Located in the Indian Ocean, 2000 kilometres off the south east coast of Africa, and due East of Madagascar, Mauritius is a volcanic island famous for its cobalt blue seas, and palm-fringed sandy white beaches. Most people perceive Mauritius as a dream holiday destination, but given its reputation as a playground for the prohibitively rich you could be forgiven for expecting the island to be way over your travel budget. The good news is that this needn’t be the case if you plan wisely and do your research in advance.
Plan in advance
If you intend to travel on a budget in Mauritius, it pays to remember the acronym KISS (keep it simple stupid).Don’t bother buying masses of expensive toiletries, clothes, suitcases, and travel gadgets in advance, because if you really need something you’ll be able to buy it out there, and if you don’t need it, you shouldn’t be taking it with you. Pack lightly and only take what you don’t mind losing or jettisoning at the end of your trip.
Save on flights
If you’re travelling to Mauritius on a budget, the cost of the flight will certainly eat into your cash. Ways to get the cheapest flights include traveling when no-one else wants to, and travelling off season.
Remember to regularly visit the island’s local airline website, Air Mauritius, for exclusive and last minute deals. It may be that you’ll find cheaper flights in February than June for example, and if you’re prepared to be at the airport in the early hours, or to split your journey and wait longer for a transfer, you’ll get a better deal.
Save on accommodation
There are a number of ways you can save on accommodation in Mauritius. Firstly, use a website such as TripAdvisor to find available accommodation in your budget that is accessible on the relevant dates. Use guest houses, boutique hotels and B & B’s rather than high end luxury hotels, but do cross reference because you can sometimes find an all-inclusive package that will save you money overall. If all the hotels are still too expensive for you, you’ll save money at beach side guest houses by eschewing air conditioning, and opting instead for a room with a ceiling fan. You could also consider hostels. Many have cheap rooms for those that don’t mind sharing, but you’ll also find singles and doubles available if you prefer more privacy. Check out backpacking websites before you go for more tips.
Save on transport
Rather than sitting by the pool or the beach of one hotel, you really should get out and about and explore Mauritius because it is an island with so much to offer. Don’t be afraid to try out local transport – the buses are fun and cheap, although they can be hot and crowded. If you’re not going far you can hire a bicycle, but if you want to venture further a taxi can be a good option. Remember to haggle hard on the price in advance so that you don’t get ripped off. Another alternative that saves you a great deal of hassle is to hire your own car. Car rental in Mauritius will allow you the ultimate freedom to explore this fabulous island paradise.
Save on food and drink
A great way of saving money when you’re travelling in Mauritius is to watch what you spend on food and drink.Whatever you do, avoid paying out for western food. It will invariably be badly cooked and overpriced.
A far better idea is to eat at street stalls or the eateries that the locals favour. Many Westerners avoid street food, perceiving it as somehow dirty and inferior, but actually it tends to be fresher, with the ingredients bought daily at the local market, and it will be cooked in front of you so it isn’t left standing around attracting flies. You’re more likely to get food poisoning because you don’t wash your hands before touching your face, rather than from eating locally cooked street food.
Save on activities and leisure
Where possible skip the guided tours and instead either travel independently to the places you want to see, or join backpacker groups and share the costs. You can hire a car and visit numerous attractions such as Chamarel, seven colored earth or Bois Cheri tea plantation estate.
Alternatively, to experience some local hustle and bustle and a bit of colour, head to Port Louis’ famous Victorian Central Market. Although it was renovated in 2004 you’ll still have the opportunity for some fabulous people watching and you can buy some cheap souvenirs.
Don’t forget to haggle on the prices when you go shopping, but remember – even though you’re on a budget, the person you’re buying off probably needs the money more than you do. Be polite, happy and enjoy!