MAURITIUS – Driving in the island, information and advice for you

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Rental car: yes or not? Mauritius is a small island off the African coast, the demand is legitimate. And again: “Is my drive license allowed?”, “Are the roads in good condition?”, “Are islanders disciplined behind the wheel?”. In this article we will not only try to answer these basic questions but we will tell you everything we noticed driving on the roads of Mauritius, so that you can decide with awareness if the rental of a car can be for you. Also, if you want to know more about the other solutions to move around the island, go ahead and read our article until the end.

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Let’s start immediately with a series of information and curiosities about driving in Mauritius:

  • Mauritius has left-hand drive, so all directions on the roads are reversed, the direction of the roundabouts is reversed and the controls on the car are also reversed. How to recognize a tourist driving a car? Simple, he will operate the wipers instead of the luminous indicators at each turn (yes, even those are reversed!!!). If you think it could be a problem for you, rent a car with automatic transmission, in this way you will be less distracted by the controls and you will be able to focus on driving;
  • the condition of the roads in Mauritius is very variable, the streets of the north-west are handled, maintained and therefore always in good condition, those in the south-east instead are more neglected and therefore you must be more vigilant (potholes, obstacles on the roadway, narrows, etc…), in general, however, just a little more attention is enough;
  • the driving style of the locals is questionable. Nothing to complain about in the north-west, where the drivers always seemed very disciplined to us. In the south-east, however, you have to be more careful because the road conditions and obstacles force frequent lane changes. There are in fact many cars parked on the roadway, even on the main roads, and the drivers are forced to invade the opposite direction. The problem is that these maneuvers are done in an almost risky way even when cars are arriving from the opposite direction. So be very careful when you happen to be in such a situation;
  • the highways in Mauritius are not really high slip roads. The speed limit is 110 km/h and you will not be able to go faster because the entrances and exits are…roundabouts! Every 3-4 km you could come across one, so be careful and cautious. Anyway, highways are free of charge;
  • the cameras are localized mainly on highways and in the vicinity of the most developed areas and are recognized by the bright yellow color of their box. The speed limits are always reported: the maximum limit is in any case the highway one of 110 km/h;
  • the European driving license is allowed to drive in Mauritius;
  • the traffic in Mauritius is neither chaotic nor congested, there are not even swarms of mopeds that move in all directions, it is therefore a context in which a tourist can be inserted without too much difficulty. The traffic rules are observed and the island is fairly quiet. Rather, you will need to pay attention to people who sometimes walk casually in the middle of the street. We happened to enter the center of Mahebourg by car, it seemed to be in an overcrowded Indian town and people didn’t move to let us go, we ran away immediately to avoid investing some careless pedestrians;
  • the price of gasoline is slightly lower than an European country; refueling stations are quite easy to find;
  • the surface of the island is not very large, to move from north to south it takes about 1 hour and a half.

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But why should you consider renting a car on a so touristy and developed island? If your need is to be independent when traveling to visit attractions and beaches throughout the territory, renting a car is certainly the most economical and advantageous solution. In Mauritius you will find all the major car rental companies as well as some local companies. And it is precisely the latter that we suggest you, as they have very advantageous rates. When renting a car on vacation you must always read up on the costs of the deductible (i.e. that amount deposited that can be retained at the end of the rental in case of damage), which is generally very expensive. When you rent with an international car rental company it is good practice to take out insurance on the deductible, which leads you to incur higher daily costs; local companies, on the other hand, will not ask for the deposit and any damage to the bodywork (scratches, bumps, rubbing, etc…) will already be included in the car rental costs. In general, there is also a lot of flexibility in Mauritius regarding the pick up and drop off of the vehicle: you can request the delivery of the vehicle directly to your hotel and choose the place for the return, without additional costs. The company we turned to (found on traveler forums) is Monet Car Hire (click here to request a quote), we rented a minicar (Hyundai i10) for only 27 €/day all inclusive, we received it directly at the hotel and then we returned it by leaving it at the airport parking; everything was good, we recommend it.

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If you don’t want to rent a car because you don’t feel like driving but you don’t want to give up the comfort of a private car, you could consider the rental service with driver. For our transfers from/to the airport on the days without rental car, for example, we turned to Maki Transfers (click here to visit the site) and it was good. This is not a cheap solution, but it is certainly the most “comfortable”.

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If, on the other hand, you believe that the cost of a rental minicar is still too high for you or you plan to make so few trips that you do not justify the expense or you are just backpacking adventurers, we would like to point out that public transport seemed efficient enough in Mauritius, although it is definitely not the fastest solution. Not having used the service, we do not know the tariff system, nor the bus routes, nor their frequency, but we came across as many in the north as in the south. The only real difference we noticed is that the north-west buses were more modern than the south-east ones, probably the difference is due to the different companies operating in the areas. For more information about public transport, we suggest the following websites: Mauritius Buses and  Mauritius bus routes, timetable, prices .

If you came here to read, it means that you were not entirely convinced on which transport mean to use for your travels on the island. We hope we have clarified your ideas and helped you make the best decision for your needs and budgets. Have a good trip and…don’t forget to let us know how it went!

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