Mauritius: All you need to know

2014-05-11 15:00

So, you’re heading to Mauritius for that dreamy honeymoon or long-awaited holiday. Should you opt for a taxi or a scooter? Can you wear shorts to dinner? What’s with the pink pigeons? Grethe Koen has the answers.

1 DO know what your holiday goals are. If you’re aiming for the laid-back and languid beach vacation of your dreams, stick to the eastern side of the island. This is where all the holiday resorts and hotels are situated. If you’re aiming for a busier, more adventurous trip, go to the northwest. This is close to the bustling capital St Louis and the nightclubs of Grand Baie. Also, this is where the rich Mauritians hang out on their yachts.

2 DO book accommodation that is either all inclusive or self-catering. Some hotels offer what is called half-board, where you only receive breakfasts. All other meals, including alcohol, will have to be paid for. With a beer going for about R70 at most hotels, this can get quite pricy.

3 DON’T rent a scooter – unless you’re comfortable navigating very narrow streets. The roads in Mauritius are much narrower than ours and the buildings are very close to the road. It can become quite hairy navigating the traffic. Although pricier, taxis are more comfortable. Mauritius has strict laws governing the roadworthiness of vehicles, so you won’t be driven around in a skorokoro.

4 DO check out Pink Pigeon Island. The candyfloss-hued birds that were brought back from the brink of extinction are a must-see. If you’re not into ornithology, check out the neon eels from aboard a glass-bottomed boat.

5 DON’T exchange your rands at your hotel. It gets pricy – especially since the Mauritius airport does currency exchanges for free.

6 Men, DON’T go to dinner in shorts. You will be sent away and asked to change.

7 DO visit the botanical gardens in Pamplemousses. There are lily pads big enough for a human to sit on, although I wouldn’t try it. Also check out the 1970s-style Hotel Tamarin in Tamarin Bay. The décor is classic retro ubercool.

8 DO take a catamaran trip, but book it through a local, not a travel agency. This will work out cheaper. You can ask your hotel for the details of a local.

9 DO remember language can get tricky. With tourism now the island’s biggest source of income, many locals speak English, but many still speak French Creole.

10 DO pack in the sunscreen. The Mauritian sun is more brutal than in South Africa. You can get sunburnt around the clock – even at 6pm. Slip that SPF into your beach bag, preferably SPF 50.

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