Traveling out of South Africa has never been easier. A simple midday flight straight from Durban, and three hours later, you have arrived on an island, called Mauritius. Going through immigration’s and baggage is fairly straight forward and should take you about 30 minutes, depending on queues.
If this is your first trip out of South Africa or to Mauritius, I suggest you have your hotel booked and your airport transfer sorted out, rather than “winging it” at the last minute. Although, like every movie relating to tropical destinations, you are not greeted with coconut wearing dancers and garlands just quite yet. After a long flight with luggage and being in a whole new country, the most reassuring thing is seeing your name typed out and waiting to shuttle you to your chosen accommodation.
Having traveled to India on numerous occasions and living in Durban, I cannot help but draw parallels between these three places. Mauritius feels just like Durban and this is why, even on my 11th day here, I’m still not homesick yet. With increasing ties in trade between Mauritius and South Africa together with globalisation, you’ll spot familiar brands like Spar, Food Lovers Market, Engen Garage even just on your way to the hotel. Once you’ve arrived safely, connect to the WiFi, do a check-in on Facebook (#vaaacccaaayyyy), a quick WhatsApp update to your nearest and dearest and then, freshen up and start relaxing.
Ever heard the saying “I need a holiday after my holiday”. So often on vacations, we tend to maximise time and soak up as much as we possibly are able to. Yes, it’s important to explore! Our minds and bodies end up paying a greater price in the end. It’s super vital to take time to relax, rest and rejuvenate. (cue in Oprah and Deepak Chopra).
If your stay is more than three days and you have friends and family on the island, I suggest you get a sim card. MTML is the main operator here and you have an option of between three networks: Emtel, Chilli and Orange. If it’s a short visit, most hotels have landlines which you can request to make use of.
For the ones who are brave and want to explore themselves, I suggest you hire a car here. Many of the cars here come from South Africa and the rules of the road are the exact same. The lanes are narrower here, so can be slightly intimidating. But, overall, driving in Mauritius is quite simple. If you have your sim card, you can easily use Google Maps to navigate yourself around the island.
Another option is a shared taxi. Kind of like an Uber service, but no app involved. There are specific points that you can stand at to take a shared taxi. I stayed at a family hotel in Quatre Bornes, on the West Coast of Mauritius. For a 15 minute drive to the beach, shared with 5 other people in the taxi was Rs35 (+-R11). Super affordable!
If you really want to be brave on a budget, you can take the bus! Yes, BUS! I took the bus a few times around the island. As long as you know in which direction you are headed to and you anticipate around 1 hour for a 25 minute journey, you’ll be fine. It is quite the experience, but, a savvy way to get to know the island better and interact with local Mauritians.