Famed for it’s pristine sandy beaches, and turquoise blue seas, Mauritius is a favorite for honeymooners, families, and single travelers. And while the flight tickets can be expensive, living and traveling here doesn’t have to be thanks to the public transport in Mauritius.
Mauritius has a frequent bus system that runs up and down this small island nation. It’s cheap, and when you know the system – it’s easy to use.
That is where we are going to help!
For traveling short distances the buses are not that much slower than taxis either – but can be 10 or even 20x cheaper!
And the best thing about the bus in Mauritius is that because it’s so cheap, you can easily and affordably, travel around and see many parts of this beautiful country. One of the best things to do here is just catch a random bus, and get off somewhere you’ve never been before.
Getting the bus in Mauritius is not that complicated, but it can be daunting if you don’t know the system. However it can be simple and easy – just read on to find out.
Getting/catching the bus in Mauritius – what you need to know
There are bus stops everywhere on the roads in Mauritius, and therefore using the bus to travel around Mauritius is quite easy. Look out for regular bus shelters, but more often than not, bus stops are simply marked by small black square signs with the word “Bus Stop” written on them.
Often there is no lay-by or special place for the bus to stop, they just stop directly on the road.
Now here comes the slightly complicated part.
You must hail down the bus by sticking your hand out to ask the driver to stop, or it will just continue driving. However the buses used in Mauritius are all owned by several different companies, and while some are well marked with the destination at the front, others are not so well marked.
That means that seeing the destination of where the bus is going can sometimes be a little difficult, even more so when the buses are driving down the road at some speed!
In general, if you are going short distances on public transport in Mauritius – for example to the next town or two along the road – most buses going in that direction will be going there. So just stop any bus driving in that direction, and ask as soon as you get on (before the bus starts driving) if the bus is going to the town/village/city you want to go to.
There will be a ticket collector who speaks French and English and will tell you where the bus goes if you ask. If there are people getting off at that stop, the ticket collector will put their hand out to stop people from getting on in a ‘wait’ motion. That’s so the people getting off can use the stairs first. This is also a good opportunity to ask and double check the destination of the bus.
If the bus isn’t going towards your stop, just wait for the next one.
For long journeys, between major towns and cities, it’s best to only flag down the buses that say on their display that they are going to that specific city.
For example, the Port Louis to Grand Baie bus will state the city. As will the Grand Baie to Cap Malheureux bus – although in the case of a bus like this, many other buses will be going past both towns, and you can often use common sense depending on where a town is located on the map. I.e. if the bus is going to a city that is a few kilometers further on from the one you’re going to, the chances are it probably is going to your destination en route to the final stop.
Mauritian buses also have numbers on them, depending on the route they take, and you can find the exact stops and where each bus goes by clicking here. Again, you have to be eagle-eyed to sometimes spot these numbers before the bus goes racing past the bus stop and you!
However don’t expect buses to come and go at regular periods. There will be times when you’re waiting at a bus stop for 30 minutes and not one bus will arrive. Whilst at other times there will be five buses arriving within five minutes.
If you need to get somewhere quickly and urgently, a taxi may be your best bet rather than the public transport in Mauritius.
However there is a bus alternative you can catch at bus stops – we’ll mention that further down this article.
How much does a bus ticket cost in Mauritius, and how do you get the bus to stop?
The great thing about the bus in Mauritius is just how affordable it is.
If you are traveling just a few kilometers expect to pay around 25 Mauritian rupees (around 50 cents) or less.
If you want to go from the north of the island to the capital Port Louis, the price will be only around double that (1 USD), despite the extended bus journey.
Currently, buses don’t run directly from the north of the island to the south and only serve their regions. Therefore you will have to get the bus to Port Louis, and then catch a bus from there if you wish to go from the south of Mauritius to the north, or vice versa.
So effectively, you can travel to the capital for around 1-2 USD from anywhere on the island. And therefore can travel from the very top of Mauritius to the very bottom for 3-4 USD. That’s exceptional value.
Getting the ticket is easy. As you enter the bus, simply sit down at a spare seat. The ticket collector will come to you and you tell them where you are going. Ask how much it costs if you’re not sure – they will appreciate you asking and attempting to give as near to the correct amount as possible, rather than you handing over a 1000 rupee note. Some of the express buses don’t have ticket collectors and you must buy the ticket from the driver directly.
You will get a small paper ticket – keep hold of it for the duration of your journey. The ticket collectors are constantly seeing people get on and off the bus and they will sometimes forget you have already paid – so you may be asked to show your ticket.
Stopping the bus
Stopping the bus to get off is pretty simple. Mauritian buses have small buttons that can be pressed (many look either either like doorbells, or regular bus stop buttons) to ask the bus driver to stop the bus at the next bus stop. You will hear a buzzing sound when the bell has been pressed. They are usually within arms reach wherever you sit on the bus, but passengers are expected to ring them with at least 50m to go before the bus stop, giving the driver an opportunity to stop.
If you just want to stop and get off in an area, then ring the bell when you want to get off, and the driver will stop at the next bus stop. Typically that will probably be at most 200/300m away, but will usually be a lot closer. Don’t panic if the bus seems to be taking a while to stop – as long as you pressed the button and heard the sound, the bus will stop at the next bus stop.
If you are unsure about where your stop is, just ask the ticket collector to let you know when to get off – they will usually be happy to do so.
The informal bus-taxi service or taxi train
Because of the unpredictable nature of when buses in Mauritius may turn up, many locals make a little extra income by stopping their cars at bus stops and asking if people need a ride.
For the same fee as the bus, or sometimes a few rupees more, these local entrepreneurs will take you to your destination as long as it is on their route anyway. Just ask if they are going to your destination, if they are, they will ask you to join them in the car if you wish.
However remember this is not a taxi – they will take you along the bus route, not to a specific restaurant, or friend’s house, unless of course it is on that same route.
Typically, if the price of the bus would have cost you 25 rupees, hand over 30 to the driver. They may give you change, they may not, it depends.
This is a pretty common system in Mauritius for short journeys between small towns and villages, and within cities – effectively it is part of the public transport system in Mauritius. But it can’t really be used for long journeys, as these cars just drive for short distances. You will likely see quite a few people jump in and out of private cars at bus stops, using this exact system.
The drivers are usually very trustworthy, and have been known to give partial refunds to passengers who get out earlier than expected.
There’s no obligation to take one of these informal car-bus services (sometimes called taxi trains in Mauritius), and no one will be offended if you say no to their offer. In fact many will just assume you are taking a long journey and so you need to wait for the bus.
The bus, is of course, a safer (bus drivers are known and regulated) and cheaper way to travel, but the taxi train system is a way of going short distances quickly and cheaply if a bus doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.
However a word of warning. If an actual taxi stops at a bus stop and asks you where you are going and to get in, they will almost certainly be looking to charge the full rate for a taxi ride. Which could be up to 10/20x more than you would pay for the bus, or taxi train service. Ask them before you get in.
A few last tips for getting the bus in Mauritius
- Mauritians are friendly and happy to help as long as you’re polite and friendly also. If you’re struggling, ask someone at the bus stop to help, or ask the ticket collector or driver.
- Bus drivers treat the roads like a playground sometimes, so there can be a lot of quick acceleration and sharp stopping. Especially near bus stops where buses have to stop quickly because customers suddenly realize that that’s the bus they need to take. Therefore, it’s a good idea to stay sitting until the bus has stopped.
- If the bus is busy, and you have a lot of luggage which is taking up space that a person could use, you may have to pay for an extra ticket for your luggage.
- Enjoy using public transport in Mauritius – it’s a much more fun and authentic way to travel than a taxi. Have fun!