The beaches are not the only reason to take cheap flights to Mauritius, although they are considered to be among the best in the world. This little country – just 45km wide and 65km long – lies about 900km east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It’s part of the Mascarene Islands, which includes Réunion and Rodrigues.
Mauritius has a fascinating history, which features the Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, French and British. Its past occupiers’ influences are evident throughout the country; it’s a melting pot of cultures and cuisines.
Port Louis, on the east coast, is the capital. Here, stately houses and colonial-era buildings, cathedrals, a pagoda and a mosque, bustling markets and craft galleries fill the streets.
Inland, there’s a wealth of natural wonders to explore, including Trou aux Cerfs, a volcanic crater in Curepipe; the Rochester and Tamarin Falls; Jardin Botanique de Pamplemousses; the Black River Gorges National Park and La Vanille Reserve des Mascareignes.
The beaches are legendary. Fine-white sands are framed by Casuarina trees and lapped, gently, by clear, blue waters. Some of the best are Grand Baie (where Mauritians go to party); Pereybere; Blue Bay, Ile aux Cerfs and Flic en Flac (which, in Dutch means, Free and Flat Land).
Mauritius has a tropical climate, moderated by the trade winds. The winters (May to November) are warm and dry, with temperatures on the coast of about 22 degrees. The summers (November to April) are hot, wet and humid; cyclones affect Mauritius during these months. The average summer temperature is 34 degrees.Inland, temperatures range from 19 degrees or so in August to about 26 degrees in February.
April through August is the high season. December is a busy month also when lots of Northern Hemisphere travellers arrive in search of “winter sun”. For diving, March/April is considered to be is the best time to visit. For surfing, visit between June and August. Big-game fishermen hoping to catch a bite should visit between October and April.
January to March are the quietest – and rainiest – months.
There are inexpensive and regular bus services. Cars, scooters and bicycles are readily available to rent.
Air Mauritius flies to Rodrigues Island and gives helicopter tours of Mauritius.
Coraline offers regular boat passage to Reunion island from Port Louis Harbour.