Mauritius has been in our travel radar for quite some time. The island puts out gorgeous pictures of idyllic beaches, tall mountain peaks and allures with its singular address so far from everything in the vast Indian Ocean. Here are our firsthand impressions of what a trip to the island entails.
Far from Everything
There is quite a lot of time involved in getting here, even if you are coming from the closest continental landmass (South Africa) it is a three hour flight. Most tourists come from Europe, the Middle East and Asia which is easily another six to eight hours on top of that. As a singular destination, tickets are likely to be expensive and with almost year round good weather its almost always in season.
Easy to arrive
We found the airport to be very modern and highly functional considering the island’s relative isolation. Planes from all around the world were visible as well as the local carrier Air Mauritius which we flew and found to be a very hospitable carrier.
Most tourists who arrive to the island have one or two resorts planned for their stay maximum and so have prearranged transport. We were some of the few to rent a car, which we do recommend only for seasoned international drivers as the roads can be challenging to navigate and drive in some places. There are public buses on the island but the routes are more designed for locals than for tourists.
The two main experiences of the island
The island can be divided into two experiences from our perspective and we indulged in a little of both. The first is obviously the resort stays. Most resorts have all inclusive, half board etc plans which really focus on everything happening at the hotel. Guests check in and can easily never leave the resort as there is everything from a spa, to restaurants, the beach and most watersports are included free. There are many golf courses on the island and opportunities to horseback ride and go on some forest and waterfall excursions. Almost any of these can be arranged from the hotel.
The other experience of the island which we had by virtue of renting a car is to see some of the small towns, standalone forest preserves and some of the natural formations. While the island does have some dramatic scenery in parts, there are large parts of it that are nothing but long flat stretches of sugarcane fields and tidy but lackluster towns. The capital city of Port Louis has a few nice buildings against the backdrop of the harbor but is otherwise unremarkable. If one is interested in some of the geological or historical aspects of the island this second type experience can be a good approach, but most people come for the beach getaways behind resort walls. The island overall enjoys a good quality of life and there are no blatant signs of poverty, but the dramatic beauty is really concentrated in certain areas of beachfront and around seven or so mountain peaks mostly found on the Northwest side of the island.
Overall we found Mauritius to have some breathtaking mountain and beach views, friendly locals and a strong culture of hospitality. It is a place worth seeing in its own right, but there are other islands with equal or surpassing beauty that we have seen such as Langkawi, Bali, or Maldives that we would return to before making a return to Mauritius.