Know before you go – Mauritius

Know before you go – Mauritius

With its lush mountain ranges and serene white beaches, Mauritius is a tropical paradise perfect for family adventures, romantic holidays and exotic getaways with your favourite people. The island is full of variety, from technicolour coral reefs, picturesque white sand beaches, amazing wildlife and fauna to Mauritians’ legendary hospitality so there’s plenty to do and discover.

To help you prepare for your island getaway, we’ve created this guide to Mauritius with everything you need to know from weather to everyday tips.

Club Med has three idyllic Resorts on this island, La Pointe Aux Canonniers, the Albion Villas and The Exclusive Collection La Plantation d’Albion.

Weather

Mauritius enjoys a warm, dry winter from May to December and a hot, humid summer from November to May. Thanks to the tropical climate, there’s not much temperature difference between the two seasons, with temperatures up to 28˚C in summer and 23˚C in winter.

Getting there

A direct flight to Mauritius from London takes about 12 hours. International visitors arrive at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport at Plaisance in the southeast of the island. We advise you to book your transfers with the resort you are staying in otherwise you can get a taxi when you arrive. Rates are not fixed and will depend on the time you spend in the taxi. At Club Med, we’ll organise your transfer for you.

Currency and Costs

The currency of Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee (R) and you’ll get about 47Rs to the pound. The cost of living is slightly lower than in the UK. For example, a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Mauritius will cost about 1,200Rs or £25.

Food and drink

Thanks to the island’s multi-cultural history, Mauritian cuisine is a melting pot of some of the world’s best culinary traditions. French, Indian, Chinese and African influences flavour Mauritian dishes with saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, thyme and basil. Thanks to the extensive coastline, Mauritian cuisine benefits from and abundance of fresh seafood from meaty octopus to tender squid to sweet shrimp. Expect fresh tropical fruit form the familiar pineapples, coconuts and mangoes to the more exotic longan, custard apples and love apples. Tomatoes feature in a lot of Mauritian dishes and are known as pommes d’amour or “the apples of love”.

Typical Mauritian Food

Rougaille - this popular Creole dish is a spicy tomato-based meat or fish stew flavoured with garlic, onion and thyme and served with pickled vegetables and dhal or rice. You’ll find it made with chicken, beef, dorado, sausages, prawns, or paneer for vegetarians.
Mauritian curry - these curries are different from your typical Indian curries, from tomato-based mild Creole style curries to the island’s special octopus curry, all served with rice or farata, a buttery variety of flatbread sold at street stalls.
Briani - similar to Indian biryani, this spiced rice or potato dish made with beef, chicken, fish, mutton or vegetables is prepared by the island’s Muslim community and is a favourite among the locals.
Vindaye - debatably the Mauritian answer to the vindaloo, this fish or vegetable curry is flavoured with mustard, garlic, ginger, tumeric and onions and comes served with rice, lentils, pickled vegetables and chutney.

Snacks - known as Hedhikaa or “short eats” & Dessert

Gateaux piments - literally meaning “chilli cakes” this variant of the indian vadai is a round fried split pea cake flavoured with chilli, cumin seeds, spring onion, turmeric and coriander.

Puffs - these little samosas, otherwise known as “puffs”, are filled with potatoes and meat or fish and flavoured with the island’s favourite curry spices.

Dholl Pori - sold at street stalls all over Mauritius, this popular street food is the Mauritian take on Indian flatbreads stuffed with ground split peas, bean curries, mango pickles and chutney.

Napolitaine - these colourful sweet treats are made from two chunky shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with a kiss of jam and glazed with a thick pastel-pink icing.

Poudine Mai - otherwise known as “corn pudding” is a sweet and creamy comfort food made from sweetened creamed corn, flavoured with vanilla and coconut.

Vermicelli - This popular sticky dessert is made with roasted vermicelli, raisins, almonds and milk spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. Perfect with a hot cup of vanilla tea.

Tropical fruit - Mauritius is home to an abundance of tropical fruit sweet enough to rival any pudding. Try syrupy Victoria pineapples, juicy mangoes and zingy longan.

Drinks

Mauritius is famous for its rum made from local sugar cane. You’ll be able to find good bottles for low prices at local village shops or supermarkets, or you can book a tasting at one of the island’s many distilleries.
Try some of the island’s favourite rum-based cocktails for a real taste of Mauritius:

Banana Colada - Smooth and frothy, this Mauritian take on a tropical classic is very popular with travellers from all over the world.
Rum Coco - Simple and sophisticated, this island favourite mixes Mauritian rum, sugar and coconut water over ice for the perfect summer refresher.
Planteur - Mauritian rum is mixed with orange, guava and pineapple juice and a pinch of cinnamon for a fruity, spicy Caribbean classic
If rum’s not your tipple, try a cold glass of Phoenix, the local beer, for around 30Rs or £1 a pint, or the Black Eagle beer brewed in Nouvelle France for some refreshment in the glorious Mauritian sunshine.

Escale Creole  - Moka

A real family affair, Escale Creole serves up homemade meals from a friendly mother-daughter team. Mama Majo works miracles in the kitchen while Marie-Christine welcomes diners to their cozy veranda. Expect authentic Creole dishes such as rougaille with Creole sausage, fish vindaye, and wild deer salami, all served with rice, grains and chutneys, while dessert is served fresh from the fruit trees in the restaurant’s tropical garden.

Sunshine Fusion  - Poste Lafayette

Traditional Mauritian cuisine gets a twist of modern fusion with global flavours at this relaxed little eatery on the coastal road. Specialties of the house include octopus vindaye, ginger fish, vegetarian kofta and the Chinese Magic Bowl. Enjoy upscale dining in a relaxed atmosphere or book a live cooking sessions and learn how to make authentic Mauritian chicken curry masala.

La Table du Château - Mapou

This refined and contemporary restaurant sit at the heart of the elegant Labourdonnais estate. Enjoy haute cuisine and the refined ambience of the beautiful palm-lined gardens of this colonial house. Chef Fabio de Poli has over 20 years of experience and designs creative and seasonal menus inspired by the flavours of Mauritius and the produce of the Labourdonnais estate’s own orchards.

The Beach House -Grande Baie

This eclectic, breezy beach bar is a must-visit for travellers to Mauritius. With its mismatched furniture and one of the best views of the Grand’Baie’s perfect turquoise waters, The Beach House is the perfect place to sip on a watermelon rose mojito, enjoy some relaxed tapas and watch the waves.

The Flying Dodo - Moka

Named after the island’s most famous inhabitant, this relaxed and rustic bar is a champion of the local craft beer scene. As well as home-brewed beers, The Flying Dodo also offers beer liqueurs, beer bonbons, beer soaps and even a beer-based therapy where you can relax in a bathtub of beer.

Banana Beach Club - Grande Baie

Without doubt the most famous bar on Mauritius, the Banana Beach Club is the place to go for live music and flamboyant island fun among palm trees and beach huts. A popular watering hole for locals and tourists alike, this lively bar has an extensive menu of fresh fruit cocktails and claims to make the best mojito on the island

Top 10 things to do in Mauritius

MAKE A SPLASH IN THE INDIAN OCEAN

The beautiful blue waters around Mauritius are perfect for water sports. Try your hand at windsurfing, water skiing, surfing or stand-up paddle boarding. Dip beneath the surface and you’ll discover a colourful underwater world of coral reefs, manta rays and tropical fish just waiting to be explored.

VISIT THE HINDU IDOLS AT THE GRAND BASSIN

This beautiful mountain lake is a holy site to the island’s Hindu population. In 1972, a priest brought water from the River Ganges and added it to the Grand Bassin in a special ceremony to tie the lake to the sacred river back in India. Take a stroll around the water and explore the majestic Hindu temples and idols.

HIKE IN THE BLACK RIVER GORGES

This national park is home to verdant rolling hills covered in Mauritian rainforest, perfect for a family picnic or a peaceful walk in paradise. Take a hike through this indigenous wilderness and discover outstanding panoramic views, tropical birds, and maybe even the Mauritian flying fox.

Indulge your sweet tooth at L’Aventure du Sucre

Mauritius was built on sugar. From sugar cane plantations to the multi-cultural heritage of the Mauritian people, you can see the influence of the sugar trade everywhere on the island. At L’Aventure du Sucre you can learn all about Mauritius’ sugar history through fun interactive exhibits, find out how sugar is processed and enjoy a sugar tasting at the end of the tour.

See the seven coloured sands of Chamarel

One of Mauritius’ main tourist attractions, the seven coloured sands of Chamarel are a sight to behold. Thanks to the tropical weather, the dunes of Chamarel are coloured red, violet, blue and yellow, creating a dreamy landscape you won’t believe. Visit at sunrise for the best views.

Stop and smell the flowers at Pamplemousses Botanical Garden

At nearly 300 years old, this lush oasis is the oldest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere. Take a stroll under the shade of 85 different palm trees and discover elegant lotus flowers, spectacular giant lily pads and Monsieur Pierre Poivre’s aromatic spice garden, home to camphor, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Go back in time at Chateau de Labourdonnais

Step back in time and visit Mauritius’ colonial past with a visit to this stunning 19th century chateau. With its elegant verandas, white columns and louvre shutters, Chateau de Labourdonnais is a gorgeous example of colonial architecture. Wander the immaculate gardens, visit the giant tortoises or go on one of the chateau’s treasure hunts with the kids.

Find adventure on Ile aux Cerfs Island

Snorkel alongside tropical fish, laze on a white beach or zipline through the trees on this paradise island just off the east coast of Mauritius. Ile aux Cerfs is home to beautiful unspoilt beaches, a shallow turquoise lagoon, restaurants, a golf course and a tree-top adventure park, making it the perfect stop for a exotic daytrip.

Gallop along the beach on horseback

What better way to explore Mauritius’ beaches than on horseback. Kick up some spray from the turquoise sea as you canter along palm-dotted beaches with the wind in your hair and the sun on your shoulders. Perfect for beginners and experienced riders alike.

Drink tea fresh from the Bois Cheri tea fields

Rum isn’t the only beverage Mauritius is famous for. take a tour of the Bois Cheri tea fields and discover a different side to the island’s heritage. You’ll get to see how the tea is processed from field to cup before rounding off your trip with a tea tasting overlooking the serene countryside.

Mauritian culture

Mauritian culture is a melting pot of different traditions from around the world. Thanks to its colourful history of spice traders, pirates and explorers, you’ll find Dutch, French, Asian and African influences throughout the island, from its colourful Hindu statues to its placid sugar plantations.

Languages

Mauritius doesn’t have an official language, but the government uses English, the media mostly uses French and the most commonly spoken language is Mauritian Creole. However, the third most common language spoken on the island is English.

Religions

Due its multi-cultural heritage, Mauritius is home to people of many different faiths. Hinduism, Islam and Catholicism are the three main religions on the island, and you’ll see their influence around the island, from the St Louis Cathedral to the Jummah Mosque to the multiple Hindu statues dotted around the countryside.

Thaipoosam Cavadee Jan/Feb

One of the most spectacular Tamil Hindu events on the island, Thaipoosam Cavadee is celebrated with fire-walking, sword-climbing and ritual piercings. Devotees carry the “Cavadee”, an canopy or arch decorated with flowers and offerings of milk.

Chinese Spring Festival Jan/Feb

Celebrated at Chinese New Year, expect lots of red, firecrackers and an abundance of food. Visit Chinatown in Port Louis to see the Chinese Spring Festival parade complete with iconic Lion Dances, Chinese Dragons and fireworks.

Maha Shivratree Feb/Mar

Celebrated in honour of Shiva, this three-day festival sees Mauritian Hindus make a pilgrimage to the Grand Bassin to wash in its holy waters. Participants dress in white and make food sacrifices by the lakeside.

Holi Festival March

This Indian festival of colour is celebrated by the island’s Hindu population, who spend the day singing, dancing and splashing everyone they meet with coloured water and powders.

Mauritius National Holiday March 12th

To celebrate the birth of the state of Mauritius, the island throws a parade and there are festivities throughout the country.

Ganesh Chaturthi Aug/Sept

Hindu Mauritians celebrate the birth of Ganesh with the creation of a clay idol of the elephant-headed god. They’ll offer modaka - sweet dumplings - to the idol before decorating it with flowers and taking it to the nearest river or lake to immerse it before sunset.

Diwali Oct/Nov

The Hindu “Festival of Light”, Diwalli celebrates the triumph of good over evil. You’ll see house decorated with oil lamps, candles and fairy lights and families sharing cakes with their neighbours.

Traditions

The Sundowner - a traditional holiday ritual where Mauritians congregate on the beach to enjoy the sunset.

The Regatta - fishermen take to the water in special sailing boats, called pirogue, made of painted meranti wood and race across the sea.

Séga - a musical expression of the Mauritian spirit, this festive music is made for dancing barefoot.

Crafts

Woodcraft - woodcraft is ubiquitous on the island, and the most popular items are model ships made with rosewood, teak and ebony.

Basketwork - these traditional baskets are made with woven leaves and fibres such as sugarcane leaves, raffia, bamboo, aloe or vacoas fiber.

Local laws and restrictions

It’s illegal to possess or import cigarette papers in Mauritius, so make sure you don’t pack any in your luggage.

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