Mauritius or Seychelles for a weekend away?
We love a good weekend away. And you actually need it to survive summer in Dubai.
But you know you’ve really adjusted to the expat lifestyle when you hear yourself saying – we really need a holiday. Or, we haven’t been away for ages! And your last overseas trip was a mere 3 months ago.
Anyway, with a long weekend on offer, we decided it was time for a short break. Whilst searching for destinations close to Dubai, we came across Mauritius. We weren’t sure whether it was really worth going there having recently been to the Seychelles which we fell in love with.
We are also a little hesitant on places over 4 hours away for a weekend with a slightly unpredictable Chubs tagging along. You never know when the next meltdown is coming if he gets too tired. Check out the recent Barcelona experience to see the full fury of a jet lagged 3-year-old in action.
But, we worked out, even though it’s over 6 hours travel time, it’s in the same timezone and you fly during the day. So we decided to give it a go and make the most of another great opportunity to explore.
A long weekend in Mauritius.
Now that we’ve been, I thought I’d put together a quick synopsis of the key differences between the two places from our perspective. Just in case anyone is facing this very tough decision of which paradise to relax in!
I still can’t really decide which one I love more. I’ll let you be the judge.
Weekend essential 1 – The beaches
One of the most famous beaches in the Seychelles is Beau Vallon beach.
It’s really beautiful. White sand, clear water, lots of trees lining the beach. It even has cool street vendors where you can buy everything from sarongs to cocktails and fish. Or you can BYO whatever you want. Very chilled out and family oriented.
The north of Mauritius is most famous for it’s beaches. We spent most of our time around Trou aux Biches and this beach was every bit as beautiful. White sands, clear water and a chilled out vibe. However, in Mauritius, there is a bit more development. So you can actually pay to enter a beach club and spend the day lazing on cushioned beach lounges with people bringing you cocktails.
We had one of those “why did we bring the kids” moments whilst on this beach. Here we are. In
paradise. Stunning day and beautiful beach and what are both our kids doing?
Picture this tranquility.
One is standing there screaming “no beach, no swimming” over and over and over. I think people are starting to think he’s a little mentally ill. And the other is lying on a towel, face down claiming to be ‘over it’.
We wade out into the water, completely bewildered. Lovely hubby quickly exclaims – “so you want to go to the Maldives right? Well let me tell you right now. Neither of those damn kids are coming.”
Righty ho. Moving right along…
The other thing to note about Mauritius beaches is that many of them are rocks and/or coral. We wished we bought our rock shoes along. The place we stayed fronted onto a beautiful beach, but it was all sharp rocks and coral so we couldn’t really swim there.
Weekend essential 2 – The infrastructure
There’s really no comparison here. Mauritius is definitely more developed.
The main town, Port Louis, is as close as you get to a city on these islands. It even has a Casino!
Where in Seychelles, the main town of Victoria is a bit more under-developed.
Now depending on your style and what you are looking for, both options have their positives and negatives.
With a city the size of Port Louis, you get things like traffic. And traffic in Mauritius can be pretty ordinary (or so we are told). There’s also a reasonable amount of petty crime so you don’t want to leave anything lying about. However, there’s great restaurants, a lovely harbour and shopping, internet etc.
Victoria is small but it has what you need. Traffic isn’t much of an issue and there is also a nice harbour nearby although it is privately owned. However, you wouldn’t go to the Seychelles to hang out in Victoria. It doesn’t really even rate on the tourist attraction list. The resorts and the beaches are the highlights.
So it really depends what type of holiday you are after. If you want complete chill out, then I’d easily recommend the Seychelles where internet is intermittent (at best), restaurants are simple and casual and life is mostly about being on the beach.
However, if you do want the option to shop, go out for nice meals, see movies and experience high-speed internet, then Mauritius definitely offers more choice.
Weekend essential 3 – The culture
In both places, except perhaps for our children, just about everyone we have had the pleasure to meet on either island is warm, welcoming and relaxed.
There are some interesting cultural differences between the two.
Mauritius is a much more eclectic mix of cultures and religions. The overwhelmingly dominant religion is Hindu with a large proportion of the population being of Indian origin, then Christian and then Muslim. But everyone speaks French and dialects of Creole, as well as English. They are proud of how they have managed to merge all of these cultures and religions together and well they should be. You frequently see a Mosque on one corner, a Church on the other corner, and Hindu offerings lining the road. And they have public holidays for all of the major cultural celebrations including, Eid, Christmas, Chinese new year, Diwali etc
The Seychelles appeared to be much more of a Christian/Catholic nation. There are a LOT of Churches, and a majority of the population come from mainly Creole/African descent. Once again though, the people are warm, friendly and proud of their small but beautiful nation.
You can’t go wrong in either destination with kids though.
Everywhere we go, people directly address the kids and there’s always lots of beautiful smiles and laughs between them. In the shops, when we’re about to have a nervous breakdown with the Chubs trying to touch everything and picking up every glass ornament possible, they just smile and interact with him like he’s a real customer. Quite a contrast to places like Europe and Australia where he’s often looked at like he’s some kind of germ or insect.
Weekend essential 4 – The food
The cultural mix does bring a perfect combination of cuisine to choose from in both places.
The Seychelles is all about seafood and creole with meat being expensive. Booze is cheap though and the food is not super expensive in the supermarkets. Restaurants can be pricey but no-one cares if you buy up what you need at the local mini-mart and then just hang out in the park or on the beach for a feast.
In Mauritius, there is a bigger variety of options. Food has much more of an Indian influence as well as Creole, French, African and western options. It is expensive though.
We were enjoying breakfast one morning and when the bill came, we realised the prices are very similar to Dubai. We were musing at how we’re glad we didn’t travel here directly from Australia as we may well have actually vomited when the bill came. It is expensive for what you get when you eat out. Thankfully, Dubai has initiated us well into crazy, overpriced food.
The beautiful place where we stayed, right on the beach in Mauritius, has a couple of restaurant options close by. I highly recommend staying at the beautiful Bon Azur by the way. Stunning pool, HUGE apartments and beautiful gardens and staff. It’s self-catered though so no dining options.
Luckily for us, there is a brilliant restaurant down the road. The restaurant of Voile Bleue is spectacularly located right on the water with a perfect view of the sunset. The food is excellent, and the staff are the type of people you’d hire tomorrow if you had your own restaurant. And in Mauritian prices, it’s not too bad, but worth every cent for the views.
Oh, and a sneaky tip is to try the local passionfruit liqueur. Spectacular way to end an evening before you stroll back down the beach enjoying the sky that’s literally full of stars! Pure heaven.
So… Mauritius or the Seychelles?
So there you have it. A brief rundown of these two beautiful islands.
Choose your paradise.
If I had to make a choice for this weekend, I’d probably go for the Seychelles to be honest. But that’s more because it’s a shorter flight, its in the Dubai timezone and it has no internet. This means we don’t have to deal with:
- Long flights with endless repeats of Dora the Explorer and Trolls
- A jet-lagged, Jekyll and Hyde 3-year-old
- A tween daughter glued to a damn iPad watching YouTube.
However, if I were younger with no children, I’d probably go for Mauritius – better shopping, nightlife and restaurants.
Love to hear any other opinions? Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree or have any questions at all.
I had a couple of epiphanies on this trip too which I’ll have to share in the next blog.
Until then… have a lovely week!