When most people think of Mauritius, fancy all-inclusive resorts and expensive dollar signs will probably come to mind - this was the reason we avoided Mauritius for quite some time. With it being such an attractive kitesurfing and nearby location to escape the Cape Town winter we decided to give it a go DIY style for 19 nights over July / August 2017. We were so pleasantly surprised that we’ll be sure to do it again! These are our tips on how to make the most of your DIY stay. Feel free to also listen to our Podcast Episode 27 where we discuss our Mauritius DIY holiday experience.
How to find the most suitable self-catering accommodation in Mauritius
There is no shortage of self-catering style accommodation available in Mauritius. We found that the best is to make use of Airbnb for searching and booking this type of accommodation. Just make sure that you do look at the photos and also read the reviews as many of the places are not necessarily up to acceptable Western standards and can be very run down! Take into consideration the location of the accommodation, its proximity to beaches and shops and if you will have your own transportation.
We found that there were not a lot of beachfront accommodations for a single couple, but if you are more people then it is much easier to find a nice house closer to the beaches. You might not have a sea view, but you can be within walking distance tot he beach. Some accommodations are more geared towards kitesurfers, with space for your gear, outside showers etc. We stayed in a fantastic place in La Gaulette for the majority of our stay as we were primarily there to kite at Le Morne Kite Beach.
The advantage of having self-catering accommodation is that you can save a considerable amount by being able to cook for yourself. Think about fresh fish on the BBQ and being able to buy cheaper beer from the supermarkets to enjoy at your own leisure!
Our average cost of accommodation came to $44 per day for both of us for the three weeks that we spent in Mauritius. If you are more than two people sharing a house, then this will help to reduce your accommodation costs per person.
Where to stay in Mauritius / Best Beaches in Mauritius / Best Area in Mauritius
In general, we would say that if you are going to Mauritius for kitesurfing, then you should base yourself more in the South / Southwest around the Le Morne Kite Beach Area. We were very happy with our choice of La Gaulette and even though we searched the entire island, we didn’t find a more suitable spot! If you want more activity around you in the form of water sports, resort-style activities and the business of nearby Port Luis, then rather base yourself more in the North / Northwest. Although equally beautiful, there is a lot less activity along the East Coast in comparison to the West Coast.
Mauritius Public Beaches
There are a total number of 129 proclaimed beaches in Mauritius! Although access to some of the beaches is restricted by the development of large resorts, there is definitely no shortage of public and wonderfully accessible beaches. Most of the public beaches have clean ablution facilities and even great shaded picnic areas adjacent to the beaches. There are many water sports activities from scuba diving to snorkelling, sea excursions, beachfront bars, restaurants and vendors selling delicious snacks along the beachfront.
Best Beaches in Mauritius
Some of the most popular beaches are the following:
Pereybere, Mont Choisy, Trou aux Biches in the North
Flic en Flac, Le Morne in the West
Blue Bay in the South East
Ile aux Cerfs and Belle Mare in the East
Getting to and from Mauritius airport
Firstly, it is important to note that even though the island is relatively small, getting to most places from the airport will take about 2 hours (Belle Mare, Trou aux Biches, Flic en Flac, Bel Ombre or Grand Baie). One great location, only 15 min away from the airport, is Blue Bay (in the Southeast) and we would highly recommend this as a starting point for your holiday.
If you are arriving at night, rather arrange local transport to your accommodation unless you are already familiar with Mauritius. Although the road infrastructure is good, it is easy to get lost at night as the roads are not well lit and it also takes a while to get used to ‘Mauritian driving’! We would suggest either contacting the car rental company to request a driver to take you to your accommodation or just book a taxi transfer and then rather arrange to have your rental vehicle delivered at your accommodation the following day. By then you’ll be relaxed and better prepared to complete the required rental forms and check the vehicle.
Getting around Mauritius
In general, the road infrastructure in Mauritius is good, although roads can be very dimly lit (if illuminated at all) at night. They drive on the left-hand side of the road and vehicles are right-hand drive. If you're from a country where you drive on the right-hand side of the road, an automatic transmission vehicle will be easier for you to manage. Car Rentals are around 1000-1200 MUR per day depending on the size of the vehicle. We found that renting a car can add a significant cost component to your holiday, but is almost essential if you really want to explore the island independently. Hiring a car for 3 - 4 days might not be worth it and it might then just be easier to get a taxi to see some sights. Although the island is small, we would recommend an unlimited mileage allowance.
We rented a vehicle from Vikish Babajee at Le Morne Travel Ltd and we were very happy with the service we received. Le Morne Travel Ltd La Gaulette, Cotteau Raffin Email: email@example.com
Phone: (+230) 5 754 7148/ (+230) 5 711 6745
What to look out for when renting a vehicle in Mauritius / How to spot an illegal car rental
There are strict laws regarding car hire in Mauritius:
1. Registered car rentals must have 2 yellow number plates. Don’t accept an offer for a vehicle with a white number plate. It’s illegal and you have no guarantee it’s in good running condition.
2. All cars offered for hire must be a maximum of 5 years old which means vintage cars cannot be legally rented.
3. By law, the vehicle must be equipped with a fire extinguisher and a safety triangle.
Availability and cost of food and groceries in Mauritius
Mauritian food is varied with multi-cultural influences from Indian, Chinese, French and Creoles. The food is generally a little spicy and may include tasty Indian curries, biryanis, Chinese noodles and even French baguettes and cheese. The most famous Mauritius food is ‘dholl puri’ or ‘dhal poori’. It's a thin soft pancake made with grounded yellow split pea flour filled with all sorts tasty fillings of your choice. There are also a lot of vegetarian dishes available. Street food really only costs a few rupees and can be found all over. Be sure to try the local cuisine even if you are cooking for yourself!
Ask the locals where to find the freshest fish. This will usually be from a stall alongside the beach at about four in the afternoon. Freshly grilled fish with a slice of lemon is quintessential of a Mauritian holiday!
Groceries are freely available and easy to come by. Even in the small town of La Gaulette, there was a small supermarket which had everything we needed to prepare our own food. Most local supermarkets will even have a wide range of European influenced products but at a price premium. We opted to buy our fresh fruit and vegetables from the local street-side vendors as this was usually both fresher and cheaper. Be sure to ask a local what you should be paying as the stalls alongside the beach will ask tourist prices for fruit in particular. If you are interested in the availability and cost of groceries, check out our video Mauritius Grocery Shopping.
Alcohol is not cheap in Mauritius, although buying local beer and rum from the supermarket is a fraction of the price of a restaurant.
Mauritians don’t have a habit of eating out. For this reason, you will find that most restaurants cater to western tourists and are priced accordingly. Drinks are also expensive. Be sure to look out for daily deals such as happy hour and two for one food specials.
Our total food and drink costs averaged to $34 per day for the two of us. This included 7 nights dinners out, which were either at small local restaurants or taking advantage of two for one deal, which averaged to $25 per dinner for the both of us. Although not a budget destination, this was well managed and you could easily spend 2-4 times as much by only eating out.
Mauritius General Information and Travel Tips
Mauritius tap water is safe for drinking but bottled water is also freely available. Perhaps consider making use of a compact portable water filter. We use the Survivor Pro Water Filter which is very compact, easy to use and which we are very happy with and can highly recommend.
We each got a local SIM Card (MUR 200 each) and 2GB of data (MUR 200 each) from EMTEL (https://www.emtel.com/prepaid) which helped keep us connected while there. There was also free WIFI included in most of our accommodation.
ATM’s are generally available all around the island. Keep in mind that there may be a cash withdrawal limit from an ATM (sometimes as low as MUR 10 000 per day) and this may increase your actual costs due to the per withdrawal fee. Some banks such as HSB and Barclays allow up to MUR 40 000 per day, but this may vary. Also, remember to check that your own bank’s daily withdrawal limit is suitable. Larger establishments will mostly accept credit cards, but smaller shops and street vendors will require cash.
Alcohol is not cheap in Mauritius so make use of your Custom Allowances to bring any Spirits, Wine or Beer is you so choose!
See the full details of our Mauritius Travel Expenses in our Budget Report Blog Post. If you are considering Mauritius as a kitesurfing destination, be sure to listen to our Podcast Episode 26, which is all about Kitesurfing Mauritius.