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A refreshing blend of different cultures, Mauritius is a warm, inviting island with a heart of gold…

Balmy waters, white sandy beaches and mountainous views are at the heart of Mauritius’s charm. Stunning landscapes combined with tropical weather and a varied culture make for the perfect island escape.

Food lover? Then you’re in luck. The island’s diverse heritage means that Mauritius is home to delicious fusion food that brings together the best of African, Asian and European flavours. Spend your time in Mauritius eating and exploring, and you’ll be left with a hunger to come back to this incredible island. 

 

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Culture and history

In Mauritius you’ll encounter believers in a range of religions. Most Mauritians practice Hinduism, but there are also a significant number of Christians, Muslims and some Buddhists. Mauritians pride themselves on religious tolerance and harmony and, as such, the island doesn’t have a national religion. People of all religions are free to express themselves as they please, and you’ll find many religious sites all over the island.

Mauritius has been shaped by its colonial past, and the island’s diverse mix of nationalities have had a profound effect on its culture. The foods of the island share African, Asian and European influences, and you’ll see that the Mauritians value local produce such as fresh seafood. Rougaille is a Mauritian favourite – a spicy tomato sauce that’s made with onions, chillies, garlic and spices. This is the basic sauce and allows you to then add foods like fish or meat to it. The sauce is usually served on special occasions, so you should feel honoured if you get to try it!

The handshake is the common greeting, although the multicultural nature of the island means that the local customs may vary. Many of the people on the island descend from the European and Indian settlers, African slaves and Chinese traders who once made their homes here, resulting in today's eclectic culture where the locals identify by their Mauritian nationality rather than their racial ethnicity.

It is thought that the first human visitors to Mauritius were Arab sailors around the 10th century – prior to this the island was the sole domain of the animal kingdom (including the unfortunate dodo). In the 15th and 16th centuries Mauritius was visited by Portuguese explorers, but it wasn't until 1598 that the island was claimed by the Dutch and named after their head of state - Prince Maurice. However, their attempts at colonisation faltered and the Dutch withdrew a mere decade later.

The next claimants were the traders of the French East India Company who founded the capital Port Louis as a strategic base in the early 18th century. They sold the island to the French government in 1767, but in 1810 the British attacked and took control. Although the British abolished slavery, they brought in thousands of Indian workers throughout the 19th century under a system of indentured labour. These workers were employed on the sugar plantations and conditions left a lot to be desired.

Unrest ensued and throughout the 20th century workers demanded both more rights and more respect. In 1958 a new constitution gave all adults the vote and in 1968 Mauritius gained its independence from Britain.

Things to do

Choose a Saga cruise or stay at an all inclusive resort and you can enjoy excursions to some of Mauritius’s finest attractions. Whether you take a boat trip to a neighbouring island, go on an African safari or join a tour of the island’s villages, you’ll adore every second of your time in Mauritius.

Ile des Deux Cocos

If you’ve ever dreamt of owning your own private island, a day trip to Ile des Deux Cocos is sure to reignite those dreams of luxury. Visit this small island, just off the coast of Mauritius, and experience true relaxation. Savour some sumptuous cuisine on the beach or in the shade of a marquee, or sip rum cocktails from the comfort of your sun lounger.

Ile des Deux Cocos is ripe for exploration – walking paths across the island, glass bottom boats and beachside ice cream carts offer all the entertainment and refreshment you need for a chilled out day. 

Bois Chéri Tea Plantation

Visit the first ever tea plantation in Mauritius and you can tour the grounds, see the factory and, most importantly, taste the teas. On your trip, you’ll learn about Mauritius’s extensive history of tea production and how Bois Chéri make tea today. Try Bois Chéri’s range of flavoured, green and herbal teas and see which one you like best!

Grand Bassin

Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao, is a secluded crater lake in Mauritius. The lake is significant for Hindus and is believed to be a sacred place. Its fame came about because a priest saw the water of the lake flowing from the goddess Ganga in a dream. Shortly afterwards, the lake became a pilgrimage site.

When you visit Grand Bassin, you’ll find shrines and statues that are dedicated to Hindu deities surrounding the lake. You’re also likely to see Hindu devotees praying to them, presenting them with offerings and burning incense. For people of any, or no religion, the sight is a truly touching experience.

Casela Nature Park

Casela Nature Park was created to nurture Mauritius’s native animals and natural environment. The park is home to some of Africa’s most famous big cats, such as lions, lynxes and leopards.

Set aside an afternoon to make sure that you see everything the park has to offer. If you’re brave enough, there’s also an opportunity to walk with the park’s lions! Does that seem a little too daunting? Opt for a furry herbivore friend and feed the giraffes or the colourful lorikeet birds.

 

Flight time

A direct flight from London to Mauritius takes around 12 hours.

Currency

Rupee - Mauritius uses its own unit of currency, the Mauritian rupee. This is subdivided into 100 cents.

Passports and visas

British citizens don’t need a visa to travel to Mauritius. Your passport will be stamped when you arrive, which will allow you to remain in Mauritius for 60 days. If you’re visiting the island on holiday, you’ll just need to provide proof of your return travel.

Phrases

Your English (or French!) language skills will get you through, but why not learn some basic Mauritian Creole phrases before you go? You’re bound to learn more during your travels, but it’s always worth getting a head start!

Bonzur – Hello

Si ouplé – Please

Mersi – Thank you

Exkize moi – Excuse me

Wi – Yes

Non – No

Ki manyèr? – How are you?

Bon – Good

Pas bon – Bad

Timezone

In spite of the 6,000 plus miles that stand between Mauritius and London, Mauritius is a mere 4 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and Mauritius Summer Time is 5 hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity

Good news! Most of the sockets in Mauritius are compatible with a standard, 3-pin UK plug, but bring an adaptor with you just in case. Occasionally, you’ll come across a 2-pin Type C socket which requires an adaptor.

Language

Mauritian Creole -

Although English is the official language of Mauritius, Mauritian Creole is spoken more widely. Mauritian Creole is a French-based language, mixed with words from English and African and South Asian languages that have all been used on the island.

French and English is also spoken on the island, so chatting to people on the island is easy!

Tipping

Mauritian service staff will work hard to provide you with the best service that they can offer. Staff don’t expect tips, but if they’ve provided you with excellent service then it’s appropriate to tip waiting staff approximately 10% of your bill

Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but 100 to 200 rupees is a respectable amount if you do wish to tip them.

When tipping hotel staff, the amount is up to you. Bear in mind that menu prices in restaurants may not include VAT, so expect your full bill to be a little higher than the list price if it’s not totally clear, and factor this in to your tip.

Climate

Mauritius boasts a typically tropical climate. The summer months run from November to April and are known for their hot and humid conditions. This is the best time for fishing (and scuba diving if you’re feeling adventurous), with average temperatures of around 26 degrees Celsius and occasional showers.

Temperatures average a cooler 20 to 24 Celsius in the Mauritian winter, which is between May and October, and conditions are often a little windier. The peak time to visit Mauritius is during April, when temperatures are cooling but still reach a warm 27 Celsius.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Mauritius is a relatively small island with a size of 2,040 square kilometres, especially when compared to its much bigger neighbour, Madagascar.

Mauritius has a population of around 1.3 million. Many of these are originally descendants from either India, Africa, or France.

The island’s location in the Indian Ocean, and the various colonial exploits that took place during its past, have led to people with varied ethnicities and religious beliefs to find a home on the island.

Smoking

In line with many other countries, Mauritius has banned smoking in indoor public places. Public beaches are an exception to the rule, and most establishments will have a designated smoking area outside.

Note that local jurisdictions may apply additional anti-smoking laws, so check before you light up.


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