Mauritius travel guide
A hypnotic blend of Indian, African and European influences, Mauritius might be synonymous with luxury beach breaks, but this destination will dazzle even the most discerning traveller, with its superb hiking, excellent mountain climbing and world-class diving.
The beaches are, indeed, noteworthy of praise. Encircling the island, they are exactly what the holiday brochures promise. But beyond its celebrated sands, native forests grow over the cooler central plateau, providing a home to rare plants and animals such as the Mauritius flying fox, which can be found nowhere else on Earth.
Back on the coast, the world’s third largest coral reef surrounds almost the entire island and has become a Mecca for divers thanks to its bountiful marine life. Hop out of the water and into local culture along the east coast, which is home to fine beaches and sleepy fishing communities. Village such as Petite Julie and Queen Victoria demonstrate the mixed Anglo-French heritage of the country, and it is in these sleepy outposts that you can hear sega music played in its most traditional form.
The northern regions offer the best combination of beaches, cuisine and nightlife. Further west, the capital, Port Louis, is famed for its Caudan Waterfront complex of restaurants, shops and casinos, as well as the colonial-era central market and Places D’Armes.
Dolphin safaris, rum distilleries and sand dunes add to the west’s appeal, though for many visitors the star attraction here is Le Morne mountain, which was used as a hideout by runaway slaves. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this rugged outcrop has become synonymous with the struggle for freedom.
Friendly, welcoming and unremittingly beautiful, Mauritius offers not only fantastic weather and exquisite beaches, but also a distinct cultural identity that is well worth exploring.
2,040 sq km (788 sq miles).
1,277,459 (UN estimate 2016).
656.8 per sq km.
President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim since 2015.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth since January 2017.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are commonly used in hotels; you can often find European-style sockets (two round pins) as well.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Petty crime is common. Take care of bags and valuables in popular tourist areas including Port Louis, Grand Baie and Flic en Flac. Use a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, separately.
There have been recent reports of burglaries at villas where tourists have been staying. Make sure accommodation and hotel rooms are secure. Avoid renting accommodation that isn’t registered with the Mauritius Tourism Authority. You should read the Safety and Security Measures if you’re staying in rented accommodation.
Most crime is non-violent, but weapons have been used in some burglaries. Although uncommon, there have been some instances of sexual assault on tourists. Avoid walking alone at night on beaches or in poorly lit areas especially in the back streets of the business district of Port Louis.
There have been reports of street robberies near or at ATMs. Take extra care when withdrawing cash.
In 2011, an Irish tourist was murdered in her hotel room at a resort in the north of the Island. The crime remains unsolved. Incidents like this are very rare, but you should remain vigilant.
Avoid doing business with street or beach vendors.
Report any incidents to the Police du Tourisme (telephone: 213 2818).
You can drive using your UK driving licence, but you must have it with you at all times. The standard of driving varies and there are frequent accidents. Be particularly careful when driving after dark as pedestrians and unlit motorcyclists are serious hazards.
On 21 November 2015 a British tourist was assaulted by bystanders following a minor car accident. If you’re involved in a road accident report it to the police. If you’re worried about your safety at the scene of an accident you should go to the nearest police station straight away.
In August 2014, a young British tourist drowned whilst swimming with the dolphins in Tamarin Bay. If you’re taking part in any type of water sports, make sure that the operator holds a valid permit issued by the Ministry of Tourism, there are life jackets on board and the captain has a means to contact the coastguard if necessary.
While there have been no successful piracy attacks since May 2012 off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy related activity and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean remains significant. Reports of attacks on local fishing dhows in the area around the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa continue. The combined threat assessment of the international Naval Counter Piracy Forces remains that all sailing yachts under their own passage should remain out of the designated High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. For more information and advice, see our Piracy and armed robbery at sea page.