Mauritius… That’s the freakishly expensive honeymoon island… right?

Wrong! Well… not strictly speaking.

Mauritius is an expensive honeymoon destination – that’s its tourism scene in a nutshell. Sunning on pretty beaches, embarking on romantic cruises, and “discussing” who forgot the sunscreen – that’s the ultimate holiday experience in Mauritius, right?

Dead-wrong. What about the Mauritius backpacking experience? What about the real Mauritius?

There’s no word for the humble backpacker in Mauritius; we are simply referred to as touriste mizer: a poor tourist. A tourist that would choose a dank darling street eat and their ass on the sand over the expensive beachfront restaurant every time. And you know what?

Bring it on.

This is the Backpacking Mauritius Travel Guide: the complete handbook for the poor tourist! It’s about where to go in Mauritius to break off the tourist travelator. It’s about the REAL cost of a trip to Mauritius and where to stay to not break your budget.

And, most importantly, it’s about how truly excellent Mauritius is and how much there is to experience. It’s a breakdown of the most local fineries and what travel in Mauritius – not holidaying – is really about.

This one is for the touriste mizer.

The optical illusion underwater waterfall in Mauritius
Entering Level: Mauritius | Source: Myroslava Bozhko (Shutterstock)

What’s it like backpacking in Mauritius?

This is going to be relevant fairly often so let’s talk about it now. There’s no real backpacking scene in Mauritius – none at all. There aren’t any hostels in Mauritius, nor backpacker enclaves, and I rarely ever met another foreign traveller in my generational bracket. When I did, they were usually French and travelling in a large pack.

There’s tourism in Mauritius, sure, but it’s land shaped for people with much higher-brow structures than the smelly backpacker clan. Places the backpack-slinging dirtbag dare not tread. Places with impeccable hygiene standards.

That changes aspects of this backpacking travel guide for Mauritius: you’re looking at unchartered territory… just maybe not in the Kyrgyzstan sense. But that also makes this guide kinda novel!

A traveller in Mauritius hitchhikes to reduce his trip cost
Touriste mizer things. | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

This is ‘The Broke Backpacker’ after all so we’ll be talking about backpacking Mauritius on a budget and everything that entails. Because that’s the other thing about Mauritius…

It’s stacked in every sense of the word! Mauritius is like a fun-sized candy bar except someone overloaded it with so much nougat and cashews that you’re still finding that deliciousness wedged between your teeth long after you finished your milk! A teeny-tiny island tapestry weaved by strands of local goodness, vibrant nature, and rockin’ munchies.

A verdant garden of paradise floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It sounds almost biblical…

Where to Go Backpacking in Mauritius

Mauritius is small: that’s the other thing to cover early. Sure, there are other tinier remote tropical islands in the world but small is small and this is small. That just makes it easy to break down the different areas of Mauritius to stay in though!

Speaking purely of natural splendour, the west coast is gorgeous. You’ll get the best sunsets on Mauritius from some of its most beautiful beaches always backed by something spectacular (probably a dope mountain). It’s also, however, very developed featuring the capital Port Louis as well as some of Mauritius’s biggest tourist spots and expat areas. The west coast feels noticeably more ‘Western’.

Mauritius’s north coast has a couple of other tourist spots but outside of them, it’s mega-chill. Even in them, it’s still chill; the whole north feels like it’s draped in some sort of time-dilating space blanket. Exquisite beaches, sleepy fishing villages…

Abandoned buiding graffiti while exploring some hidden gems in Mauritius
… and other secrets. | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

A couple of touristic highlights aside, Mauritius’s east coast lacks the development of the west coast. It’s a lot more old-school and a lot more Mauritian feeling.

The wild south coast of Mauritius would be my favourite child (if I was allowed to have one). There are lots of beaches but most aren’t suited for swimming; we’re talking rocky shores teeming with life and coastlines stricken by the currents’ melodramas. Things are a lot more spread out down in the south and finding a neato spot to pitch a backpacking tent is a real treat.

Things are compact in Mauritius, but it isn’t overpopulated. There are still plenty of places to go in Mauritius outside of urban areas – in the centre close to Port Louis being quite well-developed – where it feels chill and like you’ve left something behind for the village life. It just doesn’t take so bloody long to get there!

Best Travel Itineraries for Mauritius

Are you running on short time and don’t have two slow glorious months to whittle away? Well, here are some travel itineraries for Mauritius!

I’ve set out some fairly wide-ranging itineraries that will give you a little bit of locality and non-beach activities in Mauritius as well as the expected standards.  All that said, the island is so small that you can tackle it however you want really; exploring Mauritius with a strict itinerary is fairly counter-intuitive.

Some may even say that ‘plans’ stand in strict opposition to Mauritian culture. Island time, baby!

#1 Mauritius Itinerary – 10 Days: Highlights of the Island

Map of Mauritius travel itinerary #1

1. Mahebourg | 2. Blue Bay | 3. Wild South | 4. Le Morne | 5. Black River Gorges National Park | 6. Flic en Flac | 7. Grand Gaube
Blue Bay > South Coast > Le Morne > Flic en Flac > Grand Gaube
  • Hike in the south and Black River Gorges.
  • Soak up Le Morne.
  • Enjoy some of Mauritius’s best swimming beaches.
  • Get some proper local feeds in Mahebourg.

Oosh, that’s a short amount of time – you’re killin’ me. Right, in that case, it’s a whirlwind tour of Mauritius’s best and brightest!

You’re starting in the southeast corner of the island at Mauritius’s international airport (unless you swam). Blue Bay is a good starting base to shake off the jetlag: it’s touristy but not excessively so, plus you’ll be heading straight to beach! Make sure to give Mahebourg and the surrounding area some love before you move on for some more local vibes.

I’d definitely recommend staying in the wild south next and not just shooting through it. Pick a place to stay or, better yet, just string up a portable hammock. The south is built for it.

Flic en Flac is your tourist bubble (times a million) but the beach is really something special and is definitely worth visit. That said, however, I would personally recommend leaving a nice chunk of your itinerary in Mauritius aside for Le Morne and Grand Gaube.

Grand Gaube is the perfect slow-north sleepy base for exploring some of Mauritius’s northern places of interests and Le Morne… Well, Le Morne is just the fucking tits.

#2 Mauritius Itinerary – 3 Weeks Plus: A Lot More Nature

Map of Mauritius itinerary #2

1. Mahebourg | 2. Blue Bay | 3. Wild South | 4. Le Morne | 5. Black River Gorges National Park | 6. Grand Bassin | 7. Sept Cascade | 8. Flic en Flac | 9. Port Louis | 10. Some Mountains | 11. Trou aux Biches | 12. Grand Baie | 13. Grand Gaube | 14. Poudre d’Or | 15. Belle Mare | 16. Rodrigues Island
Blue Bay > South Coast > Le Morne > Flic en Flac/Tamarin Bay > Trou aux Biches > Grand Gaube > Belle Mare > Rodrigues Island
  • Hike some mountains and waterfalls.
  • Hit up some diving hotspots
  • Enjoy the local village life.
  • Visit Rodrigues.

Same deal as the 10-day itinerary for Mauritius: start in the southeast corner and circuit clockwise. Only now, you have way more time!

That means you can take some more time exploring Mauritius. A few more mountain days. A few more beach days of nothing – slow travel at it’s finest.

Black River Gorges National Park, Sept Cascade, and the south of Mauritius are all primo hiking places. There are also many small isolated peaks – perfect for a day hike – all over the island.

Grand Bassin (or Ganga Talao sometimes) is a cool historical site in Mauritius is worth checking out for the Hindu cultural roots attached. Or for some underwater adventures, Grand Baie and Trou aux Biches have heaps of dive centres or Belle Mare for some more entry-level goodies.

Poudre d’Or? Well, that’s just my favourite local gem. It’s so dead and I love it so much for that.

Oh, and Rodrigues is your bonus adventure. An island one-twentieth the size of Mauritius. Why not?

Places to Visit in Mauritius

The places you travel to in Mauritius is really going to depend on what you’re after. It’s more than fair to say that pretty much any place to visit in Mauritius is a beautiful place; the island is drop-dead gorgeous!

However, Mauritius’s top tourist attractions don’t really offer natural beauty you can’t get elsewhere on the island. Furthermore, the absence of a backpacking scene and typical route, coupled with the small size of the island, leaves you free to follow your nose and go pretty much anywhere you’re vibing with. A few hours on the bus and you can switch coasts lickety-split!

The beaches are the main draw for anyone visiting Mauritius. Most of the heavily-ingrained holiday destinations in Mauritius are beachfront and it’s easy to see why. Mauritius’s swimming beaches are stunning and have that whole ‘stock Windows wallpaper’ thing going on: it’s just pristine white sands disappearing into placid colour-saturated waters.

Of course, it’s a remote tropical island, and that means a lot of beaches! There are countless beautiful beaches in Mauritius – swimming or not swimming – and you hardly need to visit Flic en Flac or Grand Baie to get the best.

Hiking Tamarind Falls (Sept Cascade) waterfall in Mauritius
It ain’t just beaches though… | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Don’t forget my darling mountains! From pretty much anywhere on the island you’ll see Mauritius’s mountains jutting above the skyline, usually with expanses of sugarcane fields between. The colour palette in Mauritius is a looot of green and blue accented by every colour in between. It’s a waterfall chaser’s paradise too!

There are a lot of stunning natural attractions in Mauritius and not much distance to cover between them. It’s super easy to get around and the difference between Mauritius’s honeymoon destinations and everywhere else is Goa to the rest of India.

It’s a choose-your-own-adventure book of the slow-burning variety! There are no 15-day treks or 4000-kilometre hitches in Mauritius: only prettiness and the lazy local life. However you choose to experience Mauritius, it’s guaranteed to be slow and easy.

Backpacking Port Louis

The sleepy capital of Mauritius. Mauritius’s international airport is actually in Mahebourg, so you won’t be landing here.

Port Louis is Dopey, as in the dwarf. It just feels like Dopey. Charming and lovable but there’s just not a lot going on up there. Strangely, my friend told me that it’s died off a lot in the last few years.

The port itself twinkles magically, and there are a number of pretty buildings (and old ones too); it really is hard to dislike Port Louis. It’s just… there aren’t a lot of things to do in Port Louis. It’s a cool place in Mauritius to just wander around, scope the city vibe, eat some local food (psst – dahl puri at Chapeau La Paille), and check out some markets or whatever your usual city life thang is.

Statue and street in Port Louis - capital city of Mauritius
Did I mention it was nice to look at? | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

But for some sightseeing in Mauritius’s capital? Les Jardins De La Compagnie is a park that’s hard not to fall in love with – it’s small but those banyan trees are so special.

There are a few museums in Port Louis too; for some lighter reading, check out Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage Site for the historical lowdown of Mauritius’s slavery and colonial roots. Or for the pretty alternative, climb up Citadel (hill) for a sweet view of the city and sunset.

Oh, and if you’re staying in Port Louis, there are some sweet day hikes in the area. Just aim for the mountains!

Backpacking Mahebourg

Mahebourg is about as dopey as Port Louis but with even less ticking away upstairs. We could make semantic arguments of population size and quantifiers of cities vs. towns vs. villages, but the point feels kinda moot in a country with a population of 1.3 million. Simply put, Mahebourg is a place with buildings.

It’s also a very nice place with buildings! Much like Port Louis, visiting Mahebourg is less for activities and more for just because. The waterfront twinkles just as sparkly, and the local bites are just as mouthwatering.

That said, the surrounding area of Mahebourg is mint. Blue Bay (the choice spot to stay) just southeast on the coast has beautiful swimming beaches, and to the north is Lion Mountain and plenty of village coastal life. If I’m being totally honest though, I just think you should visit Mahebourg to eat at Coin Casse Croute; they dished out the most tastebud-tenderly-lovin’ seafood mine bouille I ate in Mauritius.

Mahebourg waterfront in cyclone weather photographed on a trip to Mauritius
Regrets of Mauritius #1: I only ate it once… | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

It’s a much smaller city – or maybe town – than Port Louis but distinctly more local feeling for the lack of high-rises and corporate business-business. Honestly, if you’re just travelling to Mahebourg for the level-10 mine bouille, that’s reason enough! Besides, I’m not going to talk a lot about places with buildings in Mauritius, so I wanted to give Mahebourg a shoutout.

Backpacking Flic en Flac

Flic en Flac also has buildings but who cares. Flic en Flac is for the beach and beach alone.

Tourist Spots Mauritius 101, Flic en Flac is the go-to for it all: Mauritius’s (above-ground) nightlife, shopping, beach resort silly-billies, etc., etc. Is it backpacker material?

Na, probably not. I mean, I think it’s dumb, and I’m a backpacker. There are some cool things about Flic en Flac, however, that make it worth a visit, though not necessarily a stay.

Flic en Flac Beach - one of the best beaches in Mauritius for tourists
Mainly, the beach. | Photo: HAI YANG (WikiCommons)

The beach is flying high at the top of that list: it’s sublime! Long, pillowy, and wide, framed by palms and the mountains to the south, Flic en Flac is up there as one of the best beaches in Mauritius – touristic or not.

Flic en Flac is also one of Mauritius’s major scuba diving hubs. A lot of the advanced west coast diving gems are easily accessible from Flic en Flac’s dive centres, and there are choices for beginners too. It still isn’t the best place for beginner diving in Mauritius, however.

Other than that, it is really just resort town things: shopping, clubs, restaurants, and too many matured bikini/speedo bods that I can never unsee. It’s like a weird semi-Indian, semi-French Gold Coast without the backpackers and drunk Australians. Actually, there’s always drunk Australians… we’re like pigeons.

Backpacking Grand Baie

Grand Baie to Flic en Flac is kinda like Nightwing to Batman. He likes to pretend he’s broken off and is doing his own thing, but he’s kinda just doing the same shit.

It’s really just more of the same. Exquisite beaches, diving, and pretty much anything aquatic-related. Grand Baie is big on resorts, hotels, brand shopping, and built for a warped view of tourism; dude, there’s bloody casinos. Plural!

Aerial view of anchored catamarans for tourist cruises in the Grand Baie marina
Catamaran country. | Source: Quality Master (Shutterstock)

The beach in Grand Baie is still dope: the front-and-centre is pumped with top-notch street food and a walk along it will give you a breather from the tourist vibes. The north is good like that; it’s easy to leave the bubble. (Seek out Ti Kouloir Snack for a proper Mauritian feed).

There’s not much else to Grand Baie – beach days peppered with a spot of high-class gambling. It’s just budget backpacking at it’s finest!

Ultimately, Grand Baie looks goods in leather but you’ll only ever get a blank stare if you try to discuss something more complex than Netflix shows you’ve been watching recently. There are better places to stay in Mauritius’s north than Grand Baie.

Backpacking Grand Gaube

Oh, look, it’s a better place to stay in Mauritius’s north! Grand Gaube is sick but there’s a massive disclaimer: too many dicks in the water.

Some may call it a sea cucumber, but they’d be wrong. It’s soft and phallic and when I step on it, white stuff comes out. I hate them.

OUTSIDE of the Freudian nightmare fuel, Grand Gaube is dope! It’s just as good to look at as Grand Baie but with a more emotionally satisfying relationship. It’s also close to Grand Baie (and Mauritius’s other northern points of interest), so staying in Grand Gaube and kicking around the north is easy.

Graund Gaube beach and lagoon - best area to stay in Mauritius's north
Don’t let the majestic waters fool you… Here be cucumbers. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

There are still a few resorts, and there are a few of Mauritius’s esteemed water activities (snorkelling, sailing, etc.) hanging around in those northern aquamarine waters, but the feeling is way more local. Even on a sunny Saturday, it was just Mauritian picnickers enjoying their day off at the beach. (Mine frite with boulette from the blue shack near the waterfront is your beachside munchies.)

I really dig Grand Gaube. It offers more of Mauritius’s beautiful chillin’ beaches with barely anything touristic around – just dank vibes.

There’s good fishing in the area too! Just… watch what you hook. If you like your beaches phallus-free, Grand Baie might be more your style.

Other Places of Interest in Mauritius’s North

The north is such excellence. It feels so far away. You gotta remember that perception of distance is relative. A 2 to 3-hour drive to visit a friend for someone in Siberia is a cross-country road trip in Mauritius.

Cap Malheureux Red Roof Church - famous tourist attraction in north Maurtius
Now loading Windows XP… | Source: Balate Dorin (Shutterstock)

In that sense, the north coast of Mauritius feels, strangely, far away from everything else. It’s kind of like being in the pocket of an already bigger pocket. So, how about some slow and sleepy sightseeing in Mauritius’s north?

  • Trou aux Biches – Is another brilliant alternative to Grand Baie if you want to stay somewhere around the semi-touristic level. There are more top-notch beaches (perhaps even nicer than Grand Baie), and it’s easily the more favourable of the two as a base for Mauritius’s north coast dive sites.
  • Cap Malheureux – And pretty much that whole northern coastline between Grand Baie and Grand Gaube – Pereybere to Calodyne. There are plenty of awesome beaches (go figure) and other north Mauritius gems, hidden and not. Cap Malheureux also has the ‘Red Roof Church’ which is actually famous for being a desktop wallpaper.
  • Poudre d’Or – I love Poudre d’Or so much! Literally nothing ever happens here ever; if someone farts, it’s posted on the town noticeboard.
    A little fishing village with nothing going on, there’s no supermarket – just the beloved dank shops – and a few street eats and local snacks (where you can still buy long papes – hmm). The snack down the road from the mosque keeps serving food ‘til late. I guess he knows his clientele…
  • Pamplemousses – Home of the rather fetching Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden. I’m not so sure I see the point though when you’re travelling on an island that’s basically one bigass botanical garden.

Backpacking Le Morne

Le Morne: a jack-of-all-trades and master of… also all trades. The Mauritius combo deluxe deal, it’s everything in one! Le Morne is easily one of my top places to visit in Mauritius.

  1. Slick sands and majestic waters? Check.
  2. Palms, forests, and greenery? Double-check.
  3. Tourist humble-bumble. Yup!
  4. Village vibes? Yesss.
  5. A sick mountain? Yasss!

Are you getting the picture? Here it is:

Le Morne Beach with Le Morne Brabant mountain behind
Oh my. Let me just take off my pants and get comfortable! | Source: Myroslava Bozhko (Shutterstock)

The setup is as follows: Le Morne’s beaches are on the peninsula itself along with the mountain and the bootylicious badadonks. Options for accommodation on Le Morne’s peninsula are limited to expensive choices, and you won’t find much in the way of those dreamy village feels. You will, however, find some of Mauritius’s adventure activities for tourists: snorkelling, diving, and it’s up there as one of the best spots for kitesurfing in Mauritius too.

North of the peninsula is those much-missed village vibes with some west coast mixed in. South of the peninsula just feels like pure south coast.

Le Morne Brabant (that’s either the name of the peninsula, mountain, or everything; even the locals get confused) is perfect for some aimless hiking. There’s heaps around to just get lost wandering through, and Le Morne mountain is a brilliant climb and a rather profound historical site in Mauritius with a complex cultural significance attached.

A good-looker with complex past and the emotional baggage to show for it – just my type! Le Morne is easily one of the best areas to stay in Mauritius, no contest.

Backpacking Mauritius’s Wild South

The south is expansive. It’s dynamic! It’s other things too: it’s pure synergy!

Seriously though, the south is where it’s at. Expansive fields of sugarcane meander into forests and dynamic coastlines. There are beaches, sure, but most aren’t suited to swimming. They’re wild beaches swept by surging currents and relentless waves crashing against the rocks and cliffs.

Enjoying a waterfall while hiking on a Mauritius wild beach in the south
Pure excellence. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

What is there to do in Mauritius’s wild south? Camping – no contest. Pack your camping gear because the south is easily the best place to go in Mauritius for some wild camping; everywhere you wander you’ll find perfect pitches.

It’s a good spot for seeking Mauritius’s wildlife too. The coastal forest and rocky beaches are teeming with cuties. You may be getting the vibe that backpacking around Mauritius’s south is for the nature…

Too right –  it’s an adventure! Wandering through the south is always going to reveal some hidden sanctuary or eerie delight. Like the north, the feeling is slow and far away, however, it’s just a bit wilder.

Places of Interest in Mauritius’s South

So, how about all them beautiful places in the south of Mauritius? There’s no shortage of highlights to visit, but an itinerary for Mauritius’s south is backpacker sacrilege!

Man backpacking Mauritius finds a place to camp a night in the south
Hammock country. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Grab ya tent, a silly hat (ideally with one of those solar-powered fans; the south is stupidly hot), and aimlessly float around in true traveller style! If you get hungry, there’s always someone peddling roti somewhere.

  • Chamarel – In the hinterlands and up high, meaning you get some magnificent sweeps of both the west and south coastline. Chamarel is mega-chill, but there are a couple Mauritius’s top tourist attractions in the area; notably Seven Colored Earth and Chamarel Waterfall – the highest waterfall in Mauritius.
  • Baie du Cap and Maconde – Some south-style cliff lines and beaches await. The Baie du Cap Maconde Viewpoint is a muse for any photographer, and stargazing from the beaches makes a night on the sands a must-sleep in Mauritius.
  • Rochester Falls – Looks really cool (it’s got some trippy rock formations going on) but is also popular and thus busy with small children with poor bladder control. Luckily, there’s an even better waterfall a couple of hours hike behind it. It’s called Leon Cascade: go find it.
  • The Southeast Coastline – Between Souillac and Pont Naturel, the whole damn things is spectacular! Beaches, cliffs, forests, and plenty of trails to weave your way through provided you get a bit creative.

Backpacking Black River Gorges National Park

Don’t worry, there’ll be an entire section on hiking in Mauritius, but for now, I wanna give a special shoutout to ma boi Black River. He’s a gentle lover but will kick you up the ass if ya needing it!

‘Black River Gorges’ kind of sums up the park – there are gorges, rivers, and it’s black… at night. The hiking trails in Black River Gorges aren’t crazy multi-day treks. Day hikes are the name of the game, and they’re proper solid ones to burn you out just right for that goodnight joint! And how’s the nature?

Maximum supreme naturey goodness. The river water is tasty fresh, the sky is always dotted with birds, bats, or an amazing view, and the picnic spots ain’t too shabby either!

Tamarin Bay from Black River Gorges viewpoint - Macchabee Trail
Who’s rolling? | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

There are a bunch of other hikes in Mauritius I want to mention later, but I would still say that Black River Gorges National Park is one of the best hiking places in Mauritius. Waterfalls, viewpoints, critter cuties, and there are plenty of trails to play with (including the biggest mountain in Mauritius – Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire.

The park does technically have closing hours, so you probably can’t camp there, but, like, you can camp there. Except there’ll probably be no roti man… probably.

Backpacking Rodrigues Island

Rodrigues is like Mauritius if Mauritius was 20 times smaller and even harder to get to. It’s a teeny-tiny island east of Mauritius, however, still totally part of Mauritius. Culturally and historically, it’s more same than different.

As you may have guessed, being a remote island of a remote island has its perks. Things are, for all intents and purposes, pretty untouched.

Until a few hundred years ago, Rodrigues was uninhabited, and now fewer than 50,000 people live there. Giant tortoises, fruit bats, and all other creatures still coinhabit the same space of people. It’s synergy!

Rodrigues Island featuring a cow - a point of interest near Mauritius
Some say Rodrigues cows are so chill that they milk themselves. | Source: julienjanusko (Shutterstock)

To get to Rodrigues, you can either catch a two-hour flight or two-day ferry (leaving bimonthly). The flight from Mauritius to Rodrigues generally costs in the realm of $200-$250 with the ferry costing roughly half as much. It’s more or less contingent on how you feel about long voyages at sea.

When you get to Rodrigues, soak it up because this may just be the slowest version of time you will ever experience. Camping on the beach is a must-do thing in Rodrigues. Go slow and take the time to explore the island fully (considering it’s coverable by foot).

Oh, there’s also heaps of dive centres on Rodrigues. Given the whole untouched thing, you’re looking at some of the best diving conditions in Mauritius!

Getting Off the Beaten Track in Mauritius

You can look at it either one of two ways:

  1. Getting off the beaten track in Mauritius is easy! Just walk 500 metres in any direction away from a tourist beach. Or…
  2. A final boss level adventure is hard to find in Mauritius. It’s too chill.

I said it before, but the difference between Mauritius’s tourist spots and everywhere else is Rum Raisin to Hokey Pokey (I may have potentially loaded that metaphor slightly). As soon as you step outside the bubble, it’s back to villages or urban areas where normal people are living normal lives doing normal boring things which just also coincidentally happens to be on an island of paradise.

There’s no semi-suicidal Bond-backpacker adventure to be had: if you catch a bus for longer than six hours, then you’ll end up in the ocean. But, at the same time, it’s easy to break off the backpacking trail in Mauritius… because there isn’t one! It’s a traveller’s tale.

A backpacker visiting Mauritius walking with a dog on a public beach
Eat, pray, ruff! | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Away from the tourist hotspots, you may go places tourists have been, but I doubt you’ll go places the touriste mizer have been. The result isn’t a grand adventure but usually something more wholesome. It’s a backpacker adventure – exploring Mauritius and seeing what it’s really like outside the sightseeing attractions.

Don’t get me wrong; there are still plenty of secrets and hidden gems in Mauritius too. They’re usually just known by pockets of locals and will require making some friends. That’s a backpacker adventure too!

At the end of the day, it is a tiny island. If you really wanted, you could probably just walk across it. Hell, do it without shoes and underwear on and say it’s for spiritual reasons.

Backpacker Accommodation in Mauritius

Yup, so this is where things fall apart slightly. No backpacking scene in Mauritius means no backpacker accommodation. There are a few self-described backpacker hostels in Mauritius but they kinda missed the entire point of hostel living – backpackers.

If you’re paying for a place to stay in Mauritius, there are still fairly priced options. They just won’t have the bouncing traveller vibe of a hostel.

Mauritian Man sleeping at his accommodation in Grand Baie
Mauritius’s “hostels” in summary. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Airbnbs in Mauritius, believe it or not, are excellent; there are heaps of options and a lot of them come in at a good price, especially in more local areas. Obviously, they’re not all cheap places to stay in Mauritius, but the choices for something budget-friendly are there. You can usually find something from a cheap room to a cosy pad in the $10-$25 range.

In fact, considering the size of the island, you could reasonably find a room or apartment for rent in Mauritius, preferably near some breathtaking seaside, and use it as a base for exploration. Airbnb is also good with long-stay discounts (he types from his temple-view suite in Nepal).

The cheap guesthouses in Mauritius are another budget-friendly alternative but they still ain’t that friendly. Generally, the cheaper choices fall between $25-$50 with Mauritius’s budget hotel choices being much the same.

The monocle-wearing hotels and beach resorts in Mauritius are… my entire life savings. Forget it.

So, the problem of where to stay in Mauritius is concerning for anyone backpacking on a shoestring budget, but it ain’t a problem – it’s a challenge! Put your traveller hat on!

I’ll cover finding a free place to stay in Mauritius later, but it’s worth noting that while accommodation is expensive, the cost of other living (food, booze, and a bus ticket to the beach) is comparatively cheap in most regards. Find a cheap place to stay and you’ll still be able to keep you daily average spending money in Mauritius considerably lower than somewhere in Western Europe.

Where to Stay in Mauritius

WhereNameDeetz
Port LouisHome for TravellersThe name says it all really. A good value Airbnb in Port Louis but still outside the centre sprawl. You're getting a lot of bang for your buck here. Plus, that bath, man.
Blue Bay (near Mahebourg)La Case FrangipaneIt's not a beachfront dig, but it is only 5-minutes walk from that twinkling big blue! It's also 10-minutes to town, so you'll have everything you need.
Flic en FlacAppartement Tout Confort Proche de la MerA simple but fantastically located apartment in Flic en Flac - 2 minutes fro the beach! The apartment is equipped with everything you'll need yet still rolls in at a good price for Flic en Flac.
Grand BaieCharming Small Studio, 30 Metres from the BeachIs 30 metres beachfront? Probably! It's definitely charming with some designer flair going on, and the pool is a definite bonus.
Grand GaubeChez AlexA balcony with a sea view in the heart of a local fishing village. It's a simple but good value pad and the family that hosts the listing will make you more than welcome.
Poudre d'OrChez ManoHow about a sleepy home in the sleepiest village in Mauritius? I honestly could've stayed here another week - it's so dreamy. It's an awesome upstairs flat - super well lit - with a gorgeous view over the sugarcane to the mountins.
Le MorneApartment 1, Vue Sur le LagonIt's pricier than I woulda liked, but that's the accommodation prices in Le Morne. It's still worth every rupee, however! A pimped out pad with air-con and good WiFi. Plus, you have neighbouring apartments, so maybe you'll make a friend.
Souillac (South Coast)Appartement à 5 Minutes à Pied de la PlageI still recommend camping in the south, however, this is a solid backup choice! It's a humble family home but almost a steal at the price. It's also close to the beach and pretty much dead-centre on the south coast for exploration.
Trou d'Eau DouceLe Rosier - One Bedroom Apartment with BalconyI wanted to give you at least one east coast base for exploring Mauritius. Trou d'Eau Douce is close to some absolutely marvellous beaches. This apartment is chill, well-priced, and just the right size for 1-2 peeps!
RodriguesEagles Nest CottageThere are heaps of excellent places to stay in Rodrigues listed on Airbnb with killer value. This one isn't beachfront, but I dig the view! Plus, it's a huge house for the price of a private room on the "mainland".

Things to Do in Mauritius

On the beach, off the beach, beside the beach, under the beach if you brought the appropriate spelunking gear. Oh, there are things to do in Mauritius besides the beach?

Who’da thunk?

1. I lied – beaches!

There are only beaches; Mauritius is just one beautiful floating hunk of sand! From Mauritius’s best beaches for swimming to shell-collecting to snorkelling to enacting Viking burials, there are almost too many choices!

Man that sounds pretty overwhelming, right? Nay! You can check my guide to the best and most beautiful beaches in Mauritius, but, truthfully, they’re all sublime. There ain’t no wrong choice.

A backpacker poses at a beautiful beach place in North Mauritius
An Insta-beach reconsiders his life choices. | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

2. Surf Mauritius’s swell swell.

Of course, there are kickass waves to carve! Surfing in Mauritius is mean with several good spots to shred and a couple of esteemed breaks. Mauritius isn’t the necessarily the best beginner destination (though there are surf schools around), but for anyone that already knows to read a wave, there are some choice rides to be had.

Although it’s apparently chilled out in recent years, just watch out for localism, mainly in the Tamarin Bay area and mainly from the expats. Expat-ism…? Colonial-ism…? Oh, wait.

3. Scuba dive in Mauritius for a little bit of magic.

Well, I’ve already mentioned diving (six times – I counted), so there’s a good chance there’s some pretty sweet diving in Mauritius! It’s neither the cheapest nor the best diving destination in the world, but Mauritius’s ultra-clear conditions and vibrant underworld means you’ll find spots that rival the Maldives or Seychelles.

Where exactly? Not so fast, divepadawan, you’ll get your wetsuit in a wiggle! Flic-en-Flac and Grand Baie are the two most popular places to go for a spot of scuba, but you can read my deep-dive on diving in Mauritius for the be-lowdown. If puns were girlfriends, I’d have one.

Woman diving in Mauritius with a whale - best activity for tourists
There are no words. | Source: wildestanimal (Shutterstock)

4. No more beaches! Hiking in Mauritius: waterfalls and mountains.

Yes, please. Usually, I’m all like “Beaches are lame; there’s sand in my buttcrack,” but these beaches are full power beautiful! They get a pass.

Mountains are still where it’s at though, and the low-key trekking in Mauritius is the tops! I also wrote a stellar hiking guide for the top non-beach natural attractions in Mauritius (those delicious waterfalls and mountains), so what are you waiting for? Get moving!

5. Cyclone season means mushie season!

A man with many mushrooms avoids Mauritius's nightlife places
Heh. | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

6. Doof it out.

For the best nightlife in Mauritius, it’s gotta be underground. I mean, think about it, right? You’re doofin’ in the bush except instead of the bush, it’s a tropical island beach forest!

Psytrance, psychedelic delights, and eclectic fusion jam… things! If you wanna kick it Mauritian styles, here’s your key to the nightlife (but you’ll need a Mauritian friend to translate it). The best parties are always outside.

7. Sunset from Le Morne Mountain.

Sunrise is also acceptable. I tried for both. Repeatedly.

Cyclone season said na, Poseidon and Zeus gleefully brofisted as they unleashed their storms, and no mountain was climbed. Go live my dream.

A misty Le Morne Mountain - a beautiful place in Mauritius despite the weather
Regrets of Mauritius #2: Eat a dick, Zeus.| Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

8. The Best Boulette in Mauritius is in Phoenix…

…and anyone who tells you otherwise is a dirty filthy liar. Boulette is like dumplings. Well, they are dumplings but with that extra spicy Mauritian charm added!

You’re going to Palmerstone Road in Phoenix; your local boulette dankery is between the Tamil Temple and Mosque opposite New Amigos Plaza. This is no side-adventure. This is the boulette.

9. Like a cat but smellier.

I’ve never really messed around in abandoned buildings before. Slept in them, sure, but never just rummaged around in them, playing and climbing like a majestic hobo.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying you should break into private property. I am saying, however, that there are some real delights in the oddest of places… The ghost house on the Poudre d’Or cape really needs a doof.

Climbing a rusty factory of questionable safety in Mauritius
King of the castle. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

10. There’s an (illusory) underwater waterfall in Mauritius!

I’ve mentioned this in a lot of my Mauritius content just because I think it’s a rad bit of bong-night trivia. Optical illusion or not, the underwater waterfall in Mauritius (caused by the movement of sand on the seafloor) is mental!

It’s only viewable with a helicopter tour which means forking out a fat wad of cash but if you got rupees to burn, why not? Either way, I get to post a picture!

CHECK OUT THE TOUR

Mauritius's top tourist attraction - the underwater waterfall illusion
Yay! | Photo: Khoroshunova Olga (Shutterstock)
The Best Travel Backpack?!

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Backpack.

Check out this post to read our full review!

Mauritius Travel Tips

Travel guide travel tips for Mauritius trippers! Not ‘trip’ like that.

Look, before you go be a fun guy, why don’t you brush up on the nuances of travelling in Mauritius and what it’s like. Nuances are like toothpicks – high precision cleaning for maximum efficacy. Clean your teeth, folks.

Best Time to Visit Mauritius

I’d honestly say that the best months to visit Mauritius are any months. It’s such a goddamn pretty county. Even in the rains, thing are just gonna be more lush!

Buuuut, December to April is the wet/cyclone season (January to March in particular). It’s rare for Mauritius to actually get hit head-on, but offshore cyclones do cause stretches of days with rain and grey skies (and sometimes strong winds). These are interspersed with gorgeous blue skies and piping hot weather and the upside is that the crowds are much more dispersed!

Stormy clouds and weather in Mauritius during cyclone season
Cyclone season does have its perks… | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

For those on a short trip to Mauritius and wanting to see the attractions at their finest, May-November is the best time to visit. The weather is dry, and the closer you are to winter (June-August), the more manageable the heat will be with some cooler nights thrown in too!

On the off-chance that you are there during cyclone season and Mauritius does get hit, make sure you’re keyed-up on what to do in a cyclone.

What to Pack for Mauritius

The six things no adventure is truly complete without. Don’t forget to pack them while backpacking Mauritius:

AR Security Belt

1. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: The sneakiest money belt around! This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide cash inside and keep it snug on your waste. This is hands-down the best way to hide your cash while backpacking around Mauritius.

 2.Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottles are tough, lightweight, and maintain the temperature of your beverage so you can enjoy a cold coffee, hot coffee, or lukewarm coffee no matter where you go! For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!

AR microfibre towel

3. Microfibre Towel: I literally never hit the road without a microfibre towel – I adore these things. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and just plain sick. You gotta get in on the microfibre towel game.

Headlamp4. Headtorch: Every backpacker should have a head torch! A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must. The Petzl Actik Core rechargeable headlamp is an awesome piece of kit! It’s USB-chargeable, so you’ll never have to buy earth-polluting batteries again!

Hammock for backpackers

5. Hammock: Taking a tent backpacking is not always practical but hammocks are lightweight, cheap, strong, sexy and allow you to pitch up for the night pretty much anywhere. Can you bang in it? I dunno, but you can bloody well try! There are plenty of beautiful beaches in Mauritius where you can vibe out with a killer view!

Active roots Toiletry bag 6. Toiletry Bag: A hanging toiletry bag… why not? It’s a super-efficient way to organise your bathroom stuff. Hang it from a tree whilst camping or hook it to a dorm bed; it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.

You’re also definitely going to want to pack:

  1. A waterproof rain jacket (the weather in Mauritius is unpredictable).
  2. Sunscreen.
  3. A mosquito net is smart too.
  4. And anything else to murder the (or non-violently repel) the little buggers.

For plenty more inspiration on what to pack for Mauritius, then check out our full backpacking packing list!

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Books to Read While Backpacking Mauritius

For those days on the beach when nothing matters, read a book! How about some light and fluffy reading?

Well, too bad! I only chose dark and depressing ones.

  • The Backpacker Bible Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. Penned by The OG Broke Backpacker to inspire the next generation of Broke Backpackers, grab a copy for free today!
  • The Last Brother: A Novel – An elderly Mauritian narrates the defining tale of his youth: helping a young Jewish boy escape a prison on Mauritius where his family were detained following their refusal of entry into Palestine during WWII. It’s a skillfully penned novel that delivers its themes with finesse.
  • Eve Out of  Her Ruins Set in an impoverished neighbourhood of Port Louis, this is interwoven novella of four adolescents experiences. A poetic story, dark and consuming, yet it still comes up beautiful in a way that sinks deep.
  • Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Mauritius A vivid portrayal of the historical setting of 18th-century Mauritius. Provides invaluable insight into the Creole and slavery-based roots that birthed Mauritius.
  • Heart of Darkness This is a smart person joke. By highlighting it as a smart person joke, it is now a dumb person joke. Thanks for ruining the joke.
  • The Scramble for Africa: White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912 – A an extensive historical text that covers the period of New Imperialism in Africa. This is a historian’s go-to read on the subject and it’s a must-read for truly beginning to understand Africa’s history. It’s incisive, and it’s not an easy read; things were done that defy comprehension.

The Language in Mauritius

I love the language in Mauritius; it’s one of the places where the ‘melting pot of culture’ facet truly shines, and it’s the best. Mauritians speak Mauritian Creole which is a French-based creole language i.e., a creole language i.e.i.e., a natural language that formed as a simplified mix of other languages socially prevalent at the time i.e.i.e.i.e., primarily French.

That’s a goddamn knowledge bomb!

Street art in Mauritius with Mauritian Creole writing
Discover yourself. The future is in your hands. Don’t lose time.| Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

Outside of Mauritian Creole, there are several other common languages in Mauritius:

  • English –  Most people have at least a smidgen, and a lot of people speak it competently or better.
  • Hindi – It’s also not uncommon with Indian-descent Mauritians.
  • (Mauritian) Bhojpuri – Now we’re getting Indian! A regional language of India. It’s endangered but still spoken, mainly with the older generations.
  • Chinese languages – With the Chinese Mauritians. Funny that.
  • French – Of course. If you’re visiting Mauritius with French under your belt, you’re golden.
  • A bunch more – Heard some Bengali at a certain point. Cool, right?

Mauritian Creole itself is a mix of all those languages above plus several other Asian and African languages. The best part about Mauritian Creole is that it’s a creole language… it’s simplified!

French’s gendered nouns? On ya bike. Irregular verb conjugation? Who needs ya? Do you even care right now? Probably not!

The point is, you can just learn French and you’d have a much more useful language behind you, but that’s lame! Mauritian Creole is sick, and so is learning a new language, so just do it!

English is also fine. So is pointing.

Travel Phrases in Mauritius

Pronunciation is kinda slow and sleepy. Sometimes it’s French, sometimes it’s not, and sometimes it’s French but like you were speaking French with six pieces of chewing gum in your mouth.

  • Bonjour / Bonjour, korek? – Hello, (are you) good?
  • Bonsoir, Madame / Monsieur. – Good evening, Madam / Sir.
  • Oui / Wa – Yes (‘wa’ is casual)
  • S’il vous plaît – Please
  • Merci beaucoup – Thank you very much
  • Excusez moi / Sorry – Excuse me / Sorry*

  • Soup / Aler / Seryer / Korek - Good**
  • Ki manyer? Korek? - How are you? Good?
  • Eski ou enna X? - Is there (a/an) X?
  • Toane pet dan bouyon. - You farted in the soup. (You fucked it.)
  • Met de bar savon embas to le pied ek sayer to aler. - Put two bars of soap under your feet and slide away. (Piss off.)
  • Bouss to liki! - Shut your vagina! (Shut up!)***

  • *Sorry is standard.
  • **Mauritians have more words for ‘good’ than names of Hindu deities.
  • ***Save it for your mates.

Apps to Download Before Backpacking Mauritius

One day they’ll have an app that can tie your shoes for you, and it’ll all have gone full circle.

  • Maps.Me I can never plug this app enough! I still have Google Maps too (Apple Maps can die in a fire), but Maps.Me is a truly excellent app. It wasn’t as full-power mapping in Mauritius as other countries that I’ve travelled to, however, it was still indispensable. Every traveller needs Maps.Me.
  • XE Currency Keep track of your daily budget while backpacking in Mauritius! Live exchange rates to keep your brainspace free because calculating between USD to AUD to MUR to BAMF does my head in. At one point, I had to throw shekels into the mix, and I was done.
  • HIDE.ME VPNs are great! You can use them to change Netflix regions or sidestep blocks on certain viewing material in certain conservative countries. Plus, you’re protecting your entire identity!
  • Couchsurfing One of the many excellent methods of keeping your travel budget for Mauritius tight. There’s no shortage of fine Mauritian peeps who’ll be delighted to put you up. And considering the lack of backpacking scene, it’s also a primo way to make some friends!

Staying Safe in Mauritius

I suppose the question of if travelling to Mauritius is safe is a semi-considered one because it’s technically Africa and “Arrgghh – Africa!” At one point I booked into an Airbnb and the (absolutely lovely) host kept assuring me how safe it was and not to worry, and I was like “Yeah, duh, it’s Mauritius.” Even now I meet travellers who seem to think Mauritius is dangerous.

Mauritius is chill.

Mauritius woman praying at a church in the capital city Port Louis
People just do their own thing. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Travel safety in Mauritius is pretty straight-forward. I mean, there’s things around – the same as anywhere – but even then, there aren’t really that many things around.

  • When you’re gallivanting around Mauritius’s top attractions and wonders – particularly the touristy ones – protect your valuables from pickpocketing, bag-snatching, and any other petty theft – particularly on the beaches. Even then, it’s still not common.
  • Vagabonds of the feminine disposition will also have it pretty chill, even in the uncomfortable stares department. Mauritius is chill for the ladies.
  • White person tax is around but not the standard like many other places in the world. Outside of shopping in Mauritius’s holiday destinations, you’ll usually be paying the standard price for things, save the occasional knob who thinks you don’t know the price of the same biscuits you’ve been buying for the last two months.
  • Do, however, still stay savvy to scams – standard travel safety rules apply. Besides, a lot of shops have price tags.
  • DO DO, HOWEVER, be careful on beaches. In certain areas, Mauritius can get hit by some strong currents. Don’t go past your limits.

Standard safety tips aside, you’re looking at a very safe trip to Mauritius.

More Mauritius Travel Safety Tips

Safety is like flossing. No one wants to do it but we still gotta do it. So before you rock up with your flagrant bravado and complete disregard for dental hygiene, read up on the safety travel advice for Mauritius!

Whether you’re a vagrant veteran or a beginner budgeteer, educate yo’self! Check out our fine selection of backpacking tips for a refresher course.

Just in case a pickpocket does try and grab ya stash, travel with a money belt! There’s no better way to keep your cash – and your weed – safe.

Oh, and yes, you can drink the tap water in Mauritius! I mean, I did all the time; I was fine. Maybe don’t drink it actually… I’m not a good metric of comparison.

Pretending to be dead in an abandoned place of interest in Mauritius
Do as I say, not as I do. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Instead, grab a filtered water bottle for your travels! If you’re continuing onwards for some more African landscape adventures after Mauritius, a filtered bottle is going to make a world of difference. The Grayl Geopress is the premium choice for those who like their backpacking gear to match their personality – with innovative-pumping action.

Map of Mauritius travel itinerary #1

You should always have emergency cash hidden on you - pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it's perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.

GET IT HERE

Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in Sri Lanka

You will find all that and more in Mauritius. It’s hardly a party destination but Mauritians still love to party!

Getting licked on booze is pretty manageable for any daily Mauritius budget. Standard drinks in Mauritius (not bought in venues) aren’t too pricey – a tall can of brew for $1.50-$2 or a 6-pack for $8-$11 – but the real value for money comes with the rum.

Rum is cheap – I saw bottles for $5-$7 – and it’s tasty! There’s also more expensive rum but you’re a swashbuckler and swashbucklers only drink the finest pig swill!

Cigarettes aren’t India cheap either – generally <$5 for a pack -, but they’re still far from what I would call expensive. Rolling tobacco is… kind of illegal? It’s around but hard to get; either way, it’s better to bring your own pouch(es).

Grumpy monkey - Black River Gorges National Park animals
Forget dat sucker. Tell me ’bout da booty. | Source: Khoroshunova Olga (Shutterstock)

As for sex? Yeah, you can definitely get laid in Mauritius. Honestly, it’s probably pretty easy for you to get laid in Mauritius. It’s like all the rampant horniness of India without all the wildly suppressive conservative ideals!

The modern generations are very secular; people like to date, sleep around, get tattoos… It’s fair to say that with the exotic foreigner card in play, you can find a root without too much work. Maybe you’ll even form an intimate loving connection!

Na, don’t do that. That’d be silly. That’s what cheap rum and cigarettes are for.

Drugs and Party Places in Mauritius

Parties, yes, but you’re going to have to go local to find good ones. The only real hubs for the nightlife in Mauritius is based in the two major tourist spots – Grand Baie and, particularly, Flic En Flac.

It’s a… vibe… that exists. They’re clubs in expensive holiday resort towns. Bring your best sultry RnB face.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t kickin’ nightlife in Mauritius; you’ll just have to look harder. Despite the relentless houndings of authorities, the underground shebangers live on! Kickass parties, ecstatic fusion-jams, mushies on mountains (with tuneage), and, best of all, doofs!

Good doofs too! Underground ones – not those “why the fuck would I want 40,000 people at my music festival” types – with some proper international acts from South Africa and Down Under. Apparently my favourite Kiwi DJ is even currently expatting in Mauritius!

So that brings us to the last question – how’s the drug scene in Mauritius? It’s a mess, but it’s there.

Wildly growing mushrooms found while backpacking Mauritius
How’s the magic in Mauritius? | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Ganja is crazy expensive, super illegal – which is weird for a tropical island largely inhabited by Indian-descendants (boom, Shiva) – and extremely hard to get without the right connections. But still, it’s there.

No matter how hard those relentless authorities try, stoner culture always prevails. Ain’t nothing gonna keep a Mauritian stoner low! (Shoutout to all my Pall Mall brethren.)

Other drugs are both comparatively cheap and available though. Like, even the not-so-good goodies. I don’t get it either.

Oh, and when it rains, the mushies are free. You’re looking for cow poop. 😉

World Nomads Insurance

Arrgghh, Africa! Na, going to Mauritius is a very safe affair. Food, water, random acts of senseless murder: it’s pretty chill in that regard.

That said, before you start backpacking around Mauritius – or anywhere else for that matter – it’s always better to get travel insurance. Good travel insurance coverage is a necessity. There are some real asshole bees in Mauritius.

Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do get insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.

As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be travelling! Be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! Travelling without insurance would be just plain silly. Presenting The Broke Backpacker’s top recommendation: World Nomads Insurance!

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

world nomads insurance banner

Mauritius Travel Guide to Getting Around

A travel guide for Mauritius needs to actually tell you how to travel, right? Getting in, getting around, and, most importantly, how to do it budget backpacker style!

Forget the taxis, forget the plans, forget the sense of stability and routine! Show the tourism industry in Mauritius what a proper vagabond looks like.

Arriving Mauritius

This is actually kinda sticky. Getting into Mauritius budget backpacking style was not as simple as I thought it would be. Mauritius tends takes after India in all things bureaucratic.

You’ll be flying into Mauritius (duh – remote tropical island nation) and the visa on arrival for Mauritius is free – yay! However, you’ll almost definitely need an onward ticket. At least, I did (for the first time ever anywhere, in fact).

Not only that, but I was informed it had to be a return ticket to my home country. For a homeless digitally nomadic working traveller, you can imagine that might be problematic.

A man backpacking Mauritius relaxes under a secret waterfall
Whoever said work had to be boring! | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Luckily, there are certain ways around these things (cough, splutter, choke). For the record, this debacle occurred when checking into the flight to Mauritius, but the visa counter in Mauritius also requested to see my onward ticket (that above-linked page totally saved my batootie).

Flights to Mauritius are pricey but not actually as pricey as I’d imagined. Also, if you happen to be in the area of the South Asian sub-continent, you can get some pretty decent flights from India to Mauritius. Then, you’ll be just stone’s throw away from Africa proper…

I smell an adventure!

Entry Requirements for Mauritius and Visa Extensions

Ready for some more bureaucracy? You know you are! Where’s my protective eyewear?

Businessman with safety goggles at a laptop extending his visa for Mauritius
It’s notarising time! | Source: Antonio Guillem (Shutterstock)

Many countries (you can check visa info for Mauritius here) are entitled to up to 6 months in a year in Mauritius free! You could, hypothetically, get a 3-month visa for Mauritius straight off the bat (potentially even 6 months, but I can’t confirm that). It all depends on how you play it.

Your visa length is contingent upon the date of your onward ticket (real or otherwise) at entry. So, be sure to book that onward ticket to when you want to leave. Given that they’re also highly unused to people long-term budget backpacking in Mauritius, you can probably expect some questions about funds, working, where you’re staying (you’ll need an accommodation address or local sponsor), etc.

When it’s time to extend your visa, you’ll be heading to the Passport and Immigration Office at Sterling House in Port Louis (second floor). The process is relatively painless compared to some other countries I’ve extended in, however, you are going to have to cross a whole lotta t’s and dot a buncha i’s.

Here’s what I needed to extend my visa in Mauritius:

  1. A passport (duh).
  2. A photocopy of the passport’s details/photo page and arrival stamp page.
  3. A copy of an onward ticket (mine wasn’t to home and that was fine).
  4. A sponsorship letter from my host with a photocopy of their ID card OR a confirmed hotel booking (probably a photocopy).
  5. A photocopy of a utility bill (that’s only for a sponsor’s address).
  6. A photocopy of my most recent bank statement (with proof of sufficient funds).

With all that, the visa extension was free and relatively painless to acquire.

How to Travel in Mauritius

For a cheap holiday in Mauritius, you’re going to have to go local. Luckily, getting around Mauritius by public transport is breezy.

The buses are easily the choice to budget travel in Mauritius. The prices are good – usually you can get anywhere and back again for less than $5 – and they’re super easy to catch! Just go to a bus stop or local bus station in town and ask a buncha questions!

An empty street in Mauritius while waiting for public transport
Most bus rides give ya something nice to look at. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Other than the buses, there’s not really any other public transportation in Mauritius. There’s a metro-tram-thing being built, but it’s kind of pointless considering the plentiful buses.

On the private side, there are plenty of taxis but they’ll jack up your transportation costs in Mauritius considerably. Mauritius’s taxis are expensive and they have the monopoly – there’s no Uber, sorry!

There are also shared taxis. The prices are fair – almost on point with the buses – but you’re only going to see them in certain spots like around the north.

Oh, I also saw a throng of tourists getting around in a “Contract Bus” at one point. (It’s a van with a sign that says “Contract Bus”.) It was like finding a herd of gazelles driving the safari jeep.

Riding the Buses in Mauritius

I’m gonna elaborate on Mauritius’s bus system. I spent many wondrous hours on the bus, the intoxicatingly beautiful scenery whipping past as I napped blissfully.

Buses in Mauritius are plentiful and simple. You can get almost anywhere on the island in just a few connections and a few hours for the “long” journeys. They’re comfy too, though, they still pack out at the wrong time of day (hordes of back-of-bus school punks is the bane of my existence).

A colourful bus in Mauritius waiting to start its trip
But a little bit naughty, perhaps? | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

For finding out about buses times, there are a few options:

  1. You can use this site for Mauritius’s bus schedules, however, I can’t say how accurate the info is.
  2. There are also phone numbers for specific bus companies… if you speak French.
  3. Ask, ask, and ask! Seriously, the locals, the roti man, and when you’re at the bus stop, the bus conductors – never stop until you’ve triple-checked!

The buses are chill; they’re kinda like the buses in South Asia except with better suspension and aromatics. You get on, take a seat, grunt your destination at the conductor when he approaches, and he’ll most likely grunt at you when you’ve arrived.

One last important thing too: the public buses in Mauritius stop early. It varies from place to place but you don’t want to be still be waiting for a bus by  9 P.M. That’s when the taxi prices suddenly go up – hmm.

Hitchhiking in Mauritius

Look, I barely hitched, alright. From a purely logistical sense, it’s not exactly worth it. But since when did logistics play into the art of sticking your thumb up at strangers until one lets you in their car!

The real question is, does it work? Well, I have done the necessary research; I may never be a respected investigative journalist but at least I keep it real. Hitchhiker cred, yo!

A backpacker hitchhiking in Mauritius to save on travel cost
Cars, wherefore art thou? | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

It works, and it’s (in rather unsurprising theming of this Mauritius travel guide) chill. People take longer than I would have expected to pick you up, but, as always, someone will eventually pick you up. You can still, however, expect a lot of looks and hand gestures saying “What are you doing? Catch the bus, you dodo.”

The chances of being asked for money for a ride are pretty slim. Even though hitchhiking in Mauritius isn’t really a thing, people still get it. Explain to someone that asks you why “Just because,” and they won’t bat an eyelid.

In true Mauritian fashion, no one really gives a shit.

Onwards Travel from Mauritius

So, if you’ve come down all the way visiting Mauritius where can you go next?

Well, I mentioned before that you can get decent flights from Mauritius to India. India is four-billion times more insane than Mauritius in every regard – out of the frying pan and into Dante’s 10th circle of hell -, but, ultimately, there’s only one India. Earning your Shiva Stripes is always a recommendation.

That also means you can get from India to elsewhere though. Backpacking in Sri Lanka or travelling in Nepal is a much lighter South Asia experience, or, alternatively, Pakistan is criminally unexplored.

If you feel like going the complete other direction culturally, catch a flight from Mauritius to Reunion Island (Papa Bear of the Mascarene Archipelago with a similar historical root to Mauritius). From Reunion, you can get cheap to decently-cheap flights to France. Then it’s Western Europe and culture shock!

Of course, if you’re wondering where to go locally after Mauritius, Africa is right there. I haven’t been to Africa. You should go to Africa.

A mountain in South Africa
Ohi’mbube… Ohi’mbube…

There are good flights from Mauritius travelling to South Africa, and from there you got a whole continent waiting (within geopolitical reason). There are also cheap flights to Madagascar, and that’s an adventure just waiting! It may not be as easy to travel as South Africa infrastructure-wise, but things are more lowkey.

Mauritius Backpacking Costs

“That freakishly expensive honeymoon island.” That was my friend’s exact words when I told her where I was, complete with an aghast tone of disbelief.

Ok, so, is Mauritius expensive? Apparently people seem to think so, but people also seem to think Mauritius is dangerous. Is Mauritius actually expensive?

Man hiking across a waterfall while on a cheap holiday in Mauritius
The best adventures are free. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Travel in Mauritius isn’t cheap enough to be considered “cheap”, but it certainly isn’t expensive PROVIDED you’re staying away from the traps. The cost of living in Mauritius is weird; it's expensive in some ways (eg. accommodation and dental floss) but not in others (food and guitar strings). I mean, hell, a pair of batteries costs 30 cents.

It’s easy to manage your travel costs in Mauritius - you just gotta be local.

If you’re backpacking Mauritius on a budget, you shouldn’t be paying more than $10-$30 for accommodation prices. That’s probably going to be an Airbnb or one of the cheapest guest houses in Mauritius you can find.
The food prices in Mauritius are chill though. When eating local - be it a dank hole or a bit of Mauritius’s street food darlings - you can definitely eat a meal for less than $3 (easily less). For sitting down somewhere a bit nicer - even for pizza or burger - $5-$10 is good as long as it's local. The proper tourist restaurants in Mauritius get worse though.
For your (public) transportation cost around Mauritius, $5 a day is a fair average. It’ll probably be less unless you’re spending your entire time on the tiny remote island snoozing on the bus.
Activities and attractions in Mauritius… again, things are weird. A day trip sailing cruise, a scuba dive, and a group surf lesson in Mauritius can all cost roughly the same ($50-$70). Low-key activities cost a lot less though ($6-$14).

Keeping all that in mind… writing some notes… calculating… carry the one… divide by zero and…

Daily Maximum Backpacking Budget in Mauritius: $50!

That’s a strong maximum.

By skipping accommodation costs (coming up soon), you can reasonably halve the daily average spending money in Mauritius. Also, I’m assuming that if you’re aiming for a cheap Mauritius holiday, you’ll be skipping a lot of activities and just hiking and beaching it.

For the crazy adventure at a low, low price, there are cheaper places in the world to travel.

A Daily Travel Budget for Mauritius

ExpenseBroke-Ass BackpackerFrugal TravellerCreature of Comfort
Accommodation$10-$20$15-$30$35+
Transport$2-$5$2-$5$30+ (taxis are expensive)
Food$4-$8$10-$15$25+
Nightlife Delights$5-$10$5-$15$20+
Activities$0-$10$10-$20$40+
Total per day:$21-$53$42-$85$150+

Money in Mauritius

The currency of Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee (MUR), and they’re plastered with unseemly old men giving you their sultriest gazes. As of writing this, 1 USD = 39 MUR or 100 MUR = 2.55 USD. For easy working, math it out as 100 rups to $2.5.

The Mauritian Rupee - the currency of Mauritius
Stop undressing me with your eyes! | Source: Studio Peace (Shutterstock)

ATMs in Mauritius are plentiful and safe to use. Sometimes they wouldn’t accept my card, but a 5-minute walk to a different one would sort that out. There are also fees even if they neglect to tell you that there are fees.

You’ll also be able to use your card for a lot of restaurants and shopping in Mauritius. Not at the dank places but hotels, eateries, supermarkets, etc.; it’s all g.

Tipping is not a thing with anything local. If you’re knocking out the touristy things to do at Mauritius’s pretty places, tipping is more common (for guides, service workers, etc.).

Also, haggling is uncommon, but it’s still a time-honoured tradition to go toe-to-toe with your taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are always fair game.

Top Tips for Backpacking Mauritius on a Budget

Could you backpack Mauritius on a shoestring budget of less than $10 a day? Yes, most definitely! However, you’ll need some creativity, the know-how on travelling without spending money, and a few tasty budget travel tips for Mauritius. Also, get used to sleeping outside.

A dog chilling on a street food stall in Mauritius
Living like the dog. | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

It’s a dirtbag adventure… Simple, free, plan-less, sometimes shower-less: the way travel was meant to be.

  • Hitchhiking - Sure, the transportation costs in Mauritius are cheap but free is better than cheap!
  • Camp - Skip the accommodation costs and just camp in Mauritius! There is no shortage of exquisite nature, occasional plots of greenery in suburban areas, and abandoned buildings throughout the island.
    Wild and urban camping is super possible (and rare for tourists to do which always makes it easier). You’ll need the right backpacking gear though...
  • Keep it local - I feel like this is the running theme of this Mauritius travel guide (other than slow and sleepy) but keep it local. The division between tourist prices and local life is really quite astounding.
  • Couchsurfing - Travel by Couchsurfing and sleep for free! Mauritians have plenty of hospitality to show a humble-hearted touriste mizer. You might score a contact for ganja too.
  • Eat bread - Yeah, seriously, flour is subsidised by the government or something awesome, so freshly baked baguettes in the morning are crazy cheap!
  • Cook for yourself - It’s also a good choice considering I told you to stay in Airbnbs in Mauritius which will probably have a kitchen.
  • Fruit from the trees - You’ll stumble across a lot of fresh fruit growing wildly or overhanging from someone’s garden you can pick: mangos, avos, these red fruit things that look like bells... Just make sure no one is gonna flip a switch when they see you picking it. Watching my friend get torn apart in Creole for stealing lemons was nothing short of magical.
  • Busking -  Ya-hah! I’ve seen locals doing it so why not? Les Jardins De La Compagnie (park) in Port Louis is a frequented place by the artiste de rue.
  • Volunteer - Although the voluntourism scene in Mauritius is kinda small, there are still gigs around. Someone is always willing to swap some roti and a bed for a few hours of good work.

Volunteering in Mauritius

Long term travel is awesome and so is giving back! For backpackers looking to travel long-term on a budget in Mauritius whilst feeling like they're contributing to the world, look no further than Worldpackers.

Worldpackers is an excellent platform connecting travellers with meaningful volunteer positions throughout the world. In exchange for a few hours of work each day, your room and board are covered.

In my experience, I've found volunteering to be the absolute best way to minimise spending and feeling like I've truly engaged with the culture. It's a whimsical package deal.

Roadside cleanup volunteering in Mauritius while travelling long-term
It's a wholesome way to travel.

Worldpackers opens the doors for work opportunities in hostels, homestays, NGOs, and eco-projects around the world. Broke Backpacker readers get a special discount of $20 on the year-long member - just use the discount code BROKEBACKPACKER.

Check out our Worldpackers volunteering review for more details on their awesomeness.

Teaching English in Mauritius

Speaking English is a highly-valued skill all over the world. For locals, it opens up whole new worlds of employment opportunities and travel. Schools in Mauritius set their curriculum in English and English tutoring is common across the island.

Perhaps one of the best options for backpackers wanting to explore Mauritius long-term and experience living in this truly incredible country is to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate online.

School girl on a bus in Mauritius
I had a white school uniform when I was a kid too. 'Rue' is the only way to describe my mum's feelings on the matter. | Photo: Sergii Rudiuk (Shutterstock)

TEFL courses open up a huge range of opportunities and you can find teaching work all over the world.  Broke Backpacker readers get a 35% discount on TEFL courses with MyTEFL (simply enter the code BACKPKR).

To find out more about TEFL courses and how you can teach English around the world, read our in-depth report on teaching English abroad.

Make Money Online Whilst Backpacking Mauritius

Keen to live the digital nomad dream while travelling the world? Damn right you are!

Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection. Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate), you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills! It’s a win-win!

A kitty and view from a top Airbnb in Mauritius
Settling in for a day at the office. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

VIPKID is one fantastic organisation to become an online teacher with. Beginning your online teaching career through VIPKID is going to open up a lot of international employment opportunities.

Either way, whether you are keen to teach English online or in a foreign country, a TEFL certificate is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Internet in Mauritius

The internet in Mauritius ranges from somewhere between 'meh' to 'urgh' but never so 'urgh' that you can’t do internety things. I was still able to get work done steadily

The fancier places to stay around Mauritius will probably have better WiFi, but the internet I always experienced - even at low to mid-tier Airbnbs - was always middle-class jungle WiFi. When the monthly download quota gets hit, you’ll feel the nostalgia for the dial-up days of yore.

As for SIM cards in Mauritius, you’re better off getting one if you want any sorta smart capability from your phone while you’re out and about. You’re about as likely to find a dodo in Mauritius as you are a WiFi hotspot.

The Mauritius flag with an internet router
I really wish Mauritius was like India in the 4G data packs department. | Source: Mehaniq (Shutterstock)

A dank shop won’t suffice for buying a SIM card in Mauritius. It has to be an official store or at least a designated retailer. For buying a SIM card, Mauritius has three main operators:

  1. my.t - The biggest provider.
  2. Emtel - Has a specific tourist SIM card.
  3. Chili - The low-rate, low-coverage choice.

Rates are pretty comparable across the board; Chili is a bit cheaper but not as reliable. You can get yourself a SIM card for about $2.50.

A weekly refresh of 1GB of data is going to cost you another $2.50ish. In that sense, I suppose you can get 4GB of data a month for roughly a tenner! It’s not incredible, however, it’s certainly enough for most needs. If you really need to stay connected at all times, it's worth considering investing in an international SIM card.

I gave Emtel’s tourist SIM card a Broke Backpacker critical look too. It’s not really worth the $20 unless you’re going to Mauritius specifically for a two-week Netflix binge sesh on the beach.

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Must-Try Experiences in Mauritius

So, what is Mauritius like? It’s a true mash potato of culture and many different potatoes have gone into the mix.

Or, maybe, it’s more like cordial syrup. Indian syrup is the main ingredient, however, the African, European, and other Asian syrups have diluted it. The resulting palate is tantalisingly unique yet distinctly familiar.

What’s my point? Mauritius is tasty! Go eat it up.

Sleep in some exquisite locales, learn some Creole slang, rock up at the Tamil temples when they’re all going apeshit on the drums and sticking swords through their cheeks!

Experience Mauritius.

Meet the People in Mauritius

The best way to begin understanding Mauritius is by understanding its people. Putting history aside momentarily, the approximate statistics for the ethnic demographics of Mauritius are:

  1. Indo-Mauritian (Indian-descent) - 65%
  2. Creole Mauritian (African-descent or mixed-race) - 30%
  3. Franco-Mauritians (French-descent mostly) - 3%
  4. Sino-Mauritians (Chinese-descent) - 2%

And in terms of the varying religions in Mauritius, there’s:

  • Hindu (both Tamil and not)
  • Muslim
  • Christian
  • Rastafarianism
  • A smidgen of Buddhism
  • Some traditional Chinese folk religions

Lastly, as I said before, the youngest generations are generally just straight-up modern in every sense. Non-traditional, secular, hell, even Westernised - whichever glove fits - they dress, talk, and act how they want. I’ve walked down streets in Mauritius where I’ve seen women in burqas passing lingerie stores displaying winning red numbers on the sidewalk.

So, with such a melting pot of so many different divides, is Mauritius really chill?

Some Mauritians camping at a beautiful place on Mauritius's south coast
Dude, it's so chill. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

I’m not saying that there haven’t been pockets of unrest in the past. There probably is now; there always is. But those things feel a hundred million miles away.

The people in Mauritius are relaxed. Sometimes they may come across as abrupt - it’s still a bit South Asia - but they’re friendly and kind. They’re definitely honest. Hell, I’d even say their dynamic, expansive, and synergetic.

Above all though, it’s a slow and sleepy vibe. As my friend boldly announced to a sleep-deprived me one-third of the way through a bumbled camping trip:

"Usually, we start on Plan A and end on Plan F. The F stands for ‘Fuck Yeah’."

Don’t plan too much in Mauritius. Just plan to meet some good people.

Put it this way: I truly believe that if you dropped some money in the street, most Mauritians would return it to you. At a gentle pace.

What to Eat in Mauritius

The lovely local delicacies that rocked my tastebuds and my tum-tum! Expect a lot of different curries which do taste different compared to other curries I’ve had elsewhere, but I couldn’t tell you how. Maybe my spice palate has just become more refined... like a smelly cheese.

A local restaurant in Mauritius
If the chef has a receding hairline, a greasy shirt, and big roti belly, you know he cooks a mean feed. | Photo: sébastien amiet;l (Flickr)

Many Mauritians do love meat, but many are vegetarian too. A veg option is available 90% of the time.

If you’re like me, that’s good, but if you’re also like me, then seafood still rocks your world. Mauritius is a remote tropical island with an Indian-Chinese-Creole-French-fusion cuisine. Eat that seafood!

  • Rochi - It’s roti but with a “ch” sound (again, you’re chewing six pieces of gum). The difference is that the curry goes in the roti like an Indian tortilla. It almost makes too much sense!
  • Dahl Puri - It’s like roti except the roti is made of dahl and the texture is totally different. You buy it in pairs (cause it’s so thin that it tears), it’s a cheap everyman food, and it’s da bomb!
  • Boulette - Basically dumplings, usually filled with meat or seafood, sometimes veg, and they're mega tasty. And, yes, you do want pima (chilli).
  • Mine Bouille - Boiled noodle soup done Sino-Mauritian style and especially catatonically munchable with boulette piled on top.
  • Mine Frite - Same as mine bouille except fried. (‘Mine’ is noodles)
  • Banana Curry - Yessss! There’s a curry that’s made with unripened banana and it’s also da bomb!
  • Rougaille - I.e. shakshuka which is probably spiced differently, but it’s still shakshuka. That’s just fine though because shakshuka is a God-tier anytime-breakfast, and this one is spicy!
  • Alouda - Basically, it's falooda but maybe different? A sweet yummy dairy dessert drink; check your local dank shop.

Hiking in Mauritius

I’m just making a short but sweet mention of a few of my favourite hikes in Mauritius. If you’re an avid walking enthusiast, you’ll definitely want to be checking out my hiking guide for Mauritius.

You don't really need to hire an (organic) guide for Mauritius per se. With a bit of ingenuity, and even more asking around, you'll be able to find and follow most of Mauritius's hiking trails no sweat.

Hiking Trois Mamelles mountain - free activities in Mauritius
Queue angry bee swarm. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

However, there are lots of local secrets around and some hectic places you'll probably never find by yourself. If you'd like a hiking guide, I recommend Ashwin (WhatsApp: +230 5752 6713). Just say the words 'dahl puri' and you'll find yourself the proud recipient of an exclusive Broke Backpacker 10% discount!

Ashwin is a total legend: the man lives to walk.

NameLocation/Trail StartDistance One-WayDeetz
Sept CascadeHenrietta or Bord Cascade bus stopAround 8 kmAlso known as Tamarind Falls or 7 Waterfalls. Yup, seven waterfalls for the price of one! Most people hike downriver for waterfall one, however, I recommend starting at waterfall seven and hiking upriver. It’s more of an adventure.
Corp de GardeCretin Avenue, Stanley2.5-3 km / 720 metres highA gorgeous mountain that changes from every angle you look at. It’s a solid push to the summit with some optional extended walking to the southernmost viewpoint along the ridge and through forests. It’s a perfect mountain for camping on too!
South CoastlineAndreas Lodge near SouillacNot sureThis was more of a self-made hike we found following Mauritius's south coastline. It’s a bangin’ hike with a little bit of everything south: wild beaches, cliffs, forests, and some much-needed creative trail-finding. There’s more in-depth info in the hiking guide.
Macchabee TrailBlack River Gorges National Park10 kmThere are tonnes of hiking trails in Black River Gorges to choose from. The Macchabee trail is a good choice for a one-off hike in the park. You’ll get to see a bit of everything the park offers, and it’s a chunky stroll to burn through too!
Pieter BothPeter Both Road, La Laura5.5 kmMauritius’s second-highest mountain. It’s a short but hard hike to the shoulder of the mountain. You’re going to need ropes and gear to reach the true summit, however.
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A Few Final Pointers of the Mauritius Backpacking Travel Guide

This is the part where I throw a few extra miscellaneous travel tips for Mauritius at you. Oddities, wonderments, and other bits I found while backpacking through Mauritius.

  • Check your local dank shop - What’s a dank shop? Officially ‘chi la bouchik’ (little shop).
    Just the little Asia-style hole-in-the-wall shops you’ll see everywhere often with all the goods behind the counter. They’re innumerable, loaded on snacks, and a backpacker’s best friend. If it’s empty, just yell “Bonjour, Madame!”
  • South Asia dog rules still apply - You’ll see a lot of dogs wandering around; some are stray and in bad shape, others are just outside dogs with owners. They’ll probably bark a lot at you but they’ll rarely, if ever, take a bite. They know the hierarchy.
  • Low-key touts - In two months of travelling in Mauritius, I was offered a taxi six times (I counted). I also only got asked for money a handful of times, and it was by dudes dressed like no-frills gangstas rather than hobos. Keep your wits about you as always, however, in the scam, tout, and tourist-tax departments, Mauritius is easy-going.
  • Car rental in Mauritius - Although it’s expensive, renting a car in Mauritius (or motorbike) is an awesome way to see it. There’s no better way to uncover Mauritius’s hidden secrets.
  • Be respectful - People in Mauritius might just nod, give a confirmation grunt, or tilt their head when talking to you. It’s a very casual and relaxed style of communication but totally culturally normative. It’s not rude.
  • Smile - You’ll still get some stares, but it’s a very toned-down variant of the trademark South Asia burn. Either way, just smile, nod, and smile some more!
  • Expat groups - There are expat groups for Mauritius on Facebook if you’re looking to find those communities or just to do some second-hand buy-and-selling.
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A Brief History of Mauritius

I get to skip straight to 1598 because prior to that, Mauritius was uninhabited! Except for the dodos. But we all know how that story ended…

Being uninhabited meant that the colonialists didn’t stomp the native populations. They did, however, enslave other populations and bring them to Mauritius.

Although previously known in the Arab world, the first colony on Mauritius didn’t exist until 1598: the Dutch. The colony was a resounding failure leading to its abandonment in 1710 but there were a few notable occurrences. The Dutch were responsible for the extinction of the dodo, the introduction of deer and wild boar, slaves from Africa, and sugar cane which was to become Mauritius’s primary export in later years.

A historical photo of Mauritius indentured labourers
Enslaved African plantation workers on Reunion Island. | Photo: Henri Georgi (Vers 1853-1891) (WikiCommons)

Next came the French beginning in 1715, and it was during this time that Mauritius - then rather creatively titled Ile de France - began to flourish as a colony. Port Louis developed into a much more prosperous seaport, roads were built - as were other famous buildings - and thriving agricultural industries were cultivated due to the import of more slaves from Mozambique.

In 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars, control of Mauritius switched to the British when they took the now-flourishing colonial territory by force. At the treaty of Paris in 1815, Ile de France, now renamed Mauritius, was officially handed over to the British. To maintain harmony, however, the British allowed Franco-Mauritians to retain their existing language, religion, legal systems, and sugarcane plantations.

In 1835, slavery was abolished in Mauritius. To compensate for the resulting impact on the slavery-reliant economy of Mauritius, Britain instead began to bring in large numbers of “indentured labourers” from India. These workers were promised the vague wonders of “a better life”, taken from their homes in India (and a few from China), and plopped on Mauritius to work given nothing but appalling living conditions and an identification number.

While this did indeed lead to a period of time which can only be described as ‘slavery by any other name...’, the resulting power shift in the demographics of Mauritius laid the groundwork for its later independence.

Mauritius in Modern Times: Independence and Beyond

In 1968, Mauritius achieved its status as an independent state of the Commonwealth, and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam became the first prime minister of Mauritius. (This is the same dude that the airport is named after.) Seewoosagur Ramgoolam is also responsible for the formation of Mauritius’s Labour Party and spearheading the push for universal suffrage.

Furthermore, from the 1970s on, Mauritius chose to move its primary economical focus away from sugar and onto textiles, tourism, and financial industries. The result was a huge economic boon for Mauritius.

These days, Mauritius is one of the most developed countries in Africa (possibly only exceeded by Seychelles). Its industries are chugging along nicely, and it’s status as a tax haven has brought in a lot of international business. However, this boost has also been seen as being responsible for both widening inequality gaps in Mauritius as well as siphoning business away from other African nations.

Social tensions flared in 1999 amongst the Creole population of Mauritius who felt underrepresented by the largely Indo-Mauritian government. This led to political concessions being made, and things are, for the most part, chill in Mauritius these days. However, the rapid changes have not come without their substantial impact.

A Hindu and Christian shrine in a Mauritius park
Boom Jesus. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Mauritius has been dubbed a “miracle” of sorts. An African nation with a harmonious population and a stable economy. Citizens are entitled to free healthcare and schooling. In many ways, right down to an infrastructural, Mauritius does feel like a collision of the East and West.

As my friend’s mum said, “Mauritius wants to be Europe!”. In the 50 years since she was a kid, she’s seen the country go from a colonial agricultural island teeming with jungles to a developed (though still technically ‘developing’) independent nation with available public services, bustling corporate industries, and tourist high-rises and casinos on the coastlines

While this has been, in most regards, hugely beneficial for Mauritius’s population, there is still a sense of ignoring what it means to be Mauritian that’s felt by many of its people. That, in the push for a Europised country filled with neglected fields of sugarcane and lauded global mega-corporations, a piece of the dreamy tropical islander way is being lost.

Final Thoughts of the Backpacking Mauritius Travel Guide

And now we’re approaching the end. The end of Mauritius? Nooo, don’t be silly; the end of the Mauritius budget backpacking travel guide!

A backpacker in Mauritius finds a hidden gem in an abandoned factory
Excuse me, doog. May I have a moment of your attention? | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

Mauritius is still waiting there lookin’ as fine as ever. Let’s touch on a couple of final important points. After that, it’s time to hit the road! You get to go to Mauritius.

An exquisite adventure awaits.

Being a Responsible Backpacker in Mauritius

Reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles; the plastic ends up in a landfill or the ocean. Instead, pack a tough travel water bottle.

Go and watch 'A Plastic Ocean' on Netflix – it’ll change how you view the plastic problem in the world. If you think it doesn’t matter, give it a second thought.  It matters.

Don’t pick up single-use plastic bags: you’re a backpacker. Take your daypack if you need to go to the shop or run errands.

Close-up photo of sea urchin while scuba diving in Mauritius
Don't use plastic; Karma's a bitch. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

Recently, Broke Backpacker's gear venture, Active Roots, has started to sell water bottles. For every Active Roots water bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an awesome initiative aimed at educating people on the risk of single-use plastic and helping to clean up our oceans.

Help save the planet, whether you take an Active Roots bottle or not – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your plastic footprint: don’t be a dick.

Need more guidance? Check out our post on how to be a responsible backpacker.

Be Good to Yourself and Mauritius

It’s easy to lose yourself when travelling. Whether it’s from a few too many drinks or that we just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, not all days are always going to be our finest.

So, this is just a reminder to be good! To both Mauritius and yourself.

When we travel, we’re a visitor to someone else’s home, and visitors show respect. When you’re visiting Mauritius, you’re visiting the beautiful home of many beautiful peeps. Mauritius isn’t some slamdunk of cultural intricacies to abide by, but all the same, be respectful.

Learn some happy words in Creole. Give some love to the mangy pooches. If someone’s crazy curious about you and asking a billion ingratiating questions, make their day!

A backpacker in Mauritius safely patting a stray dog
Even the scruffiest sorts still need a hug sometimes. | Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar

And on the days that you’re not feeling it, buy yourself a chocolate. Get yourself a massage. Treat yo’self! You earned it; you’re wonderful.

Travel, and particularly long-term travel, is glorious. You’re a bad-ass, take-no-names adventurer!

But it’s also exhausting. It’s easy to run yourself into the ground when you keep pushing and don’t slow down.

I’ve burnt out no few number of times. I’ve gotten tired, cranky, and hungry, and I’ve snapped at friends, locals, and myself. Just remember to listen to what’s happening with you.

Be kind to yourself and to Mauritius when you’re backpacking there. I wouldn’t say that you’re an ambassador for your country, however, you are an ambassador for yourself. You represent yourself, so represent yourself at your finest!

Put as much love and good into the world as possible everywhere you go. Considering all the places you’ll go, that’s a lot of good.

It’s Time to Go to Mauritius!

Well, that about sums up Mauritius - the freakishly expensive honeymoon island! Is Mauritius expensive though? Na, not so much.

Is Mauritius a backpacker destination? Well, it doesn’t have finely the carved Banana Pancake Trail of Southeast Asia or the immeasurable hostel scene of Europe. Does it matter though?

I've been thinking about more the question "Why go to Mauritius?" rather than "What's good about Mauritius?". Why go backpacking in a country that doesn't even have a word for backpackers and thinks that all tourists like chortling over white wine spritzers by the beach?

I mean, Mauritius is a paradisiacal playground for the touriste mizer; Mauritius is prime for a pumping little backpacker scene. But it's also chill.

You're not dropped on the tarmac of a country with 20,000 years of impenetrably intricate cultural history to digest. Or a region with complex and heartwrenching geopolitical ties spread over aeons of bloodshed. Things make sense in Mauritius.

"Mauritius is super chill." In two months of backpacking Mauritius, that's about as eloquently as I could describe it to friends elsewhere. The verbose professional writer reduced to seven syllables...

Because it is: it is the living embodiment of everything slow, sleepy, and chill. And nothing surmises it better.

Mauritius isn't for the death-embracing adventurers. It's for the chillers. It's for the chiller mizer.

A chiller travelling Mauritius chills at a northern place of interest
Soak it up. | Photo: @_as_earth_to_sky

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