Last Updated on by Talita
Visiting Mauritius for just 1 or 2 days on a cruise? Want to make the most of your time and see as much of the island nation’s beautiful nature & unique culture as you can? Then read on for the best 1-day Mauritius itinerary by car. No expensive private taxis or overpriced ship excursions needed!
Mauritius is, in a word, lovely.
This small island nation – located east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean – has several claims to fame. It’s home to world-class beaches and a rich cultural heritage, Africa’s highest GDP per capita, and the famous dodo bird – a large, flightless bird that went extinct in the 1700s (which they continue to put on everything – their coat of arms included!).
While there’s enough to do on the island that you could easily explore for a week or more…
If you’re visiting on a cruise like we did, then you might not have a lot of time to work with. In our case, we had an overnight in Mauritius, giving us just two (almost) full days to explore.
For our first day, we rented a car (which is something we’ll talk a bit more about below). And for the second, we did some diving/snorkeling. For this article today, we’ll be walking through the highlights we visited and would recommend on that first day.
So if you also find yourself with limited time in Mauritius (or you only plan to rent a car for a day or two during your longer stay), then read on for the best 1-day Mauritius itinerary.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to get around Mauritius
- 2 How to rent a car in Mauritius
- 3 How is the driving in Mauritius?
- 4 How to spend 1 day in Mauritius
- 5 Planning your next trip?
How to get around Mauritius
As with many other destinations we visit, we chose to rent a car in Mauritius as we believed it would give us the flexibility to visit all the places we wanted to.
Although public transportation is fairly decent around the capital Port Louis and in between major cities, it won’t take you to many of the more isolated natural attractions in this itinerary (or if it does, the length of time to get there and back would probably make you miss your ship!).
As a final option: if you’re not interested in renting a car, you could also consider hiring a private taxi or a driver and then using this itinerary as inspiration to direct them where you want to go.
How to rent a car in Mauritius
Thankfully, renting a car in Mauritius is easy!
To compare prices and see your options, we recommend taking a look at our article on the 5 best and cheapest rental car companies here.
When you book your car, be sure to let the company know that you’ll be arriving by cruise. In most cases, they’ll come directly to the cruise port in Port Louis to pick you up and bring you to your car for free.
How is the driving in Mauritius?
Compared to many other islands we’ve rented cars on, driving in Mauritius is a piece of cake.
(Though do be aware that they drive on the *left* side of the road in case that’s not something you’re used to!)
The drivers might be a little on the aggressive side, but overall roads are well-maintained and easy to navigate.
IMPORTANT TIP: traffic getting back into Port Louis can get pretty bad at the end of the day. So if you have a cruise ship to catch, make sure you return back to the city with lots of extra time to spare.
(Though if you have an overnight stay in Mauritius like we did, then you won’t have to worry about this!)
How to spend 1 day in Mauritius
(AKA the best 1-day south Mauritius itinerary by car!)
For the purposes of this itinerary, we focused our time on the south side of Mauritius.
We saw a bit of the north the following day when we went diving. But since the north is primarily just beaches, we definitely felt south Mauritius was more impressive.
The island is large enough that you won’t be able to drive the whole thing in a day. So if you have limited time, then we’d recommend you also focus on the south like we did.
And before we dive in, here’s a map of the 1-day Mauritius itinerary I’ll be walking you through (you can click the map, or here, to zoom in):
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #1:
Port Louis (AKA Mauritius’s bustling capital city)
For most people, their adventure in Mauritius will begin in Port Louis, the country’s bustling capital city.
If your cruise ship is arriving and leaving in the same day, then I’d recommend doing your far-away explorations first and then saving Port Louis for the end of the day.
Note: If you’re coming by plane and plan to rent a car straight from the airport, then you’ll actually already be on the south side of the island. In which case, you may want to consider reversing this itinerary to finish up your day in Port Louis.
HOW TO GET TO PORT LOUIS CENTER FROM THE CRUISE TERMINAL
If you’re coming to Mauritius by cruise, your ship will stop a mere 20 minute walk to the city center.
Here’s a map of what the walk looks like:
But as I mentioned above, if you rent a car, most rental car companies will pick you up for free from the cruise port.
WHAT TO DO IN PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS
Here’s a quick list of some of the top attractions & things to do in Port Louis:
- Visit any one of the city’s vibrantly-painted Hindu templates
- Admire the view of the harbor as you wander along the Caudan Waterfront
- Explore the 19th-century Fort Adelaide Citadel (highly recommend this one – very cool views from the hill even if you don’t enter the fort!)
- Visit the Aapravasi Ghat: a UNESCO World Heritage Site that served as Mauritius’s first immigration depot
- Wander through the lively central market
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #2:
Le Morne Beach & Le Morne Brabant Hiking Trail (AKA one of Mauritius’s best hiking trails!)
Of all of our stops in Mauritius, this one was probably my favorite.
Even if you’re not into hiking, I still recommend making the drive for the views.
The hike in question starts at the base of Le Morne Branant, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of the island’s resistance to slavery.
The trail then winds its way up the mountain, passing through rocky terrain, dense vegetation, and breaktaking island views.
It’s an out-and-back hike, and there’s just one trail so you really can’t get lost. But depending on how much time you have, there are a few different turnaround points you can choose from.
OPTION 1: Hike just far enough that the trees open up, offering up a beautiful view of the island’s southern lagoon.
Expect to spend at least 30-40 minutes roundtrip if you want to get any kind of view.
OPTION 2: End your hike at the base of the rock, where you’ll be rewarded with nearly 360-degree views of the turquoise water, coral reefs, and lush mountainous surroundings.
This was the option we went with, and I’d highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, I forgot to measure exactly how long it took us. But to be safe, I’d probably plan for 90 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on how fast you hike.
You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see a wooden pavilion and an entrance gate with a fence that leads up to the rock face itself.
OPTION 3: Climb all the way to the top of the rock. (Note: it sounds like this one requires a bit of rock scrambling and is not safe to do if there’s been recent rain, so proceed with caution.)
Set aside 3-4 hours if you plan to make this climb. Though honestly, if you have a cruise ship to get back to, we probably wouldn’t risk it!
IMPORTANT: HOW TO GET TO THE LE MORNE BRABANT TRAILHEAD
For some reason, the gravel road hugging the coast that brings you to the Le Morne trailhead doesn’t show up in Google Maps. Instead, Google Maps will tell you this road doesn’t exist and have you backtrack instead.
In the map below, I’ve highlighted the missing road in yellow so you know where you can keep driving. Basically, just keep driving past Le Morne Public Beach.
You’ll know you’ve arrived at the trailhead when you see a gravel parking lot on your right and a sign welcoming you to the Le Morne Brabant trail on your left.
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #3:
Set on the curve of a sharp hairpin turn on the edge of the coast, you’ll find one of Mauritius’s most famous viewpoints: Maconde Viewpoint.
Make sure to take the time to pull over, make your way up the short flight of stairs (I promise there aren’t many!), and enjoy the scenery.
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #4:
Chamarel Seven Earth Geopark & Waterfall (full disclosure: if we were to do this itinerary again, we’d probably skip this stop)
Although this is one of Mauritius’s most popular attractions, we personally weren’t that impressed. If we had the choice to do it again, we’d probably skip it to make more time for our other stops.
While the “seven colored” dunes were interesting enough, they were quite small (and also totally packed with tourists and lines – not something we’d seen anywhere else in Mauritius!).
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to see the American badlands in either North or South Dakota (which are both amazing, by the way!), then you probably won’t find this one so interesting either.
Of course, it’s up to you. And whether or not you choose to stop here, you’ll still have to drive by the entrance to get to your next destination.
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #5:
Black River Gorges National Park (the “gorges” viewpoint)
This gorgeous, green-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see viewpoint is one you won’t want to miss!
Just be careful if you’re walking around with any food on you as the local monkey residents are a little aggressive.
(Note: you can find this stop directly on Google Maps by typing in “gorges viewpoint.”)
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #6:
Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao) Hindu Temple Complex
Given that nearly half of Mauritius’s inhabitants are Hindu – as descendants of the Indian laborers that were brought over in the 19th century to work on sugarcane plantations – the country is rich in beautiful Hindu sites.
And the Grand Bassin temple complex may be one of the most beautiful of all with its numerous temples, shrines, and the second-largest Lord Shiva statue in the world (check it out emerging from the mist in the pic below!).
Please note: this is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site and active place of worship, so do dress respectfully. (I simply wrapped a skirt around my waist to cover my knees.)
1 day in Mauritius itinerary stop #7:
Gris Gris Beach and Cliffs
Gris Gris’s rugged coastline, rocky cliffs, and wild waves make it the perfect place to finish off your day in Mauritius.
Due to the waves and the current, swimming isn’t recommended. But watching the sunset here is still a pretty magical experience!
If you have the time before it gets too dark, be sure to walk a bit through the forest park to observe some of the area’s unique rock formations up close.
And there you have it, folks!
As you can see by this quick little itinerary, whether you’re looking for nature, culture, adventure, or relaxation…you’re sure to find a bit of everything in beautiful Mauritius!
But now, let us know. What do you think of the itinerary? Any questions we can answer for you? Or if you’ve been to Mauritius before, anything you’d add?
Drop your answer in the comments area below, and we’ll get back to you!
Planning your next trip?
Already reserved your hotel or hostel? If not, we recommend Booking.com. They have a huge selection of hotels and hostels all over the world. Plus, in most cases, you can cancel your reservation without any costs up to a few days before the check-in date!
Still haven’t booked your plane ticket and want to save big? Take a look at Momondo. It’s a flight aggregator that combines several other ticket search websites to make it easier for you to compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal.
And finally, will you need to rent a car during your trip? Then check out Rentalcar.com to search and compare car rental companies from all over the world in a single website. Then, you can find the cheapest price for the best car!
Planning your next trip?