Where is Mauritius?
The island nation of Mauritius is located in the southern Indian Ocean, approximately 1240 miles from the coast of Africa. It is one of the three main islands of the Mascarenhas Archipelago. See our best time to visit guide to find out what the climate in Mauritius is like throughout the year.
Calm waters, a coral reef not far from shore and some of the island’s most popular towns and beach resorts await you on Mauritius’ sheltered west coast. On the north-west coast is Grand Baie; the island’s only resort town and a popular option for eating, drinking and shopping. Lively by day and night, the town sits on a pretty bay that’s a popular spot for watersports and swimming. The capital of Port Louis has an international atmosphere, with its bustling streets and intoxicating smell of spices and fresh tea leaves. Central Market is the best spot for an exciting market experience, where hawkers representing all of the island’s cultural groups sell leather goods, meat, sweet foods, herbal teas, and an exotic array of fruit and vegetables.
Quieter and less built up than its western counterpart, the east coast is also more exclusive with some of the island’s most luxurious resorts backing its bays and beaches. Enjoy the welcoming sea breeze of the south-east trade winds, which bring down those high temperatures during the summer; the sleepy fishing village vibe; and the spectacular beaches of the Belle Mare and Beau Champ regions. Offshore, the stunning island of Ile aux Cerfs to the east is a popular day trip. In the south east, the tiny coral island of Ile aux Aigrettes – owned by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation – provides habitat for rare and endemic flora and fauna including the giant tortoise, the Mauritius kestrel and the pink pigeon. On the south-east coast, Mahebourg is one of the main fishing villages on the island. Built on the magnificent Grand Port Bay, it was founded in 1804 by the French Governor, Charles Decaën. The Monday markets are among the biggest on the island and are held right next to the main bus station.
Away from its beaches, Mauritius bursts with historic sights, cultural diversity and ever-changing scenery. Take a dip beneath cascading waters at Tamarin Falls – a beautiful natural collection of waterfalls in south-west Mauritius which, though awkward to get to, are well worth a visit. Black River Gorges is Mauritius’ sole national park – a wild area of thick indigenous forest in the central highlands that’s home to over 300 plant species and rare bird life. Visit Pamplemousses Royal Botanical Gardens and stroll through lush vegetation including the unique collection of palms and the ‘Victoria Regia water lily’ which has leaves that grow to over two feet wide.
Diving & snorkelling
With beautiful reefs, coral-filled lagoons, caverns, tunnels and historic wrecks, the snorkelling and diving in Mauritius is excellent. The island is second only to the Maldives when it comes to Indian Ocean diving; it was even the proud recipient of the Indian Ocean's Leading Dive Destination for four years in a row at the World Travel Awards. A barrier reef encircles almost the entire 205-mile coastline of Mauritius and there are large lagoons that make the perfect spot for beginners. Water temperatures range from 23-25 degrees in the winter and 26-29 degrees in the summer. The summer is considered the best time to dive as the warmer sea temperatures attract a wider variety of marine life. There are around 100 dive sites to choose from which range in depth from 7 to 45 metres. On the clearest day, the visibility can reach up to 50 metres.
Many of our featured resorts back a beautiful and sheltered lagoon meaning snorkelling is possible right from the shore. On the east coast, the lagoons are at their calmest during the summer months when the trade winds are at their weakest. On the more sheltered west and north coasts you can snorkel year round. If you’re not a strong swimmer, you can discover the underwater world on a glass-bottom boat trip. Many hotels have their own boats and will take you out for a small fee or even for free.
While your resort may offer a wide range of activities, the beauty of this Indian Ocean island is that there’s plenty to see and do if you want to explore a little further. We recommend hiring a car and driver guide for either a half day, full day or even a couple of days. You can choose from a Standard, Luxury or Premium vehicle; have a chat with one of our Personal Travel Experts to find out more.
GMT +4, all year round
Port Louis, 12 hours
Mauritian Creole, English and French.
Visa not required
220/240 volts AC. Plugs vary from two round pins to three square pins UK-style, so bring an all-purpose adaptor.