Mauritius - All you need to know

Clear warm waters and white beaches make Mauritius the tropical dream come true. The sea surrounding Mauritius is famous for water sports and its crystal-clear lagoons conceal an infinite sea treasure. Most beach hotels in Mauritius provide complimentary water sport facilities to their clients. Just a swimsuit is all you need to enjoy one of the natural experiences the Mauritius undersea life can offer you

There is so much to experience inside the island, in the midst of its lush vegetation. Being of volcanic origin, Mauritius offers a haven of natural beauty. The flora of Mauritius is composed of 700 species of indigenous plants. The cuisine in Mauritius originates from the 3 continents just as the origin of its inhabitants. Visitors have the opportunity to taste a variety of foods, Indian, Chinese, Creole and European at one table, all exquisitely mixed by local chefs to delight your palate.

Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions which the immigrant population brought from their ancestral countries. Their festivities are celebrated in a spirit of peace and harmony throughout the year.

Places of interest to visit are:

Grand Bay
Grand Bay was the first area of the island to fully experience the tourist boom. A shopping and leisure paradise, Grand Bay also happens to be the area where Mauritians head for when they want a fun-filled night out (restaurants, bars and discos). Recently renovated, La Cuvette beach is well worth a visit.

Pereybère

The wonderful Pereybere public beach is popular because of its shopping facilities, restaurants and pubs.


Balaclava Ruins
A few metres away from Baie aux Tortues, which 17th century sailors named after the many tortoises in the area, can be found the ruins of the old Balaclava estate. Visitors will be able to see the sea walls, whose initial foundations were laid down by Mahé de Labourdonnais.

The Triolet Shivala
The longest village on the island, Triolet offers an opportunity to visit the biggest Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath, first built in 1819 in honour of the Gods Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Muruga, Brahma and Ganesha.

The Labourdonnais Orchards
Discover a large variety of tropical fruit trees, colourful and perfumed exotic flowers. Trips on mountain bikes or hiking are possible.

Those seeking well-being during their holidays should be sure to visit the spas, new oases of peace where time stands still. Mauritius offers several world-class items.
If the seemingly endless miles of beaches, the natural hospitality of the Mauritian people and the huge range of different types of food are not
enough , why not set off on a very special journey !

Health Spa’s:
Pay a visit to some of the spas, where you can put yourself into the capable hands of experts and allow yourself to be carried away by your senses. These spas are now regarded as a must, on the tourist itinerary.

The islands most famous spas include One&Only, Le Saint Géran, the Royal Palm, Hilton, Prince Maurice, Beau Rivage, Oberoi, The Residence, Sofitel Imperial and Dinarobin hotels where holidays also mean fitness and enlightened senses.

Shopping:

The number of tourists-only duty-free shops where passports and air tickets must be shown is on the increase. Prices are very reasonable. What can one buy in Mauritius?
Models of old ships. Note : Airline companies charge for freight on ship models according to size and weight. Mauritius has an enviable reputation for textiles production, namely for pull-overs and knitwear. Leading brands of shirts, trousers, suits, dresses, suits for women, shorts or swimwear are sold at unbeatable prices.

Basketwork, embroidery, pottery, cut stones and recycled glass are very much in demand. Those who love cooking will be able to take back fruit jellies, chillies, and other types of spices and pickles - delicious bits of raw vegetables soaked in oil, spices and chilly. Do not forget to buy some vanilla tea or rum. Only accredited shops are allowed to sell duty-free goods to tourists.

Coffret des Iles, on the other hand, offers a wide range of gift-parcels ready to offer, home delivered in France, England and Germany within 72 hours.
Your Coffret des Iles can also be purchased in most of the hotel’s shops.

Fishing:

Mauritius is a paradise for deep sea fishing. Species include the blue or black marlin, all types of sharks, yellow tuna, the Bonitos, the ‘emperor’, the ‘pélerin’, the ‘bécune’ or the barracuda.
Huge fishes like the Blue Marlin roam our seas and hunt around the island from November to April, and very often until May. The ocean is 70 metres deep one kilometre away from the coast. Mauritius holds several world fishing records (IGFA), including that of the mako shark of 1115 pounds, the blue shark of 400 pounds, a bonito of 41.5 pounds, a white tuna of 224 pounds and a ‘bécune’ of 125 pounds. African records (GFUA) mention a yellow tuna of 212 pounds and a white tuna of 224 pounds. Other specimens recently caught include blue marlins of 1430 and 1355 pounds. Fishing boats can be hired from almost all hotels. The most prestigious deep sea fishing competition is the Marlin World Cup which is hosted in December by La Pirogue Hotel.

Banking hours
Monday to Thursday : 9.15 am -3.15 pm, Friday: 9.15 am -3.30 pm , Saturday: 9.15 am -11.15 am (Some banks only). Banks are also open to coincide with the arrival and departure of international flights at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport.

Climate:
The temperature on the coastal areas varies between 22°C in winter and 34°C in summer. The sea temperature varies between 22°C and 27°C. In the central part of the island, the maximum daytime temperature varies from about 19°C in August to about 26°C in February. The western and northern regions are warmer and relatively drier than the East and the South.

Conferences
Almost all of our large hotels are equipped and ready to cater for conferences. The number of people that can be accommodated varies from
30 to 500. The International Conference Centre in Grand Bay and the Freeport Exhibition Centre in Mer Rouge can easily accommodate 600
and 1,000 people respectively.

Credit Cards :
Credit cards are normally accepted by banks and most hotels, restaurants and tourist shops.Culture :
Mauritius is a blend of diverse cultures and religions. The population
consists of Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans.

Currency
The monetary unit is the Mauritian Rupee (Rs.) which is divided into 100 cents (cs). At the latest exchange rate, one Euro is worth around Rs. 30.

Customs
l Passengers over 18 years of age may import the following duty-free items: 250 grams of tobacco (including cigars and cigarettes), 1 litre of spirits, 2 litres of wine, ale or beer, one quarter litre of Eau de Toilette and perfume not exceeding 100 ml.
l A plant import permit must be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture, prior to the introduction of plants and plant material including cuttings, flowers, bulbs, fresh fruits, vegetables and seeds.
l It is prohibited to introduce sugarcane and parts thereof, soil micro-organisms and invertebrate animals.
l All imported animals including animal products need an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture and a health certificate from the country of origin.
l Drug trafficking is illegal and carries very heavy penalties. Firearms
and ammunition need import permits and must be declared on arrival.

Driving
People in Mauritius drive on the left-hand side of the road and give way to the right.
Foreigners with a driving licence issued by a Competent Authority in their respective countries are allowed to drive during their stay in Mauritius.

Economy:
The Mauritian economy is based on four sectors: Textile, Tourism,
Sugar and Services.

Electricity:
220 volts.

Emergency
Police(ambulance ) :999, Police : 208-7018/20
Fire : 995, Samu : 114

Flights from Europe
Air Mauritius operates over 30 weekly flights to and from all the European major
cities including 15 combined flights with Air France to and from Paris.
British Airways operates four weekly flights, Emirates Airlines three and Condor one.

Geography
Mauritius is located approximately 2000 kilometres to the south eastern coast of Africa and lies east of Madagascar on 20°5, 57.5E. The country covers an area of 1865km_ with 330 kilometres of coastline. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length.

Government
Mauritius is a democratic state based on the Westminster model and enjoys political stability.

Health
No vaccinations are required. However a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 1 year of age who arrive from areas where yellow fever cases are reported.

History
Of volcanic origin and generally sheltered by barriers of coral reefs forming natural, safe, crystal clear lagoons, Mauritius has long been a dream destination. Known to the Arabs as early as the 10th century, but officially «discovered» in 1505 by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas, the island was occupied successively by the Dutch (1598-1712) and the French (1715-1810), and was ceded to Great Britain in 1814 through the Treaty of Paris. On 12 March 1968, Mauritius became Independent. Republic Day was proclaimed on 12 March 1992.

Language
Most people in Mauritius are bilingual and are equally fluent in English
and French. Creole and French are the main languages in the everyday environment and several oriental languages are also spoken.

Medical services
Free public medical facilities are widely available. Private clinics provide medical services for a fee.

Newspapers:

Besides a wide choice of local papers, the pick of the European and American press is available.

Nudism
Nudism and topless sunbathing are frowned upon on our public beaches. No hotel permits nude sunbathing on beaches. Topless sunbathing is sometimes tolerated.

Population
1.2 million (Year 2003)

Population literacy rate
82.9%

Public holidays
There are 15 public holidays every year. Seven of them are fixed holidays: January 1st & 2nd, 1st February, 12th March, 1st May, 2nd November and 25th December. The remaining public holidays are religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year.

Security
A tourist police service has been set up to ensure security in tourist zones.
An anti-terrorist law has also been proclaimed. A specific law relating to all tourist activities and corrupt practices has also been voted.
The following essential pieces of advice are meant for you :
* Keep an eye on all personal belongings at all times.
* Be careful when withdrawing money from a cash point.
* Avoid wearing expensive jewellery.
* Do not leave anything inside your car.
* (For trips or purchases) use only recognised operators or suppliers.
* Keep your passports, plane tickets, jewellery of value and large sums of money in safe custody.
* For sea excursions, do not rent boats with inadequate security standards.
* During individual sea trips, always notify the person responsible for the boat house.
* Do not go swimming in areas where it is forbidden.

Shopping
Shopping hours in our main cities range from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm (Monday-Saturday). Some shops are open till noon on Sundays and public holidays. Many duty free shops and modern shopping centres (Caudan, Curepipe, Floréal Square, Happy World House, Orchard Centre) offer a wide choice of products.
Please note that there are no shops open in Rose-Hill, Curepipe and Quatre-Bornes on Thursday afternoon.

Tipping
Tipping is not compulsory.

Time & Telecommunications
Mauritius is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and three hours ahead (2 hours in summer) of mid-European Time. Mauritius has international direct dialling facilities to most parts of the world as well as high speed fax and internet services.

TV channels
Satellite TV and local tv & radio are available
in most of the hotels.

VAT
A value added tax of 15% is payable on goods and services including hotel and restaurant bills.

Visa & entry
requirements
A visitor must be in possession of a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. A visitor’s visa is normally granted for a period of two weeks to one month upon arrival, to almost all holders of a valid passport, with one or two exceptions. Visitors are strongly recommended to contact the Passport and Immigration Office in Mauritius or the nearest Mauritian Embassy or Consulate. The visa can be extended upon request at the Passport and Immigration Office, Sterling House, 11-19 Lislet Geoffroy Street, Port-Louis, Tel : (230) 210-9312 to 210-9317 Fax (230)210-9322.

What to wear
Take your best beach and casual wear. In the winter months (June -September), carry some light woollen clothing for the cool evenings.
Please show due respect when visiting religious places. Wear appropriate clothing (and remove leather shoes and belts) when entering the premises.

Working Hours
Private Sector : Monday to Friday: 8.30 am - 4.15 pm Saturday : 9am -noon (Some offices)
Public Sector : Monday to Friday: 9 am - 4 pm
Saturday : 9 am - noon (Skeleton service).


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