Magical Mauritius – Discover the East Coast!

Ok let’s be honest here, there isn’t much need to promote anything about Mauritius  – it is paradise.  It’s a popular choice for South African’s and their families because it offers perfect balmy days, white sandy beaches, gorgeous azure bays, it is only four hours away and we don’t need a visa as South Africans.  There are loads of fantastic resorts all around this volcanic island, which is only a little bit bigger than Johannesburg, but if you are anything like me the idea of a resort is sheer terror!  Waking up early to sneak down to the beach to book the prime sun loungers, or queuing in resort restaurants for food, or participating in organized evening activities leaves me cold!   Fortunately, resorts aren’t the only choice anymore, there are many wonderful apartments and homes right on great beaches that are perfect for quiet and private escapes. 

How to get there:  there are plenty of airlines travelling to Mauritius but only three currently offer direct flights, Air Mauritius, FlySafair and SAA (but this does change).  They each have different benefits, Air Mauritius flies daily, but FlySafair (only on Tuesdays & Saturdays) gives you the best times, with Air Mauritius you arrive late in the evening and leave early morning which to me is a lost day.  Out of season flights can cost as little as R6000 return but in season they usually cost around R11 000 each.

Where to stay:  Whilst the islands more popular and developed north and west coast are the most popular choice, I find the East coast the best, the fact it is less popular means it is less developed and less touristed, so it gives you a real chance to get that “escape to paradise feeling”.  On the East Coast choose a spot between Trou d’Eau Douce and Poste Lafayette, this will give you access to incredible beaches like Belle Mare Plage and Palmar Beach!

You can use sites like Air BnB and to find apartments and homes to stay in, trust user reviews but equally don’t let some grumpy Nelly’s review ruin your chances of a great stay because the owner of the property wasn’t willing to give in to crazy demands or to be bullied (it does happen) so they earned a single bad review. (img 2540-effects)

Getting Around:  There are plenty of transfer companies and taxis operating on the East Coast but when you are self-catering this can get expensive and time consuming.  I usually rent a car, which you can collect on arrival at the airport, even though the east coasts roads are less developed (i.e narrow), they are all well tarred and mostly well maintained.  The speed limit on most roads is 60km/h which you will discover is plenty fast enough when a bus is approaching, what seems to be the middle of the road and both sides of the road drop off into a sugar cane field.  Don’t hoot unless you need to warn someone, this is not morning traffic in JHB and locals don’t appreciate grumpy tourists, sit back and relax enjoy the ride!  Use Google Maps to download the island beforehand for offline navigation, then when you travel you don’t require an internet connection to get around.

Where and what to eat:  Mauritian cuisine reflects the islands long history, cultural diversity and its geographic position as an island in the tropics.  The most popular food in many restaurants is Sino—Mauritian (Chinese Mauritian), but there are many restaurants that offer French food and Indian food.  Restaurants, especially good ones can tend to be expensive.  Expect to pay around R400p.p for 2 courses without alcohol, if you add wine to the mix it can become very expensive with a cheap bottle of wine in a restaurant costing about R550.  Cocktails sadly are not as cheap as they once were, the average price for a cocktail (even rum based ones) is about R100 but can get as high as R150.  In Trou d’Eau Douce you can try Green Island Beach Restaurant (book a table so you can get a view of the lagoon), Chez Tino (again book a table and ask for the balcony) and for an amazing curry try Symons on the B59. 

You can however eat very cheaply in Mauritius if you can find a good local food vendor, they serve delicious things like Roti Chaud, a roti filled with a mix of chutney, dhal, pickle and the famous Piment Vert (an intensely fiery green chilli chutney – you can ask them to leave this out).  A single roti served simply wrapped in paper and eaten anywhere you can find a shady spot can cost as little as R6.  But be warned you will have to find a vendor the locals use as the ones aimed at tourists (especially on the beaches in the north) can charge as much for their street food as restaurants do for a sit down meal and generally they aren’t very good.  I often get asked if it is safe to eat from street food vendors, there is no simple answer for this, I normally only eat vegetarian options (these are delicious) and am yet to suffer for my choices.  Vendors are required to have a license from the Mauritian Department of Health but be warned this is not Hyde Park, so let go of your big city sensitivities and prepare for a culinary adventure (try Maurician Snack close to the B58 & B59 intersection;  they have never let us down).

Supermarkets and markets:  With the growing expat community, Mauritius has seen the introduction of the French international supermarket brand Super U (on the east coast it is in Coeur de Ville, Centre in Flacq), this chain has three supermarkets across the island, and they offer a huge variety of products.  A large amount is imported from France and Europe, as well as from South Africa, New Zealand and Australian – meat is expensive as 99% of what is available is imported.   

You can also try the wonderful Poste De Flacq Market  (img 113049)which is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, this is a market for local people so expect some chaos but also loads of fresh locally grown produce.  It is also a great place to get gifts like vanilla products, fabrics, etc.

Things you should know:  

  1. Mauritius is on the tropics, hence its gorgeous weather but pack mozzie spray, there is no malaria but the little critters can irritate.  
  2. Pack plenty of sunblock, even if you don’t lie on the beach all day, the sun can be relentless and you don’t want to get burnt, of course sunblock is available in stores in Mauritius but popular brands can cost a lot less in SA.  
  3. If you drink alcohol take what you are legally allowed to carry (check online as this figure can change (  If you take more than you are allowed you will be charged import duties on it and if you failed to declare it you may have to pay a fine.  Mauritius charges very high import duties on alcohol so things like wine can be very expensive in restaurants and supermarkets, think R400 for a R60 bottle of SA wine in the supermarket.  They produce great rums, so master the skills of making cocktails and things will be way cheaper.
  4. If you smoke you can take in a certain amount of tobacco but please be warned vapes and heated smoking devices are technically not allowed in Mauritius.  They tend to look the other way as long as you are carrying a small amount, equal to your stay, but this is not a guarantee!
  5. You can change Rands at the airport or in most small towns, avoid the big chains and exchanging cash in a resort as their commissions can be much higher, try Shibani Money Changer they have a branch at the airport and in a few towns (try the one at the B58 & B59 intersection if you are on the East Coast).  There are ATM’s around where you can draw cash from your SA card (just chat to your bank before you leave) and you can use your credit card in most businesses – just check before hand if it looks like a very small business they may only take cash.
  6. Avoid using Trip Advisor to find restaurants as I have found that ratings aren’t very accurate  (apparently you can buy a good rating) with some highly recommended places being downright horrible, rather use Google reviews and ratings as these are never available for sale.

A few things to see when on the East Coast:

A day trip to the famous Ile aux Cerf which can be accessed from the harbour in Trou d’Eau Douce. As soon as you arrive and park, someone will approach you with multiple different options, only use boat services that are registered, be warned it can feel like a hard negotiation but just remember they really want you to choose them because this is how they make their living and not because they are pushy people.

Take a walk and check out the Mauritian flying fox, also known as the Mascarene flying fox, which as the name describes is rather large bat which is endemic to Mauritius and La Reunion, the bats wingspan can reach 80cm. You can walk in the Belle Mare public park in the early evening and you will see adults flying from within the island to bring food to the young.  They are simply incredible and sadly these fruit loving bats are on the endangered list as Mauritians fight to protect their fruit at the cost of the bats.

Take a visit to Cascade Eau Bleu, which technically is not on the east coast but a 45-minute drive away, this popular waterfall thus named because of its magical blue colour is open to the public and after a two minute walk down some fairly tricky paths you will be rewarded with a plunge in the pools below the waterfall.  Swimming is probably best suited to stronger swimmers though you can very safely take a swim near the edges.  Be warned:  sadly people feel the best place for their garbage is along the pathway, but don’t let it chase you away the waterfall itself is pristine.

Since the sun obviously sets on the west coast trying to find a spot to watch sunset can be challenging, take a visit to the Camp de Jeunes Public beach and you will be able to watch the sunset over the bay and behind the mountains.


Again not on the east coast but definitely worth visit is the Pampelmousses Botanic Gardens, which has a collection of plants dating back from 1736 is set on over 30ha off grounds and will give you a chance to see some really amazing and ancient plants. This is also where you will be able to see the giant tortoises, but personally I find their enclosure unkind and generally avoid them.

Mauritius is a truly spectacular place to visit, like anywhere it may have some issues, but the people and island easily make up for these, and the Mauritian people are gentle and kind, they work exceptionally hard and mostly they care about making the island a better place.