Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Mauritius - lagoon - r.g. photo

We rented a car for our whole stay, which was organized through the hotel and cost about €30 a day. We didn’t have to pay a deposit. The island is pretty small, with the north part generally having the better weather and the south part having more sights to see. Port Louis was a disappointment – we had seen enough of it after wandering about for a couple of hours – but the natural landscape was unbelievably beautiful. The Chamarel waterfall is unmissable, as is the Ebony Forest nature reserve. The Seven Colored Earths didn’t knock me flat, but it’s in the same area as the two above-mentioned sites, so I’d still recommend paying it a visit. There are a lot of beautiful Hindu temples, and the Grand Bassin district is full of impressively big statues.
The restaurants aren’t ridiculously cheap, but they’re still half the price you’d pay anywhere in the Seychelles. The street food Is very cheap, and very good!
At a leisurely pace, allowing plenty of time for sunbathing on the beach, we saw everything we wanted to in under a week. The things that I remember most vividly are the mountains, forests, lakes and temples, but there are also some very beautiful beaches for those who prefer that sort of holiday:” (p.n., 2020)

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I visited the island between late December and early January, in very mixed weather (the heat was constant, while the rain and clouds were highly variable). Mauritius has a wealth of sights, but anyone who wants to visit because they’re under the impression that this is an island of luxury – don’t do it! Not because there’s no luxury here – there are certainly plenty of expensive hotels – but anyone who likes to get out and see their surroundings will often have the impression that they’re in India, or one of the forgotten corners of the Third World! Still, this won’t be a disappointment to you if you’re clear about it in advance and know what to expect. (Iwona, 2020)


Practicals

Transport

 The main international airport is on the south-east side of the island.

There is left-hand traffic in Mauritius.

The roads are of good quality, but many of them are narrow or winding. The locals (especially the taxi drivers) drive in a wild way; adventurous overtaking is common. Only self-confident and experienced drivers should be undertaking a car rental.

Renting a car makes it more flexible to plan the discovery of the island. However, if you stay 7-9 days in Mauritius, maybe it is enough to rent a car for two or three days only.  After all, there should be enough time for beach days.

The fearsome or/and comfortable tourists should better hire a taxi driver for excursion days. If you have smart bargaining skills, you may even make a deal, which is only slightly more expensive than renting a car. There are also guided bus tours, usually in English or French.

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"Be careful when walking across the road because there is no pedestrian priority! The principle of 'safety first' is applicable here because it's easy to stop and wait for any vehicles on the road to pass by before crossing. The police are pretty laid-back, and it's rare to get a fine for speeding. Nor is it a problem if you drive after drinking a small amount of alcohol (1-2 beers or spritzers at lunch). Buy a used bike and sell it when you leave; that way, the cost can come out at zero! Sometimes it's worth renting a car for longer trips.
Busing should not be missed either, since they are a very cheap and interesting experience. They travel fast and go everywhere." (2016)

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“They drive on the left in Mauritius, so continental European or North American drivers will have to adapt to this if they are thinking of renting a car. The roads are of good quality, but many of them have a narrow or winding section and crazy overtaking is common – the adventurous driving style of the locals is the biggest source of risk, and so only those who drive both confidently and skillfully should rent a car. On the other hand, renting a car can make planning your trip much more flexible. For a stay of 7-9 days, it is enough to rent a car for two or three days. For the more cautious, a better option may be to hire a taxi driver. With clever bargaining, this may work out only slightly more expensive than renting a car. There are also discounted bus tours – usually with guides who speak English or French.
The long-distance buses in Mauritius are used by very few tourists. Generally, the ones who do have been to the island several times, and dare to take the very basic, very slow-moving buses. It is useful to know, however, that there are reliable and modern express buses that run once an hour, starting from the capital and running until 10 pm, between Port Louis-Moka-Phoenix-Vacoas-Quatre Bornes and Floreale-Curepippe. In the villages, express bus services only stop once or twice a day in the morning.

To give you an idea of the slowness of ordinary long-distance buses, it’s possible to travel a given distance by car or express bus in 15 minutes, while with a normal long-distance bus the same journey takes 50 minutes or even an hour! The advantage of simple bus services, however, is that they depart every 15-20 minutes to or from the capital, and also stop in the villages. The fare is also cheap, but the downside is that even with the slow pace, the aggressive driving style of the bus drivers is stomach-churning.

It’s useful to know that in Mauritius, all you need to do to catch a bus is flag it down with a confident wave. When you get on, it is advisable to clarify with the driver where you want to go and where the bus is going. Timetables are absolutely impossible to find. The only clue is that the name of the terminal is written on the front of the bus. It is not easy for the tourists to orient themselves at bus stops.

There are also plenty of places in Mauritius that are not easy to get to by bus, meaning you may need a rental car or a taxi. There is a huge oversupply of taxis, which is why taxi drivers are very pushy. They also try to wring every penny from the few tourists who find them. Before getting into a taxi, the driver has to clarify the price of the route and in many cases, you can haggle down to 10-15% of the price he first quoted. There are no meters on this island’s taxis!!!
If guests staying at hotels in the northern part of Mauritius want to visit the southern part of the island, they should calculate at least an hour and a half to two hours on the way there and, don’t forget, the same on the way back. While road users on the island may prefer an adventurous driving style, that doesn’t mean you can get from one place to another quickly.”






Accomodation

Considerations about the choice of accommodation

When planning a trip to Mauritius, it’s best to decide in advance what your preference is: an extravagant, multi-service hotel or a human-scale, family-run hotel, which of course offers a smaller range of services. The latter is now favored as boutique hotels. Of course, we can find very cozy small hotels and boarding houses, where if we’re lucky the owner is diligent in looking after guests.
Hotels in Mauritius typically charge high prices. There are two main reasons for this. One is that have to ship almost everything to the island, which is a costly procedure, and these costs are passed on to hotel guests. Another is that in the last two decades, Mauritius has consistently positioned itself as a premium destination in world tourism, trying to keep backpackers and lower-middle-class travelers away with high prices. It used to face less competition in this regard, but these days the Maldives and Madagascar have begun to compete with it in the Indian Ocean region. For now, it is staying ahead thanks to better infrastructure and Western European marketing. Western Europeans are glad that Mauritius has not yet been flooded by Russians. Anyway, most hotel guests have a distinctly cultured behavior, and you aren’t likely to be troubled by drunk, boorish groups of British tourists either.
In Mauritius, lower-end, 2-3-star hotels usually have some minor issues: there is usually a distinct lack of customer focus, or else the condition of the rooms leaves something to be desired, or the staff is slow and often unskilled. Staff laziness can be an issue in better hotels, too. The explanation for the lack of enthusiasm of the service staff may lie in the fact that the cleaning lady’s monthly salary is half the amount that a luxury hotel guest pays for a room for one night.
Still, it’s possible to find some real gems in the 3-star category, and there are also great special offers for 4-star hotels. 4-star hotels are, it has to be said, a bit of a lottery when it comes to the price/value ratio.
It is important to point out that the vast majority of hotels in Mauritius do not have a private beach. This is because, according to local law, the coast all around the island is public property. This is why you can take long walks of several kilometers along the beach.
Mauritius is a tropical island, so travelers should make their peace with the fact that small, harmless insects, ants, lizards, etc. may appear in the room. Geckos are friendly lizards, between two and ten centimeters in length, that can climb using their suction cup soles. They are useful roommates, as mosquitoes provide much of their food. Their appearance is not a sign of a lack of cleaning in a hotel. The architectural design of local hotels, which is attractive, is usually such that the buildings have a lot of open-air space. Outdoor meals can also be disturbed by flies and birds hunting for crumbs.

Which side of the island has the most going for it?
Before traveling, it is worth deciding which coast of Mauritius you want to look for a hotel on. There is no part of the coast that has only advantages, nor is there one that has only disadvantages. In my opinion, the hotels on the west and north coasts are most worthwhile. The west coast may be romantic, but the north coast has more entertainment, more life! Many say that the most beautiful beaches are on the west coast. The east coast is quite wild, with its own pros and cons.

West Coast
More and more people are choosing the west coast of Mauritius, which is about 50 kilometers long. The informed swear that the most pleasant part of the island is in the catchment area of the central section of the west coast, around Flic-en-Flac and Wolmer. The climate is drier and warmer than on other coasts of the island because the weather is less windy. On the west coast, Flic-en-Flac and its catchment area have become increasingly popular in recent years. It even has a Spar supermarket. The great advantage of the west coast is the proximity of the capital, Port Louis, and the big city full of markets and entertainment venues, Quatre Bornes. It is easy to mingle with the locals on the west coast. It’s easy to find restaurants where locals, for example, dine. This is also the disadvantage of the west coast: for example, there are a lot of local families on the beaches on weekends and so not much peace because of the many children.
Nor is it an advantage of the west coast that there are more than a few rocky, coral beaches where bathing can be risky. Fortunately, there are always good beaches 5-10 minutes away by car. It is worth asking (utikritika@utikritika.hu) to look into it: what is the situation in the specific place in terms of the nature of the beach? The west coast has more of an exciting, beautiful coast in terms of the natural environment than the north. The sand on the beaches is dazzlingly white. According to others, the most beautiful natural beauties of the island are on the southwest coast, between Tamarin and Baie du Cap. There, however, the choice of accommodation is much more limited. The transfer time between West Coast hotels and the airport is usually 45-50 minutes.

North Coast
The northern coast of Mauritius has the most popular (and crowded) beaches. The atmosphere could hardly be described as idyllic, due to the many speedboats, water skis, etc. The beach sand is also less than ideal in a few places: it’s coral sand, but not so powder-fine as in other places, and a bit gravelly. The volcanic rock formations are attractive. You can also find some particularly beautiful stretches of coast here, for example in the area of Pereybéré. From here, catamaran trips depart for a dreamlike little island nearby. In the north, the Trou aux Biches coastline is ideal for water sports lovers, while the more significant Mont Choisy is calmer.
Both areas are close to Grand Baie, which is a very bustling place by local standards. Outside of the capital, this is perhaps the place with the most shopping opportunities (e.g. Sunset Boulevard shopping street, Super-U large supermarket). Oddly, the shops close at half-past five in the afternoon, just when holidaymakers are strolling in the vicinity (there are few properly constructed sidewalks!). Fortunately, the bars and restaurants are open. The descriptions of Grand Baie in brochures as ‘the Saint Tropez of Mauritius’ are an exaggeration. It is enough to wander into a side street and you will quickly find yourself among dilapidated, collapsing shacks. Of course, this is also interesting, but the milieu is certainly not elegant. The larger streets are relatively clean. Most hotels are in the northern part of Mauritius, so of course, most tourist service providers are based there too, including the larger nightlife venues. The average transfer time between the hotels on the north coast and the airport (non-stops) is 1-1.5 hours, although the distance is only 75 kilometers. Luckily, you can see beautiful, interesting landscapes during the transfer.

"I think it's better to choose a hotel on the north coast because the sky is cloudier in the south and it rains more often. I was on the island in December and stayed in the north, where I got away with just minor showers." (Balázs, 2017)

The East and South Coasts
“On the east coast of Mauritius, the hotels are built in isolated, beautiful natural locations. There is little accommodation there, but we can find very good stretches of beach for diving (for example at the beaches near Poste de Flacq). The seawater on this side of Mauritius is not as beautiful as on the west and north coasts. Many places on the east coast stink, thanks to the stone-age sewage disposal systems. The east coast is more deserted, and further away from the island’s main road. Not many hotels have been built on the south coast. It is the windiest part of the island, which is a great advantage in the heat. This is the best place for surfing and sailing, as the waves are often huge. Excursions to the eastern and southern parts of the island are worthwhile. Getting around this part by bus can be complicated, so you will probably need a rental car, or else to rent a taxi for a day.”


Food

"You can eat well in Mauritius. There are many Indian, Chinese, and French dishes, as well as masterpieces of Creole cuisine, which is a mixture of the above.
There is a lot of chicken and fish in the local diet. Pork and beef are rare. Few consume brown or rye bread but make up for it with baguettes and white bread.
There is a large selection of vegetables, prepared in all sorts of ways, and consumed regularly. In Mauritius, tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and chili show up in Creole cuisine.
 French influence can be seen in the use of shrimp, venison, and wild boar. Fresh fish and seafood were taken from Chinese cuisine. One of their basic spices is curry mix, which is an Indian influence but can also be attributed to the use of other exotic spices in Arabic cuisine. Overall,

Mauritian gastronomy is a very happy, special blend of the best of the cuisines of the peoples who have turned up here over the past centuries.

In Mauritius, themed dinners are often organized in better hotels to showcase Indian, Creole, and other Asian cuisines separately. Besides, it is not uncommon for hotels to have several restaurants to cater to those looking for a culinary adventure. For a Central European on holiday on the northern side of the island, looking for good coffee, it is worth visiting the German-owned Cafe Müller in Grand Baie.

Those looking for typical Mauritian food can try the street eateries in city centers or markets. You may want to choose places where the line of locals is long. Typical Mauritian appetizers include samosas – pastries filled with vegetables or fish paste. Dholl puri is a typical local dish that can be bought at street vendors. Smelling strongly of butter, it is made from two stretched sections of pie dough that are filled with pea puree and baked on a hot metal plate. They are also eaten with steamed vegetables, tomato sauce, a variety of sachni made from green mango and coconut, and sometimes chili sauce. Gateaux piments are also popular. These are chili lentil dumplings fried in hot oil with salt, coriander leaves and yellow pea puree.

There is no shortage of restaurants in Mauritius – you can find everything from European to Indian cuisine. The widest selection can be found at Grand Baie. There is, for example, an excellent Mexican restaurant, the Iguana Lounge, where you can eat appetizers at a reasonable price (from 200 rupees), main courses (from 300 rupees), and even a cooling cocktail (from 150 rupees). In most restaurants, the prices are similar."

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"The gastronomy of the country is a fascinating mix: there are plenty of Chinese and Indians living here alongside the Africans who came to the island as slaves, so all three cultures are strongly represented. Of course, they later develop their own twist, so there is specifically Mauritian street food, especially at the beach, which mingles the flavors of the various immigrants." (2018)

Mauritius - Goat Curry - a.s. photo

Mauritius - grilled fish filet - r.g. photo

Public safety

The authorities built up an extensive camera surveillance system all around the island, especially in tourism areas. All tourism accommodation is equipped either with alarm systems and CCTV Surveillance.

Possession of drugs is punishable by up to 45 years in prison.

Health


The sun rays are intense, tricky, and many vacationers don't properly sense that because of the powerful winds. The use of potent sunscreens is a must, as sunburn is a high risk. Wear a hat to protect your head from the blazing sun.

Others

1. Authorities are ready to take action against public homosexuality.

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General Tips
There are black-market guides on the beaches which can arrange all kinds of excursions. Don't worry – they might try to charge extra, but real scams are rare. In this way, some people have been taken privately or in small groups to dreamlike, uninhabited islands and had a great experience. Those who don't want to pay for an unauthorized trip will often have to decline offers on the beach.
You can also arrange an island tour by taxi. For an eight-hour trip with optional content, the cost is approx. €90-100.
Those willing to drive on the left will get around most easily because the car rental is relatively cheap. A day or two is plenty of time to go right around the island.
A hot tip for people staying in the south: don't pay for the south island tour, because it's actually a tour of expensive shops, with little time for real attractions. It is better to rent a car for a day and explore the south individually.
You can also see beautiful rivers, lakes, cliffs, mountains, and endless sugar cane plantations in addition to the beautiful beaches. There are many pleasant, easy, experience-rich options. Hikers have Mauritian trails, forests, exciting mountain ranges, and waterfalls to explore.
Visit the magnificent botanical garden (Pamplemousses), home to an impressive selection of exotic plants and flowers. Those obsessed with shopping can visit the boutiques of the large and excellent shopping center in the capital, Port Louis.
Popular watersports include diving, and its simplified form, snorkeling. There are excellent opportunities for scuba diving, including at the beautiful Deer Island (Ile aux Cerfs), which is usually approached by catamaran or yacht, or speedboat.
On weekends, the more popular beaches are taken over by local families, and the crowds can be too much. Also, in Mauritius, there are many holidays during the year, and then the beaches close to the capital are crowded.


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"Go on excursions by private buses (max. 9 people). They will take you wherever you ask. They are fair, above-board, and cheap. They will drive you all day, noting down all your wishes. These private tour guides are typically Indian.
The sights they advertise as cultural tourist attractions are mostly kitschy and substandard, at least to European eyes. But that's not what people visit Mauritius for.
As for serious hikes, it is more about the island's natural beauty. Hiking in their mountains is not easy because there are many private mountain reserves, but there are great places that are free, and you can find a distance or difficulty for everyone's fitness level.
Don't miss the capital. It's a bit much during the busiest times of day, but the market, for example, is especially interesting for those who have never seen anything so exotic before.

The seawater is 110% good. There are sea urchins, but these can be avoided. Alternatively, you can wear bathing sandals." (2016)

Mauritius - Ile aux Gabriel - It looks like it is going to rain. - r.g. photo

Background

Mauritius - national flag - v.i. photo

Destination in brief

Mauritius is an island state east of mainland Africa, in the Indian Ocean. 

The country consists of  Mauritius Island and several outlying islands.

Geographically the closest country is another Indian Ocean island, Reunion (a French overseas territory), south-west of Mauritius (226 km/140mi). The country lies some 800 km (500 mi) east of Madagascar. 

Size: 2,011 km2 (776 sq mi) - Mauritius is 45km (28 mi) in width and 65km (40mi) in length.

Capital city: Port Louis - Port Louis has the highest standard of living among all African cities.

Population (in 2020): 1,272,000 - 68% Indo-Mauritian (of Indian origin), 27% Creoles (predominantly black with varying amounts of French and Indian ancestry)., 3% Chinese

1.4 million tourists visited the island in 2019.

Languages: English is the official language, and in everyday communication, 90% of the population speak a French-based Creole (Mauritian Creole)

Education in public schools is in English, and French is a second language. English and French are used in Parliament and all official places.

Religion: 48% Hindu, 33% Christian, 18% Muslim

Currency: Mauritian rupee (MUR)

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 540 USD

Political system: parliamentary democracy

Mauritius is in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Mauritius is number two on the list of African countries by Human Development Index (Seychelles is the number one). 

Most common surname: Beeharry

The Southwest is the best for watersports because it is windy.

Some travelers express disappointment about the country's interior, stressing that sugar cane plantations take up too much territory and that the landscape is boringly monotonous.

Geography

Mauritius is an island of volcanic origin. It is located north of the Capricorn, in the southwestern part of the Indian Ocean, two thousand kilometers from the African mainland. Geographically belongs to Africa culturally has more to do with Asia, especially India.

The country comprises the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues and also the external islands of Cargados Carajos Shoals and Agalega Islands.

The island almost totally surrounded by reef. There is 177km (110mi) of shoreline with many white, sandy beaches, bays.


Mauritius - Le Morne Brabant, a peninsula with an eponymous basaltic monolith - Viktor Ohotin's photo

Mauritius - sandbank and ominous clouds - r.g. photo

Mauritius - Cyclone is coming - a.n. photo

Climate

Mauritius ’climate is characterized by two words: warm and humid. There are two seasons: winter and summer. Winter is from April to September, summer from October to March. In winter, the west coast is about 5C (41F) warmer than the island's interior, the highlands, and the east coast.

For sea bathing, November and December are the most convenient months because of the higher sea temperature, but that does not mean enjoying more sunshine. January and February are also quite pleasant in this regard. In the summer months, short showers are common, often at night. Intense cyclones occur in the first three months of the year. January is the rainiest. However, it is pleasant on a warm day, 27-30C (80-86F). The air is humid, but the heat is not unbearable.

European tourists mostly flee to Mauritius from the cold winter; therefore, the tourism high season runs from October to March. The weather is driest from September to November. Several say that March and April are the optimal times to visit Mauritius.



History

Mauritius has had a twisted history. Colonial powers always tried to control the island for its important strategic location.

The island was unknown and uninhabited for a long time. It was discovered in 1500 and named as Dina Arabi on the map.

Around 1511, a Portuguese sailor, Domingo Fernandez Pereira, was the first European to step on the island. The Mascareignes archipelago (consisting of Mauritius, Rodrigues and, Reunion) got its name from another Portuguese sailor, Don Pedro Mascarenhas. However, the Portuguese did not settle here. For them, the island was used as a food pick-up base only. Thinking that they would have food each time returning from India, they left livestock (like pigs, goats, donkeys) to be reproduced. But along with these, accidentally rats landed too. That caused great damage as the rats ate the dodo bird's eggs, and this endemic, flightless bird extinct forever.

The island got its name after the Dutch royal prince, Maurits van Nassau. It was not until the 17th century that the active exploitation of the island started.  Then sugarcane was planted, and slaves were brought to the plantations from Indonesia and nearby Madagascar.

The Dutch did not prove to be persistent colonizers and left the island, thus becoming an occasional stop for pirates, who have happened along.

In the early 18th century, the French easily grabbed Mauritius for themselves. They were not so interested in the island itself; instead, they were motivated to control Europe and the Far East's trade routes in this given area. (Ships from Europe had traveled to Asia bypassing Africa at the time).

At that time, the French still felt potent to compete with the British in conquering the Indian Ocean region and parts of Asia. They used the island as a naval base, and parallel began to build some settlements.

After the fall of Napoleon, the British quickly occupied the island. Surprisingly, the British colonial administration left the French settlers in complete peace,  as they dominated the economy, mainly through their plantations.
In 1835, the British banned slavery. As a result, life and the population's composition significantly changed, as until then, there were five times as many slaves as free citizens.

Not as slaves, thousands of wageworkers came from India and South East Asia. The Indians took over most of the commercial sector.  

By the 20th century, the educated local Indians claimed political rights. After World War II, many Chinese fled to Mauritius. The ethnic composition of the island nation has become increasingly diverse.

The country became independent in 1968 in a relatively peaceful process. At the beginning of the sixties, the British granted independence to most of their African colonies anyway. After a while, they felt to do the same with Mauritius.











Nowadays

Mauritius is a stable country, both politically and economically. 

With its per capita exceeding 11,000 USD, Mauritius is one of the wealthiest countries. Corruption is at a low level.

The main pillars of the Mauritian economy are: tourism, textile, and sugar industries.

Drug use has been on the rise in Mauritius in recent years.

People

“On the island of Mauritius, the locals are typically friendly, tolerant, and laid-back. The population is mixed in terms of dress, habits, and religion.

In Mauritius, public safety is good: street vendors are not pushy, and there are few beggars. The country may seem poor by European standards, but it’s rich compared to its miserably poor African neighbors.

In Mauritius, tourists who speak either English or French will find it easiest to communicate with the locals. The people of Mauritius are typically friendly and helpful towards foreign tourists. White Europeans are highly respected. The locals, starting from the premise that anyone who comes here on holiday from Europe is sure to be wealthy, and thus successful, judge that they deserve respect and discreet curiosity.

Soon after arrival, the foreign visitor sees the vibrant nature, and the excitingly diverse culture and religion of the local population. Mauritius is, demographically speaking, a nation of immigrants. As this small island is home to a wide variety of nationalities and backgrounds, all the world’s major religions can be found here.
Essentially, there are no natives or even many really black African locals. The majority of the population is made up of Indians, so-called Creoles, and Chinese. Seventy percent of Mauritians are Hindus. They also keep track of who comes from which part of India. Muslims from India are often considered separately.

Indians are the main players in the economy and in trade, and they largely determine the life of the country. In the field of marriages, the caste system still endures. Among Hindus, every shade of brown is found, the darkest shade is found in every stratum of the people here, just as some have very fair skin, with blue or green eyes, and almost look white.

The Chinese also play a significant role in the economy. There are many shops and cafes with Chinese proprietors, and quite a few Chinese are among the country's wealthiest people.

The proportion of whites in the permanent population is only a few percent, and they are mostly of French descent. The Creoles are of African descent. Although they are black-skinned, their noses, mouths, and hair look different from typical Sub-Saharan Africans. The Creoles are almost all Catholic.

Mauritius's government has always emphasized ensuring that national unity appears strong, despite ethnic differences and diversity. Racial, ethnic, religious differences are vigorously papered over. There is, however, a certain informal ghettoization along racial and religious lines. It is present in the selection of spouses, in business associations, and social life. Still, people really strive to ensure that these factors do not hinder harmonious coexistence on the island, and in everyday life, ethnic and religious lines are somewhat blurred.

The islanders speak at least two languages. They speak English well but use their mother tongue when communicating with one another at home or on the street. They also speak Creole, which is based on French.

The huge difference compared to the countries of the African continent is most spectacularly shown by the fact that in Mauritius, 85% of the population can read and write.”

Tourist etiquette

“Superficially, foreign visitors often consider the locals to be quite standoffish. Well, this is not their impression of the hawkers trying to sell their wares on the beach, and in general, those living directly from the money tourists spend.

Outside the hotel, especially in tourist areas, foreigners are advised to show some restraint in dressing, as the local culture is quite conservative, although not to the extent customary in Arab countries. In Mauritius, topless sunbathing on public beaches is not appropriate (though it may be ok in hotel areas).

It causes tension with the locals when a foreign visitor makes a noise and behaves conspicuously. Due to the general respect for guests, the locals will generally forebear to react to small etiquette breaches from foreigners.

The locals are religious, even if they follow different faiths. It is important to respect their customs and beliefs, just as they respect ours.”

Gastronomy

You can eat well in Mauritius. There are a number of Indian, Chinese, and French dishes, as well as masterpieces of Creole cuisine, which generally means a mixture of all of the above. There is always a lot of chicken and fish on the menu. Pork and beef are rare. Few consume brown or rye bread, but make up for it with baguettes and other types of white bread. There is a range of vegetables available, prepared in all sorts of ways, and served with everything. In Mauritius, the use of tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and chili comes from Creole cuisine. The French influence shows in the use of shrimp, deer, venison, and wild boar. Fresh fish and seafood were taken from Chinese cuisine. One of their basic spices is curry, which is an Indian influence but can be attributed to the use of other exotic spices in Arabic cuisine.

Overall, Mauritian gastronomy is a very fortunate, special blend of the best of the cuisines of the peoples who have turned up here over the past centuries.
In Mauritius, themed dinners are often organized in better hotels to showcase Indian, Creole, and other Asian cuisines separately. In addition, it is not uncommon for the hotel to have several restaurants to cater to the needs of those looking for a culinary adventure. Europeans holidaying on the north island side looking for good coffee should visit the German-owned Cafe Müller in Grand Baie.

Those looking for typical Mauritian food can try the street eateries in the city centers as well as in the markets. You may want to choose places where the line of locals is long. A typical Mauritian appetizer is a samosa, a kind of pasta filled with vegetables or fish pasta. Dholl puri is a typical local dish that can be bought from street vendors. This butter-scented dish is simply made from two stretched pieces of pie dough that are filled with pea puree and baked on a hot metal plate. It is also eaten with steamed vegetables, tomato sauce, a variety of sachni made from green mango and coconut, and sometimes chili sauce. Gateaux piments are also popular, as are chili lentil dumplings fried in hot oil with salt, coriander leaves, and yellow pea puree.
There is no shortage of restaurants in Mauritius; we can find everything from European cuisine to Indian. The widest selection is available in Grand Baie. For example, there’s an excellent Mexican restaurant, the Iguana Lounge, where you can eat appetizers (from 200 rupees), main courses (from 300 rupees) at solid prices, and even a cooling cocktail (from 150 rupees). In most restaurants, the prices are similar.
"The gastronomy of the country is a very interesting mix, there are a lot of Chinese and Indians living here alongside the Africans whose ancestors came to the island as slaves, so all three cultures are strongly represented, and of course they change a bit as time goes by. Real Mauritius street food is available on the beach, and this is where the tastes of the various immigrant groups really come together.” (2018)

Mauritius - Farata is a local verrsion of Indian paratha, a layered, flaky, pan-fried flatbread. - j.k. photo

Attractions

Port Louis, the capital, located on the Northwest Coast.

Using the local bus service is an interesting experience, though it’s also fast and cheap. We set aside a half day for a leisurely, sightseeing stroll around the city. The harbor city, about 25 km from downtown Port Louis, has lost much of the European influences imparted to it centuries ago by Dutch, British and French merchant flotillas, but the noisy, shouty, bustling district of the Indian, Chinese and Muslim traders faithfully reflects the multicultural character of the island. Vendors stack their wares in piles by the side of the road, and everybody seems to be shouting, bargaining and selling something all at once. No less interesting was the central market, where we found magnificent vegetables, exotic fruit and spices which could be smelled from a great distance, including the seductive aroma of vanilla. We saw interesting fish and meat markets: pork, beef, game, and spectacular specimens of seafood. All of it fresh. Tourists with sensitive noses and ears might prefer to remain safely ensconced in their hotels, but we loved it.  (2020)


Mauritius - Port Louis - r.g. photo

Mauritius - Port Louis - r.g. photo


Île aux Cerfs, or Deer Island.

To get to the harbor, you’ll have to fight your way across to the other side of the island, because despite the short distance, traffic is heavy and the condition of the roads leaves something to be desired. Upon arrival at the harbor you’ll receive a short explanation in French, then it’s time to clamber aboard the grumpy guy’s boat. Our phones and cameras, which had been packed into a ‘waterproof tube’ came back out almost at once, because our ‘captain’ opted not for a pleasant cruise, but a lightning-fast rocket ride across the water, and we had to cling to the sides to stay aboard.
About twenty windblown minutes later we reached our destination. We were a little disappointed on arrival, as instead of a pristine, untouched white beach lapped by a glorious sea, we saw two large machines at work, filling in the streams. However, after shuffling around aimlessly for a bit, we set off to discover the parts of the island we hadn’t yet seen. This expedition was at last crowned with success, as we discovered some beautiful, deserted beaches with warm, gently splashing waves. We leapt in and fooled about in the ocean, which glistened with every shade of turquoise. After initial disappointment, it became one of the most wonderful trips we’ve ever taken.

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“A full-day program. From there from Blue Bay or privately from Trou d’Eau Douce by small boat to the island, by bus to the east coast. The cruise itself is exciting. Hikers spend two hours on the island, followed by a cruise to a lonely lagoon. There are postcard-quality beaches to photograph; it’s on the list of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world.

They give you snorkel gear, and you bet we used it – it’s a great snorkeling location. There is also a glass-bottomed boat tour, as well as a local-style villa on the island. The trip includes lunch and unlimited drinks. The ship returns at 15:30. It is a highly recommended tour, though unfortunately, the island and the beach itself are no longer as deserted as they used to be and may even be crowded on weekends. It is worth walking further along the coast until you find a quieter section.”

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“The Ile aux Cerfs, or Deer Island – to get to the harbor where the motorboats leave from, you have to fight your way across the island. This is because, despite the short distance, the roads and heavy traffic leave something to be desired. Upon arrival, a brief French explanation follows, and then we get into the grumpy guy’s boat.

The “tube-filled” phones and cameras quickly fell into the bottom of the boat, because instead of a pleasant cruise, the ‘captain’ had decided to make the trip at top speed, and within a minute, we were clinging to the sides. Twenty minutes later, after being thoroughly aired out, we reached the island.

The arrival was a slight disappointment; as instead of the once untouched, white sand beaches surround the sea, two machines were working here to fill in some drainage ditches. However, after shuffling about cluelessly for a while, some of us at last set out to explore unseen parts of the island.

Our journey of discovery was crowned with success – we found beautiful, quiet beaches and warm caressing water, where we jumped and fooled around in an ocean that was countless shades of turquoise. From initial disappointment, it became one of our most enjoyable trips.” (2020)




Mauritius - Ile aux Cerfs - r.g. photo

La Vanille Crocodile Park

"A park in the south of Mauritius, which was independently recommended to us several times. You can ride giant turtles, and apparently, this is fun not only for humans but also for animals. Really interesting with kids. It's best to put on anti-mosquito cream before starting out. If I were you, though, I'd give the restaurant a miss: expensive and not too good. The park is located in the rainier part of the island.

"Parking is free. Admission was 490 rupees for adults when we visited. The crocs were fed at 11.30 am, right at the entrance. As we took the ticket, they told us when it would be if we didn't want to miss it.
And then we looked at the big fruit-eating bats ... hm. Whenever one of them flew over my head, I screamed as though it was the end of the world. :)
Then came the Seychelles giant tortoises. They told us at the entrance that they bite, and not a little nibble, either – I mean serious bites. Be careful: they can bite faces, shoulders, fingers. Don't lean too close!
 We bought the tortoises a branch to eat. There's also a breeding center here, where there are now 700 smaller tortoises ... then they brought them fruit ...
 The big ones are huge :) the biggest is 275 kg :)
 They also stink like pigs and burp and grunt ... and roar :D
 The place smells like a pigsty :))" (2017)

Coloured Earth

Mauritius - Coloured Earth - r.g. photo

Pamplemousses Botanical Garden

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