Mauritius

Culturally rich and diverse, paradise for beach lovers and adventure seekers

Overview

“Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.” Such were the words of Mark Twain, renowned 19th century travel blogger, after a visit to the sun-drenched isle in 1896. He might well have a point. Long gone are the riots of the late 1960s which saw the nation gain independence from Britain rule, this tiny (720 square mile) bit of bliss remains Low Season Traveller’s pick for affordable luxury.
Lying off the southeast coast of Africa, in a remote part of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius’ low winter season runs from May to September when temperatures are cooler and there may be a little rain. However, in reality daily highs rarely drop much below 20 degrees; days are generally very pleasant with much reduced humidity while avoiding the cyclones of the summer months. Hotels and restaurants see a significant drop in prices and there are far fewer tourists, making the Mauritian winter an ideal time to explore this fascinating island nation.

Port Louis

Colonised by the Dutch, French, and British and populated with Indian labourers and Chinese traders, each has left their mark on the fauna (it was the Dutch blamed for finishing off the endemic dodo) and, more happily, the local architecture, food and culture. This is particularly evident in the bustling capital Port Louis, with its wonderful microcosm of cultures. Visit busy Chinatown, see the rare stamps at the Blue Penny Museum and smell the blooms at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, once the abode of the French governor. Visit the fascinating World Heritage Site of Aapravasi Ghat, which saw half a million indentured Indians head to the island’s sugar plantations in what UNESCO describes as one of the biggest migrations in history.

Watersports

Who can resist the draw of azure waters off the island’s breathtakingly beautiful white sandy shores? Take your pick from parasailing, kayaking, water skiing, scuba diving or snorkelling. Some of the best diving is along the north and west coasts with shallow reefs, caverns, crevasses and 50 different species of coral. Favourite sites include St Jacques; and the wrecks of Hoi Siong 6 and Stella Maru. Stingrays, turtles, reef sharks, angler fish, parrot fish and moray eels are all commonly spotted. Deep water fishing is also a big thing with the waters holding several world record catches.

At One with Nature

The island’s volcanic interior is also stunning. We recommend a visit to Black River Gorges National Park in the southwest. It’s pretty sizeable; at 26 square miles it covers 2% of the entire island and is home to some diverse creatures including great gingery fruit bats, the island’s last endemic mammal, and the rare pink pigeon. Crystal clear streams, tumbling waterfalls and fabulous views make this a fab place to spend time. Follow the footsteps of runaway slaves at Le Morne Brabant. On the abolition of slavery in 1835 police were sent to the monolith to give good news to runaways. Fearing capture, they sadly leapt to their deaths. A monument to them is found at the base and since 2008, the rock has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Low Season Saving

From 35% versus Peak Season


Tourist:Local Ratio

Peak Season

Low Season

2:1
1:1


Major Airport

Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport MRU

Low Season Months

Jan Feb Mar Apr May
23°C
101mm
8hrs
Jun
22°C
76mm
8hrs
Jul
21°C
76mm
8hrs
Aug
21°C
76mm
8hrs
Sep
21°C
50mm
8hrs
Oct Nov Dec

Hotels

Top Experiences

Flic En Flac Beach

On the western coast this white sand 4 mile stretch lined with casuarina trees is a top pick for relaxing, swimming in the shallow waters or strolling along. There’s also a small market and bars serving ice cold beer.

Tamarind Falls Trek

On a full day’s walk in Black River Gorges Park, trek deeper into the forest to these impressive falls. We recommend hiring a guide to take you into this isolated part of the park to avoid getting lost and for addition insights.

Mahebourg

This charming and relaxed town in the less developed area offers a chance to see the real Mauritius. The market near the waterfront is a busy hub, crammed with textiles, fruits and street food stalls. At its peaks on Mondays.

Insider Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to haggle at the market, especially the Central Market in Port Louis where tourists have been stung by inflated charges. Browse well to get an idea of what you’ll pay and then go in at about 50% of the asking price as a start.
  • Mauritius is one of the safest countries in Africa. It has a low crime rate, is malaria free and is one of only 4 countries worldwide to have no tensions with another nation. That said, exercising due care towards yourself and belongings is good common sense!
  • Although sharks swim in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean, the reefs around Mauritius mean that the island is surrounded by shallow lagoons, leaving the sandy shores safe from shark attacks, so that’s one adventure you’ll be happy to avoid.

Good To Know

  • To really get away from it all, take a boat from Mahebourg to Islets National Park, a group of 8 tiny isles. Ile aux Aigrettes is a popular choice. Its coralline limestone formation houses many species diverse from the volcanic mainland.
  • Climb the steps to the church of Marie Reine de la Paix on the hillside of Signal Mountain. Not only are the lush grounds lovely, you’ll get fabulous views of Port Louis below. It’s particularly atmospheric at sunset.
  • Low season travellers shouldn’t miss the marking of the August birthday of the Hindu elephant god, Lord Ganesha. Locals carry idols to the beach for an immersion ceremony accompanied by drums and Bollywood style dance.

Food & Drink

Fish Vindaye

££

Don’t miss the exotic flavours of this Mauritian fish curry, typically made from freshly caught swordfish, tuna, mackerel or barracuda it is steeped in vinegar and flavoured with ginger, turmeric, saffron and white wine.

Phoenix Beer

££

This awarding winning ice cold brew has been refreshing locals and foreigners since 1963. Beer buffs need to head to Lambic, a Port Louis café-bar in a colonial house with a range of craft beers where servers match your food to your beverage.

Street Food

£

From fresh pineapple chilli flakes washed down with sugar cane juice to steaming curries, you can pick up some of the best dishes right on the street. Our favourites are the Indian deep fried aubergine fritters and mouth-watering Chinese dumplings.

Reviews

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