Why Mauritius should be at the top of your travel to-do list right now

Nov 6, 2021

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When I told my family and friends I’d be travelling to Mauritius — an island nation off the eastern coast of Africa — the vast majority of them said, “Where — the Maldives, you mean? Or Madagascar?”

Not quite!

As a traveller, I’ve always been attracted to more low-key destinations; ones that aren’t the most popular on Instagram, but rather the places you read about in a novel or saw once in a travel guide.

As a child, I kept a globe in my bedroom that had been a birthday gift from my father. I’d scroll endlessly and aimlessly, taking note of countries I’d never even heard of but hoped to visit one day.

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I wasn’t a traveller and had never even been outside of the United States, but I’d always imagined what life outside of my hometown of Hampton, Virginia, looked like.

Years ago, before I could even pronounce the country’s name, I found Mauritius on the globe in the Indian Ocean. I didn’t know much about it other than the beautiful photos I’d seen on Google Images, but the idea of visiting had always stuck in my mind.

So now, two decades later, I’m finally on a flight to the country. I have my own reasons for wanting to visit, but there are at least three reasons why Mauritius should be at the top of every traveller’s list right now.

You don’t need a seaplane or boat transfer

Here at TPG, we talk about (and visit) the Maldives — a lot. So much so that it often feels like I’m one of only a very few colleagues who have never visited the island archipelago.

But that’s for a reason.

See, while the beaches of the Maldives and the impeccable service are enticing, getting there is not.

After landing at the main airport in Male (MLE) most travellers have to take a seaplane or speedboat to their resort. I would consider myself an AvGeek and I love planes, but I also have a queasy stomach. So, the idea of spending 20 minutes on a 15-seat DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplane makes my stomach turn. I also get seasick, so a speedboat (even one with gorgeous views) is out of the question.

And this is why I’ve been keen to visit Mauritius instead. Once you land in the country, you’re there: no seaplane or boat transfer is required to get to your hotel.

Even though both Male and Mauritius are quite far, the last thing I want to do after travelling for a long time is to have to travel some more.

There are also cost factors to consider. It can cost as much as $745 (£554) for transfers to reach some of the larger Marriott and Hilton resorts in the Maldives, and even the more economical options still hover around $150 (about £111). These costs can add up, especially if you’re travelling on a budget or with a family.

Instead, my car transfer was just $64 (£48) each way after departing the airport in Port Louis. That means I can save my money and use it for treats on the ground instead, such as massages or island tours. Mauritius is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and hiking, and I’d rather enjoy these activities than exhaust my holiday budget on hotel transfer resort fees.

It’s easier to visit

I enjoyed my stay in Phuket this summer, partly because it didn’t require a hotel transfer. But it was still difficult and headache-inducing to travel to Thailand during the pandemic.

So, with that experience in mind, I was prepared for an arduous application process to visit Mauritius, which is even more off the grid than Phuket. I was surprised, however, to see how easy it was to confirm my trip to the island.

There was no application process, in fact. All I had to do was be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, show proof of insurance and show a negative PCR test taken with 72 hours of departure. There’s also an easy-to-use travel form that I filled out the day before I left that I showed upon arrival into the country.

I found the directions from the Mauritian tourism board to be very straightforward, which wasn’t the case when I visited Thailand. It seems like the country really wants to make things simple enough for tourists who are eligible to enter the country and don’t want to put unnecessary hurdles in place for these travellers. If you’re interested in visiting and you’re fully vaccinated, here are the requirements:

  • Present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure.
  • Arrange COVID-19 insurance health coverage.
  • Take a mandatory antigen test on arrival at your hotel (Day 0) and again on Day 5 of your stay. You can explore the island after you receive a negative result from your antigen test on Day 0.
  • Fill out the mandatory health forms before or during your flight to Mauritius.

If you are not vaccinated, here’s what you need to do:

  • Present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure.
  • Book a 14-night quarantine stay in an official quarantine hotel, including meals and transfers.
  • Arrange COVID-19 insurance health coverage.
  • Stay in your hotel room for 14 nights, with all meals delivered to your room.
  • Fill out the mandatory health forms before or during your flight to Mauritius.
  • Take a PCR test on arrival (Day 0), on Day 7 and again on Day 14 of your stay.
  • After a negative PCR test on Day 14, you can freely explore the island and move to new accommodation or go home.

Note that unvaccinated travellers are also only permitted to stay at two hotels on the island: Gold Beach and Grand Bleu.

As I noted, these directions were pretty straightforward and more accessible to follow than some of the other places I’ve visited during the pandemic, such as Phuket and Turks and Caicos. If you’re looking for a hassle-free holiday, Mauritius could be a solid option.

COVID-19 cases are down

When you’re travelling halfway around the world, you can’t help but think about what would happen if you get a positive test before your flight home. But given the country’s low coronavirus case rates and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, I feel comfortable visiting Mauritius right now.

The highly transmissible delta variant affected nearly every country, and small countries like Mauritius were not exempt. But the government has managed to keep positive cases down since an August and September surge.

The country has confirmed 18,000 positive cases and 196 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Currently, 67% of the country is fully vaccinated, a figure far higher than much of the African continent, which has struggled to vaccinate its population due to a lack of vaccine sharing.

Featured photo by Nuture/Getty Images

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