These 10 things you MUST do in Mauritius are a mix of cool touristy outings, as well as the simplest pleasures we experienced during our two week stay. This isn’t a simple 10-things-to-do list “al la” Trip Advisor. If you’re the type who fancies staying at a resort for a couple of weeks and only exploring as far as the sprawling white sands outside your hotel room, this may not be your vibe. But if a little adventure is up your alley, you MUST do the following:
1. Embrace the locals – Mauritians are ridiculously hospitable and will ply you with rum
Coming from South Africa, it can be difficult to be trusting of strangers. Yes, we’re known to be some of the friendliest people on the planet, BUT possibly also the most skeptical of those we don’t know.
I had one of the most epic experiences in Mauritius when I let my guard down a little. We were doing a spot of snorkelling at Blue Bay, when upon exiting the water, we were called over by a group of Mauritian men having a celebration of some kind. I squashed a brief vision of my kidnapping and untimely death and trolloped over rather hesitantly. Turned out they were celebrating a birthday and wanted to offer us drinks – score!
Of course their drink of choice was rum and coke – 60% rum, 40% coke. Before we knew it, they were force feeding us and eventually sent us away with a plate of lamb and a baguette – unreal! Mauritians are SUCH hospitable people, and if you open yourself up to them your holiday will be enriched tenfold.
2. Self-cater and hire a car to explore the Mauritian landscape
We spent the majority of our holiday in Flic en Flac in a self-catering apartment situated RIGHT opposite the beach. It was almost as good as a luxury resort in terms of location, but cost us pretty much nothing. We paid R12 500 per person for return flights INCLUDING accommodation at Rayon Vert for 10 nights! We scored this sweet deal through Chantelle at Sta Travel – what an angel.
Hiring a car is the best thing you can do for yourself when holidaying in Mauritius. The island is super small, which means you can pretty much travel from one end to the other in about two hours, which is exactly what we did when we ventured from Flic en Flac in the west, to Blue Bay on the east coast.
The Mauritian landscape is breathtaking, and the only way to take it all in is to set off on a few road trips during your stay. The country is packed with sugar cane, mountains, lush greenery, mangroves, and sparkling oceans. Who wouldn’t want to bear witness to that??
3. Eat ALL the Mauritian street food
What would a “10 things you must do in Mauritius” list be without the mention of food?! I still dream about the muille bouille (noodles) from the little turquoise food truck that was oh-so conveniently situated RIGHT outside our door. Mauritian street food is heavily influenced by Chinese and Indian cuisine, since a large portion of the population are of Chinese and Indian descent.
The street food scene is alive and kicking in Mauritius and is how most locals eat on a daily basis. Noodles, curries, and rotis are staples you can find on pretty much every corner. The street food is super affordable too with rotis costing 12 – 15 rupees (about R7) and noodles and curries setting you back a whopping 60 – 70 rupees (about R35)
You’ll be tempted to live on this fare once you’ve ventured into a supermarket to buy groceries, or decided to “treat yo’self” at a restaurant. That shit is expensive! Even at R2 to 1 rupee, grocery shopping and eating out doesn’t come cheap. Dairy in particular is super expensive, and come to think of it, I never saw a single cow in Mauritius, so clearly dairy farming ain’t their thing. A basic margherita pizza will set you back AT LEAST R120 if you’re lucky – coz you know, cheese comes from cows.
4. Cop that Creole cuisine
If you are going to splurge on eating out, opt for a traditional creole restaurant and leave that pizza for when you can get it cheap at home. Creole cuisine is difficult to define because it’s clearly influenced by Chinese and Indian fare, but also has an African influence, while still managing to be it’s own thing.
We sat down to a two course creole meal at a little spot called Canne a Sucre in FLic en FLac, where Chez May (Chef May) prepared our food for us. It was kind of like going into her home and having her host us for the evening. Our main meal consisted of about 6 different sharing platters. The food cost us 800 rupees each (R400) but we left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.
5. Swim with dolphins and take a speed boat to Ile Benitez
Okay, listen up because this was the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE GUYS! Whilst reclining on the white-sand beach of Flic en Flac, we were approached by a very chilled Mauritian man, bottle of Phoenix beer in-hand, trying to spark our interest in a boat trip to “coconut island” (not to be confused with the ACTUAL coconut island – Ile de deux cocos on the east coast) where we’d be given the opportunity to snorkel and swim with dolphins. Um, yes please!
After getting over our initial mistrust of the guy (he smelled like he’d been boozing since 8am – thankfully he wasn’t the captain, but merely the salesman) we decided to take him up on his offer. The trip cost us 1500 rupees per person (R750) and included swimming with wild dolphins, snorkelling at Crystal Rock, lunch on Ile Benitez, and drinks all day long! We left the mainland at 9am and returned at about 5pm. It was pure magic.
6. Parasailing at Ile Aux Cerfs
A visit to Ile Aux Cerfs is one of the MANY island trips you can do in Mauritius. It seems to be the most popular among tourists and the island itself is incredibly commercial. If you’re going to do Ile Benitez and Ile Aux Cerfs, do Ile Aux Cerfs first, because it’ll feel like a letdown after Ile Benitez. You can’t compete with a dolphin swim!
I’m including Ile Aux Cerfs in my list because we went parasailing there which was one of the most exhilarating and terrifying things I’ve ever done. Heights aren’t my jam! But if you have no desire to parasail, or you’ve done it before, you could probably give Ile Aux Cerfs a miss in my opinion. I hear the Coin de Mire island trip makes for the most spectacular snorkelling.
The island is full of expensive water sport opportunities, but because it was off-season and we mentioned that we were South Africans, we wrangled parasailing at the price of 1000 rupees for a tandem ride. Not too shabby! The speed boat to and from the island, lunch and drinks cost us 900 rupees. (R450) You also stop at a waterfall on the way to the island.
7. Spend a day surfing at Tamarin Bay and then pick up a fresh fish from the harbour
We did this on our last full day in Mauritius and it was the perfect way to end off an epic holiday. You can rent a surfboard across the road from the beach for four hours at just 800 rupees. There were four of us, so each of us got an hour on the board and we all chipped in R100. The waves at Tamarin Bay are small and rolling making for the perfect beginner’s experience.
At about 5 – 5:30pm the fishermen start coming back into the harbour with their day’s catch. This is the freshest fish you’ll ever buy! We picked up a 3kg tuna for R300. The fisherman even gut and filleted it for us in about two minutes. The man had skill with that fish knife yo!
8. Tea tasting at Bois Cheri tea plantation
If your idea of heaven is a tea party, buffet style, you’ll want to live, get married, bear children, and eventually die in a blissful stupor at Bois Cheri. There are three different ticket options, but ours cost us 250 rupees (R125) and allowed us a visit to the tea museum, and concluded with a tea tasting.
The tea tasting venue overlooks a pretty pond and small allotment of tea plantation, with each tasting table set up with every tea that Bois Cheri produces. That’s a lot of tea! From fruit teas, to herbal teas, green teas, and the iconic Mauritian black tea with vanilla, you’ll be tasting tea till your bladder bursts. Hot water and milk is topped up upon your request. So yeah, you could pretty much sit there all day drinking tea to your heart’s content.
9. Go for a hike in Black River Gorges National Park
This place is beautiful! Go check out the indigenous vegetation of Mauritius at Black River Gorges National Park. A combination of tropical lushness, and wooded forest, traipsing around here like a fairy can only be good for the soul. There are a few different entry points so check those out and reconcile them with the hiking route you want to do.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information online regarding the exact routes available, so I’d recommend popping in and asking one of the rangers at the information desk before you decide on how exactly you want to go about your exploring. There’s a waterfall or two that you can trek to, but these hikes are long and may have you walking from one end of the park to the other so you’ll have to be clever with transport/parking your car. Oh, entry is FREE!
10. Peruse Port Louis
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius so expect a bustling little city with tons of character. Be ready to be heckled like you’ve never been heckled before if you venture towards the markets – which you should! Even if it’s just for the alooda – a creamy ice cream, condensed milk, milkshakey kind of beverage with chewy, popping bits in it, reminiscent of bubble tea.
The market is geared towards tourists which is pretty clear when browsing the souvenir-like items on sale. But if you can withstand the aggressive sales-driven pushiness, (some will even reach out and grab you to get your attention!) you could walk away with a couple of bargain buys. Especially if you mention you’re South African and NOT American or European. I bagged a vial of 6 fresh vanilla pods for just R100 my friends!
The locals do their shopping at the fruit and veg market, which is ridiculously cheap. So if you can grab groceries, definitely do it!
Once in Mauritius, we made our own personal “10 things you must do in Mauritius” list, and within the two weeks we were there, we ticked everything off. We did other things not listed above like visit the botanic gardens in Pamplemousses, as well as the seven coloured sands in Chamarel. But those outings were expensive and didn’t bring me as much joy as the activities listed here did.
If you’re visiting Mauritius soon, I have no doubt that these 10 things you must do in Mauritius will make your trip one to remember! Have you visited Mauritius recently? What else would you recommend?
HUGE thanks to the boyfriend, Jarret Johnson for snapping all the pics. Some were taken on his GoPro, others on his Canon. He managed to get some pretty breathtaking images, particularly of the beautiful people in Mauritius, and I’ve managed to convince him to do a little post on here to share them with you. So stay tuned for that!