Murray, a white man in a cowboy hat, is sitting at the top of le morne mountain looking out over a view of the underwater waterfall
Le Morne, one of the most beautiful hikes in Maurtius and totally free

Everything You Need To Know About Budget Travel in Mauritius!

Mauritius is a honeymooner’s paradise and one of the most beautiful islands! If you are a backpacker and want to visit, then look no further than this post.

Table of Contents

Introduction

It’s no secret that Mauritius is a honeymooner’s paradise and one of the most beautiful islands on the planet! However, budget travel in Mauritius isn’t exactly talked about a lot. As an island widely known for its high end luxury resorts, expensive diving and adventure sports packages, and difficult to get to without flights, Mauritius is not somewhere you might think of for your next backpacking trip.

However, Mauritius actually has a lot to offer a budget traveller. It has a surprising amount of free and cheap things to do, and it’s pretty easy to get by without spending much at all. Well if you are a backpacker and want to visit this beautiful island, but fear you may not have the budget, we want to show you that it is possible!

Read on to find out how you can get around Mauritius on a shoestring and enjoy yourself while doing it.

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Planning for budget travel in Mauritius

First thing’s first. To travel on a budget to a typically expensive destination, you need to break your trip down into categories to try and minimise spending too much. For Mauritius, costs break down roughly in order of most expensive to least as below:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Transport – getting to Mauritius and travelling around Mauritius
  3. Activities
  4. Food – that’s not to say food in Mauritius is not expensive, but obviously less costly than accommodation and transport!

So yeah, basically everything there costs money! But there are absolutely ways you can minimise this.

A small bird with a peaked head and red streaks on his face is sitting ready to eat food from our table.
Mauritius has some beautiful wildlife

Budget Accommodation in Mauritius

There are actually quite a lot of choices for budget hotels in Mauritius! Whether you’re looking for private rooms, shared dorms, apartments or guesthouses, you probably have somewhere in Mauritius. The first step is to decide which area of the island you want to stay in.

On the below map of Mauritius, you can see the areas we go on to mention:

Where to stay in Mauritius on a budget

Chamarel

Chamarel is one of the most popular areas of Mauritius for any traveller. While budget accommodation in Chamarel is not the easiest to come by, budget travellers might want to consider it because of the abundance of free things to do in this area, namely hiking!
The best thing about hiking in Mauritius is that most of the time, it’s completely free. Black Gorges National Park and Le Morne are within easy reach of Chamarel, so it is a great place for budget travellers to stay.

Budget Accommodation in Chamarel

There’s pretty much one true budget guesthouse near Chamarel, Happy Days Guesthouse. Other than that, most of the resorts are quite high end, or at least mid-range. Happy Days is a lovely guesthouse and rates very well. The location is perfect for visiting the Chamarel area, Le Morne and Black Gorges National Park.

Alternatively, on the mid-range side, Lakaz Chamarel is a great eco-resort with amazing food and lovely gardens. It would be pushing a low end budget, but you could use it as a base for some cheap and cheerful activities!

Check what’s available in Chamarel below.

Port Louis

Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius and as such, has a lot of lively, vibrant markets and local culture. For budget travellers, the main benefit is a wide variety of restaurants and therefore cheap places to eat, including street food and locally-run restaurant. Port Louis is in the middle of the country too, so it has very easy access to most other areas too. This is quite a popular area to stay, but the below are great value.

La Plaine Verte Guesthouse – this is a great value, locally-run stay in Port Louis. Most of the rooms also have balconies, which is a cute touch!

Ollier Plaza Apartments – these are great self-catering apartments, always great for a budget traveller, in case you can’t afford to eat out every day.

Kirin Guesthouse and Restaurant – the nice thing about Kirin Guesthouse is that they have a lovely and affordable guesthouse, serving local meals. It’s also in a great location in Port Louis, really close to everything so you can get around on foot!

Quatre Bornes

Quatre Bornes is a great area to stay in. It’s central enough on the island that you should easily be able to get everywhere, but it’s not in Port Louis, in case staying in a capital city is not your scene. The best thing about it is the lively market scene, full of local culture. You can still also get to the beach really easily, as there is a direct 30 minute bus to Flic en Flac area! This is where we’d probably stay in Mauritius if you wanted to see a lot of the island.

Hello Guesthouse – some lovely budget accommodation in Pamplemousses near the Botanical Gardens. Note: this one is a great price usually but not all units have a private bathroom, so check before booking if this is important to you.

The Sikamifer Resort is also quite good value – it’s a 3* resort so it does have all the facilities like a large buffet breakfast and an indoor pool. It feels a little more like an international hotel than some of the guesthouse options, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Grand Baie

Grand Baie, in the North of Mauritius, is perhaps best known for its beautiful beaches. Luckily, most beaches in Mauritius are free, so it’s a good place for travellers visiting Mauritius on a budget. The bay itself is kind of a sleepy little place, but it’s popular with travellers too, so there is a wide range of accommodation options. Below are three budget options:

KStudios – this is a really sweet little aparthotel only 700m from the beach. We love self-catering for budget travellers, as you always have the option to cook for yourself for if you don’t want to eat out!

Dodo Square is a cheap and cheerful aparthotel with little kitchenettes

Grand Bay Suites would be my choice if we went back to Mauritius. They’re really close to the beach (around 600m) and have a great pool and communal area, plus the price is usually very reasonable!

Plain Magnien

Plain Magnien is a sweet little village, perhaps best known for its interesting and somewhat mysterious pyramids constructions, made of black volcanic rock. Otherwise, it’s a pretty small little village with a beautiful white sand beach. There are a couple of options for budget accommodation in this area of Mauritius.

Admiral Mahe – low cost guest house with sea views on the coast
Happy Ours Guest House – sweet little bed and breakfast in the South East inland
Chillpill Guest House – another guest house on the East of the island, coastal

Check what’s available for your dates here:

Trou d’Eau Douce

The Eastern side of the island of Mauritius is also full of lots of sweet fishing villages, including Trou D’Eau Douce, with its gorgeous beaches and cosy, friendly streets. There is also a lot of history in this part of the island, and it’s a great place to stay. Some budget options for accommodation include:

Paradisia Holidays – great value guest houses in one of the most popular areas on the island

Check what’s available for your dates here:

Getting Around Mauritius on a budget

You have a few options for getting around on a budget in Mauritius. Buses are the main form of public transport for locals. They are well-run and maintained, and run frequently (roughly once every 15 minutes) all over the island.

To take one, basically just head to a sheltered bus stop in the direction you want to go, and double check the driver is stopping where you need to be. They are extremely cheap at only 15 Rs for most journeys (around 50p/50 cents), but you have to allow extra time as there will be various stop offs.

If you’re not quite brave enough for buses, then taxis are very reasonable and an even better price, if a local (for example a hotel staff member) is kind enough to help you call one. There is no Uber or Bolt yet in Mauritius but they do have a local app called YuGo.

Hiring a car is also an option, and it’s what we chose to do. Driving in Mauritius is quite easy and they drive on the left. Most cars are automatic. We booked our car hire through Rentalcars.com (part of Booking.com), and they are amazing! The prices always seem a lot cheaper than elsewhere, and it was very easy and went smoothly.

A green lake full of waterlilies, backed by palm trees and lush forest vegetation. This is one of the biggest botanical gardens in the world and a great budget activity
Pamplemousse Botanical Gardens

Top tips for hiring a car in Mauritius

  • Use a car consolidator sight like rentalcars.com to make sure you’re using the cheapest company
  • Understand that most car hire companies will charge a high excess if they are cheaper (an excess is the amount of money you could be charged if you crash the car or return it in less than perfect condition). To reduce your excess, it’s often worth paying out for insurance on top – this is an up front cost but could save you lots of money later, so always factor it into your budget
  • Take pictures of absolutely everything (make sure your phone or camera time stamps them) as soon as you pick up the car and as soon as you drop it back to the depot. This was you can make sure you have a reference in case the company charges you after the trip
  • Download RadarBot, which is a speed camera app for any country, which should help you avoid tickets
  • Look out for cheaper petrol stations as you’re driving round and fill up at the cheapest one. Always make sure to refill to the correct level to avoid the company filling up for you and charging you additional fees to refuel
  • CHECK in advance if you rental company charges cleaning fees when you pick up the car so you can make sure to take it back clean if needed
  • Check in advance if the rental company has out of hours fees so you have to drop it back by a certain time to avoid fees if needed
  • Most rental companies will charge in 24 hour periods, so if you’re booking a car, make sure you book to return it at the same time you picked it up (or before) or else you’ll be charged for an extra day. Most companies will be flexible enough to allow you an extra hour or so if you call them in advance

Getting to Mauritius on a budget

Unfortunately the only real option we could find is to fly (though I’m sure there would be ferries from somewhere!). If you’re struggling to find direct fights to Maurtius, we swear by this website, which gives you the direct flight connections to any airport. If the direct flights where you are coming from are super expensive, try booking flights to Johannesburg or Cape Town and flying from there.

We were lucky enough to be in Madagascar just before visiting Mauritius (from which we were able to take a direct flight) and flew straight to South Africa afterwards, so our flights actually ended up being very cheap anyway. Remember that a direct flight is always the most eco-friendly way to travel so this is best if it is affordable!

Cheap Things To Do In Mauritius

Ah, our favourite activity! Finding cheap, and even free, things to do in Mauritius was actually pretty easy, since there were surprisingly loads of them. Below is our list of free things to do on the island:

Go Hiking

Hiking/climbing Le Morne Brabant mountain was easily the best thing we did in Mauritius and is a must do for anyone wanting amazing views of the underwater waterfall in Mauritius! The hike is easy-moderate, depending on your fitness level, but we highly recommend reading our full guide here. Black Gorges National Park is another one for the hikers and oh my gosh, we can’t believe this one is free! We would honestly go back for a week just to hike all of these trails.

Visit a beautiful beach!

Though we are not really ‘beach people’, even we could not deny that Mauritius has some absolutely gorgeous beaches, most within very easy access of the resorts and main cities. The great news is that all of the public beaches are free!

Visit a religious site, such as Grand Bassin/Ganga Talao

Ganga Talao was a fascinating find! Though oddly it was listed as a tourist attraction on many blogs we read, it is actually a religious heritage site, and is very sacred to many locals and pilgrims who come to visit. It’s worth a visit, a very pretty walk, and an interesting cultural place, but be warned that it is not really a major tourist attraction in the traditional sense. If visiting religious sites, it’s super important to be respectful and understand that these places are sacred to many local people: be sure to dress appropriately (covering shoulder and knees), don’t pose with religious statues and respect the space and peace of worshippers visiting the sites.

A beautiful blue lake, surrounded by green trees and bushes with a huge Hindu temple to the right hand side. It's free to visit so it's great for budget travellers
Grand Bassin Lake

Aapravasi Ghat Museum

This world heritage site is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of this island. It deals with a sensitive topic of immigration to the island, and is full of fascinating insights and information. It is a former immigration depot, in which the government of the British Empire decided to conduct its experiment of ‘free labour’ to replace slavery. It’s a really important site to visit to respect the history of the island and find out more about this difficult past.

Port Louis Central Market

This is a fun local spot where you can grab homemade coffee and food, and wander round enjoying the atmosphere. It’s also full of cheap eats! Of course we absolutely loved it and got some lovely coffee from a small shop, where we ended up spending the morning. There are loads of traditional foods you can try here too, so we definitely recommend this street food walking tour from GetYourGuide.

And here is our list of cheap things to do on the island:

Pamplemousses Botanical Garden

We love a botanical garden and honestly, this is one of the best we’ve been to, some of the trees are 100s of years old! The cost to enter as a non-Mauritian resident is 200rs (under £5/$5)

Chamarel

Chamarel is a nice day out and very pretty. Honestly, we did think it was a little overrated, purely because we had hiked Le Morne the day before and found it so spectacular, but it’s a great area and there are lots of lovely places to eat and visit nearby. The cost to enter is 225 Rs for non-residents (again under $5/£5) and this gives you entry to both the waterfalls (you can’t swim or get close but you can access the viewpoint to see them), the 7 coloured Earth and the small tortoise park nearby. It is cheaper to visit Chamarel without a tour and it is very easy to do.

Rum distilleries and sugar museums!

There are rum, sugar and even chocolate museums in Mauritius, many of which will also give you free rum at the end of it! We visited L’Aventure du Sucre, which is the sugar museum, and booked it through this tour. Quite honestly, we did find it a little overkill on the information – there was SO much to read about, and we were a little pressed for time. That being said, if you had plenty of time to spend, it would be a fun day out, with a free rum tasting at the end, which is really fun!

Eating Out On A Budget In Mauritius

We will admit, this one was a little tricky. Eating out in Mauritius is NOT cheap and we did spend a night in our hotel eating instant ramen… a sad day indeed.

Seven coloured Earth in Mauritius Chamarel

Our top tips for finding cheap eats in Mauritius:

Stick to street food

You can find street food in all of the main towns, primarily at markets and also near some of the beaches. You can find people carrying street food around on bikes or motorbikes – lots of pancakes and fried goodies, but you can also get creole-style street food and fresh juices. If you’re nervous ordering street food yourself, or aren’t sure what to choose, definitely try this street food tour from GetYourGuide in Port Louis.

Buffet breakfast

Many hotels in Mauritius include breakfast free of charge and if it’s a buffet it’s usually pretty generous! Make sure you stock up for the day, and if the hotel doesn’t mind, you can normally even pack a sandwich for lunch. This is what we did in Sikamifer Resort, which had a huge breakfast daily!

Self-catering

This is always a good fail-safe if your budget is really tight. Personally we do prefer to try local food at least once, but there are plenty of supermarkets and many of the guesthouses/hotels we listed above have small kitchenettes and living spaces.

Two instant noodle packets with some fresh veg on a hotel desk. A budget traveller's dream!
And in desperate times, there’s always noodles!

Top Tips for budget travel in Mauritius

So that’s our full guide to a cheap stay in Mauritius! To sum up, with careful planning Mauritius is absolutely possible as a budget traveller. In total, we spent £177 per person per day, which included our car hire and petrol (this made up the bulk of the cost), flights, hotel, all good and all activities, but it is absolutely doable for much less. Our top tips to save money:

  • Take the plunge with public transport
  • Make a list of free activities and check them all out!
  • Choose one of our self-catering/guesthouse stays above
  • If not staying self-catering, make the most of buffet breakfasts!

If you’re looking for luxury destinations on a budget, I also highly recommend this post about the Seychelles as a budget traveller from Adventures With Jane.

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    Written by Emma

    Emma

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