Located about 600 miles east of Madagascar, Mauritius is one of the most popular tropical destinations in the Indian Ocean. The volcanic island, surrounded by reef protected cobalt-blue seas and white sand beaches is often seen as a remote dream destination that is hard to get to and even harder to afford. That’s not necessarily true and while the island is famous among resort tourists and honeymooners, it is possible to enjoy the beauty of Mauritius on a budget.
How and When to Go There
Being a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean makes flights to Mauritius a bit expensive. But, as with everything in the travel world, there are ways to save money on flights. Try visiting during their low season – May to October – when the weather is cool, dry and sunny, as airlines tend to lower their airfares to entice visitors. Sign up for the Air Mauritius newsletter and be among the first to learn of sales and special discounts.
Another way to save on the airfare is to break up your flights. If you’re flying from the US, maybe check for round-trip flights to a major hub along the way, like Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Frankfurt, London or Istanbul, among others; and from there, buy another round-trip to Mauritius.
Saving on Accommodation
While the island is famous for its resorts, luxury hotels, and deluxe villas there are budget accommodation options all over the island, especially in the cities. I managed to pay an average of $25 a night for a double room with a private bathroom in local guesthouses. You can find these on almost all of the standard online booking sites.
Should you want to stay at a resort, try getting the low season rates and trim costs by selecting a room not as close to the beach and without a beach view.
Mauritius has a pretty good bus network that will connect you to almost any place on the island for less than a dollar. Yes, it’s that cheap. But, keep in mind that this is slow transportation, and only runs until 6:30 pm in the countryside and 8:00 pm in cities.
Should you like to move around with more flexibility, I would recommend renting a car, which averages around $40+ a day. Alternatively, if you’re not planning on going far, you can hire a bike or scooter to move around. Biking around the island is easy, especially in the north, which is mostly flat.
Try Local Food
Mauritius has a big beach culture with is complemented by lots of beach food shacks and food trucks. Most of them offer cheap local food that ranges from seafood, grilled chicken, Indian food, burgers and more. A decent plate of street food could cost you as little as $3.
What to See and Where to Go
Most sights in Mauritius do not require an entrance fee nor a tour to enjoy them – as long as you can get to them by bus or car. You can go hiking up the iconic Le Morne mountain, swimming down Rochester Falls, or relax along the gorgeous white sand beaches – all for free. The indigenous forest in the protected Black River Gorges National Park offers over 50km of walking trails among tall trees and dense ferns.
For a less active nature experience, head to the Mauritius National Botanical Garden near Port Louis – originally opened as a private garden by the French governor of Mauritius nearly 300 years ago. Alternatively, you can head to Port Louis’ famous Victorian Central Market to experience some of the local hustle and bustle.
Other sights like the seven colored grounds of Charmarel and Charmarel Waterfall require a small entrance fee – about $7 for both. Bois-Chéri, the oldest and biggest tea plantation in Mauritius is also worth visiting. Book a guided walk through the factory to learn about the production and packing process before tasting their delicious tea. You can also visit a few of the surrounding islands by taking the local ferries instead of a full tour.
As you can see, with proper research and careful planning you could enjoy the beauty and tropical weather of Mauritius for a fraction of what most of its luxury visitors are paying.
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