Mark Twain once wrote that ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius’. For the most part, it’s true: Mauritius is rightly famed for its sapphire waters, powder-white beaches and luxury resorts. But there’s so much more attraction to Mauritius than the beach, and it's the kind of place that rewards even the smallest attempts at exploration. There’s hiking in the forested and mountainous interior and world-class diving and snorkelling offshore. There are boat trips to near-perfect islets and excursions to botanical gardens and colonial plantation houses. Mauritius is a fabulous culinary destination with great wildlife watching thrown in. And the real Mauritius away from the beach resorts – a hot curry of different cultures and quiet fishing villages – is never far away.
Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 500 miles/ 800 kilometers east of Madagascar and 125 miles/ 200 kilometers east of Réunion Island.
With a total land mass of 784 square miles/ 2,030 square kilometers, Mauritius is approximately 11 times the size of Washington, D.C. In addition to the main island, the country includes the Agalega Islands, the Cargados Carajos Shoals and Rodrigues Island.
The capital of Mauritius is Port Louis, located on the northwest coast.
A CIA World Factbook estimate published in July 2017 put the population of Mauritius at just over 1.3 million.
The official language of Mauritius is English, although it is spoken by less than 1% of the population. Instead the most widely spoken language is Creole, which accounts for 86.5% of the population. Other notable languages include Bhojpuri and French.
Hindu is the most popular religion in Mauritius (it is practiced by 48.5% of Mauritians).
Roman Catholicism and Islam also have a significant following, accounting for 26.3% and 17.3% of the population respectively.
The country's official currency is the Mauritian rupee. For up-to-date exchange rates, use this online converter.
Mauritius has a mild tropical climate with two distinct seasons.
The rainy season runs from November to April and is the hottest, most humid time of year. The dry season runs from June to September and is relatively cool. October and May are shoulder months and see variable weather. The rainy season often brings cyclones to the Indian Ocean and Mauritius may be affected by high winds and heavy rain. Resorts and homes are built to withstand cyclone season, however.
When to Go
Mauritius is a rewarding destination all year round, but the dry winter months (June to September) traditionally offer the best weather with warm, clear days and pleasantly cool evenings. Because flooding and water run-off is also at a minimum, this time of year also offers the best visibility for scuba diving and snorkeling.
The main entry point for visitors to Mauritius is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU), located southeast of Port Louis. Major airlines offering flights to Port Louis include Air Mauritius, Air France, British Airways and Emirates. Port Louis is usually the first port of call for cruise ships, too. Whether or not you require a visa depends on your nationality - see this government website for a full list of visa-exempt countries. Visitors from the US, the UK, Australia and Canada may all visit without a visa.
The CDC recommends that all visitors to Mauritius make sure their routine vaccines are up-to-date. Additional vaccines include hepatitis A and typhoid, while hepatitis B and rabies may be required depending on what you plan on doing while you're there. There is no risk of malaria in Mauritius.