Mauritius Travel Guide: Essential Facts and Information

Mauritius, Le Morne Brabant, aerial view

Sylvain Grandadam/ Getty Images

An Indian Ocean island blessed with paradise beaches and lush rainforests, Mauritius is as relaxing or as adventurous as you want it to be. Luxury resorts promise days filled with sumptuous seafood, spa treatments and cocktails by the pool; while adrenaline junkies can sign up for an astonishing roster of activities ranging from scuba diving to 4x4 adventures and waterfall hikes. Mauritius is also a nature lover's paradise with its own cast of endemic mammal and bird species, while the influence of its French, Creole, Indian and Chinese residents is evident in its fragrant cuisine and colorful festivals.

 

Location

Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 500 miles/ 800 kilometers east of Madagascar and 125 miles/ 200 kilometers east of Réunion Island.

Geography

With a total land mass of 784 square miles/ 2,030 square kilometers, Mauritius is approximately 11 times the size of Washington, D.C. In addition to the main island, the country includes the Agalega Islands, the Cargados Carajos Shoals and Rodrigues Island. 

Capital City

The capital of Mauritius is Port Louis, located on the northwest coast. 

Population

A CIA World Factbook estimate published in July 2017 put the population of Mauritius at just over 1.3 million. 

Language

The official language of Mauritius is English, although it is spoken by less than 1% of the population. Instead the most widely spoken language is Creole, which accounts for 86.5% of the population. Other notable languages include Bhojpuri and French. 

Religion

Hindu is the most popular religion in Mauritius (it is practiced by 48.5% of Mauritians).

Roman Catholicism and Islam also have a significant following, accounting for 26.3% and 17.3% of the population respectively. 

Currency

The country's official currency is the Mauritian rupee. For up-to-date exchange rates, use this online converter

Climate

Mauritius has a mild tropical climate with two distinct seasons.

The rainy season runs from November to April and is the hottest, most humid time of year. The dry season runs from June to September and is relatively cool. October and May are shoulder months and see variable weather. The rainy season often brings cyclones to the Indian Ocean and Mauritius may be affected by high winds and heavy rain. Resorts and homes are built to withstand cyclone season, however. 

When to Go

Mauritius is a rewarding destination all year round, but the dry winter months (June to September) traditionally offer the best weather with warm, clear days and pleasantly cool evenings. Because flooding and water run-off is also at a minimum, this time of year also offers the best visibility for scuba diving and snorkeling. 

Key Attractions

Grand Baie

Located in the north of the island, the seaside resort town of Grand Baie is Mauritius' most popular tourist destination. It's famous for its upmarket shopping opportunities, its excellent seafood restaurants and its chic nightclubs. During the day, you can experience a wide range of watersports from scuba diving to deep sea fishing, while the breathtaking public beach at Trou-aux-Biches is a short drive away.

Île aux Aigrettes

A 26-hectare nature preserve located just off the main island's southeast coast, Île aux Aigrettes has remained largely unchanged over the centuries.

It is one of the last sanctuaries for rare Mauritian wildlife including the giant Aldabra tortoise and the ornate day gecko. The island is also home to the pink pigeon and the Mauritian kestrel, both of which were brought back from the brink of extinction. 

Le Morne Brabant 

This astonishing basalt mountain in the southeast of the country stands 1,824 feet/ 556 meters tall and is recognized by UNESCO not only for its beauty but also for its cultural significance. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, escaped slaves sought shelter in the mountain's caves and it has become synonymous with their fight for freedom. Hike to the top for impressive views across the island. 

Chamarel

Those looking to explore the island's mountain interior should head to idyllic Chamarel, a picturesque village known for its rum, its authentic Mauritian restaurants and nearby natural wonders including the Seven Coloured Earths and Chamarel Waterfall.

The village is also one of the gateways to Black River Gorges National Park which offers extensive walking trails through pristine highland forest.

Getting There

The main entry point for visitors to Mauritius is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU), located southeast of Port Louis. Major airlines offering flights to Port Louis include Air Mauritius, Air France, British Airways and Emirates. Port Louis is usually the first port of call for cruise ships, too. Whether or not you require a visa depends on your nationality - see this government website for a full list of visa-exempt countries. Visitors from the US, the UK, Australia and Canada may all visit without a visa. 

Medical Requirements

The CDC recommends that all visitors to Mauritius make sure their routine vaccines are up-to-date. Additional vaccines include hepatitis A and typhoid, while hepatitis B and rabies may be required depending on what you plan on doing while you're there. There is no risk of malaria in Mauritius.