The towns are vibrant and lively in both their attractions and residents. The island has no indigenous people and the country remained uninhabited until 1638 when it was colonised by the Dutch. It was later controlled by the French and then the British, until it gained independence in 1968.
The islandâs colonial past means the countryâs people, religion and culture is an eclectic mix of African, Asian, Chinese and European influences.
The official language is English, but most people are fluent in French. French Creole is the most widely spoken, but due to the amazing assortment of people that call this island home you will also hear Arabic, Portuguese, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi, Mandarin, Cantonese and Bojpoori.
The currency is the Mauritian rupee (Rs.) 100 Rs. is equal to GBÂ£1.60, â¬2.40 and US$3.05
The temperature varies between 22ÂºC in the winter and 34ÂºC in the summer. Despite the small size of the island, (64km in length and 47km wide) the weather differs significantly across the country.
Temperatures are generally higher along the coast and the northern and western regions are usually warmer and drier. There is no set rainy or dry season on this tropical island, but there is a risk of severe storms from January to April.
Port Louis is a cosmopolitan capital city steeped in history. Colonial buildings and markets stand side by side modern shops and restaurants. The Natural History Museum houses rare dodo and blue pigeon remains, there are also unique flora and fauna specimens. Birds, reptiles, fish, corals and mammals are on display and the library contains over 50,000 books.
The Caudan Waterfront is a modern development with a marina, souvenir, craft, clothes and jewellery shops. There is also a food court, restaurants and a cinema.
Domain les Pailles is a colonial sugar estate just outside Port Louis. Attractions include a working replica of an ox-driven sugar mill, a rum distillery, restaurants, a pool and a riding club. You can also take jeep excursions into the mountains where you will be greeted by adorable monkeys.
The Champ-de-Mars racecourse in Port Louis attracts thousands of people every Saturday afternoon from May to November. Itâs a perfect place to mix with the locals, sample traditional food and have a little flutter.
The beaches in Mauritius are some of the most beautiful in the world. The coral reef, which surrounds much of the island, creates calm turquoise waters perfect for bathing in some parts and awesome crashing waves in others.
Pereybere in the north is a small cove with white sand, clear waters and shady palm trees. Five minutes drive south is Grand Baie â a popular tourist site because of its lively atmosphere. It offers great shopping, fresh fish markets and an abundant supply of watersports, including parasailing, water-skiing, windsurfing, undersea walks and sailing and fishing trips. Helicopter trips around the island also depart from here.
The Waterpark Leisure Village combines adrenaline rush fun with relaxation. Slide down the numerous giant shoots or relax by the pool or in the jacuzzi. Wave pools, a lazy river and separate adult pools are also available. It is located in BelleMare in the east of the island.
Chamarel in the west of the island is an awe-inspiring landscape of contrasting shades of coloured sand. Mounds of blues, purples, yellows, greens and many more colours create this impressive wonder rarely seen anywhere else in the world. Nearby is Chamarel Waterfall, its series of cascades and clear pools make this a perfect spot to relax.
Casela Bird Sanctuary has over 140 bird species from all five continents as well as fishponds, tigers, giant tortoises, monkeys, deer and beautiful flora and fauna. It is home to one of the rarest birds in the world, the pink pigeon. The sanctuary also charts the history of the dodo. The island was the only know habitat of this large waddling bird, which sadly became extinct in 1681.
Vanille Crocodile and Tortoise Park is located in Riviere des Arguilles in the south. The park breeds Nile crocodiles and giant tortoises in the midst of the lush tropical palm and banana trees. There is even a restaurant in the park where you can sample crocodile meat.
Il aux Cerf: Despite its name â Island of Stags â you will have to head back to the main island to see these majestic animals. This island, owned by Le Touessrok Sun Hotel in the east, is open to anyone. A regular boat service runs throughout the day. The islandâs waters are calm, the beaches are sandy and sunbathing, eating, drinking and watersports are the order of the day here.
Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens in Port Louis has numerous indigenous plant species. The main attractions are the giant Victoria Regia water lilies, which are at their largest during the islandâs summer months. The garden also boasts the talipot palm, which only flowers every sixty years.
Deep-sea fishing: Mauritius is a fantastic place for deep-sea fishing, whether you consider yourself an expert or a novice. Regular trips operate from all around the island and you can catch anything from huge blue and black marlin, to sharks, yellow tuna, bonitos and barracuda. Sportfisher in Grand Baie, Le Coco Beach Hotel and Le Touessrok Hotel in BelleMare are just a few places that offer game fishing trips.
The capital, Port Louis, is the main shopping area with the Caudan Waterfront providing clothing and jewellery shops. Grand Baie in the north is a popular shopping district and souvenir stalls can usually be found on nearly every corner.
Most hotels, such as Le Coco Beach and Le Touessrok Hotel put on their own entertainment for guests and non-guests. Grand Baie has a lively strip of restaurants, bars and the Lifestyle Nightclub. Also nearby is the Star Dance Nightclub.
The Caudan Waterfront has restaurants, bars and a cinema overlooking the sea. It also has a casino with 32 table games and 428 slot machines. Casinoâs of Mauritius has five casinos located on the island.
Mauritian Sega shows are put on regularly for tourists in hotels and restaurants. Or you can just wonder down to the beach in the evenings and see the locals put on their own shows. Originating from the slaves brought over from Africa, the music combines a lamenting of difficult times with the pursuit of happiness. The beat of the drums and the banging of the tambourines means anyone with the slightest bit of rhythm can join in.
People drive on the left side of the road in Mauritius. All visitors with a full driving licence from a competent authority are permitted to drive.
Food and drink
Green island rum is the countryâs speciality and is pretty potent. Tours of distilleries are available and free samples are provided at the Domain les Pailles distillery.
Despite British rule, there is surprisingly little British influence in Mauritian food. Cuisine is a mouth-watering mix of French, Indian and Chinese, all adapted to create a unique Mauritian taste.
Being an island, fish is incredibly popular and amazingly cheap. Freshly caught marlin, octopus, tuna and squid are widely available. Some of the best seafood on the island is available at the Hotel Cote dâAzur restaurant in Grand Baie.
Street vendors supply local favourites including gateaux piments (chilli cakes) and dhal puri with rougaille â a type of flat bread filled with a spicy tomato based sauce.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport lies in the southwest of Mauritius in Mahebourg. Direct flights take 11 hours from the UK and are operated by Air Mauritius and British Airways from London Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Indirect flights are available on a number of carriers including Emirates, Air Seychelles and Air France.
Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (United Kingdom)32 Elvaston PlaceLondonSW7 5NWTel: 020 7584 3666
Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (Mauritius) 11th Floor Air Mauritius Centre5 President John Kennedy StreetPort LouisTel: +23 (0) 210 1545
All car hire locations in Mauritius
- Bel Ombre
- Belle Mare
- Cap Malheureux
- Flic En Flac
- Forest Side
- Grand Baie
- Grand Gaube
- Grande Pointe Aux Piments
- Le Morne
- Pointe Aux Canonniers
- Port Louis
- Poste De Flacq
- Quatre Bornes
- Rose Hill
- Rouge Terre
- Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport
- Trou Aux Biches
- Trou D’eau Douce