Where on Earth is Mauritius? Islands keep beckoning me. Mauritius was on my bucket list. My one week in Mauritius which is 2500km off the South East Coast of Africa – was an amazing experience.
Mauritius is famous for its palm trees, sparkling crystal waters, beaches, coloured sands and beautiful warm people. And the food of course! Is Mauritius on your bucket list? It should be! You cannot pass up on an opportunity to explore one of the most beautiful and tranquil islands in the world. I
n this Mauritius experience, I will share with you some of the momentous moments. One week in Mauritius is enough to get a good perspective of the Island and in this Mauritius review, I will try to answer all the questions you may have about this idyllic island.
Before You Pack – Here are Some Travel Tips
If Mauritius is on your bucket list you should know that you do not need a visa to visit Mauritius. However, you do need to have at least six months expiry. Therefore, grab your passport and check the best before end date before you book your flights.
You are allowed to stay up to 60 days on the Island of Mauritius BUT you will need to produce evidence of your return ticket.
Next, you need to consider when is the best time to visit Mauritius. Generally, May to December is considered the best time of visit because the weather is dry, sunny but still cool. The weather in Mauritius is tropical and it is actually warm all year round.
If you are keen to see the humpback whales then you should try for the end of June until the latest end of October.
If you are planning to travel to Mauritius you should get some vaccines. WHO recommends that you get vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, typhoid and yellow fever. Once you are at your Health Centre check whether you are already covered for rabies and tetanus and I would recommend that you get a shot for these as well.
One last travel tip before you pack – is that I would take out travel insurance. Even if you think that your credit card provider covers you, there are plenty of reasons why you should take out travel insurance.
I recommend that you read my post – Is Travel Insurance an Unnecessary Expense?
Is Mauritius on Your Bucket List? Here is What you Should Pack
Mauritius is a very relaxed place and it is quite hot. So I would recommend that you avoid packing synthetic fabrics and focus on cotton dresses.
Naturally, you will want to pack plenty of beachwear. Modesty is the norm and nudity is not tolerated. This includes going topless! The Mauritians are conservative and you are expected to respect the culture.
Hats and sunglasses are must-haves and I would throw in a sarong as this is a standard requirement if you are visiting temples and religious sites.
I packed flip-flops or tongs as some call them. The sand gets blistering hot and you will not be able to walk on it barefoot. Protective shoes for rocky beaches are a good idea. Naturally, if you are eating in any of the exceptionally beautiful resort restaurants, some nice shoes are a good idea. Finally, if you want to explore the Island’s nature parks, I would add tracking shoes as you may feel safer navigating with them.
Other travel essentials are:
- mosquito repellent and some hydrocortisone
- sunscreen and aloe vera
- travel adapter (local voltage is 240v) and even a step-down voltage converter
- a water bottle to carry around on your expeditions
- plenty of little money or coins for tipping
So now that you are packed and ready, you should weigh your luggage and make sure that you allow some kgs for all the stuff you may buy in Mauritius.
Some Fun & Funky Information before You Fly to Mauritius
All of the Mauritians are immigrants that have mostly migrated from India. Although the official language is English, most natives are speaking in Mauritian Creole or in French.
Naturally the fact that almost everyone in Mauritius speaks in English, it makes it an ideal destination for many travellers. Creole is mostly spoken between the Mauritians at home. Creole is a slave language that was born at a time when slaves needed to communicate with their French masters.
The Island itself is surrounded by reefs which become the amazing backdrop of the crystal clear lagoons. Swimming and water sports are definitely a bigger part of your trip there.
Is Mauritius Safe for a Female Traveling Solo?
Mauritius is very safe and other than the usual tips for staying safe as a female flying solo there is absolutely no cause for anxiety. I would recommend, however, if you are walking around Port Louis at night, to avoid back streets which are very poorly lit and not too exciting to see at night.
As I said earlier native Mauritians are beautiful warm people. If you are in difficulty for any reason, you will just need to reach out and find assistance.
If you are a female solo traveler, you are safe to roam and beach comb and chase the rainbows in a morning walk – just like the one I managed to catch on my week-long trip there.
Public Transport is very easy and accessible and taxi drivers are very friendly. Besides you can ask the hotel receptionist to get the identity of your driver when booking if you feel unsure about traveling alone with a driver.
Resorts and hotels usually arrange group tours if you want to explore the Island and not do it by yourself.
Another great thing you can do safely on your solo trip to Mauritius is hiking. There are endless trails in which to hike if you are an outdoors lover and do not wish to be restricted to beach activities.
The Highlights of What to Do in Mauritius
I spent a week in Mauritius and although it is quite a small Island, I found that I literally packed my time from beginning to end. I loved every minute. Here are some of the highlights of my stay!
Day 1 Settle In and Enjoy The Reefs and the Sea
I was staying in the North-West part of the Island – specifically in Balaclava Turtle Bay. There are plenty of resorts there and I stayed at the Westin Turtle Bay Resort. Every morning, I walked around the beach area and I could see that there are quite a few other resort hotels in the area which are equally nice.
Chilling on the beach and by the pool is a must-do especially if you are somewhat jet-lagged like I was. The water is warm, clear, clean, limpid and safe. The spas are exceptionally good and for me, it was a great way to chill and give myself some TLC before I got down to the real business of exploring the Island.
Close to where I was staying there was the beautiful ruins of the Balaclava Rum Factory which is still a feeling of past brought forward to the present.
Mauritius is famous for its sugar cane and is still a top producer for rum all over the world such as Pink Pigeon and Chamarel.
Day 2 Visit Chamarel – Chamarel is enchanting.
At 100 metres Chamarel is the highest waterfall in Mauritius and it is spectacular. You can climb up the stairs to get to the viewing platform and snap this impressive sight.
This trip should be combined also with a visit to the Seven Coloured Sands of Mauritius. Actually the sands are not really sand but coloured earth. The rich tones of purples, yellows, browns and reds all fuse together in this spectacular and unique sight. The sand dunes have been created from volcanic rock which cooled off at different temperatures. Later the rock crushed to sand and settled in these dunes.
In all my years traveling, I have never quite seen anything as naturally spectacular as these sands.
Day 3 Visit the Casela Nature Parks and Do Zip Line and Quad Biking
The Zip Line is by far the most adventurous thing I did in Mauritius (other than fishing which is adventurous for some but common life for me.
The Zip- Line is known as the Flying Fox. If you are an adrenalin junkie this may be up your line. I still cannot understand what got into me to try it since I am so scared of heights but I did. Naturally, you could hear me scream from Mauritius all the way to Malta (where I come from). La Vallee Extreme is 3.1km long and it feels like 300 km though, in reality, it is just a few minutes of pure fear and fun.
Casela World of Adventures stands on the spectacular west coast of Mauritius and it is high above the sugar canes and has Rampart Mountain for a backdrop.
Zip-Line is just one of the activities that you can experience. Another great fun for the outdoorsy type of traveler is Quad biking around the park and seeing beautiful sand dunes. The quads and the trails are quite safe even for a solo female driver. I enjoyed the topography and was ready to push my luck going around bends, climbing up the mountain.
Whilst at the park I also had a mild flavour of the more real Safari which I did in Phinda in South Africa.
Most animals are really in the wild like giraffes, zebras and peacocks – however, the Lions and cheetahs are really behind nets and not altogether approachable.
All in all,
it was a lovely day even if it is the typical tourist thing to do.
Day 4 Time to Visit the Capital Port Louis and Feel the Real Creoleon Flavour of Mauritius
Port Louis is lively! I loved the hustle and bustle and the extreme diversity ranging from the Caudan Waterfront which is a mecca for dining and shopping to the very local central market which is inland and which is full of peddlers and vendors selling local handicrafts, produce and delicious Creole food.
During the French colonization, the Island of Mauritius was known as the Ile de France. Its location was perfect because it gave French ships a breathing space in their voyage from Asia to Europe when going around the Cape of Good Hope. Later with the opening of the Suez Canal, Port Louis lost a lot of its port calls and dwindled in its importance on a worldwide level. Port Louis made a comeback during the 7-year closure of Suez Canal in 1967 and today after modernization remains a very important hub for all imports into Mauritius.
Port Louis got its name as a namesake and in honor of King Louis XV!
Port Louis like many other cities is also home to China Town with plenty of restaurants serving both traditional Chinese as well as Creole dishes and a fusion of both.
There are plenty of museums which you could visit albeit not large. Personally, I preferred to walk around the centuries-old cobbled street and look at the colonial houses, some of which are beautifully restored to their original splendour.
The Caudan Waterfront is remarkable with the now worldwide popular coloured umbrella road. The waterfront is full of lively eateries and bars and if you want to do a spot of shopping it is quite a trendy place.
Towards the evening I took a cab to Champ de Mars. This is the oldest horse racing course in the southern hemisphere of the world.
One nice tip: If you really want to see a stunning view of Port Louis visit the Citadelle which is really an old fort which once guarded the city against the enemy from the sea. You will see the whole of Port Louis and the view is nothing short of breathtaking.
Day 5 Swimming with the Dolphins and Boat Excursion in Mauritius
I have to say that Day 5 was probably my favorite day. I arranged to take a tour which included swimming out in the wild with dolphins, some snorkelling and a rudimentary BBQ lunch. The beach we were taken to was Flic en Flac which is down in Tamarin. It was an early call at around 6.30 a.m because the dolphins are only really spotted in the morning.
The dolphins do show up and swim in pods. And yes we all dived in with total exhilaration – but the truth is that the dolphins do swim away when you get within a few metres of them. So we kept hopping back on the boat and catching the next shoal or dolphin pod.
Although the romantic idea of swimming with the dolphins was a bit dashed – I still managed to see quite a bit of playful dolphins with my mask and flippers. The idea of freedom was ultimately the far more important feeling.
Right after we had exhausted all possibility of seeing the spinner dolphins any longer, the boat steered towards one of the many reefs and we had a lovely snorkel in some peace and quiet. (I forgot to mention that there were some other 15 boats all vying to catch the dolphins).
The reefs are home to a plethora of colourful fish ranging from trumpet fish to neon colour colonies. The fish seem to literally dance to the rhythm of the current and are pulled and pushed towards the reef as they nibble on the seaweed.
After our snorkel – we were taken (where else) but to the famous Crystal Rock. This rock which is of a particular shape and literally juts out of the water like a lone island is not that big. To be honest, it really stands out more for the fact that it is offset by amazing turquoise waters.
Our last stop was in Ile aux Benitiers (Benitiers Island) for a beach lunch. A rudimentary tent was erected and picnic tables were set up by the locals. Food was brought in from our boat. Our captained turned chef then went ahead and grilled chicken, tuna and sausages. We had plenty of rice and fried bananas for dessert. We had “Mauritian Coffee” free flow. This is the fond name form local rum and coke!
The lunch itself was fun and gave me the opportunity to meet other females flying solo! Actually, we were in the vast majority – women. Most of the girls were on a short break from executive work and one other was a blogger.
The lunch was really fun if basic. What was even more fun was the peddlers coming in onshore with a variety of fruit and drinks to continue entertaining the day-trippers. Colourful is an understatement. Some came on floats and others who were more sophisticated jetted in with a motor.
It must have been 5.00 p.m by the time I got back to my hotel thoroughly exhausted from a very full-on day.
The evening out of choice I stayed at the hotel and just mingled with other guests. The staff prepared a large bonfire on the sand and grilled fish and served us BBQ – in somewhat more refined circumstances than our lunch.
Day 6 Shopping around Mauritius and a Culinary Tour
Do not go away thinking that because this is a tropical island and mostly frequented by people who want to relax by the beach, that there isn’t the possibility of some serious shopping in Mauritius.
If you are into the Mall kind of shopping then I recommend that you visit the Hyper Market of Bagatelle Mall – Moka. Here you can find luxury shopping style with brands like Armani Celio and Aldo.
To be very honest that is not what I would like to do when on a trip like this. I prefer the local fare. In this case, I returned to Caudan Waterfront and visited Le Craft Market. Here you can find beautiful handcrafted stuff including some mind-blowing glassworks. My only little bit of advice here is that you should hone your bargaining skills to the optimum level.
Around the area, you will find plenty of shops selling Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. In case you were wondering, yes they are originals. However, nothing else is. There are plenty of shops which are warehouse-style or outlet style – but they are all copies.
Mauritius is culinary heaven. On my sixth day, I opted for street food. Creole food is spicy and varied and very colourful. Because of the Mauritian heritage and history, the food is an ethnic mix of French, Creole, Indian Chinese and African. The amount of tropical fruit finds its way easily in any recipe.
Street food ranges from Dhal Puri which is the Mauritian Flatbread stuffed with curried yellow split-peas with pickles and chutney.
Naturally, samosas and fruit are an order of the day. But by far the most delicious meal I had was a spicy red seafood curry with crayfish which were in season. Altogether a very pleasant day with a little bit of everything.
Day 7 Grand Baie and The Museum L’Aventure du Sucre
I wanted to have a nice and easy last day before I traveled back and since I was already quite far up in the north, I decided to go to Grand Baie. Grand Baie was up to twenty years ago a secluded fishing village with bopping boats.
Today Grand Baie is nicknamed “Le Trop” for its fervent shopping and more important sundown entertainment. There is plenty to do for whatever your accent is on. If you are interested in the history of the Island, then I recommend the museum L’ Aventure du Sucre. Here you get the chance of witnessing history and also do some serious rum tasting.
If you are a foodie like myself, then you should stop at Le Fangourin and sit under a Flamboyan Tree and treat yourself to a nice lunch.
En route, my last pit stop was at the Pamplemousses Botanic Gardens which date back to the 18th century. The gardens are vast and naturally, their famous centrepiece is the giant Amazon Lilypond.
I hired a guide to do this tour because as I said the gardens are vast and there is so much information you would miss if you did it on your own.
Is Mauritius on Your Bucket List? It Should be – My Conclusion
If you weren’t sure whether Mauritius should be on your bucket list, I hope that my brief 7-day hop around has convinced you that there is so much to do in Mauritius.
Mark Twain had this to say about Mauritius
“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
If you are still wondering and need some more information and advice, especially if you are a female flying solo, do not hesitate to drop me a comment and I will get right back to you.