You can tell the French, Indians, African Creole and several other cultures have left their touch upon Mauritius. Romance, elegant restaurants, unique multicultural festivals, world-class international cuisine and shopping all can be found on Mauritius. But divers will quickly look with longing at the clear waters of the lagoon and the barrier reef that circles the island like a gem-studded necklace. The coastline is nearly 205 miles/330 kilometers long and almost the whole island is surrounded by coral reef.
Numerous passes pump up the action with each tidal shift and the Belle Mare Pass brings spectacular concentrations of marine life, all going along for the ride on the river of water. Colorful soft corals and healthy stands of hard corals define the seascape, and several scuttled wrecks up the diversity a notch.
Currents generally affect the west coast but they do bring sharks and dolphins and fat soft corals.
The island's joie de vivre comes alive in the national dance, the sega, and the wonderful egalitarian culture that the entire population of Mauritius has enthusiastically embraced. And, it's all reflected in the bright blue of the lagoon.
When to go:
Diving is possible all year round but the best season is the summer season, from November to April.
When to Get the Best Deals:
What to Pack:
3/2 mm wetsuit, insect repellent, sunscreen, camera, DAN card, water hiking shoes.
Seasonal averages: 22°C/71°F in winter and 27°C/80°F in summer.
Seasonal averages: 24°C/75°F in winter and 25-33°C/77-94°F in summer.
Mauritian Rupee. Credit cards are accepted at larger venues.
Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.
Included in your airfare.
What to Eat:
The food is a blend of traditions from France, India, China and Africa passed on through generations of immigrants. Pick from a variety of curries (some very hot), and for something different try some gateau piment (chilli cakes) which are a popular snack. Try a sustainable seafood option - fish, prawn, shrimps and oyster, often served with sauce rouge (red sauce).
What to Drink:
Phoenix is the best-known locally brewed beer, although other brands are now available. Rum production started more than 200 years ago and you can find several great rums, including spiced varieties. For something thirst quenching, try alouda - a popular almond-flavored iced milk drink.
Mauritius is an active place with mountain hiking and biking, horseback riding, kayaking, ATVs, and even skydiving.
Customs and Culture:
Mauritius has a large Hindu population.
Maha Shivaratree Festival; Ganesh Chaturti; Cavadee.
Electricity and Internet:
Electric Power is 230V running at 50Hz. Internet is widely available.
Drink the water?
Bottled water is recommended.
English, though French and Mauritian Creole are predominantly spoken.
Amazing Marine Life
This large, slow-swimming fish is brilliantly spotted with purple and yellow.
Green and hawksbill sea turtles can be frequently found lounging on the reef.
Striking in appearance with orange-and-black stripes and frilly venomous spines, these fish remind one more of a tiger than a lion.
Most often found in holes, caves, and wrecks, moray eels sometimes venture out so divers can see their entire snakelike length.
These brilliantly colored fish do, indeed, possess remarkably parrotlike beaks that they use to grind coral structures so they can eat the soft coral animals inside.
This small, spiny, fist-sized fish puffs up into a large round balloon-shape when threatened or surprised.
A smaller relative of the manta (and the shark), these rays often hang out on sandy bottoms, but can also be seen swimming around the reefs.
This playful "little cousin" to the whales is usually found cavorting with a group (or pod) in open water, sometimes swimming alongside dive boats.
These predatory fish are often seen on the reefs.
Branching in intricate, sometimes lacy patterns, these gorgonians decorate the underwater landscape.
Top Dive Spots
Known for its abundance of angelfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, small murenes, parrotfish, labres and clown fish, this site also occasionally brings in pelagic visitors such as swordfish and hammerhead sharks.
This small patch of reef features a 17th century anchor lying on the bottom. The site hosts many hard and soft corals, gorgonians sea fans, moray eels, scorpionfish, stonefish, crayfish, peacock groupers, porcupinefish, and titan triggerfish.
Large blocks of coral at this site shelter angelfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, clownfish, scorpionfish, stonefish and lobsters.
As the name suggests, this reef boasts a wide array of coral species that shelter angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, and triggerfish. This site is a favorite with underwater photographers.
An expanse of sand dotted with large blocks of rock and immense coral formations, this site features emperor angelfish, butterflyfish, and passing barracuda and tuna.
This deep wall dive starts at reef plateau at 30 meters/100 feet. A huge anchor lies abandoned in the coral with its chain stretching off into the deep. Look for huge gorgonians, glass corals and the rare and precious black coral.
King Fish Kingdom:
The dive starts with a descent along the wall to a tunnel opening at the bottom. At the end of the tunnel the roof opens onto a pair of steep cliffs..
Pink coral is a rare sight, but here at Rose Garden it stretches across the ocean floor. These fragile coral formations reach heights of 2-3 meters/6-9 feet, and shelter anthias and angelfish.
Emily and Water Lily:
These two barges, scuttled to create an artificial reef lie 27 meters/90 feet apart and shelter eels, raggy and tasseled scorpionfish, and many other species.
This sunken Japanese fishing boat rests on the sandy bottom with debris strewn across the sandy floor. The wreck shelters king fish, moray eels, triggerfish, stonefish, lionfish, parrotfish, leaf fish and sea slugs, as well as visiting sharks, barracuda, stingrays, and dolphins.