One of the questions that will inevitably arise when planning a trip is about mobility: how to get around when I’m there? Specifically to this article, how to get around in Mauritius?
Whether you take the easy way by using a taxi all the time or rent a vehicle yourself, there are some things to keep into consideration before choosing. I’ve tried multiple ways of transportation in Mauritius and there’s not a clear answer, no way is definitely superior of the others. First of all, the way the island is shaped makes it impossible to see everything with a single vehicle.
Taxis are aplenty in Mauritius. You will definitely find them outside your hotel, waiting for you to go out or be called by the reception upon your request. Otherwise, near the biggest tourist attractions, beaches and in the middle of the bigger towns. You won’t have an issue finding taxis.
The issue is making them go exactly where you want. If you need to go to a single place, perhaps going out in the evenings, they may agree with you. Otherwise, you may be “offered” a whole tour of one or more sides of the island, for a hefty price, and upon your complain that you just need to visit one place they will talk you into reconsidering it, “in your interest”. I’ve found it on my skin that it was impossible to book a taxi for a trip to Port Louis, the capital, without booking a full tour of the north coast of Mauritius.
Why so? Well, they can earn more. Especially in the low season, not that many tourists are around and even fewer are willing to go outside of the hotel or not book a tour with an agency, going then with a taxi. Therefore, competition is fierce. Once they spotted you and understood you need to use a taxi, they will try to have themselves booked for the whole day, for a full tour, so they can earn a whole week of earnings in a single day, covering the loss of the following days where it is well possible they won’t have another tourist needing them.
I failed in making them go exactly where I wanted. They insisted in adding stops or changing route “to make me see everything”, even when I wasn’t clearly interested in seeing that “everything”. Not possible.
Therefore, If you are looking for a tour of the interior of the island, maybe Black River Gorges Park for instance, or you want to explore more than 1 beach in the same day, on the same side of the island, a taxi may do. It will cost you anywhere between 3000 to 7000mur (roughly 70-170€) and it may leave you thinking that you were not in charge of the tour all the time. Personally, I’d not take a taxi anymore in Mauritius, preferring the other options.
Only exception, transfers from-to the airport. It is extremely handy to not have to worry about the road just after having landed or when you’re leaving, perhaps in the early hours of the day. I’ve had a good experience with Taxi Mauritius and can only recommend them. They speak good english and are quick in replying via email too. I’m not affiliated with them, just a satisfied customer 🙂
Renting a car
Yes, beware of the left-side driving. It may not easy to adapt to it coming from a right-side driving country. But it is way less difficult you may be inclined to believe.
Surpassed this obstacle, renting a car is much cheaper than a taxi and, obviously, you’re in full control of the path to take. You can mix the interior with a quick dip in the ocean’s water, if you want. Or visiting Port Louis for shopping and then relaxing in Flic-en-Flac. Up to you.
Not many cars are around as the island is not heavily populated. Just avoid completely Port Louis in the early morning and after 4pm till late evening as the traffic can make you stuck there for hours (I’ve spent 1 hour and half trying to unravel myself from the city). Most of the highways go straight into Port Louis so watch out for the signals, keep an eye on the map so you know when to turn or you’ll end up in the middle of the capital without noticing.
So besides avoiding the capital and taking a few minutes to get used to the left side driving, you’ll enjoying driving on well kept roads in a tropical scenery. Many big car rental companies are present on the island, your hotel’s receptionist can lead you to one. My hotel even had a representative of Sixt that was very helpful in planning a 2 days trip of the island.
Mauritius may seem a small island but it is not. Take into account then that to go from the extreme north to the extreme south of the island, using as much as possible the highways, you will need 1 hour of driving time, no stops. Going off road will increase this time even tenfold as most roads outside of the medium/big towns aren’t well kept at all. I would advise you to reserve 3 full days to explore the island in full with the car, west, east coasts and the interior. 4 if you want to take it slow and see everything with calm. Understandably. After all you’re on a vacation so why rushing things? 🙂
Being Mauritius an island nation, and the main island being the centre of many smaller ones, it is obvious that a boat is a great way, and necessary, to visit its coasts. It seems like the most straightforward way to get around in Mauritius.
But before you book a tour for a full or half day on the sea, a word of warning.
There’s really not a specific place you surely can not miss in Mauritius that needs a boat to be visited. All the most beautiful places can be reached by ground or, in the case of Ile Aux Cerfs, by a short motorboat ride. All the smaller island around Mauritius have a very quick way to be visited from the mainland without needing to spend hours on a boat circumnavigating the main island. As an example:
Ile Des Deux Cocos can be reached in a few minutes from Blue Bay.
Ile Aux Cerfs, as said, can be reached with a motorboat from Trou d’Eau Doce.
Ile Aux Aigrettes, which is a natural reserve area with turtles, monkeys and many birds on the south-east coast of Mauritius, is accessible from Mahebourg or Blue Bay.
The group of islands north of Mauritius, Gunner’s Quoin, Flat Island, Gabriel Island and Round Island, have daily boat tours from the north coast reaching them.
The only difficult to visit without a full boat tour islands are Amber Island on the north-east coast and Ile Aux Benitiers, near Le Morne. Both of them aren’t unmissable nor have anything that can’t also be seen on the main island or elsewhere.
Therefore, you may enjoy a full day out on a boat to visit a few of these islands. It will cost you around 50% more than a full day booking of a taxi, but usually there’s also included food in this cost. Personally, I’d book 1 day more a car and pay for a short boat ride only to the small islands that are of your main interest. Ile Aux Cerfs and Ile Aux Aigrettes being the best looking ones.
I don’t also advise you to take a boat tour to see the dolphins. You’ll be offered one or a short detour of a different one in order to catch the dolphins swimming around Mauritius but I’ve heard very bad rumors about this activity (namely, using ultrasounds to make the dolphin come nearer to the coast) that I didn’t try it. The last thing we need on this Earth is even more disruption of the nature and wild animals. It is up to you to take such a tour or not then. If you choose to do so, in the early morning in Tamarin Bay there’s the highest chance to spot them.
So, what’s the best way to get around in Mauritius?
Rental car with the occasional boat tour. Avoid taxis unless for a short trip in the evenings to go out. Full day boat tours are a waste of time but can be enjoyable to do 1 nonetheless. Walk whenever possible, especially in the interior of the island. Don’t be scared of walking among locals, I never felt unsafe nor felt any unfriendliness. Mauritians are a warming and welcoming population and crime rates on the island are among the lowest in the whole Africa.