MAURITIUS HOLIDAYS and TOUR PACKAGES
A honeymoon in Mauritius conjures up images of palm-lined beaches with aqua-blue water and hours of relaxation and rejuvenation after the stress of organising a big wedding. Mauritius is known as the tropical playground of the Indian Ocean with an endless array of things to see and do; from swimming in calm, shallow water and lying under shady palm trees to parasailing, scuba diving and deep sea fishing.
Mauritius holidays are not all about beautiful beaches and colourful cocktails. The island is rich in fauna and flora and you can enjoy stunning hikes in spectacular mountain settings. The country is also rich in cultural heritage with a melting pot of cultures.
It’s also relatively affordable if you compare Mauritius accommodation to Seychelles and the Maldives. Travellers are offered an incredible choice of all-inclusive Mauritius packages which makes it easy to budget for the honeymoon of your dreams. World-class Mauritius resorts are scattered along the length of the coastline; offering exceptional accommodation in breathtaking settings coupled with excellent service and fantastic facilities.
The easiest way to decide where to stay in Mauritius is to divide the island in four and then decide which block appeals to you most. The beaches on the northern and western coastline are busy and more touristy with more tourist attractions and amenities. This is the perfect location if you want a more action-packed Mauritius holiday and a vibrant tourist atmosphere but if you prefer to go somewhere quieter and away from the commercial side of Mauritius, then you should chose to stay at Mauritius hotels on the eastern and southern coastline.
Regardless of where your Mauritius accommodation is located, the island is small enough that you can hire a car for the day and explore the far reaches of the country; shopping in the busy city of Port Louis, hiking in the lush forests of Black River Gorges national park, snorkeling in aqua blue waters in protected coves or enjoying the botanical bliss of Le Jardin Pamplemousse.
Mauritius is not just for families with children; although the Mauritius holiday packages make it the ideal destination for the whole family. The island oozes romance at the quiet beaches tucked away in the secluded coves and far from the busy Mauritius tourist scene. The hotels and resorts of Mauritius have perfected the art of romance and delight in setting up the perfect romantic retreat for weddings and honeymoons; from sunset cocktails and candlelit beach dinners to decadent pampering sessions and private boat cruises.
With all there is to do at the best hotels in Mauritius, it’s not surprising that most visitors rarely venture far from where they’re staying. But this would be a mistake because there is so much to see and do in Mauritius and a world of cultures to discover.
FAST FACTS ABOUT MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a small island situated in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. A direct flight to Mauritius from Johannesburg (South Africa) takes 4 hours. It’s a 12 hour flight from Paris (France) and a 13 hour flight from London (UK).
Officially called the Republic of Mauritius, the island nation is about 2 000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The Republic includes the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues which is about 600 kilometres east of Mauritius. It also includes the outer islands of Agalega and St Brandon and two disputed territories.
The Republic of Mauritius is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie and the African Union.
The capital of Mauritius and the largest city is Port Louis.
Mauritius has a coastline which spans some 150 kilometres in length. The highest mountain is the ‘Peak of the Little Black River’.
Mauritius is ringed by 150 kilometres of sandy beaches and the world’s third-largest coral reef. It’s geographical isolation resulted in rich biodiversity and the island was the Noah’s Ark of the Indian Ocean until the arrival of humans. Intensive conservation efforts have ensured that the once rich marine and inland fauna and flora are protected and allowed time to rejuvenate.
Mauritius is the second biggest island in an archipelago of islands called the Mascarenes or Mascaraeignes. Rodrigues Island falls within the Mascarenes Archipelago and belongs to Mauritius. The biggest island is La Reunion Island which belongs to France.
Mauritius was created by volcanic activity more than 8 million years ago. The inland landscape is characterised by deep valleys and tall mountains; the highest being Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire meaning ‘Peak of the Little Black River’.
The population of Mauritius is roughly 1.2 million people (2015 census) with some 150 000 people living in the capital city of Port Louis. Almost half (49%) of the population are Hindus.
Mauritius became an independent country within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1968. Queen Elizabeth II was Head of State; represented by a Governor General. In 1992, Mauritius became an independent republic.
The country is ruled by a democratic government and enjoys political stability.
The main languages spoken in Mauritius are English, French and Creole. English is considered by many as the main business language; however, newspapers and television and radio shows are mainly in French. Most Mauritians speak Creole at home. Other home languages include Tamil, Urdu, Hindi and Mandarin.
The island is a melting pot of cultures with strong influences from the Arab, Dutch, French and British settlers who have made their mark on the island.
The national animal of Mauritius is the legendary dodo bird. It was a flightless bird which lived on the island but was tragically hunted to extinction.
Mauritius has a multi-ethnic society with a variety of mixed races which originate in strong Asian, Indian, French, British and Chinese origins. The majority are descendants from Indian settlers and are referred to as Indo-Mauritians.
The dominant religion is Hinduism. Religious festivals are widely celebrated on the island and the inhabitants are known for their love of dancing the ‘sega’.
The Mauritian folk dance is the sega dance. It has a strong Indian influence with the body moving rhythmically to music while the feet never leave the ground.
Sugarcane is the main agricultural product of Mauritius and the mainstay of its economy. Pineapple plantations are also a feature of the island’s landscape. Mauritius is blessed with fertile soil and farmers produce incredible specimens of tropical fruit.
“Sodomy” which is the term used in Mauritius for ‘opposite-sex and same-sex anal sex’ is banned by the laws of the country. Although same-sex relationships are not recognised in Mauritius, LGBT people are protected from any kind of discrimination. The Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to a private life.
Since independence from Britain in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculture-based economy to a middle-income diversified economy, based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial services.
In recent years, information and communication technology, seafood, hospitality and property development, healthcare, renewable energy and education and training have emerged as important sectors; attracting substantial investment from both local and foreign investors.[
BRIEF HISTORY OF MAURITIUS
The island of Mauritius was uninhabited before its first recorded visit during the Middle Ages by Arab sailors who named it Dina Arobi. However, the island might have been visited well before by sailors of ancient times; wax tablets were found on the shores of Mauritius by the Dutch. The tablets were not well preserved and the experts can’t say whether they were of Greek, Phoenician or Arab origin.
The Arab traders never settled on the island of Dina Arobi and only used it as a transatlantic pitstop. The first formal settlement was established in 1507 when Portuguese sailors landed on the uninhabited island and set up a visiting base. They named the island “Ilha do Cirne” but they didn’t stay long as they had no interest in what the island had to offer.
Thereafter, the island fell into the hands of colonial powers; formerly a Dutch colony (1638–1710) and a French colony (1715–1810) until it fell under British colonial rule.
The British Crown colony of Mauritius once included the current territories of Mauritius, Rodrigues, the outer islands of Agaléga, St. Brandon, Chagos Archipelago, and Seychelles. The Mauritian territories gradually devolved with the creation of a separate colony of Seychelles in 1903 and the excision of the Chagos Archipelago in 1965.
Mauritius was awarded its independence in 1968. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (known as Chacha) led the independence movement which led to self-rule in 1968. He is revered as the ‘father of the nation’ much like the great Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam became the first prime minister of an independent Mauritius with Queen Elizabeth II remaining head of state as Queen of Mauritius.
Mauritius spans some 2 040 square kilometres and is the 170th largest nation in the world by size. It includes the main island of Mauritius and several outlying islands.
The second-largest island is Rodrigues which spans some 108 square kilometres and lies 600 kilometres to the east of the main island of Mauritius. The twin islands of Agalega have a total land area of some 26 square kilometres and lie about 1 000 kilometres north of Mauritius.
Saint Brandon is an archipelago comprising a number of sand-banks, shoals and islets. It is situated about 430 kilometres northeast of Mauritius and is mostly used as a fishing base by the Raphael Fishing Company Limited.
The island of Mauritius is relatively young geologically; it was created by volcanic activity over 8 million years ago. The islands in the Mascarene archipelago emerged as a result of a violent underwater volcanic eruption which happened thousands of kilometres to the east of the East Africa continental block. The volcanic activity has ceased in the Mauritius region and the hotspot now rests under Réunion Island.
GETTING MARRIED IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a dream destination for a wedding, particularly if you live in the colder Northern climates. A romantic wedding ceremony on a picture-perfect beach with the sun setting over the sparkling turquoise waters and your dearest friends and family sharing the spectacular occasion with you.
A tropical beach wedding is an idyllic option but there are a few things you need to know about getting married in Mauritius:
You need to plan in advance
You don’t need months to plan a wedding in Mauritius but you need at least a 2-3 months to nail down the fine details for the perfect wedding. You need to check when the busy tourist season is in Mauritius because this will impact on your choice of venue, Mauritius accommodation availability and whether the people you need for your wedding are available such as photographers and makeup specialists.
Choose the right time of year
Mauritius holidays are usually all about sun-soaked days on the beach but bear in mind that certain times of the year can be wet and unpleasant. Mauritius enjoys a mild tropical climate with long daylight hours and a low chance of rain in the popular months, even in winter the temperature is warm and mild.
Avoid planning a wedding in Mauritius during the wet cyclone season which lasts from January to March. Avoid the east coast of the island in July and August because that side of the island often experiences strong winds.
The best time to visit Mauritius is from May to December when the weather is sunny and warm but not unpleasantly hot. Summer is from November to April; it’s a divine time of the year to be in Mauritius but if you’re not used to very hot temperatures, you might find it too warm and humid.
The best month for a wedding in Mauritius is October; you’re guaranteed sundrenched days with little chance of rain. It’s not the peak summer period and the weather is balmy and pleasant; perfect for a beach wedding and honeymoon.
The peak holiday season in Mauritius is November and December with coincides with the southern Africa school holidays. This is not the best time of year for a wedding in Mauritius because it’s very busy and the Mauritius hotels are packed with tourists.
Expect a laid-back approach
Island life on Mauritius is slow, at least a lot slower than what you might expect in your modern hometown. The people of Mauritius are friendly and helpful but they do work to their own time schedule. Don’t let this casual approach to life stress you out in the lead up to your wedding and on the big day. It’s part of the appeal of getting married in Mauritius.
Legal issues are important
If you want to be legally married in Mauritius, there are legal documents that are required to officiate the occasion.
For each person getting married, you need:
- two copies of your birth certificates which are certified no later than 3 months prior to your wedding date
- two passport photographs
- your passport with at least six empty pages
- certified copies of any legal documentation relating to previous marriages, name changes and the death of a spouse (decree absolute if divorced, death certificate if widowed, adoption certificate if adopted and deed poll notice if you’ve changed your name).
All documents must be in English (or translated and certified). They need to be sent to the wedding coordinator at the Mauritius resort or hotel where you’ll be getting married at least 8 weeks prior to your big day. They will be processed and sent to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Mauritius.
The original documents need to be brought with you and available on the day of the ceremony. You also need to sign affidavits in Port Louis on arrival in Mauritius and you need two witnesses to sign the marriage certificate on the day.
If you don’t want to be married in community of property, it’s important that you obtain a prenuptial agreement before arriving in Mauritius. Bring the original and a certified copy which will be handed to the Registrar.
Wedding ceremonies on the island of Mauritius usually take place from Monday to Friday. The date is dependent on the availability of the registrar who will officiate the wedding ceremony if it takes place anywhere else except in a church.
Search for exceptional Mauritius wedding and honeymoon packages
Mauritius is the “Romance Capital of the Indian Ocean” and the island resorts offer exceptional wedding and honeymoon packages. Organising a wedding from far away can be very frustrating and nerve-wracking so opt for a Mauritius resort which specialises in wedding packages and honeymoon specials.
There are a few benefits of choosing a wedding package with a Mauritius resort which specialises in romantic wedding experiences. They’ll help you with logistics which range from booking a musician, makeup specialist and wedding officiate to making your cake and organising flowers.
A wedding coordinator for a ceremony in Mauritius is almost essential, particularly if you aren’t arriving on the island well in advance of your special day. Opt for a Mauritius resort that has a highly-regarded in-house wedding coordinator. It helps to have an experienced local person at your side leading up to your big day who’ll take all the stress out of getting married in Mauritius and ensure you have nothing to worry about.
Think about different venue options
The first thing people think about when planning a wedding in Mauritius is a beautiful white canopy on a powder-white beach but there are other options which promise romance and beauty for the idyllic wedding.
You could get married in a lush tropical garden of one of the beautiful Mauritius hotels or inland at a beautiful venue in a verdant forest. The roads in Mauritius are narrow and winding and it takes time to travel from your Mauritius hotel to venues further away so you need to factor this in your time schedule.
Minimum-stay Mauritius packages
Most well-priced Mauritius all-inclusive holiday packages which are ideal for members of your wedding party have a ‘minimum stay’ issue. It’s normal for a Mauritius package to stipulate a minimum stay of up to 7 days.
For the bridal couple, you should arrive a few days before your wedding to finalise details and plans before your big day. For members of your wedding party, they can stay after the wedding for a few days of fun and relaxation.
What makes Mauritius hotels special is they usually have wonderful spa facilities on site so book a day at the spa for an incredible pre-wedding pampering session; either with your husband-to-be or family and friends who are there to support you in the lead up to your big day.
It’s a brilliant way to restore some peace and tranquility in your life as the stress of organising your Mauritius wedding builds up and a few hours of pampering at a Mauritius hotel spa helps take your mind off all the things you have to plan for your special day.
Travel insurance is important
Travel insurance is always important and should include medical cover for emergency treatment and/or hospitalisation. Consider taking out extra wedding and honeymoon insurance which covers the cos of replacing essential documents as well as your wedding dress and honeymoon outfits.
Air Mauritius allows brides-to-be to check in an extra suitcase (not exceeding 23 kilograms) which is often needed for the wedding dress, shoes and other wedding paraphernalia. You can use a specialist packing service to ensure your beautiful wedding dress arrives in good condition.
FAQs ABOUT GETTING MARRIED IN MAURITIUS
What is the minimum age?
The minimum age stipulated to get married in Mauritius is 18 years.
Is the marriage legal in my country?
If officiated through proper channels, your wedding will be performed by a licensed marriage officer who ensures your marriage is legal and recognised internationally.
Can I get married in Mauritius if I’ve been divorced?
You can get married in Mauritius if you have been divorced for longer than 10 months and can produce a certified copy of your decree absolute. By law in Mauritius, if the bride-to-be has been divorced for less than 10 months, she has to produce a doctor’s certificate which states she is not pregnant.
Are same-sex marriages allowed in Mauritius?
Unfortunately not. Mauritius has a strong Muslim population and same-sex marriages are not recognised or legal on the island.
How do I transport my wedding dress?
A wedding dress needs to be professionally packed because you aren’t allowed to bring it onto the plane on a hanger. Check whether the airline you plan to book your flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg allows the bride-to-be to take a second piece of luggage not exceeding 23 kilograms for her wedding outfits and dress.
Air Mauritius and British Airways do allow it but airlines like Emirates and Air France don’t and charge extra for excess luggage.
Do we need witnesses?
Yes, you do need two witnesses for a wedding ceremony in Mauritius. They need to be aged 18 years and older. If you are getting married in a small, intimate ceremony with just the two of you; your wedding coordinator can arrange witnesses for you.
Where can I have my hair and make-up done in Mauritius?
The popular Mauritius resorts which specialise in weddings either have their own hair and beauty salon onsite or they can arrange for a hair stylists and makeup specialist to be there for your big day.
How much notice is required to organise a wedding?
You need to allow for at least 8 weeks for all the legal paperwork to be processed and sent to the Civil Status Office in Mauritius. It’s recommend that you finalise your booking of flights, Mauritius accommodation and wedding venue at least 3 months in advance.
How many days before the wedding ceremony should we arrive in Mauritius?
It’s recommended that the bridal couple arrive in Mauritius at least 3 days before their wedding day. You need to have an affidavit signed in the capital city, Port Louis, before the wedding.
What kind of wedding ceremony will we have?
Almost all the weddings are civil ceremonies. You can organise a religious ceremony through a specialised wedding coordinator.
What language is the wedding ceremony conducted in?
All weddings in Mauritius are conducted in English. If you’d like the ceremony conducted in any another language, this needs to be pre-arranged with your Mauritius wedding coordinator.
ON HONEYMOON IN MAURITIUS
What to do on a honeymoon in Mauritius? The list is endless!
Mauritius attracts four times the number of annual visitors than Seychelles and Maldives, mostly because it’s more accessible and a relatively affordable option with incredible all-inclusive packages at the best hotels in Mauritius.
For a honeymoon in Mauritius, you can chose to base yourself in the more secluded corners of the country which are far from the busy crowds or you can plant yourself in the middle of the most exciting tropical playground in the Indian Ocean.
You can spend long days on an idyllic beach lounging under swaying palms and cooling off in the aqua-blue waters or you can pack your backpack and head off in a hired car to discover the scenic and cultural wonders of the country.
Go for a long drive
Hiring a car in Mauritius to get around is a lot less expensive than catching a taxi to far-flung places. With a good map, you’ll be fine getting around Mauritius and you’ll have the freedom to go where you want to when you want to.
You can hire a car for the duration of your Mauritius holiday or just for the day. Look for a good local operator located close to your Mauritius accommodation; they give you exactly the same service and quality of car as the big multi-national car hire companies in Mauritius but usually at a fraction of the cost.
Signposts in the more remote parts of Mauritius are sometimes problematic but the recommendation is to invest in a copy of the Globetrotters Guide to Mauritius. It’s very concise and extremely useful when planning a trip to Mauritius.
Avoid Port Louis at rush hour because the traffic is hectic and often gridlocked. Police do frequent spot checks so carry your driver’s license on you at all times. Watch your speed and obey the rules of the road and you’ll have a fantastic time exploring the island.
Stroll through the botanical gardens
The Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden is one of the most popular attractions in Mauritius and well worth a visit. It’s located near Port Louis so tag on a shopping expedition at the same time.
It’s the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere and spans some 37 hectares. It’s famous for its enormous water lilies and, for a long time, was ranked third among all botanical gardens in the world.
In addition to its giant waterlilies, the garden also features spices, ebonies, sugarcane and 85 varieties of palms from Central America, Asia, Africa and the islands around the Indian Ocean. Many trees have been planted by world leaders and royalty including Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and Indira Gandhi.
The botanical gardens in Mauritius has many names; one being Le Jardin Pamplemousse which is a combination of its former names. It has been known successively as Jardin de Mon Plaisir, Jardin des Plantes and Le Jardin Nationale de Ille de France. During the British colonisation era, the gardens were called ‘The Royal Botanic Gardens, Pamplemousses’. Pamplemousse is the grapefruit tree which grows in the region, possibly introduced by the Dutch from Java.
In 1988, the garden was formally named Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden after the first prime minister of Mauritius. But that’s a bit of a mouthful for most Mauritius tourists.
Go for a catamaran boat cruise
A favourite thing to do in Mauritius is to take a sunset cruise aboard a 45-foot luxury catamaran. A popular option is a 2-hour sunset boat cruise which departs from Pointe Jerome near Blue Bay and takes you around the Ile aux Aigrettes Island and towards the Ile de la Pase where the famous naval battle took place. There’s live music and plenty to eat and drink on the boat.
Contact Mauritius Catamaran for a wide choice of day cruises to several destinations with a few different departure points. Spend a day on Gabriel Island or Flat Island in the North or visit the famous Ile aux Cerfs island on the East coast. You can also cruise along the West coast and swim with the dolphins.
Snorkel in Blue Bay
A Mauritius holiday usually involves long hours floating on top of turquoise blue water gurgling into a snorkel and admiring the wonders of the underwater scenery. A spectacular sport for snorkeling in Mauritius is just off the coast of Blue Bay public beach.
Unfortunately many of the lagoons in Mauritius have been badly damaged and heavily overfished but Blue Bay is the exception. The bay is a protected marine park and home to superb coral beds and abundant marine life which is unequalled in Mauritius.
The western part has the richest coral, and little by little gives way to the sandy areas towards the east. The limit to the authorised bathing area is shown by buoys. Beyond that, the presence of a large number of boats makes snorkeling dangerous.
The depth of the water (5-6m) is the same in all the reef area. Large, branched and table coral beds cover the ocean floor as well as dozens of fuchsia mushroom corals.
Vast shoals of convict surgeonfish (several hundreds) continually crisscross the reef. Parrotfish, Moorish idols, damselfish and sergeant major fish are some of the species that are easy to see in this spot.
The Shandrani Resort and Spa and the Blue Lagoon Beach Hotel, on either side of the bay, have direct access to the snorkeling spot. In the village of Blue Bay, in the streets closest to the beach, you will find a wide choice of food and top-class Mauritius accommodation. You’ll also often find food sellers on the beach offering delicious fresh fruit and homemade samosas.
To explore Blue Bay marine park, you can either take a boat out to the reefs or get into the water from the public beach and swim out. Taking a boat cruise costs money but it’s the best way to reach the finest areas of the reef in complete safety.
If you’re exploring the Blue Bay marine par from the shore, go to the far west of the public beach where the white sand gives way to rocks. This is the best place to enter the water as the reef is nearby.
Spend the day at Ile Aux Cerfs
Regardless of which side of the island your Mauritius resort is located, one thing not to be missed is a beautiful day spent at Ile Aux Cerfs. It’s a picturesque private island spanning some 87 hectares of untouched land off the east coast of Mauritius.
Ile Aux Cerfs is famous for its powder-white sandy beaches, brilliant turquoise lagoons and a wide selection of restaurants and companies offering adventure activities. It’s also home to one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
The main beach on the private island gets a bit overcrowded in the peak Mauritius holiday season so take a walk further north of the main section to a beach which is quieter and more tranquil. You can book a catamaran transfer with Mauritius Catamaran to get from your Mauritius accommodation to Ile Aux Cerfs.
Explore Tamarind Falls
If you need a respite from sun soaked beach days, it’s a great idea to head to Tamarin Falls which is located 28 kilometres south of Port Louis. You’ll find a peaceful cluster of cascading waterfalls buried in a dense indigenous forest .
Spend the day hiking in the area and swimming in the deep ponds. You can also book an exciting canopy tour with Mauritius Attractions which includes ziplining through the dense forest region.
Eat Creole cuisine
Mauritius has a rich cultural heritage which is evident in the island’s exotic cuisine. The Creole inhabitants of Mauritius are a minority group in the country but their cultural influence packs a punch. Their ancestors were the original Bantu slaves brought to the island from Madagascar and Mozambique to work in the sugarcane plantations.
The best restaurant in Mauritius for Creole cuisine is Eureka la Maison Creole. It’s part-restaurant, part-museum and is renowned for its dry beef curry which is served on a gorgeous deck with a panoramic view of the estate’s fragrant gardens. Indoors, visitors can view the 1830s grand colonial home which still has its original furniture and old amenities.
Enjoy a tasty ice-cream at Belle Mare beach
The eastern coastline of Mauritius is one of the island’s most beautiful coastlines and home to some of the most idyllic beaches in the country. You’ll find luxury Mauritius hotels and resorts located adjacent to quaint authentic local villages.
This side of the island is exposed to the constant south-east trade winds so it’s not popular as a swimming destination but it has earned a reputation as the best spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Belle Mare beach is the main attraction and is several kilometres of powder-white sandy beach. The coastal road follows large stretches of white sandy beaches from Palmar to Trou d’Eau Douce, winds down to Grand Port right next to the sea and ends in the village of Mahebourg.
A number of locals have colourful and musical ice-cream vans parked at the beach and there’s nothing better than the taste of a delicious ice-cream on a hot summer’s day on your Mauritius holiday.
Have a picnic at Grand River South East
The Grand River South East is a lovely tourist attraction on the east coast of Mauritius and worth a visit purely for the scenic beauty and tranquility. The wide estuary enters an impressive gorge and ends cascading over a high seaside cliff. Pack a picnic and enjoy a day’s excursion if you’re looking for something different to do in Mauritius.
Go fishing at Roches Noires and Poste Lafayette
Send your new wife shopping in Port Louis and treat yourself to a few hours fishing. Grab your fishing rod and head to the public beach of Roches Noires which extends to Poste Lafayette. It’s an excellent spot for fishing as well as a summer destination for avid kite surfers and windsurfers.
Stargazing at Bras d’Eau
Bras d’Eau is a small bay inside the lagoon of Poste Lafayette on the east coast of Mauritius. The public beach offers Mauritius holidaymakers a panoramic view of the south-eastern coastline so you can see both the sunrise and sunset while basking on the beach early morning or late afternoon.
What makes Bras d’Eau unique is it’s the best place in Mauritius to see the Milky Way. Enjoy a romantic evening lying on the pristine beach while star gazing.
This stretch of coastline gets a lot of wind so Bras d’ Eau is another popular destination for kite surfers and windsurfers. It’s also hugely popular over the weekends for the local village people and the atmosphere is usually vibrant and festive.
Visit the open-air market at Flacq
Flacq is one of the most important villages on the east coast of Mauritius. It’s a lively town which has one of the largest open-air markets in the country; open on Wednesdays and Sundays. Apart from being something really fun to do on a Mauritius holiday; supporting the local people selling their wares at the market brings in much-needed revenue for the village.
The village open-air market at Flacq is located adjacent to the Court House which is a historic building and worth a quick visit.
Go caving at Roches Noires
There are plenty of caves in the area of Roches Noires on the east coast of Mauritius. You can walk from the village of Roches Noires or Rivière du Rempart for an exciting morning exploring the caves which were formed centuries ago as the result of volcanic activity which formed the island of Mauritius.
Look out for the Mauritian fruit bat and a gulp of swallows which live in the cool, dark caves. Numerous lava tubes connect the island to the sea which have been transformed naturally into cool freshwater springs. It’s the perfect spot to swim and snorkel among an array of tropical fish species. Pack a picnic and make a day of it for a fun adventure on a Mauritius holiday.
Another option if you enjoy exploring caves is the Pont Bon Dieu Cave on the eastern plateau at Brisée Verdière. This magical cave is hidden in the middle of a massive sugarcane plantation. A trail leads to the natural cave which is 15 metres high and 20 metres wide in places.
You’ll find thousands of swallows nesting in the cave as well as a few wild monkeys hanging out in the dark surrounds. It’s a little off the beaten track but a fabulous adventure to break up beach days on a Mauritius holiday.
Mountain biking in Bras d’Eau National Park
Bring your own bike or hire a bike for an outdoor adventure company and enjoy a gorgeous day cycling on the open mountain bike trail in Bras d’Eau National Park. You can also walk the trail. Pack a picnic with snacks and drinks and make a day of it for some outdoor fun on a Mauritius holiday.
If you’re staying at a Mauritius hotel in the area, make your way through the Bras d’Eau forest and find the special Milky Way observatory. It’s the perfect idea for a romantic evening on your Mauritius honeymoon; stargazing and soaking up the peace and tranquility of a perfect tropical evening.
Have a cuppa tea at Bois Cheri Tea Plantation
Enjoy a fascinating tour of the Bois Cheri Tea Plantation and learn more about tea than you ever believed possible. The hour-long tea tour takes you through the busy working factory and ends with an informative talk in the museum. You can also join a group of tea pickers and try your hand at picking delicate leaves off the tea bushes.
Enjoy a romantic lunch at the plantations scenic terrace restaurant. When you’re wracking your brain for something romantic to do in Mauritius, this is a fabulous option because not only is it extremely informative but the setting and panoramic view is divine.
Play golf in Mauritius
Slip away for a few hours and enjoy a fantastic game at one of a dozen golf courses in Mauritius. The course are strategically positioned on the top of cliffs and on the sides of lush mountains to offer avid golfers one of the best golfing experiences they’ll have anywhere else in the world.
Add these two golf courses in Mauritius to your bucket list and make it happen because life’s too short! The Ernie Els-designed 18-hole golf course at Four Seasons Anahita and the Bernhard Langer course at Le Touessrok are regarded as the pinnacle golf course on Mauritius.
You can buy at golf pass through Maritim Resort & Spa Mauritius which allows you to sample up to four golf courses in the country.
Picnic in Black River Gorges National Park
Black River Gorges National Park is the largest and most spectacular national park in Mauritius and renowned for its dense forest vegetation, boasting more than 300 species of native plants. It’s located in the hilly south-western region of Mauritius and spans some 68 square kilometres.
Pack a hamper and spend the day at the park’s designated picnic area and enjoy access to 60 kilometres of hiking trails. The national park comprises humid upland forest, drier lowland forest and marshy heathland ecosystems.
The Black River national park protects most of the country’s remaining rainforests which had been severely degraded by the introduction of the Chinese guava and privet as well as by animals such as rusa deer and wild pigs.
It’s also home to many endemic animals such as the Mauritian flying fox and a number of endemic bird species such as the Mauritius kestrel, pink pigeon, Mauritius parakeet, Mauritius cuckoo-shrike, Mauritius bulbul, Mauritius olive white-eye, Mauritius grey white-eye and Mauritius fody.
Book a guided hiking trail at Black River Gorges National Park through Mauritius Attractions.
Have fun at Casela World of Adventures
Casela World of Adventures is the most visited attraction in the country and one of the best excursions you’ll have on a Mauritius holiday. It’s been welcoming locals and tourists since 1979. Casela is situated within a massive sugarcane plantation on the west coast of Mauritius with Rempart Mountain in the backdrop.
Initially set up as a bird sanctuary, Casela is now home to an array of wild animals and an abundance of endemic birds. You’ll be amazed at the selection of activities available at the park; from feeding giraffes, lorikeets and a pygmy hippo to enjoying an extreme safari tour on a horse, camel, quad bike or Segway.
Cascavelle Shopping Mall is a short 5-minute drive from Casela and the Tamarina Golf Club and Tamarina Boutique Hotel are only a 10 minutes’ drive away. The region is fast developing into a wonderful eco-tourism hub with adventure companies offering team building events and cosy sports bars popping up.
Casela World of Adventures is open 7 days a week from 11am to 11pm. Enjoy a mouth-watering meal at the CK Bar & Restaurant on the terrace as the sun sets over the expansive sugarcane plantation. You can be a zookeeper for the day and snuggle up to a lion or take a long walk around the nature reserve. It’s a romantic breakaway from the busy beachside Mauritius resorts.
See the seven colours of Earth
The Seven Coloured Earths are found in the Chamarel plains of the Rivière Noire District in south-western Mauritius and has become one of the main Mauritius tourist attractions. It is a geological formation comprising sand dunes which feature seven distinct colours (red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple and yellow).
The dunes acquired a strange colouring as the different coloured sands settled spontaneously over the years. Rains have carved perfect patterns into the hillside which have created the effect of an earthen meringue.
The sands formed from the decomposition of volcanic rock (basalt) gullies into clay and then were further transformed into ferralitic soil by total hydrolysis. The two main elements of the resulting soil, iron and aluminium are responsible for red/anthracite and blue/purplish colours respectively. The different shades of colour are believed to be a consequence of the molten volcanic rock cooling down at different external temperatures but the causes of their consistent spontaneous separation are yet to be fully clarified.
Book a guided day tour to Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths through Mauritius Adventures.
Visit a historic Creole mansion
Eureka is one of those things to do in Mauritius which takes you back to the long-gone colonial era and showcases the grandeur of that period. The Creole mansion was built in the 1830s and has been perfectly preserved. It’s now a museum which provides guests with an insight into the rich history of the region and the island’s vibrant plantation past.
The main manor house is a masterpiece of tropical construction which was carefully designed to be cool in summer and warm in winder. The rooms are adorned with period furniture imported by the French East India Company. You’ll also find a fine selection of antique maps, an ancient piano and a strange shower contraption which is over 150 years old.
The courtyard leads out onto a beautifully manicured garden which is surrounded by the former servants quarters and kitchen. A 15-minute walk takes you to the beautiful Ravin waterfall.
The name Eureka is thought to be the word used by the original owner, Eugène Le Clézio, when he heard his bid on the house auction in 1856 had been successful.
This fun excursion has been a popular thing to do in Mauritius for decades. You’re taken out on a motorboat, given a safety briefing and then dropped overboard where you can walk four metres under the water among a reef rich in coral and marine life.
All this is possible with an antiquated helmet which looks like space gear and oxygen is piped into it from the boat. Try it, it’s fun. Book a underwater sea walk with Mauritius Attractions.
Explore the island’s volcanic craters
Mauritius has four major volcanoes which are at the heart of the islands formation. These are Trou aux Cerfs, Trou Kanaka, Grand Bassin and Bassin Blanc.
Trou aux Cerfs has a 350-metre crater and offers visitors a 360-degree view of the surrounding village and the coastal belt. It’s the most impressive of the four volcanoes and the only one that is dormant. The other three are “active” volcanoes.
Touch a 400-year old tree in Vallée de Ferney
Vallée de Ferney is a 200-hectare protected forest reserve which is home to a 400-year old forest. It’s a vital habitat for the rare Mauritius kestrel which is one of the most endangered raptors in the world. Join a guided walking tour which takes you on a 3-kilometre trail through incredible flora and fauna. If you arrive at 11h30, you’ll be able to see staff feed the wild kestrels. Bookings are essential.
The forest sanctuary is managed by the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation which has played an important conservation role in the country. One of the many endangered species to fall under their protection is the pink pigeon and echo parakeet.
Visit the home of a 1 000 tortoises
François Leguat Reserve is a protected sanctuary for hundreds of tortoises which is the outcome of a successful breeding programme. They roam the gorgeous surrounds amongst a grove of over 100 000 indigenous trees.
There are also caves in the reserve which you can explore and a small enclosure which is a safe retreat for several giant fruit bats. These are the island’s only endemic mammals. It’s also home to the critically endangered ploughshare tortoise from Madagascar.
A museum on the grounds showcases detailed information about the extinct solitaire which was the cousin to the extinct flightless dodo bird. Both were hunted to extinction during the Dutch colonial era.
Fine dining at St Aubin
Enjoy a wonderful meal at the charming manor house at St Aubin which is an elegant plantation house built in 1819. It was built on the original sugar plantation but the estate no longer produces sugar. Instead, you’ll find a traditional rum distillery on the property and a nursery growing anthurium flowers and vanilla.
Dining at St Aubin is a romantic affair and a throwback to the colonial times when dainty chandeliers cast soft light over the crisp white tablecloths and the home was adorned in rich wooden furniture. The set menu is a fine selection of the fruits of the plantation and includes exotic dishes with hearts of palm, pineapple, mango and chili.
For an incredible romantic evening on honeymoon in Mauritius, you can spend the night at Auberge de St Aubin which is a 3-bedroom villa on the estate.
Horseracing at Champ de Mars Racecourse
The Champ de Mars Racecourse on the outskirts of Port Louis is the second-oldest racecourse in the world. It was originally a military training ground until the Mauritius Turf Club was founded in 1812. The racing season lasts from mid-April to late November and race meetings are generally held on Saturday or Sunday.
The biggest race on the racing calendar is the Maiden Cup which is held in September. If you’re on honeymoon in Mauritius when this fantastic horseracing evening is held, it’s well worth joining the exuberant local crowds for a thrilling day at Champ de Mars. Admission to the public grounds is free; tickets for the stands range from R50 to R100.
Rum at Rhumerie de Chamarel
Rhumerie de Chamarel is a working distillery that doubles up as a museum which showcases the rum-making process. It’s located in a vast hillside plantation on the western side of Mauritius. If you love your rum, a tour of the distillery is a fascinating thing to do on your Mauritius holiday.
The factory opened in 2008 and is the pet project of a hotel tycoon. He set out to create an eco-friendly production method which ensures all materials used are recycled. After a guided tour of the distillery, treat yourself to lunch at the museum’s restaurant.
Go shopping in Port Louis
When in Port Louis, head straight for the city’s famous Central Market and prepare to be delighted with the noisy vibe of the busy market. It’s famous for its incredible selection of fresh tropical fruit and vegetables but you’ll also find the usual array of Mauritius holiday souvenirs.
The Central Market has been operating since the Victorian times and was extensively refurbished in 2004. It’s a wonderful place to walk around and get a good feel for the local people and their way of life. The street markets are a vital component of the local economy and the support of Mauritius holidaymakers is always greatly appreciated.
Go gambling at Port Louis Casino
This extremely popular city casino is the liveliest place to be in Port Louis after midnight. You’ll find the usual selection of slot machines, blackjack tables and American roulette tables. Smart-casual dress is required.
Spend a penny at Blue Penny Museum
This world-famous museum is dedicated to the one-penny and two-penny stamps of the Victorian era. Central to the collection are two of the world’s rarest stamps; the red one-penny and the blue two-pence ‘Post Office’ stamps which were issued in 1847. The stamps are considered a national treasure and likely the most valuable object on the island.
To preserve the colours, the stamp collection is only lit up for 10 minutes at a time; every hour at 25 minutes past the hour.
But there is more to see and do at Blue Penny Museum. It’s home to an incredible collection of antique maps, engravings from different historical periods as well as famous works of art. There is also a superb life-like sculptor that was carved in 1884 which depicts a young hero carrying his sweetheart across a raging torrent. It is based on Bernardin de St-Pierre’s novel, Paul et Virginie.
Have a cold beer at Lambic
Lambic is paradise for beer drinkers; offering dozens of local and imported beers which are paired with a fine selection of fish and meat dishes and popular Creole side dishes. Lambic has an excellent selection of beers from Belgium.
Lambic is based in a beautiful refurbished colonial home in the heart of Port Louis. It’s the perfect place for a pitstop on a day’s excursion to the capital city. The food is as impressive as the selection of beers.
Visit Fort Adelaide
Fort Adelaide sits high on the crest of a hill with panoramic views of the capital city and its harbour. It was built by the British and was originally barracks for members of the Royal Army. Fort Adelaide has been fully restored and features a row of interesting boutique shops.
It’s a 10-minute climb up the hill to the old fort but well worth the effort, if only for the view at sunset.
Walk up Place d’Armes
Place d’Armes is an imposing boulevard found in the heart of Port Louis. It’s lined with royal palms and leads up to Government House. The beautiful French-colonial architecture dates back to 1738 with a typical solemn statue of Queen Victoria taking pride of place and the statue of Mahé de Labourdonnais standing at the quayside at the end of the avenue.
Spot a dodo bird
Natural History Museum & Mauritius Institute is a small but interesting museum in the heart of Port Louis which is famous for its reconstruction of the extinct flightless dodo bird. There’s not much more to see than this somewhat scruffy stuffed bird but at least you can say you saw a dodo bird on your honeymoon in Mauritius.
Scottish scientists assembled the curious-looking bird in the late 19th using the only complete dodo skeleton in existence. The scale is thought to be slightly out but it was a good attempt anyway.
Safari tour at La Vanille Nature Park
La Vanille Nature Park is a wildlife sanctuary in the southern village of Riviere des Anguilles which is home to Nile crocodiles and alligators as well as giant tortoises which came from Madagascar. It’s the largest reproduction centre in the world for giant Aldabra tortoises and home to more than 500 of the species.
There’s an insectarium which houses a 30-year old butterfly and insect collection that are found all over the world. It’s the private collection of Jacques Siedlecki. You’ll also see giant bats, giant turtles and various monkeys at La Vanille Nature Park.
Party in Grand Baie
Grand Bay or Grand Baie to the locals is the most popular holiday destination in Mauritius and where you’ll find top-class Mauritius resorts which cater for holidaymakers wanting a festive beachside resort vibe.
The Dutch called the area De Bogt Zonder Eyndt which means ‘the bay without ending’. This aptly describes the incredible expanse of powder-white beaches flanked by swaying palm trees and emerald waters.
Things to do in Grand Baie range from swimming, sailing, windsurfing and water skiing to shopping, eating out in fantastic restaurants and partying up a storm. The beachside community is renowned for its nightlife and is home to some of the best Mauritius bars and nightclubs.
Grand Bassin Sacred Lake
The Grand Bassin Sacred Lake is situated high up in the mountains some 1 800 feet above sea level. It’s the most sacred Hindu place on the island; it’s believed the lake is filled with holy waters from the River Ganges in India. On the occasion of Maha Shivaratree, Hindu devotees make pilgrimages from their homes to the lake walking barefoot and carrying religious carts the whole way.
There are temples alongside the Grand Bassin Sacred Lake dedicated to other gods such as Lord Hanuman, Goddess Ganga and Lord Ganesh. There’s also a 108 foot tall statue of Lord Shiva at the entrance which is an identical replica of the Shiva statue of Sursagar Lake in Vadodara in Gujarat, Indian.
The landmark is actually a crater lake situated in a secluded mountain area.
Romance at Flic-en-Flac
Flic-en-Flac is situated on the west coast of Mauritius and is one of the most romantic beaches on the island. It’s the perfect spot for sundowners and a romantic dinner on the beautiful beach.
Flic-en-Flac is the longest beach on the island and perfect for long horseback rides. The sunsets are magical.
Buy sweets at Bombay Sweets Mart
This quirky little shop in the heart of Port Louis is famous for its delicious Indian nibbles which includes the well-known ‘caca pigeon’ which literally means ‘pigeon droppings”. Bombay Sweets Mart is an iconic shop in the capital city and has been making fresh Indian sweets and snacks since it opened in 1969.
Pay your respects at Jummah Mosque
This is the most important mosque in Mauritius where visitors are welcome in the peaceful inner courtyard, except on Friday and during the month of Ramadan. It was built in the 1850s and is a spectacular blend of Indian, Creole and Islamic architecture.
Catch a show at the Municipal Theatre
The Municipal Theatre in the heart of Port Louis is much the same as it was when it was built in 1822. It’s the oldest theatre in the Indian Ocean region and beautifully decorated in the style of the classic London theatres. It seats about 600 guests on three levels with an incredible vaulted ceiling above with delightful cherubs and spectacular chandeliers. It personifies the grace and grandeur of the British colonial period in Mauritius.
Performances are held in the evenings, usually at 20h00.
Eat noodles in Chinatown
Chinatown is found in the heart of Port Louis and is an important hub for the Chinese community. The area between the two ‘friendship gates’ on Royal Street forms the center of Chinatown; you’ll find a fine selection of authentic Chinese restaurants and grocery stores amid the vibrant chaos of the centre.
Visit Sir Seewoosagur’s home
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was the first leader of Mauritius when the country gained its independence from British rule. The simple house museum near the Jardin Plaine Verte was his home where he lived from 1935 to 1968. It houses an interesting collection of photographs, old films and his belongings which showcase the life of Mauritius’ father of independence.
Pop across to Rodrigues
Rodrigues Island is located over 600 kilometres from the mainland of Mauritius and is a tiny volcanic outcrop surrounded by the beautiful aqua-blue waters of the Indian Ocean. There are about 40 000 permanent residents on the island of Rodrigues; most of them of African and Creole descent.
The pace of life on Rodrigues is agonizingly slow but that adds to the appeal of escaping to the exotic tropical island. There are a few natural landmarks you can visit and a selection of outdoor activities but otherwise, a holiday to Rodrigues is all about complete isolation and peace and tranquility.
With a strong Creole heritage, the food is excellent and the people are warm and friendly.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK ON HONEYMOON IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a melting pot of cultures and this is evident in its rich and diverse food culture. Strong gastronomic influences come from the Arab, Creole, French, Chinese and Indian inhabitants.
The island is blessed with fertile soil so there is an incredible selection of fresh fruit and vegetables which are the staple of the local’s diets. Obviously, seafood is the primary source of protein and the basis of most authentic dishes served in Mauritius.
Make a point of leaving your Mauritius hotel or resort and venture into the markets. Street food is fantastic in Mauritius and eating out in local eateries is a wonderful way of learning more about the rich culture of the island and the way of life of its inhabitants.
Dholl pori is the “national dish” of Mauritius and one of the most popular things to eat at street markets in Mauritius. It’s thin bread stuffed with ground yellow split peas and deep friend; it’s most often served with bean curry, atchar and coconut chutney. Dholl pori is derived from Indian flatbread known as paratha which was brought to the island by Indian immigrants. They couldn’t get the proper ingredients for traditional Indian flatbread so they used substitutes.
A Mauritius holiday is gastronomic heaven for seafood lovers. You can have seafood any way you like it; fried, grilled or baked.
Curries are a staple dish of Mauritius due to its strong Indian heritage. It’s not a typical curry found in India and has been adapted to the Mauritian palate. The base is the same; garlic, onion, fresh curry leaves and turmeric. The cultural influences of the chef dictate whether you then get a tomato-based Creole curry or a creamy Indian version. Mauritian curries are served with rice or faratha (flat bread) and delicious coconut chutney, achard (vegetable pickles with mustard) and the unusual mazavaroo.
Raugaile is a popular Creole dish and a type of tomato stew. It’s made with meat or fish and a base of tomatoes, garlic, onion and thyme.
Briyani is another firm favourite with local inhabitants although it has it’s own distinct Mauritian flavour. It’s similar to Indian briyani which is made with beef, chicken, fish, mutton or vegetables and flavoured with the island’s unique spice combinations.
Fish vindaye is the Mauritian version of Indian vindaloo but with fish instead of lamb. The fish is cooked with mustard, garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion and a variety of vegetables. It’s served with rice, lentils, pickles and coconut chutney.
This Mauritian dish is supposedly adapted from the Indian vindaloo, although there’s debate about this. It’s cooked with mustard, garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion and usually fish, although it can be made with vegetables instead. It’s served with rice, lentils, pickles and chutneys. Oh, and it’s delicious.
Dim sum is a Chinese dish with a Mauritian twist. The locals make their own version of dim sum called boulet which consists of dumplings made from fish, prawn or chou chou (a pear-shaped vegetable); served with a broth laced with copious amounts of chili. It’s a hugely popular dish found at street markets in Mauritius.
SIDE DISHES & SNACKS
Farata is similar to Naan bread in the Indian culture. It’s a flat bread eaten with curry and is buttery, doughy and delicious. It’s sold at street markets and usually served at the Indian and Mauritius restaurants.
This is a hot roti of the Indian kind. It’s always served with curries and accompanied with coconut chutney and pickles.
Mine frites are fried noodles and a hugely popular dish served at street markets. The noodles are fried in soy sauce and topped with spring onions and copious amounts of chili. The dish has a strong Chinese influence. Cool your mouth down with a bowl of herbal black jelly (la mousse noir) which looks weird but tastes delicious.
Palm heart salad
The palm heart salad is also known as ‘millionaire’s salad’ in Mauritius. Palm trees that grow in abundance on the tropical island are cut down to extract the ‘heart’ which the arm-sized inner tube of the tree. One heart feeds about three people as a starter.
The palm heart is sliced finely and either added to a salad or eaten raw with smoked marlin and other seafood. It’s sometimes cooked in a sauce and served as a hot side dish.
Mazavaroo is a chili condiment served with everything in Mauritius, including fruit. It’s chopped chili or chili paste which is ranges from very hot to unbearably hot for foreigners. Mauritians eat chili with everything and they like their chili breath-taking hot. Take a bottle home and dare your friends back home to face it’s fiery wrath.
Gajak is like the South African version of ‘bar munchies’. It’s a collection of delicious snacks which is hawked by street vendors and beach sellers. Everything is fried and includes samosas, eggplant fritters, cassava chips and potato fritters.
Coconut chutney is a hugely popular condiment served with every curry dish in Mauritius. It has a zingy, fresh-tasting flavour and helps to cool the palate when eating a hot, spicy curry.
Gateau patat douce (filled sweet potato)
This is a tasty Mauritian teatime treat. Sweet potato dough is wrapped around a filling of coconut, cardamom and sugar and then deep fried. These sweet potato cakes are a tasty Mauritian teatime treat. Sweet potato dough encases a filling of coconut, cardamom and sugar which is then deep fried.
These delicious cookies are made using grated coconut and sugar. They’re a popular teatime treat.
This is an intensely sweet and buttery Indian sweet which is found at the Bombay Sweets Mart in Port Louis. There are 30 different types of mithai so take your time and try them all.
Think tropical island, think coconuts. Don’t end a Mauritius holiday without drinking from a coconut. The water inside a coconut is delicious and refreshing. Buy one from a beach vendor and ask him to open it up after you’ve sipped it dry so you can eat the delicious flesh.
Mauritius is blessed with fertile soil and its fruit is supersized and super sweet. Victoria pineapples are best eaten on a beach. Pineapple vendors cruise up and down the beach and will present you with an artfully-cut pineapple that’s easy to hold and eat.
Mauritian pineapples are sweeter and more delicious than South African ones. They’re best eaten on the beach in your swimming costume, with your hair still damp from your last swim in the warm Indian Ocean. There are pineapple sellers who cruise the beaches, ready to cut pineapples into easy-to-hold (and eat) treats.
Vanilla tea is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ an dis an acquired taste. It originates in the south of the island where black tea is grown on Bois Cheri tea estate and missed with Ceylon tea imported from Sri Lanka. Vanilla flavouring is added to produce a delicious black vanilla tea.
You’ll find vanilla tea all over the island but something fun to do on a Mauritius holiday is to hire a car and visit Bois Cheri café for a tour of the tea factor and a tea tasting. The café has incredible views over the tea plantations and the southern coastline.
The local brew is Phoenix beer and is to Mauritius what Castle is to South Africa. It’s an award-winning beer renowned for its crisp, refreshing taste.
Mauritius produces a fine selection of rum. There are three distilleries on the island which produce Agricole rum which is made the proper way from sugar cane juice instead of molasses. All three distilleries produce rum which is infused with exotic flavours such as vanilla, coffee, kumquat, spices and citrus fruit. The rum is sweetened with raw sugar cane so it’s a little more palatable for non-rum drinkers.
Go on a rum tasting tour as something different to do in Mauritius. We recommend St Aubin, Chateau Labourdonnais and Rhumerie de Chamarel in Chamarel rum.
Ti rum punch
Ti rum punch is short for ‘petit rum punch’ and it’s drunk all over Mauritius. Different ingredients are added to the base of rum and sugar syrup. You can buy a ready-made version which is perfect for picnics and beach sundowners.
MAURITIUS NATIONAL HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
Mauritius is a small island with a population of just over 1.2 million. It is a small country but blessed with a multi-cultural society. Due to their cultural diversity, the Mauritians have a calendar in which many different festivities and holidays are celebrated.
The religions found in Mauritius are mainly Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhism. Attending one of their spiritual festivals is a fascinating way to learn more about the island’s culture and the traditional beliefs of its people.
If you’re in the country on a Mauritius holiday package, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a festival taking place in one of the regions. You’ll be warmly welcomed and encouraged to join in on the festivities.
Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) (January/February)
The exact date of the celebrations is determined by the Chinese calendar. Firecrackers are set off according to tradition to drive away the evil spirits and Chinese families living in Mauritius get together and celebrate the New Year with an abundance of food. At the end of the festival, Chinese dancers perform the Lion Dance.
The festival celebrations include parades with figures of dancing dragons and lions. Red is the dominant color during this festival because it symbolises happiness. The main celebrations are held in Port Louis in Chinatown.
Cavadee Festival (end of January/early February)
This religious festival is celebrated mostly by Indians of Tamil origin and is one of the most impressive festivals in Mauritius. It occurs at the end of the fasting period.
The devotees have their cheeks, tongues and chests pierced with needles before going to the temple with their offerings on their backs. They walk into the temple barefoot in a trance-like manner carrying an arc of wood, metal and plastic which symbolises the sacred mountains.
There are also fire walking and sword climbing rituals which are quite spectacular.
Thaipoosam Cavadee (early February)
This is the Tamil day of the remorseful which is celebrated with ritual mortifications, washings and fasting. It’s celebrated by all Hindus in sacred temples throughout Mauritius.
The streets are filled with devotees who carry wooden arches covered in flowers as well as pots of milk. Some devotees fulfil their vows by skewering their tongues and cheeks as a form of worship to the second son of Lord Shiva.
Maha Shivaratree (February/March)
This festival takes place every year in honor of Lord Shiva. It’s a 3-day festival in which thousands of Hindus pilgrimage to Grand Bassin to sanctify themselves in the water of the lake.
Grand Bassin is considered a holy lake for people of Hindu faith in Mauritius. The whole scene is reminiscent of the great rituals on the banks of the Holy Ganges in India.
Holi Festival (March)
The Holi festival is an Indian festival of fire and colors. It’s attended by the Hindu population of Mauritius and involves being splashed with coloured water and powder with exuberant singing and dancing.
Ganesh Chaturthi (August/September)
The Ganesh Chaturti Festival is attended by the Hindu population of Mauritius and is a celebration of the birth of the God Ganesh. Hindus make their way to riverbanks and beaches with small replicas of the elephant head symbolizing God Ganesh which must be immersed in water before sunset.
Father Laval Day (Jaques Désirée Laval) (9 September)
9 September is the birthday of Blessed Father Jacques Désiré Laval and every year all ethnic groups visit the tomb of Father Laval in Sainte Croix in Port Louis to mark the day.
Jacques Desire was born in 1803 and came to Mauritius in 1841. He was a French missionary and doctor who is believed to have had miraculous healing powers. He was the first person beatified by the Pope John Paul II. Jacques Désiré Laval became the protector of the slaves’ community and his imagery is a symbol of compassion and love.
Eid-Ul-Fitr (Id-El-Fitr) Festival (October/November)
The Eid-Ul-Fitr Festival is celebrated by the Muslim community of Mauritius at the end of the holy month of fasting which is known as Ramadan. It is a period of about one month when Muslims fast during the day time.
The Eid-Ul-Fitr Festival marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated with prayers at the mosques in Mauritius, and the sharing of food, cakes and gifts.
Diwali Festival or Festivals of Light (October/November)
The Diwali Festival is celebrated by the Hindu community of Mauritius and marks the victory of good Rama over evil Ravana which originates from an epic Indian poem. On this night, all Hindus and many Mauritians decorate their homes with small oil lamps, colourful candles, clay lamps or electric light chains.
The main streets are lit up with special light decorations and the village glows on the night of the Festival of Lights. Cakes are cooked and shared among family members and neighbours.
MAURITIUS TRAVEL INFORMATION
MAURITIUS PACKAGES ALL-INCLUSIVE
A Mauritius all-inclusive package generally means the rate includes accommodation as well as all meals, non-alcoholic beverages and select alcoholic beverages as well as various land and water activities and day and night entertainment programmes.
There are many Mauritius resorts and hotels which offer an all-inclusive holiday package; ranging from 3-star to 5-star accommodation in Mauritius. It’s what the island is renowned for; catering for all budgets. Enjoy a carefree holiday with an all-inclusive package at one of the many luxury Mauritius hotels and resorts.
Mauritius specials for visitors arriving from South Africa are based on direct flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg . All Mauritius specials include flights, taxes and levies, transfers to/from your Mauritius resort and accommodation with meals and drinks as specified.
Mauritius accommodation is subject to availability at select Mauritius hotels. Terms and conditions apply.
FLIGHTS TO MAURITIUS FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg take 3 hours 55 minutes. Popular airlines flying to Mauritius from Johannesburg include South African Airways (SAA), British Airways and Air Mauritius. Direct flights to Port Louis are available from Johannesburg.
Look out for Mauritius specials on flights and good Mauritius packages all-inclusive deals.
All flights to Mauritius from Johannesburg fly into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (SSR) which is situated on the island’s southeast coast. Transfers to your Mauritius accommodation take anything from 10 to 90 minutes depending on which side of the island you’ll be staying.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is about 4 kilometres from the town of Mahebourg.
Booking a Mauritius package through a reputable travel agent and tour operator such as Moafrika Tours means you have access to the best value flights and hotel deals and it covers the cost of the airport transfers.
Mauritius has a sub-tropical climate which promises all-year sunshine and warm weather except during a brief period of monsoon-like rainfall. The average daily temperature rarely drops below 24 degrees. When it rains, it’s usually a brief shower and the sun comes out immediately afterwards.
Mauritius is located close to the Tropic of Capricorn which means the sun is at its highest point longer than in other destinations around the globe. This is why countries like Mauritius enjoy many hours of bright sunshine all year round.
In general, temperatures along the coastline are 3 to 5 degrees higher than on the central plateau. The western and northern regions of Mauritius are warmer and drier throughout the year.
The country has a micro climate which means that it can be raining in one region with dark grey skies and be dry and sunny in another part. If it rains in the morning, the weather changes quickly and the sky is blue and clear in no time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MAURITIUS
Mauritius has two seasons:
- Summer: from November to April with daily temperatures of around 27 degrees on the coast and 22 degrees on the Central Plateau
- Winter: from May to October with daily temperatures of around 22 degrees on the coast and 18 degrees in the Central Plateau
There are minor changes in temperature between the seasons, the only difference is the amount of rainfall and wind. The humidity is high during the summer months and more tolerable in the winter months.
Mauritius in April
January to April are the hottest months in Mauritius with high humidity and daily temperatures of 30 degrees and above. The country experiences rainfall in the hot summer months but it’s usually brief and a welcome respite. Occasionally strong winds occur in February.
Mauritius in June
May to August is “winter” in Mauritius with cooler daily temperatures of 25 degrees on average.
The driest period in Mauritius is between June and November although you’ll experience sporadic rainfall.
Mauritius in July
July is considered the “coolest” month of the year with average temperature of around 20-21° C; it’s all relative because the days are usually warm and pleasant. The evenings get a bit nippy when the sun goes down.
Mauritius in August/September
September to December is warm and pleasant with average daily temperatures between 27-30 degrees. It’s not as hot summer months when humidity is at its peak.
Mauritius in October and May
This is commonly the transition months in Mauritius where the climate shifts from one season to another.
October and November are the wettest months in Mauritius but because Mauritius enjoys a micro-climate, you’ll always find a dry corner of the island.
Mauritius in December
December, January and February are the hottest months in Mauritius with average daily temperatures of 28 degrees and higher. It’s also the time of year when cyclones are more likely to occur.
December is the peak holiday season in Mauritius but this has more to do the end-of-year holiday period than the weather.
RAINFALL IN MAURITIUS
Rainfall varies considerably from region to region and throughout the year. What is fascinating about Mauritius is it can rain in one area while only a few kilometers away, the sun is shining and no cloud is in sight.
If you wake up in the morning with a grey sky, don’t worry. Go for a shower, have breakfast and by the time you’re ready to head to the beach, the sun will be out and the sky blue.
GETTING AROUND MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a small island country and getting around it is quite easy, although travelling takes time because the roads are often congested or in poor condition.
Apart from the one major highway which winds its way from the airport to Mauritius resorts in Grand Baie in the north; roads are generally narrow, slow-going and not for the faint-hearted. Generally, there are no pavements on the country roads and you need to give way to people and animals walking along the road.
It’s not uncommon for people on a Mauritius holiday to travel up to 2 hours from their hotel to see a major attraction. Buses in Mauritius go everywhere expect to the uninhabited Plaine Champagne region. It’s a fun and cheap way to get around Mauritius but it’s time consuming and unpredictable.
Taxis and hired cares are a better option. Petrol in Mauritius is relatively cheap and you can search around for Mauritius specials on car hire. Self-drive is popular, reasonably safe and a flexible way to explore the island.
Mauritians drive on the left side of the road, as you do in South Africa and the UK.
Drivers wishing to rent a vehicle must be over 23 years old and must be in possession of a foreign license; it is not necessary to have an International Driving Permit.
All passengers must wear seatbelts including the driver and the speed limits are 80kph (50mph) on the motorway and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas.
One issue which is problematic self-driving in Mauritius is that the towns and attractions are poorly signposted. Mauritian drivers are also fairly erratic and you have to have your wits about you.
The tourist taxis in Mauritius are regulated and the price is governed by the hotel or province they are linked to; you’ll see this printed in a yellow panel on the driver’s door. Find a reputable taxi operator and use him for sightseeing. It takes the stress out of navigating your way to the popular things to see and do in Mauritius.
Many luxury Mauritius hotels and resorts run their own shuttle service and offer transport for daily excursions to the main attractions in Mauritius. There are also a number of reputable tour operators who operate reliable and relatively affordable shuttle services for day tours.
MONEY IN MAURITIUS
The local currency is the Mauritian Rupee, although most major hotels and resorts in Mauritius accept credit cards. Both Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted throughout the island.
The best thing about an all-inclusive Mauritius package is you can put your wallet away because almost everything is covered in the daily rate. This includes breakfast, dinner, all non-motorised water sport and unlimited waterskiing. It might also include lunch and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages and select wines, beers and spirits.
TIPPING IN MAURITIUS
Although it’s not obligatory, tipping service staff in Mauritius is highly appreciated. For good service, a tip of between 10-15% is recommended. Check first if it hasn’t already been included in the bill issued by the top-end luxury hotels in Mauritius.
VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR MAURITIUS
Travel visas to enter Mauritius are not required for citizens of the USA, EU, Canada and Japan.
South African passport holders do not require visas.
Initial entry is granted for one month but extensions for a further three months are available at Port Louis. Visitors from other countries can obtain a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport for a period of up to 60 days.
Visit the Mauritius Embassy website for full details on visa requirements.
All visitors to Mauritius require a passport valid for at least six months from date of departure from Mauritius.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR MAURITIUS
It is highly recommended that tourists travelling to the island for a Mauritius holiday take out a Travel Insurance Policy which provides adequate cover for travel and health issues. This might include an emergency evacuation and hospitalisation.
VACCINATIONS REQUIRED FOR MAURITIUS
If you have travelled through a Yellow Fever infected area such as Kenya and Tanzania, you are required to provide proof of a yellow fever vaccination before entering Mauritius.
It’s recommended that all tourists ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date before going on a holiday to Mauritius.
SAFETY IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a safe country to visit as long as you follow the usual precautions and be vigilante about your own safety. Do not venture out into the city streets at night on your own and take care of your valuables. Leave your expensive jewelry at home and keep the amount of cash you carry on you to a minimum.
Crime in Mauritius is negligible and tends to be petty offenses such as pickpocketing in busy street markets or from unguarded handbags on beaches.
Avoid certain areas in the city which are considered ‘high risk’ and avoid drinking excessive alcohol which could see you walking into trouble in areas you shouldn’t visit.
LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a multi-cultural country with strong Creole, Indian, French and British influences. However, English is the language used in official documents and signage at places like the international airport and Mauritius hotels and is widely spoken in high-density Mauritius tourism areas.
Due to the fact that Mauritius is more Francophone than Anglophone, the language most widely spoken by locals is French.
The third predominant language spoken in Mauritius is the mother-tongue Creole pidgin which is French-based mixed with English and other Asian and African words.
Others languages spoken include Hindi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu, Mandarin and Hakka. This reflects the religious and cultural diversity of the country.