you will be trained on some breathing exercises to maximize climbing performance over rock faces and cliffs
  • Canyoning — For those seeking more adrenalin and thrill, canyoning is your ideal excursion, which challenges you to abseil down the steep walls of the canyons using nature watercourses and canyoning gear. The canyoning is offered in few locations in Mauritius. The canyoning (known also as canyoneering) in Mauritius consists of travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include walking, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming
  • Rodrigues island — Tiny, rugged, volcanic it lies 550 km (340 mi) northeast of Mauritius and is known as the ‘anti-stress' island. The capital, Port Mathurin, is only seven streets wide, with a Creole population. Rodrigues offers walking, diving, kitesurfing and deep sea fishing.
  • Tamarind waterfalls — The Tamarind Falls (also known as Tamarin Falls) are a beautiful attraction of the southwest of Mauritius. These falls are awkward to reach, but no doubt, it's worth the effort. Tamarind Falls on the Interior portion of the island is an incredible string of about 7 waterfalls surrounds by green mountains and is tucked away beyond a sugar cane filled. Bring something to swim in as the are numerous pools beneath certain falls to take a dip in. There are some spots that require getting a little dirty and some traction on your shoes, but it is well worth it. First time visitors would be advised not to go unguided. No doubt this is one of the most beautiful and calmest places in Mauritius, and one of the best places for nature and animals lovers, and for finding exotic plants and birds.
  • La Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes — The park which is home to various species of animals, reptiles and plants is set in a beautiful rain forested valley with natural freshwater springs, full of prawns and fish. It is commonly referred to as ‘The Crocodile Park', for its thousands of Nile crocodiles. It is the only place worldwide to breed aldabra tortoises. There is also a mini zoo of Mauritian fauna where you can find most of the Mauritian mammals and reptiles including skinks, phelsumas (geckos), tortoises, turtles, bats, deer, mongooses, monkeys, pigs, as well as domestic livestock such as goats, fat-tailed sheep and donkeys. At the park shop, you'll find crocodile belts and other crocodile goods.

Buy[edit]

Money[edit]

The Mauritian rupee (French: roupie mauricienne) has been in use since 1877 and we use the ISO 4217 international currency code of MUR placed before the amount in all our articles. However, when you're shopping locally, you may also see the ₨ sign, both with and without a full stop and placed before or after the amount.

Banknotes come in MUR25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, and 2,000 denominations and you may find MUR1, MUR5 and MUR10 coins in circulation.

Approximate exchange rates in September 2013 were:

USD1 = MUR32.0
€1 = MUR39.6
GBP1 = MUR46.9
CHF1 =MUR32.0
CAD1 = MUR28.8
JPY100 = MUR29.8
CNY1 = MUR4.84
ZAR1 = MUR2.99
XAF100 = MUR6.03

Shop[edit]

Mauritius is not at all like Bali or Thailand. Don't expect the local merchants to be interested in a long bargaining game. Many shops will not come down on price at all and even at the markets don't expect more than a 10-20% discount. There are bargains to be had however. Many large brand names in the textile world are manufactured in Mauritius and you can often find over runs or slightly flawed items at a fraction of the European prices. It is also a good place to find unique designed jewellery, wide range of hand crafts such as: artificial flowers, model boats, wooden art and more. It is possible to reach the main shopping centres by public transportation, or to take a full day shopping tour which includes a driver to take you to the main centers and handcrafts workshops.

The Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis offers an variety of shops (including designer shops) and is an ideal place for shopping by Tourist. If you are looking for traditional articraft, the place to shop is Port Louis Central Market (Bazaar Port Louis).

Eat[edit]

When leaving Mauritius, don't wait until you go through passport control if you want to have a snack. The coffee shop after passport control is not value for money. You would be better off visiting the snack bar before check-in and taking your purchases through with you; however, remember that due to the Liquids, Aerosols and Gels rules, you are limited to the amount of liquids you can take through the passport control.

Mauritius is a paradise for the senses, not only for the eyes with its beautiful landscape, but also for the palate. Gastronomes will find a variety of flavours and aromas inherited from the different migrations through its history. Culinary traditions from France, India, China and Africa, the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, have been passed on through generations.

Depending on the region, rice or a variety of flat bread called chapattis or roti, called farata (paratha) by the local people, is eaten with curries. The extensive use of spices like saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and herbs like thyme, basil, and curry leaves are the common ingredients that provide some powerful, yet subtle, savour. Dal, a variety of lentil soup, are many and varied according to which type of lentil is used; vegetables, beans, and pickles accompany the dishes. Dholl puri and roti, originally an Indian delicacy have become the fish and chips of Mauritians.

Biryani from Mughal origins is a dish expertly prepared by the Muslim community, with meat mixed with spiced rice and potatoes.

You can buy many snacks on the streets of Mauritius including the famous gateaux piments (a variant of the Indian vadai ; literally, chilli cakes), and vegetable or meat samosas (puffs), along with octopus curry in bread. The tomato and onion based dish called Rougaille (pronounced rooh-guy) is a variation of the French ragoût . The dish usually consists of meat or seafood (corned beef and salted snoek fish rougaille are very popular with the locals) and all Mauritians eat this dish often if not daily.

Mauritians have a sweet tooth and make many types of 'gateaux', as they are called. The cakes vary and you can find cakes very much like those in France and others similar to Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla among many others.

Check out the queues where the street sellers are selling their type of snacks and the longest queue will probably have the tastiest food on sale and is very cheap.

  • Lunch — For an adventurous lunch of roasted wild boar, duck or deer curry with one of the best island views, try Domaine du Chasseur's alfresco Panoramour Restaurant. This domain is the best place to glimpse the Mauritius kestrel in the wild. Be aware there is a steep hike up the hill from the car park to the restaurant. The restaurant offers a 4wd taxi service which is free if you eat one of their overpriced meals, but if you only want a cup of tea or desert they will slug you an outrageous MUR230 per person, for the 5 minute ride.

Drink[edit]

Mauritius produces a wide range of cane rum. It is very cheap and is a nice drink when mixed with cola and ice. Don't forget the coconut water with a dash of lime and a splash of local rum over ice. The serious amateur will try to find a bottle of five years old (or older) rum. Worth the price difference!

If you are staying in a hotel where the drinks are wildly expensive consider collecting your tipples while you are out and about from the local village shops or supermarkets where the prices are much cheaper.

The local beer Phoenix costs around MUR30 (little more than one pound sterling) for a pint. Usually served very cold.

The local Black Eagle beer, brewed in Nouvelle France is one to watch out for as well. Definite refreshment to match the sweltering summer heat.

Try visiting the Medine Estate Refinery shop at Bambous (4 km from Flic en Flac), on the west of the Island, for a wide variety of locally produced rums and liquors.

Sleep[edit]

There are many international brand hotels in Mauritius but there are some luxurious hotels which are owned by Mauritian companies as well. An increasing trend is for tourists to chose self catered bungalows and apartments, many of them located directly on the beach. .

There are also possibilities for foreigners to buy villas (many of them in compound located directly on the beach) in Mauritius through the IRS or RES Scheme.

Stay safe[edit]

The crime rate has decreased in recent years and Mauritius is a much safer country for visitors than most other destinations. The Tourism Police and Coast Guards patrol regularly in areas frequented by tourists, and most cities, beaches and other major attractions are under camera surveillance. Nevertheless, you should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would anywhere in the world as tourist are usually more vulnerable to theft.

Be a smart traveller. Before your trip: Organize comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy. Register your travel and contact details, so that you can be contacted in an emergency.

Some advice:

  • Secure your valuables materials.
  • Littering of waste and smoking in public places, renting unlicensed taxis are severely fined by the police and gross misconduct may also be entitled to jail.
  • Respect others and avoid dispute.
  • If you are a victim of any crime, report it to the police right away.

Stay healthy[edit]

Mauritius is a risk area for infection with dengue fever (also known as "breakbone fever" from the muscular paroxysms sometimes induced). No vaccine is available. However no cases of dengue fever have been recorded in the country for several years now.

Since 2005 during the high season a certain type of mosquito called the Aedes albopictus causes the viral illness Chikungunya and the insect is more likely to be around in the daytime.

It is important to use anti-mosquito protection at all times. Mosquitoes are more prevalent in rural areas but they can also inhabit the beach in the tourist zone and may lead to swollen joints and/or rashes. Symptoms last from one week up to several months depending how seriously you are affected. Some people recover quickly but it can take several months to recover completely.

It shouldn't put you off visiting Mauritius. Just take good care to cover yourself completely in the best mosquito repellent you can find and re-apply again after swimming. Sleep under a mosquito net. Spray the bedroom well before going to bed with a good repellent and take an electric repellent to plug into the power supply. You can buy plenty of repellents of all types locally in Mauritius quite cheaply including bracelets for kids.

Here is a website with comprehensive information on the Chikungunya virus - Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s website: [31]

In 1991 86% of the population had antibodies indicating that they had been exposed to the hepatitis A virus, following an epidemic of the disease in 1989. Hepatitis A vaccination is generally recommended for travel in East Africa (and most other places) by the CDC.

Depending on the time of the year, many of the beaches are infested with sea urchins, and it is not uncommon to see broken glass on the beach or in the water. It is a very good idea to either buy or bring plastic/wet shoes when venturing into the water. This is generally not a problem at the big hotels as the designated swimming areas on the beaches are regularly cleaned of urchins and debris. Use wet shoes nonetheless.

Reef fish in Mauritius have been found to contain a neurotoxin similar, but not identical, to that found in Caribbean reef fish.

It is important not to eat peanuts or take alcohol if you eat coral or reef fish like sea bass, snapper, mullet, grouper, there are many more. The fish eat the toxic algae that grows on the coral reefs. Don't eat intestines or testes of the fish as higher concentrations of the toxin collect here. The symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhea and sometimes numb feelings of the arms and legs.

Telephone numbers[edit]

  • Police 999 or 112.
  • Tourism Police 213 1740 / 210 3894.
  • Coast guards 280 8317 / 212 2747.
  • Port Police 242 5546/3113.
  • Anti Drug Unit (ADSU) 208 1212.
  • Traffic Police 211 8434/8478.
  • Environment Police 210 5151/5252.
  • Fire 115 or 995.
  • SAMU Ambulance 114.
  • National Directory 150.
  • Airport of Mauritius 603 6000.
  • Air Mauritius 207 7575.
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