Island discovery – Mauritius outside the 5 star resorts

It is Summer in Europe, therefore the time when everybody travels. I am between travels myself but using the time to catch up on about 6 months worth of trips that I was not able to document due to a busy work schedule. So, Mauritius. First, if you tell your friends that you plan a Mauritius holiday, you will probably get a few ‘wish I were you’ looks. Mauritius is a synonym to paradisiac beaches and infinity pools in 5 -star resorts.

If exclusive hotels the size of a small village with everything you could want just a sign away is the holiday you are looking for, then you will find it there and even a lot more. My blog post is however for the more independent traveller that wants to discover the island at his/her own pace and within a reasonable budget.

Getting there: From Europe you will have a few regular choices including Air France, British Airlines and Condor (part of Lufthansa group). Large tour operators have also started operating charter-type flights to this destination, most notably Thomas Cook. After following the prices online for a few weeks (the travel period was after Christmas and included New Year, till beginning of January which is the high season) we found no prices under EUR 1,000 p.p. return. Condor offered some good deals under 1,000 EUR but you really had to book in advance (think 6 months or so). We went finally for Condor for a price around 1,100 because we waited a bit with the travel plans. My advice here, book as soon as you are sure, as the flight price will probably be the single most expensive item on this trip. Although not the first choice in terms of service or comfort on board, Condor was okish. Be prepared with some books/films on your tablet if you are not ready to pay 8 Euro p.p. for the flight entertainment. There: rent a car. If you live outside the resorts, you will need a car to move around, go to the beach and to the restaurants. There are some local car renting services that might offer better deals than the mainstream but be careful that the insurance has full coverage. Prices start at about 30 Euro per day and it will amount to abut 500 Euro per two weeks. If you travel in small group – 4 people or so renting a car – it is a good deal. Accommodation: look at airbnb.com. We found a great two bedroom flat in Tamarin with all the amenities at about 965 euro for two weeks. Activities: The beach. The best beaches are, of course, the ones belonging to large hotel chains. The local beaches are nice but not always as clean as you imagined when looking at the Mauritius postcards. The hotels, of course, own the sun beds and the umbrellas so you would not be able to make use of them but you should be able to make use of the sand. The beach itself is public property so putting your towel on a clean, palm-tree fringed hotel beach is absolutely fine. We enjoyed both the local public beach in Flic-en-Flac and Le Morne and the beaches of the hotels in the north of the island (Trou aux Biches). Boat cruises. If you want to snorkel in clear water and have a nice day out, do book a trip with one of the companies going to Ile aux Benitiers. It was a great experience. National Park and Pamplemousse botanic garden: both were great visits when the heat of the beach became too much. Great restaurants and very nice panoramic views in the Black River Gorges, around Chamarel. We tried la Varangue sur Morne.  Food: We cooked some of our own food and stoked up at the Cascavelle Shopping Mall. A few nice tips for restaurants: Domaine Anna (Flic-en-Flac), Domaine Les Pailles (Port Louis), Big Willy’s (Tamarin). Le Papayou is nice for a quick bite at lunch time. We used it a lot during our diving lessons days as the laguna was only a few meters away. During the activities we choose to do we met other independent travelers coming from the East coast of the Island. They complained that the beaches were not so accessible and eating options were limited when outside large resorts. In this context, I would recommend to base yourself on the West coast with easy access to the capital, the Black Gorges National Park and some great beaches in the north of the island. Sunny travels, Port LouisPublic beach Flic-en-FlacThe botanic garden

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