Should You Visit Mauritius? Here Are My Impressions

Different people look for different things when planning vacations centered around relaxation. Some people relax by hiking in mountains, while others relax by plopping down by the pool or on the beach with a good book.

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Berchtesgaden, Germany

Even within the category “beach/pool relaxation,” there are several types of amazing destinations you can visit. For example, Bali and the Maldives are both destinations known for relaxation, though they’re completely different.

The Maldives is spectacularly gorgeous, with the most perfect beaches and water I’ve seen anywhere. The catch is that it’s really expensive and secluded. Most resorts are on individual islands, so you won’t be able to experience much of the local culture. Instead you’ll just be exposed to artificial life at the resort. Which is great if your goal is simply to relax, but less great if you’re looking to mix relaxation with sightseeing.

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The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

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Sunsets in the Maldives can be pretty spectacular

Bali is completely different than the Maldives. Contrary to popular belief, most of the beaches in Bali aren’t that incredible, and the ocean isn’t crystal clear. I love Bali for the resorts with beautiful pools, the (comparatively) reasonable prices, the cool cultural activities (Bali has amazing coastline and also beautiful rice terraces and jungles), and most importantly, the people. The Balinese people are among the friendliest in the world, in my opinion.

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The St. Regis Bali

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Sunsets in Bali don’t suck either…

Well, a bit over a weeks ago I made a brief visit to Mauritius, which I’ll be sharing more details of later. I didn’t know what to expect going into the visit, though Mauritius is a place which has always fascinated me. It’s a pretty tiny island off the coast of Africa, and I was curious to compare and contrast it to Bali, the Maldives, etc.

To sum up my thoughts in a sentence, I was absolutely thrilled by Mauritius, and can’t wait to return.

We rented a car for our short stay there, and for one, it was a joy to drive in Mauritius. While they drive on the left side of the road, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed more civilized driving anywhere. The roads were consistently empty, and the landscape was beautiful. I’m someone who loves driving, so being in a place where I feel comfortable renting a car and it’s actually enjoyable to drive is a big plus for me. The infrastructure was fantastic.

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The island has varied terrain, from huge fields to massive hills; pictures can’t do justice to how beautiful it is. When we arrived we were driving to the St. Regis, located on the opposite side of the island of the airport. We had to take a winding road down the side of a mountain, and the views of the sunset were spectacular — unfortunately the pictures can’t do justice to how tranquil it was, as we pulled over on the side of the road to take some pictures, and heard complete silence, aside from some nature.

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So, how are the beaches in Mauritius? Nice, but not amazing. I’d say on average they’re on par with Bali, though can’t really compare to the Maldives. The quality varied across the island, though overall I found the beaches to have a surprising number of rocks. The water was beautiful and in some places crystal clear, nicer for sure than in Bali, but not quite to the level of the Maldives.

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But I loved the backdrop of the island in general, as you had all kinds of huge mountains along with endless greenery.

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What also pleasantly surprised me about Mauritius were the people. Whether at the St. Regis or otherwise, I found the Mauritian people to be exceedingly friendly and hospitable, almost to the level I’ve experienced in Bali.

It’s tough to explain, but what I also loved is that on the weekends the locals were all having barbecues on the public beaches, and seemed to be spending time with friends and family. There’s something nice about being in a place where it seems like the locals are happy and have a decent quality of life.

While you shouldn’t visit a destination for a hotel alone, the St. Regis was spectacular. Physically the hotel was beautiful, with French Colonial architecture. Beyond that, they had service, food, and amenities to match.

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Seasonally the hotel isn’t that expensive, especially if you can use the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit to lower the cost of your stay.

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I can’t wait to return, and when I do, I’d also love to visit the Seychelles and Reunion as well, which are the islands in the general vicinity.

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Have you been to Mauritius? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t been, is it on your list of places to visit?

Comments

  1. Even better is that Emirates flies 2x daily A380s there from DXB, so for only 10k extra AS miles, you can fly US-DXB-MRU with a stopover in the DXB and you get an extra shower onboard shower!

  2. my ex and I visited there in July 1988 and we stayed with her friends. so we totally got the real life visit there. We brought many American gifts to them. we were the last ones out of immigration and customs since we had declared so many gifts. that said. back in the day you could turn in aadvantage miles (60,000 miles coach) and pay the difference between full fare coach(Y)and business class (J). The difference was only $100 us dollars. so we flew from Texas to Chicago on AA to board BA to London, long lay over in London and then flew BA from London to Abu Dhabi to Seychelles to Mauritius. the food was fantastic, we went to local market every day and even found some great souveniors and clothes to buy to bring back to the states. we enjoyed the beaches there and had a wonderful time. there. Maurituis authorities even came to the home to check on the 2 americans that were visiting. as you know you have to put where you are staying on your customs forms… the most wonderful trip I have ever taken as you said the people were so friendly. a once in a lifetime trip.

  3. My wife really wants to go to the Seychelles–Maldives are out because of the human rights issues. Because of the greater availability of flights to Mauritius, it might be a similar trip to your future thoughts… Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles. I look forward to reading your additional posts on this.

  4. I have been to Mauritius many times (it’s a very popular destination for French speaking Europeans in winter). My impressions:
    – The scenery is not impressive: the island’s vegetation is rather sparse, except for the imported palm trees at the resorts.
    – Beaches are nice but far from spectacular (and not worth any longhaul travel).
    – Weather is not tropical but subtropical, so it can be chilly in winter (June to September), especially on the East Coast.
    – Mauritius boasts some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, and the rates are reasonable, especially when compared to resorts on the other islands in the Indian Ocean. The best resorts are the St Regis (my favorite), the Oberoi, and the Four Seasons (http://wp.me/p4d1XU-17O).

    Having said that, if you have a choice, don’t travel to Mauritius, but go to the Maldives or Seychelles instead. The latter islands will take your breath away, while Mauritius will not wow you.

    @Lucky: you should travel to the Seychelles next time you are in the Indian Ocean region: the beaches are the most beautiful ones in the world (even better than Bora Bora, Turks&Caicos, or the Maldives) and the tropical scenery is spectacular. Pure paradise!

  5. We were planning a trip to JNB in November. MRU might be an interesting addition. But we really loved the Maldives.

  6. I loved Mauritius too. Really neat place. Reunion is also super cool. St. Denis feels like someone plopped a French town into the tropics, and then the drive up to/hike down to the Piton de la Fournaise is one of the neatest things I’ve ever done, travel wise

  7. Love, love, love Mauritus. We stayed up in the north end at a cute little Relais & Chateau boutique hotel – 20 Sud – absolutely fabulous! Did some great diving in Mauritius but most importantly, lots of relaxing. Would go back in a heart beat!

    Off to Zanzibar this weekend!

  8. Mauritius is great, as there is more to do than just to sit on the beach. But the best tropical island experience I have had was Sao Tome. There are some great luxury resorts, but also some simple, but authentic places in stunning locations. Lots of great scenery, lots of history, friendly people. The only drawback is flying there, TAP Portugal is the only realistic option, and their business class is just the usual intra-european version, not optimal for an 8 hour flight.

  9. I preferred Seychelles over Mauritius.
    I think I would probably return to Seychelles over Maldives too.
    The easy driving of which you speak is not the case if you are staying in the north. Our drive from the airport to the Westin, in 5 pm traffic, was not fun.
    The Emirates A-380 availability is great, however.

  10. Good timing Lucky I was at the St Regis last week. I also found Mauritius beautiful with much more to do than the Maldives (hiking, national parks, wild life etc.). Contrary to comments above I found the screnery and vegetation breath taking and up there with anywhere I’ve been. If you just want to sit on a beach go to the Maldives, but to see/do more Mauritius won’t disappoint.

  11. Never been to Mauritius, but from all the beaches that I’ve been to, Bali’s are the best ones. The beach on Menjangan Island (West Bali National Park) is great. The Nusas (Penida and Lembongan) are also nice. Lovina area is quite lovely in its own right. Kuta maybe not so much and the sole exception IMO, but I thought the rest of the beaches are very nice.

  12. We just came back from Bali for the first time and I was disappointed. It was wall-to-wall tourists almost everywhere; trash on the beaches and floating in the water; smog; and motorbikes everywhere. We saw much of the island and to me it was more like a low rise Bangkok then a tropical island (unless we were at a resort with a nice pool). The EK flight in business was great though.

  13. Lucky I’m looking forward to hearing why you went to MRU – its certainly a very out of the way place to go when heading to London!

  14. I went to Mauritius in 2009 and loved it. It’s beautiful and it’s also a real place with real culture and history; much more than just beaches. I went because when the financial crisis hit travel, BA had a 50% off sale on all awards. I figured that for the first time I could go anywhere they flew in F, so I decided to go to the farthest place from Los Angeles. (The antipodes is a point in the ocean about equidistant from Mauritius, Reunion, and Madagascar, but Mauritius is the only one of those that you can get to on BA.)

  15. I’ve been to French Polynesia twice (Moorea, Bora Bora, Tahiti each twice; Rangiroa once), Maldives twice (2x Hadaahaa, 1x Rangali), Bali twice, Langkawi, Phuket twice, Koh Samuii once, Hawaii a zillion times but the one that was the absolute best for me was the Cook Islands.

    I really loved the Maldives (went in January), but if it was easy to get flights and especially rooms on points, I would have been back. The Cook Islands are a protectorate of New Zealand; the inhabitants are Polynesian with a Kiwi’s cheerfulness, a singularly winning combination. The beaches are better than the Maldives (at least in Rarotonga and Aitutaki); however, the snorkeling and diving in the Maldives is much better.

    Given your discussion on beaches and locals, I think you would be blown away by the Cooks.

    Thanks to the other posters; now Seychelles is high on my list. Anyone want to compare Fiji to the other islands?

  16. Seychelles > Mauritius > Maldives > Reunion

    Maldives are great, but each atoll is small and flat. Seychelles has a mix of what you find in both Mauritius and Maldives and you can hop around for flavor variations if you want. Or don’t, Mahe is amazing if can’t, or don’t want to, hop. Oh yeah, and Aldabran tortoises! If you are looking for a remote SOYA vacation, Maldives are for you.

  17. I’m now in Maldives, been to Seychelles before and where would I come back to over and over again? Seychelles HANDS DOWN. Lots to do, see and visit, beaches are gorgeous, not too many tourists, a true heaven on earth. When I went there with my ex-gf, we even had a half-mile long beach completely to ourselves with just one local who offered to fetch a fresh coconut for us. Fruit was the freshest ever and the prices were reasonable. A true paradise on earth.

  18. Yes I was there this year from Feb 10th to 13th.
    Beautiful place especially when it rained heavily, I loved it!
    I walked 2 hours one day along in the rural area and talked with some peasants with English and a little bit French, it was funny overall! But finally I got what I wanted by this communication, Lol!

  19. Why on earth did you go to Mauritius and not bother visiting any of the other attractions?

    If you want to just lounge beside a beach and do watersports, then the Maldives is better.

    If you’re the sort that needs to *do something*, Mauritius is better. There’s a bunch of sightseeing stuff like the volcano crater, the 7 colored earths, and a touristy mini safari thing (where you can ride ATV’s with zebras and ostriches), etc.

  20. “While you shouldn’t visit a destination for a hotel alone”

    Isn’t that how you base most of your travel decisions? 😉

  21. Im in Mauritius at the moment, at The Oberoi.

    The North is renowned for slightly sunnier weather, and better snorkelling. However, you dont need to snorkel to find beauty.

    As Lucky says, the island is stunning. It’s hard to take a bad photo, and while I accept the beaches are not as ‘dreamy white’ as those in the Maldives, it’s not exactly a hardship!

    Everyone here is friendly, kind, and happy to help.

    Flying from London is great due to the direct BA flight, albeit a 3-class from Gatwick. The flight times are brilliant for sleeping, and I couldnt complain about CW (or rather i’ll do that on a different flying and talking site).

  22. I spent a little over a week there on my honeymoon in 2010 at the Hilton Mauritius after 2 weeks in the Seychelles. All the crew on our sailboat in the Seychelles told us we would Mauritius because it is where they go on vacation to buy cheap stuff. They definitely aren’t going for the beaches though. There are many better beaches in the Seychelles (and Caribbean for that matter) than the ones in Mauritius but I agree that the weekend picnic culture is pretty cool.

    Traffic – any time you get around Port Louis, you can spend a lot of time in a traffic jam. For an
    African country, it is nice to be able to rent a car! And after the roads on Male in the Seychelles, it was also nice to not feel like you were going to drop off the side of a cliff into the ocean as you drove along. The Hilton location was nice as it is in the middle of the island so you can drive anywhere

    There is some cool attractions – Ile Aux Cerfs, 7 Sands, Black River Gorge, Markets around Port Louis, snorkeling with lots of coral that has not been bleached yet – and we were able to see all the different areas in the island in our week. The seafood was really fresh and I still dream of the octopus curry. The craziest thing we saw was on our free dolphin watching trip (several activities were included when you stay at the Hilton) was that people were just flinging themselves out of their boats at the dolphins to try to swim with them. How someone doesn’t get run over on a daily basis I don’t know…

    It was interesting being American there as most of the tourists are German, English, and French. The immigration agent was very excited to see my passport. And then at the hotel, all the staff knew my name since they said only about 50 US citizens stay there per year. And as a diamond, I got a water front suite upgrade from our regular room on a points stay. At a restaurant (lots of great ones in Flic en Flac by the hotel), one of the waitresses said that she was really excited to meet me because even though they listen to music and watch tv/movies from the US, she had never met someone from there. It was really interesting being a novelty.

    All and all, After a week there, I don’t need to go back. I will go back to the Seychelles though.

  23. Hey Ben – when you go to the Seychelles, insider staying at Maia. You can’t use points, but it’s one of those places that is worth it. The food is extraordinary (only one restaurant, but five different chefs, each specializing in a different cuisine) and each pool villa has a butler who will make your breakfast, unpack your clothes, draw your outdoor bubble bath, bring a chef in for a private barbecue…
    Since I am a beach person, I recommend one of the beach villas, rather than the ones on the hillside. Their grounds are less claustrophobic, and you can choose one that’s more private than the others.

  24. I love the Seychelles over the Maldives & Mauritius! I stayed at the Hilton Labriz and for being a Hilton property, it is truly unique. It’s located on a private island, with only 1 resort on it, i.e. the Hilton. You can do great hiking trips in the mountains and experience the unspoiled jungle. The island also has it’s own history, with a small cemetery etc. that you can discover via a hike. When you land on the main island Mahe you just need to take a boattrip to the Island and you’re all set. A lot of visitors combine with visits to other islands, but we just stayed at the Hilton. It’s really unique in my opinion that you can stay on such a big, private island. I was a bit disappointed with Male with waste island in the background. When you tochdown in Mahe, you have a completely different feeling. On Silhouette Island, you can have the combination of total relaxation with the hiking, which beats the Maldives for me. Only the water is not that clear as in the Maldives, but that shouldn’t be a downside. There’s btw 1 place I found that has more crystal clear water than the Maldives, that was in the Bahama’s!

  25. In my opinion, I’d rank the following islands in this order:

    Beaches:
    1. Maldives
    2. Seychelles
    3. Mauritius

    Cultural activities:
    1. Mauritius
    2. Seychelles
    3. Maldives

    Scenic sights & historical activities:
    1. Mauritius
    2. Seychelles
    3. Maldives

    Just my opinion of course. I think anyone going to any of these three islands and not enjoy themselves probably should never leave the four walls of their bedroom. 😀

    Lucky – if you ever happen to be in MRU again, give RRG a whirl. Its a really different place and pace of life out there.

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