Visiting the wonderful island of Mauritius gives you plenty of opportunities for exploration. From lush forests to hidden beaches there is a lot to see. It’s a great opportunity to rent a car and head out on your own but you will be wondering: how is driving in Mauritius?
In short: it’s a little bit crazy and scary at times while you will be amazed by the scenery around you. If you stay clear of the biggest cities and smallest roads you will have an amazing time but there are some things to keep in mind.
Luckily this guide will cover everything you need to know about driving in Mauritius. From the roads, the traffic, and what places to avoid we’ll try to get you up to speed as much as we can. In the end, we want you to have the best experience for your travels.
Do you need to rent a car in Mauritius?
Before we get into the driving in Mauritius let’s ask the obvious question. Do you actually need to rent a car in Mauritius? It’s a rather small island after all and there is public transport too.
We think that renting a car is best done for 2-3 days. You can check out the most famous attractions this way and save some money on rent. If you are renting for the whole duration it can get a bit expensive.
If you don’t want to rent at all then you can use the local public transport. It will get you around the island just fine. It is cheap as well but it’s not very modern and not very reliable. Traveling through the island can be a bit frustrating if you have to depend on public transport.
Then there are the taxis which are expensive but will quickly and safely transport you around Mauritius. They are a good alternative to renting but your budget will be more expensive if you go everywhere in a taxi.
Driving in Mauritius – Everything you need to know
Now that you know if renting a car is for you or not let’s see if driving in Mauritius is for you or not. As a head’s up we start with the fact that Mauritius is best for people with already a few years of driving experience.
Although the roads are usually good the traffic can get hectic and you need to pay attention and have good awareness. Otherwise, you might run into some uncomfortable situations.
Roads in Mauritius
The roads are of varying quality on the island of Mauritius. While driving around you will see some really good quality asphalt as well as some gravel roads.
People on Mauritius drive on the left-hand side. This means that at least half of the tourists visiting will be unfamiliar with this type of driving. Whenever you rent a car make sure to give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to accommodate. Your brain will get used to the situation quickly but you have to make a real effort in the first hour or so.
Mauritius does have a small highway system. It connects the major cities of the island and they are quite okay to drive on. Plenty of space, multiple lanes, and bearable traffic. Try to avoid rush hour but otherwise driving on highways is very much like driving on highways anywhere else.
Now the problems can start when you exit such highways. Roads get smaller and smaller as you are approaching lesser-known tourist attractions or cities. It’s not uncommon to see gravel roads or tiny asphalt roads that barely fit a car.
Whenever you are driving on a road that’s narrow, always pay extra attention to oncoming traffic. You might need to yield if you have the opportunity and the other driver doesn’t. Attentive driving goes a long way in Mauritius.
Traffic in Mauritius
Unlike some of the smaller Greek islands where drivers are mostly tourists, driving in Mauritius is done by locals as well. This means a proper rush hour and heavy traffic at certain times. Try to avoid driving in the morning and when work ends around 4 PM.
If you can avoid rush hour the traffic is okay. There are almost always cars on the highway but the further away you get from populated areas the less traffic you will encounter. Certain parts of the island might even feel a bit lonely.
Cities almost always have crazy traffic and we highly recommend that you avoid driving in the cities of Mauritius. It’s stressful and can be dangerous for inexperienced drivers.
One thing to remember is motorbikes and scooters. They are all around Mauritius and you need to be aware of them. Keep your eyes on your mirrors and never turn without checking your blind spots.
Driving in Mauritius Rules
Now it’s time to take a look at the basic rules for driving on the island. This section is a collection of everything to remember once you rent a car.
- Mauritius uses the international road sign system
- Driving is done on the left
- You need to have a valid license and be over 18 to drive a car
- You can drive with your domestic license
- No drinking and driving (not something you should do ever anyway!)
- Don’t hold your phone in your hand while driving
- No toll booths
- Don’t speed as there are a lot of police checks
- Keep your rental contract in the car as the police might ask for it when they stop you
- Everyone needs to wear a seatbelt who is sitting in the car
- The speed limit is 110 km/h on the highway and 30-50 km/h in cities.
- Lots of places have free parking with the exception of big city centers
- Night driving is not recommended
- Some people don’t even have working lights on their cars. It can get dangerous.
Even More Info for You
People in Mauritius love to overload their vehicles. You will see trucks, mopeds, and even bikes overloaded very heavily with local produce. Take extra care when seeing these vehicles as most of the time their indicators are not even visible.
Coming to indicators, it’s not a strong suit of the locals. Not sure why they don’t like to use them but they more often than not just turn without any indication. Sometimes they will use hand gestures to tell you they are turning or that you should overtake.
A bus will often hang a red flag out the window before turning. When you see this you should slow down as the bus will prepare to turn.
People might also randomly stop on the road even if they block traffic. Maybe if you live in one of the most beautiful places on earth you never rush anywhere.
Tips for renting a car in Mauritius
Now that you know if driving in Mauritius is good for you or not it’s time to give you some car rental tips. They will help you pick the perfect car for your adventures.
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What type of car to pick for Mauritius?
First of all, you shouldn’t think big car. Small cars can fit into the Mauritius traffic much better than big cars. Our pick would be Economy or Compact class. These cars are totally fine and will take you around the island.
If you are afraid of the gravel roads then try to get a small jeep. Big SUVs might be tempting but smaller offroad cars are actually better. A 4×4 would be our pick for driving in Mauritius if you don’t feel safe in a compact.
Always make sure the AC works! It can get hot and humid in Mauritius. You’ll feel awful without a proper AC. If it doesn’t work ask for another car.
Renting for a few days is fine. You can explore the island then return to the beach and enjoy a relaxing time for the rest of your vacation.
Driving in Mauritius FAQ
It is moderately difficult.
No, you can use your domestic license for up to 4 weeks.
Yes, there are highways.
No, all roads are free to use.