By Juhi Bansal
There are two reasons Mauritius happened for us. One, it was in the consideration list because well it’s gorgeous and it was also the top destination of 2018 as per a variety of travel magazines and Two, because it was perfect for a last minute getaway. Visa on arrival, self drive destination etc.
For an island nation, Mauritius came as a pleasant surprise to us. High end malls, impeccable highways, extremely kind people (actually we are getting used to this wherever we go) and yet the nature is pristine and well preserved for the amount of tourists it gets every year. There is something for everyone in Mauritius.
Air Mauritius (code shares with Air India) flies everyday between Mumbai/ Delhi and Mauritius. The flight is direct and about 5.5/6 hours long. The aircrafts are quite comfortable and the staff very courteous. Alternatively, you could fly via Dubai. Visa on arrival for Indian passport holders!
Sincd Mauritius is in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the winter season there which means the temperatures range between 25-18 degree Celsius. The weather is warm enough in the day time for you to enjoy the ocean to the fullest and pleasant in the evenings. While it did not rain for the entire duration of our stay it is not uncommon. It may serve you the best to check the weather for your exact dates of travel.
Phone & Connectivity
Mauritius has 4G. We took a local sim from EMTEL the moment we landed. It had very affordable calling and data packages. For 8 days and 2 SIM cards with a decent data usage of about 4 GB in total (we used it extensively for GPS) it cost is MUR 1000-1200.
As usual we planned a self catered, self drive trip and it couldn’t have gone any better! Mauritius is huge (I am comparing it to Seychelles largely) and getting a car makes a lot of sense. We drove close to 1200 kms through our 8 day stay there. It’s convenient to pick up the car at the airport when you land and then drop it back on your way out. Cars usually cost abour EUR 35-60 per day depending on the make and model. We drove a Corolla Axio which cost about EUR 200 (we got a heavy discount because we booked it through our airbnb host). Petrol cost an additional MUR 4000. Mauritius has very strict over-speeding rules with cameras all over the highways. We ended up paying a hefty fine of MUR 2500 for a speeding ticket.
People & Culture
While you might be fooled into believing there are a lot of NRIs in Mauritius it is anything but the truth. True that about 50% of the locals there are of Indian origin, they moved to Mauritius about 4-6 generations ago. Their first language is Creole or French and in most cases don’t know any Indian language at all. However, Bollywood is big there and you can see quite a bit of the influence. The rest of the population comprises of people of French, Chinese and Africans origins. Also this means that their food is a happy mix of all these cultures and is really interesting!
Mauritians are extremely kind and helpful. However, the more we travel we realize people are inherently nice everywhere but I digress. Our hosts (both of Indian and French origin) went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and were always just one call or message away. They also seemed very open minded and modern especially in their attitude towards women- both guests and their own.
The Mauritian Rupee is equal to about 2 Indian Rupees. At an average you can get a meal for MUR 800-1000 and a drink for 150-300 MUR.
Where to Stay
Mauritius is huge with about 1800 kms in area. I say huge because my last island nation trip was to Seychelles. I would suggest dividing your stay between South and North parts of the island for the duration of your stay. We did the same and even within North we divided it over 3 different locations because we wanted to experience it all- quiet city life, beach life and night life in Mauritius. If you are looking for a buzzing night life- do not think of anywhere other than Grand Baie. That’s where almost all the action in Mauritius is. However, if you’re looking for some quiet and alone time- Black River, Le Morne in South are some of the towns you might consider. Flic en Flac is a nice mix of these two- no real night life but a number of beach side cafes make it quite bright and fun.
While I am going to share a detailed day to day itinerary in my next article, here is why you need to make Mauritius your next holiday destination
Lets get this out of the way. Why else would you even think of Mauritius! Pristine white sand beaches and bluest of blue water. We spent hours just lying on the beaches (with the little one making sandcastles) reading a book or just chatting. My favourite beaches were- Blue Bay, Gris Gris, Flic en Flac, Ile aux Cerfs and Grand Baie.
There is so much to include here that I am going to do a separate article on this. Whether it is the food on the streets or fancy restaurants run by foreigners there is just too much to explore. Mauritius was a gastronomical delight whether it was their local food or other cuisines.
Nature- trails, treks,hikes, nature parks, marine parks and even amusement parks
There is something for everyone. For the seeker in you, the kid in you and the nature lover in you. There are so many treks and trails- you can pick and choose as you like. Trou-aux-cerfs (the volcano), Black River Gorges National Park, the Le Morne peak your head will be buzzing with options and no matter how many days you spend there it will still not be enough time.
Rum, Sugar and Jam Tastings
Oh yes! Apart from the rum tasting (which is extremely cheap) do not forget to try the house rum cocktails in practically every restaurant you go. Try their sugars and delectable jams apart from the very interesting rum flavors.
Mauritius is so culturally rich. With 9 districts and over 130 towns and villages you see a different culture and setting every few kilometres. It was a pure delight driving around and visiting towns like Curepipe, Chamarel, Le Morne, Flacq, Mahebourg, Souillac, Port Louis, Pamplemousses and so many more.
Scenic Long Drives
Whether it is the Baie du Cap Coastal road or the sugarcane field dotted highways, you do not mind driving in Mauritius. There is natural beauty wherever your eyes (and car) take you.
I will come back very soon with a detailed day to day itinerary but if you are looking for your next holiday destination, Mauritius is it. Whether it is the enthralling natural beauty or the laid back locals or shopping or food or activities galore- Mauritius has it all and then some!
All pics from our iPhone 6 S or One Plus Six