Mauritius: A Diamond in the Rough - All You Need To Know

mauritius travel guide

Mauritius might just be the most underrated tourist location for an island nation. Located 500 miles east of Madagascar, the small island of Mauritius has a rugged interior of craggy mountains and lush forests, all ringed with lapis and turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches. Mauritius is considered the most peaceful country in Africa and its people are some of nicest and helpful that you find anywhere. Four centuries of colonization have brought a mosaic of cultural influences to the island; coupled with the beautiful landscape, Mauritius truly is a diamond in the ruff.


black river gorges national park mauritius
The beautiful Black River Gorges National Park.


Mauritius sat isolated and uninhabited until early in the 16th century when Portuguese sailors eventually visited the island. Due to this isolation, Mauritius developed a unique array of flora and fauna, many of which are only found on the island (in the case of Mauritius’ national flower, can only be found in a certain area on the top of one mountain). One of the unique fauna – what Mauritius is famous for – is the now extinct Dodo bird. But this biodiversity hotspot lays not only on the land, but under the waves as well. Mauritius is also home to the world’s third largest coral reef.


monkey ganga talao temple mauritius
A monkey at the Ganga Talao temple.


The ecological story of Mauritius isn’t the only history of the island. The island has had a long history of colonization with the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British. The French historical mark can be seen in the architectural structures in the major cities, but the British’ mark is seen in the demographics. In 1834, the British government choose Mauritius to be the first site for what they would call ‘the Great Experiment.’ Under this new system they would use indentured laborers to replace the slave labor on the island. From 1834 – 1920, nearly 500,000 indentured laborers were imported to the Mauritius from India to work the sugar plantations.


gabriel island mauritius
Beach at Gabriel Island.


The island itself is just 28 by 40 miles, meaning not only is it easy to navigate, but you are never very far from some of the most pristine and beautiful beaches you will ever find. There is so much to see and do on the island of Mauritius, so I have put together a list of my personal favorite things. Whether you are looking for a dive into history, an adventure in the forests, or just to chill on the beach, you will something for you in Mauritius.


What to Do


Aapravasi Ghat


aapravasi ghat mauritius
Plaque signifying the entryway of the Aapravasi Ghat immigration center.


Today, Aapravasi Ghat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a museum located on the bay in Port Louis, but it was once the immigration center where modern indentured servitude began. From 1834 – 1920, half a million indentured servants from India processed through Aapravasi Ghat. The museum follows this history, showing visitors the process of this system and the life of the indentured servants. Anyone visiting Port Louis should spend a little time touring Aapravasi Ghat.


Cost: Free
Hours: 9am – 4pm (Monday – Friday), 9am – 12pm (Saturday)


Fort Adelaide


fort adelaide mauritius
View of the inside of Fort Adelaide with the inland mountains.


Fort Adelaide sits on the highest point in Port Louis. This gave it a prominent position to defend the city from invaders; both foreign and domestic. This high point also gives its visitors today an amazing view of the city below and the mountain range that surrounds it. Fort Adelaide is the best preserved example of a fort in Mauritius.


Cost: Free
Hours: 7am – 4pm


Flying Dodo Brewery


flying dodo brewery mauritius
Three different beers at the Flying Dodo Brewery.


The Flying Dodo Brewery is located in Moka, just 10 km south of Port Louis. The Flying Dodo Brewery is the only craft brewery in Mauritius and has been since 2011. For those of you, like me, that like to try new beers when you travel then the Flying Dodo should be on your bucket list for Mauritius. They brew up some great beers and have delicious food as well.


Flic en Flac


flic en flac le monde mauritius
Flic en Flac beach with Le Monde in the background.


Flic en Flac is one of the longest stretches of beach in Mauritius located on the southwest coast of the country. This was by far my favorite beach on the island, which is also a sentiment shared by many locals as well. There is not much more you can ask for from a beach than long stretch of white sand and warm, shallow turquoise water. But Flic en Flac gives its visitors even more. Since it is a local favorite you will find a line of amazing food trucks serving up all sorts of savory dishes and locals producing musical vibes.


Le Morne


le monde view mauritius
View from atop Le Monde.


Le Morne is an 1821’ monolith that just out of a peninsula on the southern tip of Mauritius. This is a popular hike for tourists because it gives amazing panoramic views of the island and deep blue and turquoise bays that surround the peninsula. It is by no means a hike for the faint of heart. Once at the top it becomes more of a crawl than a hike, but the views are definitely worth it. The mountain has a much darker history though. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Le Morne once served as a refuge for runaway slaves during the 18th and 19th centuries. When Britain ended slavery a detachment of British soldiers went to the mountain to tell them the news, but, not knowing their intentions, choose to jump from the cliffs.


Chamarel Seven Colored Earth


chamarel seven colored earth mauritius
The sand dunes at Chamarel Seven Colored Earth.


Chamarel Seven Colored Earth is a geopark in the southwest of Mauritius. Its signature exhibit, as its name suggests, is a section of sand dunes made of seven different colors of sand that have shifted to create a geological masterpiece. Along with the dunes the park has a number of tortoises on its premises and a viewpoint for the Chamarel Waterfalls. For me this was the least attractive thing that I saw in Mauritius, but that’s not to dissuade you from visiting it yourself.


Cost: 325 MUR/7.50 USD
Hours: 8:30am – 5:30pm


Black River Gorges National Park


chamarel waterfall black river gorges national park mauritius
Chamarel Waterfall in the Black River Gorges National Park.


The Black River Gorges National Park is a site that every visitor should visit while they are in Mauritius. This 26 mi² park encompasses three different types of forests, each with its unique ecosystem. There are a number of activities to do within the park, including hike any of the 60 miles of trails, spotting exotic wildlife, and viewing the many waterfalls. If you are not into getting out in to nature, then you can still experience the national park with a drive down the B103. There are also many viewpoints along the way for you to see waterfalls and possibly wildlife.


Ganga Talao Temples


ganga talao mauritius
Ganga Talao lake and temples.


Ganga Talao (commonly referred to as the Grand Bassin) is a crater lake in the mountainous region of southwest Mauritius. It is considered the most religious Hindu site in Mauritius, some say outside of India, and is a pilgrimage site for Mauritian Hindus. The lake itself, and the temples that surround it see major crowds, especially during Shivaratri, when Hindus from around the country walk across the rough terrain from their homes to the site. The major temple is dedicated to Shiva but there are a number of smaller temples dedicated to other Hindu gods as well. A major feature of the site is the 108’ tall statue of Shiva at the entrance of the temple complex.


Note: When you visit Ganga Talao, remember that it is a religious site. Make sure that you dress modestly and take of your shoes before you enter into any of the temples.


Blue Bay


blue bay mauritius
The beautiful waters of Blue Bay.


Blue Bay is true to its name, with deep blue, crystal clear water. Located in the southeastern section of the island, Blue Bay is one of Mauritius’s most popular locations for diving and snorkeling. The Blue Bay Marine Park is a national protected area that is the home to 108 species of coral, 233 species of fish, and 201 species of mollusks. There is possibly no greater place to snorkel on the island and it has a great pristine white sandy beach to lounge on as well.


Mahebourg Museum


mahebourg museum mauritius
18th century Chateau Roubillard houses the Mahebourg Museum.


The Mahebourg Museum is dedicated to the naval history of Mauritius. Located in the Chateau Roubillard in southeast Mauritius, the museum is a testament to the French occupation of the island. The mansion in which the museum resides was built in 1772 for the then Commandant for the district of Grand Port.


Cost: Free
Hours: 9am – 4pm (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday), 11am – 4pm (Wednesday), 9am – 12pm (Sunday)


Gabriel Island


gabriel island mauritius
The clear turquoise water at Gabriel Island.


Gabriel Island is a small island off of the northern coast of Mauritius. There are many companies that do day trip on catamarans to Gabriel Island out of Grand Baie. These are usually seven hour trips that include the catamaran trip, time on the island, bbq lunch, and snorkeling.


Where to Eat


roti chaud mauritius
Roti chaud from a roadside food vendor.


Mauritius is very much influenced by Indian culture and cuisine and so you will find a lot of Indian food both in restaurants and on the street. But if Indian food is not your thing, Mauritius still offers a lot of other international cuisine. If you are in Port Louis, the Waterfront is a great place to get a good bite to eat. Flying Dodo Brewery also has great burgers and of course craft beers. The food trucks at Flic en Flac should also be at the top of your list of places to try. You can grab a great bite to eat and enjoy the beach and local music all in one place. As always, street food is always a recommendation from me when traveling and Mauritius is one of the best places I have been to for some great street food.


Where to Stay


open air cafe apartment mauritius
Open Air Cafe & Apartment.


Mauritius receives many tourists to its beautiful shores and as such has many options when it comes to accommodations. Whether you are looking for a hotel in town, to rent a house or villa, or splurge on a swanky resort, Mauritius has something to offer you. Where you will want to stay will depend on what you have planned for your trip. I choose to rent an apartment just outside of Port Louis called the Open Air Cafe & Apartment. The apartment itself is anything special, but it is still a great place and the hosts are very friendly and helpful. When booking my hotels, I always use Agoda to find the best hotel in my location and price range. 


How to Get Around


Mauritius is a fairly small island, but you will need some mode of transportation to get from site to site. Within the cities, even Port Louis, you can easily walk around to see all of the sights though. Depending on your time and comfortability, Mauritius has a number of options available for you to experience this beautiful island.




Mauritius has a fairly extensive public bus system and it covers a large majority of the island. This is a really cheap option for those that are wanting to save a few dollars. I used the public buses to leave the airport and then for the first few days in Port Louis.




Regular taxis are always an option for getting around, but they are also the most expensive. I would only recommend using taxis if you absolutely have to for a short distance.


Rental Car


road sugarcane plantation
Road through a sugarcane plantation.


If you plan to explore the island as a whole, especially if you plan to visit Black River Gorges National Park, then I highly recommend renting a car. Renting a car will allow you to travel on your own schedule and make sightseeing far easier and fun. The roads in Mauritius are in good condition, but can be not as wide as you might be used to. It should also be noted that you drive on the left side of the road in Mauritius.


How to Get There 


pin point location map mauritius




Being an island nation the only main way of getting to Mauritius is by plane. The main airport in Mauritius is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU), located 47.5 km south of the capital city of Port Louis. There are a number of airlines that fly into Mauritius, but if you’re flying from the Americas you will need to layover at least once, as there are not direct flights. Depending on where you are staying on the island you will have a number of options for transportation from the airport.




The Mauritius bus system is fairly good and spans the entire island. This is by far the cheapest option to get to your accommodation. If you arrive between 8:15am and 6:45pm then you can catch a bus to Port Louis every 15 minutes.


Airport Taxi


The airport taxi service is always an option for getting to your accommodations from the airport, but it is also the most expensive option. If you are just going to Mahebourg then it will cost about 600 MUR/13.85 USD, whereas a trip to Port Louis will cost about 1,800 MUR/41.54 USD.


Rental Car


Mauritius’s international airport has most of the major rental car companies on location. If you plan to tour the island during your stay, then I would recommend getting a rental car to make the trip easier. When I visited, I actually took the bus to the house and then had a rental delivered a few days later.


Have you ever visited Mauritius?


mauritius travel guide

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  1. Beautiful pictures!

  2. WOW!!! Mauritius is absolutely gorgeous and sounds like a great time. Adding to my bucket list. 🏔😍 🌊

    1. It is so beautiful there. It is well worth a trip and I highly recommend it. And for a foody, the street food there is amazing.


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