When it comes to tropical Indian Ocean paradises, you probably can’t get much better than Mauritius or the Seychelles. However due to their remote nature, visiting either is costly and the airplane journey long. So making the choice between Mauritius or Seychelles for your dream getaway is vitally important.
However other than their remoteness, these islands are vastly different. Having spent time in both, we compare both islands below, showing you what to expect in each, and some of the best places to check out.
So read on to begin your Indian Ocean adventure!
Mauritius or Seychelles: Stunning Indian Ocean paradises
Other than residing in the Indian Ocean, both of these little countries are quite different.
For beach lovers, you will find spectacular beaches and turquoise swimming waters in both Mauritius and the Seychelles – we tell you some of our favorites further on in this article. However the Seychelles, as a nation made up of 115 different islands, is by far the best choice if beaches are your top priority.
There are numerous beaches in the Seychelles, including many iconic white sand stretches of coastline. Plus with so many islands it’s possible to find secluded spots that still have a deserted island feel to them. That’s not so possible in Mauritius, which packs 1.4 million people – and a lot of tourists – onto the island.
However Mauritius probably has better snorkeling opportunities, plus as a volcanic island it has dramatic mountains and forests that open up opportunities for hiking and jungle trekking.
Seychelles also has forests and mountains worth exploring, as we explain later. Although as the Seychelles is a nation spread out among numerous islands, you must island hop to see all the best sights.
That makes Mauritius much easier to explore, as barring a few small islands off the main island, everything you will want to see and do can be done easily by renting a car and driving around. Mauritius is therefore probably suited to a holiday of one or two weeks, while the Seychelles is better for a longer vacation.
Below we look at the scenery on offer in both countries, before comparing the culture, standard of hotels, and food in each.
Mauritius is home to dozens of spectacular beaches, all with their own quirks. You can find a huge stretch of beach at Flic en Flac, which is perfect for dipping your toes in the water as you walk the coastline. With bars and food stalls lining the beach, this is a fun and lively place to visit, especially at the weekend.
One of the best swimming beaches can be found at Pereybere. The fine white sand here continues into the sea for dozens of meters, making it the perfect place to swim without fear of stepping on rocks or sharp coral. Grab a coconut from one of the friendly sellers at the beach edge, and settle down for the day. However this is probably the most popular swimming beach in Mauritius – and is one of the smallest too – so it can get very busy.
Just off the west coast is the beautiful little Ile aux Cerf. This private island can be reached by boat from the little fishing village of Trou d’Eau Deuce, and is also a great swimming spot that is quieter than popular and easy to reach Pereybere.
Mauritius also happens to have some of the best snorkeling spots in the Indian Ocean. Ile aux Cerf is a fantastic snorkeling spot, as is Blue Bay in the south of Mauritius where you can see countless colorful fish living among the coral. Locals often bring bread to feed the fish when snorkeling – try it out and you will be surrounded by fish within minutes! Having a great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.
This island is far more than just sun, sea, and sand though. The dramatic Le Morne mountain is a national heritage site and climbing it will bring spectacular panoramic views of the island and ocean.
Black River Gorges National Park is a huge expense of jungle-covered interior with spectacular waterfalls, hiking trails, and friendly monkeys. The village of Chamarel is nestled beside it at high altitude, and the drive from here down towards Black River will expose you to some of the island’s best views.
The Seychelles is everything you want when it comes to a beach holiday and more. And as a general rule, the more remote islands you manage to visit in the Seychelles, the more beautiful beaches you will find.
However no trip to the Seychelles is complete without visiting the breathtaking Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue island. The turquoise water and vanilla-colored fluffy sand is set against a backdrop so stunning it’s movie worthy. And it actually is. This iconic beach is so beautiful it’s been filmed for numerous movie and television projects.
Beau Vallon beach on Mahe island is a popular place for couples and families alike. It can get busy, but the shallow water is perfect for swimming and the sunset spectacular.
For good snorkeling, Anse Badamier on Curieuse Island is one of the best spots across the archipegalo. Here you can swim with colorful reef fish, hawksbill turtles and even nurse shark pups.
In fact one of the most spectacular turtle spots in the Seychelles is the remote Bird island. Famous for it’s diverse bird-life which is well worth seeing in itself, you’re almost guaranteed to swim alongside turtles here.
The Seychelles has more to offer than just beaches though. If you’re feeling adventurous, then a visit to Morne Seychellois National Park is well worth it. This forest has the only remaining indigenous rainforest in the Seychelles and is home to some wonderful and unique wildlife. Watch your step though – the world’s smallest frog lives here. The Sooglossus gardineri frog is just 1cm long!
A hike up Niz d’Aigle on La Digue island will give you panoramic views over the island and across the Indian Ocean. It’s one of our favorite hiking spots in the archipelago.
Mauritius or Seychelles: Experience paradise and island life
Both Mauritius and the Seychelles offer that laid back island life holidaymakers are seeking, and that’s famous in creole nations. Plus, with English and French widely spoken in each, they are easy nations to navigate for most tourists. The people in both nations are exceptionally friendly, and well used to tourists too.
When it comes to hotels, the standard – service, food, and overall quality – in Mauritius tends to be much better than the Seychelles. The exception is when staying in the most expensive high-end resorts, where the standard is usually good in both.
However when it comes to accommodation choices there is a larger variety of choices in Mauritius, which probably makes it the better island to visit on a budget. That’s also true in respect to exploring the island, as the Seychelles requires expensive island hopping, Mauritius doesn’t.
The infrastructure in Mauritius is also well developed, however buses can be slow between cities and areas. Although within cities and towns they are effective and cheap, as we’ve written about before.
Mauritius is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country which makes it a unique and interesting country to explore.
There’s a strong Indian influence here due to many Mauritians being descendants of indentured Indian workers brought here by the British in the 19th century. Indentured work was a form of forced work which was increasingly used after the abolition of slavery in the colonies.
Over half a million indentured workers passed through Mauritius’ capital of Port Louis, and the immigration depot where they were brought, Aapravasi Ghat, now serves as a museum and is worth visiting.
The UNESCO World Heritage site, Le Morne, should also be visited to understand Mauritius’ turbulent history. The mountain was used as hiding place for slaves that managed to escape.
Out of that history came Sega – the rhythmic dance and music that’s heard on beaches up and down the island. It originated as the songs and dances of slaves, and is heritage as much as it is a form of dance. You can often see people enjoying Sega at the weekend on popular beaches such as Flic-en-Flac.
For something a little different, head to the Botanical Gardens in Pamplemousses to walk in the shade among an incredible variety of colorful plants and exotic trees.
Mauritius also has a significant Chinese population, and subsequently the capital – Port Louis – has it’s own China Town. Situated in the city center, look out for the colorful murals and numerous Chinese restaurants to try out.
The Seychelles is it’s own diverse mix, and as a nation made up of immigrants, the culture has been formed though African, Asian and European influences.
A visit to the capital of the Seychelles, Victoria, should be on your itinerary. One of the smallest capital cities in the world (population: 25-30,000), Victoria is a colorful charming town which has many art galleries, craft markets, and architectural curiosities to visit and discover.
Just outside of Victoria you can visit the ruins of Mission Lodge. This missionary school from the 1800s will give you an insight into life for the Seychelles’ early settlers. There’s also a spectacular viewpoint nearby the ruins.
On the island of La Digue, visit the fascinating L’Union estate. This sustainable coconut plantation is a fun place to tour, but also has historical sites such as the cemetery of the island’s original settlers.
A taste of the tropics
Both island nations have delicious seafood, but with different cultural backgrounds in both countries, that’s where the similarities end.
The Indian influence shines through in Mauritius where popular street food includes dholl puri, which is a wrap made from yellow split peas garnished with different curries or lentils.
Another popular street food worth trying – and a personal favorite of ours – is boulette. This is a dumpling usually filled with either chicken, lamb, fish, or Chayote (chouchou in Mauritius), served hot with soup and chili. It’s delicious.
Fried noodles, and fried rice are also popular here – a hat tip to the Chinese population in Mauritius.
To wash it all down, try the local beer of Mauritius, Phoenix. Of course rum is also very popular. Many different kinds are made on the island, but La Rhumerie de Chamarel has some of the best – they also do tours and tastings.
Seychelles cuisine is focused heavily on seafood. No surprise there for a nation made up of 115 islands!
Grilled fish is a popular dish in the country, with Red Snapper one of the most common choices. Served with chili, this is a must-try dish but it will be spicy.
Why not pair grilled fish with Seychelles version of French fries – Breadfruit chips!
A unique dish to the Seychelles, and one people are either desperate to try or want to avoid completely, is shark chutney. This side dish is found in many creole restaurants and is exactly what it sounds like!
Want something to wash down your breadfruit chips and shark chutney? How about a wine made from the flowers of coconut trees. That’s what sweet-tasting Kalou is made from.
Mauritius or the Seychelles: Which should you choose?
Both of these creole island nations are colorful friendly destinations that have great beaches on offer to holidaymakers. However if beaches are the most important thing to you, then the Seychelles is the place to go. It’s numerous islands are home to some of the world’s most beautiful, and also secluded, beaches.
However a trip to the Seychelles will require island hopping which can be expensive. Hotels in the country, and food as well, tend to be more expensive than Mauritius, which has more accommodation options. With a large local population too, it’s easy to find cheap food throughout the island.
Mauritius can be easily explored in a week or two with a hire car, and so may be best suited to holidaymakers on a shorter vacation. Whereas to visit many of the most interesting sites in the Seychelles, you will need at least two weeks.
Recommended for your trip to Mauritius or the Seychelles
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