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Whether you’re looking for an action-packed holiday filled with abseiling, snorkeling and zip lining, plan to relax on the beach with a classic Mauritian rum-and-coconut cocktail in your hand, or are choosing a fabulous honeymoon, Mauritius is the destination that has it all. Known for its postcard-perfect scenery, tropical climate, blue seas and white sands, the island offers a fantastic mixture of luxury and adventure.
Each coast of the island has its own characteristics. The west coast was the original home of the pristine luxury hotels Mauritius is famous for, and has some fantastic all-inclusive resorts, as well as warm weather and spectacular sunsets. The quieter east coast is ideal for lovers of watersports such as windsurfing, and has some beautiful sands – although it can also suffer the effects of strong winds.
The north of the island boasts the highest concentration of beaches, while the south is a bit wilder, and ideal for those who want to get closer to the island’s flora and fauna. It’s also home to several adventure parks and companies offering high-adrenaline activities including quad biking, abseiling and canyoning.
Take a trip to island capital Port Louis for shopping centres and boutiques, including the ever-popular Caudan Waterfront, then pay a visit the 19th-century Natural History Museum. Exhibits include a Giant Tortoise Gallery and World of the Dodo exhibition. There are plenty of luxury hotels in the city, but you can also find cheap nights in hostels and budget hotels if you shop around.
A 40-minute drive from Port Louis will bring you to Casala World of Adventures on the western edge of the island. The park offers visitors the chance to go on a mini safari, ride a quad bike or a camel, interact with big cats and travel along a 400m (1,312ft) zip wire.
Animal lovers staying on the southern end of the island are ideally placed to visit La Vanille Nature Park. It's packed with exotic animals from crocodiles to fruit bats, and visitors can hold a baby croc and take a pony ride through the reserve.
You’ll also be close to Black River Peak Viewpoint, the highest point on the island, and to Le Morne Brabant – a mountain best climbed with a guide and some sturdy shoes.
Those on the east coast can take advantage of their proximity to Domaine de l’Etoile, a private reserve spanning 200 hectares (494 acres). You can explore the incredible scenery by quad bike, zipline or horse ride, before enjoying a great-value lunch buffet with spectacular views.
Plenty of other activities are on offer across Mauritius, including catamaran cruises to tiny islands, abseiling through waterfalls, swimming with dolphins, stunning helicopter trips and every water sport you can think of – including underwater scooters that take the difficulty out of diving.
Mauritius is a great choice for winter sun, with November to April being the warmest months to visit, and also the island’s peak season. December is also a busy time for tourists booking Christmas and New Year visits.
Be warned, though: there’s a chance you’ll see a lot of rain between January and March, which is cyclone season – although if you’re more interested in exploring the island than sunbathing, you can save money by visiting during February, which is one of the cheapest times to travel.
The ideal months to catch some of the best weather in Mauritius and avoid the holiday crowds are October and November, which is mid-season on the island. Although flights are still fairly costly, book a longer break of two or three weeks off-peak and you’ll greatly reduce the overall cost per night of your stay. There’s plenty of cheap accommodation in Mauritius, much of it right on the beach.
June to August are Mauritius’s coolest months – although the average in July is still a warm 21C – although thanks to the school holidays, August is still peak season. If you travel in July and August, avoid the east coast, which can be hit by strong winds.
Drawing in thousands of punters each year, the Duchess of York Cup is one of the country’s most popular events. The horserace is held at the Champs de Mars Racecourse – the second oldest in the world.
Food, music, literature and dance are all on show at this colourful seven-day festival. It’s a celebration of the island’s Creole culture, and one of the biggest events of the year.
You can fly to Mauritius (Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, or SSR) from London Gatwick or London Heathrow, and flights are also available from Manchester airport at peak times.
Although Mauritius is small, getting from place to place can involve a long drive, which is why all-inclusive resorts that offer activities and water sports onsite are so popular – pick one that ticks all the boxes and you won’t want to leave.
If you do choose to venture farther afield, booking an excursion will take the stress out of getting there, and taxis are readily available, including ranks with set fees at the airport.
If you’re using a taxi to sightsee, it’s worth agreeing a rate in advance, or asking your hotel if they have any deals with local taxi drivers, to avoid a bumper fare at the end of your journey. Buses are a very cheap way to get around, although they’re hard to come by in quiet areas, while popular routes can get very busy.
If you’re keen to explore under your own steam, you can rent a car in Mauritius, with several car-hire options available at the airport. If you’ve booked transfers, you could also get your car delivered to your hotel for a small fee. Left-hand driving makes things a bit simpler for tourists from the UK (although the roads can be a bit basic), and as the island is so small – just 65km (40 miles) by 45km (30 miles) – it’s relatively easy to get around.
If you can tear yourself away from the pristine main beaches, car hire and petrol prices are surprisingly affordable. It’s the ideal way to get off the tourist route and explore the island on your own terms.
Brush up on your haggling skills at the Central Market in Port Louis. You’ll find a range of affordable knick-knacks here but for handcrafted, unique goodies, try the Le Craft market.
Tours are an easy way to see the best Mauritius has to offer. Book them through local travel agents, instead of your hotel as you’ll get the same tours at much cheaper prices!
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