Mauritius. The very word conjures images of sun kissed beaches, sparkling blue waters kissing sparkling white sands. The whimsical colours of umbrella drinks to the whimsical sounds of Creole music. For us, we were lucky enough to have our experience hand-picked for us as a wedding gift. So we just went with the flow, doing very little research and planning before our trip. But for you, for a vacation that’s supposed to be the epitome of R&R, how do you rest till you know where you’ll relax?
For an island country whose only focus is travel and tourism, every second property is a resort, hotel or bed and breakfast. So how do you decide where to stay? While the natural vistas are equally gorgeous no matter which part of Mauritius you’re in, it is easy to zero in on an area basis the kind of experience you desire.
1. Look only at the Coast. After all this is a beach vacation destination. While the interiors really are beautiful with rolling green hills giving way to lush fields of sweet smelling sugarcane, you’ll be sure to pass those on your way to and from the airport long enough to admire them. The desolate interiors aren’t developed enough for a comfortable stay.
2. Want to party? The young, trendy and hip head to the Northwest in areas like Grand Baie for the happening nightlife and accommodation for every budget. The beaches aren’t great but people congregate by the hordes to eat, drink and shop here. The capital, Port Louis is also famous for upmarket shopping, museums & Chinatown.
3. Want to relax? The Northeastern part of Mauritius from Cap Malheureux through Grand Gaube is largely undeveloped save for a few resorts which make for a truly quiet and private experience. Travelling South along the East Coast from Belle Mare to Pointe de Flacq you’ll find the finest beaches in Mauritius with soft white sands and sparkly azure waters. For the deep pocketed, Belle Mare has quite a selection of luxury resorts.
4. Can’t choose? The west coast around Flic en Flac boasts a gorgeous beach with a fast developing infrastructure. So you’re sure to find a great range of hotels, restaurants, shopping and more. The private beaches of the luxury hotels are cleaner and less crowded than the public beaches that see an influx of visitors from neighbouring towns as well as tourists. The beaches however, are a little rocky and strewn with stones that hurt bare feet. Over on the East coast, Trou d’ea Douce is a popular spot, a short boat ride away from the must visit Ile aux Cerfs.
Getting around on the island is easy (if you can tear yourself away from the beachfront). Most resorts have a taxi stand at the gate and hiring bikes is easy. It’s important that you negotiate a price before getting into a taxi, because they rarely use meters and you are liable to be ripped off.
The weather in Mauritius is typically that of a tropical island. The best time to go is May to November, the winter months when it is slightly cooler and drier. While it stays hot and humid the rest of the year, rainfall can be expected through the year. Jan and Feb are prone to cyclones, so best avoided.
Water activities are available in plenty. After all, this is the tropical island paradise of the world. You can speak to the concierge at your hotel, your taxi driver, or even pop by one of the hundreds of tourist offices lining major roads and find out about the excursions or activities they can arrange for you. Speak to a couple of people to compare prices and get the best deal. Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Deep Sea Fishing, Underwater Walks, Submarines and Subscooters, Boat Rides, Dolphin Watching etc, there’s just so many magical experiences to choose from.
The local language is a mystery. Some areas still borrow from the colonial days and speak French. A large part of the population comprises immigrants from India who speak Bhojpuri. But the most commonly spoken language is Creole. A mash up of all the languages that has no written script, no rules of grammar and no consistency whatsoever. So anybody’s guess is as good as the next guy’s. Luckily, thanks to the influx of tourists, all the locals speak at least enough English for us travelers to get by.
Visas are available on arrival for all travelers.