This tricked out convertible Mini Cooper Works from our friends at Maki Rental Cars was our mode of transport for an incredible five-day journey checking out the things to see in Mauritius.
With a GPS in hand, reservations at two Mauritius hotels (Bon Azur and the Hilton Mauritius) and a long list of attractions to visit, we made it our goal to see the side of Mauritius you don’t get when sitting idly by at a fancy resort.
But what is it like to drive in this island nation located in the middle of the Indian ocean? As it turns out, it is not that bad at all!
Mauritius Road Conditions
Forget anything preconceived notions you have about island roads. Mauritius has an incredible infrastructure built up for drivers.
There are three main types of roads you’ll see on the island while searching for most attractions.
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1) The Highways (M1, M2, etc) – Although most are not highways in the traditional sense from Western views, these roads often have multiple lanes, a speed limit of over 100 km/hr, and are well lit with plenty of easy-to-follow signs. The island has undergone many expansions of these roads in recent years and it is not uncommon for a new highway to be installed in less than one year!
2) Primary Roads – Most all roads on the island fall into this category, consisting of single lane roads with a speed limit of 60-80 km/hr. The roads have fine pavement, painted lane dividers (most of the time), but lack sidewalks so you may be passing some locals as you go. Most mountain roads also fall into this category but may be a bit narrower and require slower passing.
3) Secondary Roads – If you get lost, or your GPS takes you on some extreme back roads, you may end up on some secondary roads that may have potholes and are a bit bumpy. These are nothing too terrible to drive over if going slow, and you could go an entire trip without seeing them as they are quite infrequent.
Overall, driving in Mauritius is quite an easy thing to do and we have found that many other websites tend to dwell on the road conditions more than needs to be said.
All you need to be aware of is that the roads are quite nice, easy to drive on, and the cover most all of the island you’ll want to see. Can you really ask for more?
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The True Difficulties of Driving in Mauritius
For us, we only had two difficulties during our journey around Mauritius.
1) Mauritius was our first experience driving on the left-hand side of the road and operating a car configured in a mirror image to ours at home. This turned out to be very easy for us as we had spent the previous two months in India and Nepal which use the same driving configuration (even though we did not drive).
For those who have not driven on this side of the road before, Mauritius is not a bad place to start. The quality of the roads and lack of congestion give you plenty of opportunities to go slow as you pick up the driving behavior. Our biggest tip is to be careful at the roundabouts which, although incredibly well marked, are also circled in the opposite direction.
Just keep saying “keep left” in your head repeatedly and you’ll do just fine!
2) The second difficulty was getting over the mental hurdle that everyone in Mauritius drives incredibly slow. When we say slow we don’t mean just 5 km/hr under, but 50% under at times (which is actually perfect for first timers who fall into the category above!). We thought it was just to avoid the newly installed speed cameras, which are very infrequent compared to driving in Tuscany, but it tends to be just about everywhere without reason.
The only time this particular concern becomes a challenge is when you are on a highway going 110 km/hr and the car ahead of your refuses to go above 60 km/hr. Unfortunately we cannot help but think this is a major driving hazard that drivers need to be aware of. Luckily overtaking is easy and you have plenty of opportunities to pass the slow drivers, even on the single lane back roads when the speed limit is much slower.
If you can get over these two hurdles when driving in Mauritius then we highly recommend renting a car for your stay in the country. You can cross the entire country in a little under 90 minutes on the main highways, making any attraction an easy day trip no matter where you decide to stay.
When getting around is this easy you really have no excuse to sit by the pool all day and miss out on the island’s true highlights and secret spots only discovered by hitting the open road.
We’d like to thank our friends at Maki Rental Car Mauritius for our car rental during our exploration of the island. If you are heading to the country soon, click here to check out their available rentals as their prices, customized GPS system, and unique services are among the best in the country.
As always, all opinions featured in this article are our own.