A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Mauritius
Experiencing Mauritius all by your lonesome is quite a daunting yet rewarding experience. For this trip on this island in the middle of nowhere, just bring your passport, some cash, sunscreen and a camera! The rest takes care of itself through rich encounters, amazing food, breathtaking sights, great bargains and unforgettable memories.
The rule of thumb to discovering this island on a solo agenda is to adopt public transport. Safe for urban areas, all other parts of the island have privately owned buses, with quite peculiar designs, carrying out the journeys. The paintings on most of them are the work of Prem, a widely-known artist on the island.
Also, do not rely on Google Maps for they aren’t that optimized for the island…yet. Furthermore, as common sense would command, do not flaunt big notes or valuables in public places. Finally, there won’t be any excuse not to blend with the locals for most of them are fluent in either English, French, Hindi, Mandarin, Urdu, Bhojpuri or Tamil.
Somewhere you can call home
Mauritius has made a name for itself with high-end luxury resorts. The mistake not to make here is to book one of them, ending up in a romantic setting, surrounded by couples only. For a more diverse clientele, go for a boutique hotel where you potentially will meet fellow nomads and will hopefully enjoy the experience of a more caring staff. Both the east and west coast are good options and are close to interesting places to visit.
Pick the right moment to visit
For all the well-travelled, planning your journey ahead is crucial in making these holidays memorable. Mauritian society is a pious one and a great deal of religious festivals are celebrated throughout the year. The most notable one is Maha Shivaratri, occurring either at end of February or beginning of March. During that time, more than half of the population of the island converges towards Ganga Talao, a sacred lake. Diwali, the Festival of Light, is also popular, happening during the month of October/November. Finally, Porlwi by Light is the ultimate cultural rendezvous, taking place in December. It celebrates the capital, Port Louis, through wall paintings, music, lights and much more.
If you are on a budget, eating local could save you quite some money, without any compromise on the taste. Boasting an immense culinary legacy from the various immigrants coming from across the globe, the island is a genuine melting-pot of flavours. The best way to start the day is to go for some fresh bread, straight from the bakery. The fritters’ vendor next door will then trick you into enjoying your crunchy bread with some piping hot “gateau piment”, a split pea specialty. Lunch and dinner become a child’s play with either Creole, Chinese or Indian cuisine. Don’t omit to wash it all down with some local Phoenix beer!
Shop for fun
Nomads who travel light will be elated by the various markets selling clothes for a true bargain price. The island thrives with pop-up markets or street-side vendors selling light clothes, appropriate for the hot and humid climate. To spice up your stay, lingerie is also on sale! The iconic accessory to buy in Mauritius is, however, the Dodo flip-flops. Make sure you get one of those (for around $3) to feel like a true local.
Escape on a speed boat
Simply get on one of the speed boats in Mahébourg, and you’re off to some mind-blowing discovery in the lagoon. The skipper knows best where to roam in the crystal clear water for a spectacular show underwater. The mountain chain encircling the bay provides a cocooning effect and makes for a great contrast between the green of the flanks and the blue of the sea.