Peer-to-peer information is the greatest characteristic of our times but similarly to most revolutions, it often goes too far and untamed. Living the times of fake news, it is important to separate the wheat from the chaff, check the sources and synthesise. Blogs like this one containing thin information and outdated/inappropriate stock pictures deserves first prize, from people who have obviously not set foot in Mauritius or at least not visited regions they are encouraging people to visit.
Being a native of Mauritius, witnessing for decades an increasing amount of people visiting Mauritius on a holiday trip, as determined investors or else as Jacks attempting new trades, it is amazing to note how these people happen to know my motherland better than the “locals”. After just a week they are able to bring answers to the most popular questions posted around the web:
- Is the east coast of Mauritius windy?
- When is the windy season in Mauritius?
- What is the best time to visit Mauritius?
- Where to stay in Mauritius?
- Where is the best beach of Mauritius?
Asking such questions is the norm. People coming out of the planes are not travellers looking forward to discover but holiday-makers wanting to know it all prior to putting their money into the slot. Avoiding stupid questions avoids stupid answers; that’s a given but as I do not pretend changing human nature, I endeavour providing information and data that would help readers in working out their own answers to their questions.
I admit; the main reason for this blog is that most of our villas and holiday rentals are located on the east coast and this is a deliberate choice which those who know the different coasts understand and approve. Going over the web one gathers two pieces of information that are recurrent:
– the east coast has the nicest beaches (and lagoons),
– the east coast is windy.
Two statements worth some digging as they remain subject to perception.
There are beautiful and less beautiful beaches and lagoons nearly all around the coast (except for sections of the south and west coasts). The east coast ones are indeed closer to the postcards because their waters are clearer and owing to a lesser amount of streams, rivers and undersea fresh-water sources, the corals and marine life tend to be in a better shape.
The east coast is said to be the authentic coast/region of Mauritius; which is true for some portions of it. Generally it is less built, making the beaches more accessible. Contrarily to the other coasts, driving along the east coast allows more sights over the beaches and lagoons. More sights mean more pictures and selfies and more… clichés.
On a statistical basis, it is less windy than the north coast for instance. Basics of physical geography explain that wind is affected by topography and that a gentle slope would have the effect of accelerating (increasing) the air movement. The prevailing winds – called the “South-east-trade-winds” – are therefore at their initial velocity along the beaches of the east coast and start accelerating as they reach inland and at the time they reach the north coast they are significantly stronger. Our perception is however different when the wind is “in our face” and it’s a fact that leeward beaches are often protected by trees and buildings. What is also a fact is that the east coast also counts leeward beaches.
To say that the east coast is windy would imply that the coast is a straight line and that the wind would be blowing constantly from the south-east all year round. Both are fallacies. The coast is a succession of bays and curvy creeks facing different directions from south to north-north-east. Many of our villas are north-east facing, offering well-sheltered beaches and verandas, just like the ones on the north coast.
Below are graphs from “official” data sourced from the Mauritius meteorological services. They are from stations located in the four cardinal regions of Mauritius but far inland; they therefore do not reflect the weather conditions along the coastline. We are displaying them because other websites that do so are considered as messiah despite the fact that much of their data is erroneous.
The information they bring is first of all some general data about rain, temperature and wind in the different regions and across seasons. More importantly, they demonstrate that there is no “terrible east coast” and “glorious west coast”. The graph for rainfall shows a relatively rainy east coast because the gauge is located in Fuel, uphill, at about 16 kms away from the coast. The east coast is definitely dryer and sunnier as clouds start gathering only inland when humid air from the sea reaches altitudes owing to the topography.
WIND – MEAN WIND SPEED IN KM/H
RAINFALL – NUMBER OF DAYS PER MONTH WHERE PRECIPITATION EXCEEDS 5MM IN 24 HRS.
TEMPERATURE – MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM MEAN TEMPERATURES
The windy season is during winter and the peak occurs from June to August. During this span the wind-speed varies between 30 and 40 Km/h for 1/3 of the time, 20 to 30 km/h about 1/2 of the time and drops the remaining times.*
During the months September to November, the velocity is more around the 20 to 25 km/h for 2/3 of the time and around 15 Km/h during the other third.* During the rest of the year, under the blazing summer sun of December to May, the light breeze is a soothing refreshing one.
* Source: Windguru.cz archive stats
Note that there is wind also when a tropical cyclone approaches – season is from end December to April – but owing to their unpredictability they cannot be part of the equation.
My take to locations and seasons: unless you look forward to be stunned by the combination of heat, humidity and sun, the east coast of Mauritius is definitely a better take for the long summer season (October to April) and is not like the Northern channel the other months either as one can see from the pictures on this page, all of which having been taken during winter purposely. The information collected on the net is arbitrary and highly exaggerated, often from influencers promoting hotels of the west coast.
Below is how it can look like on an early “winter” morning in Belle Mare. Anyone for a swim?
Like in all places, the mid-seasons – October/November and March are the safest bets as they are drier, not too warm therefore limiting chances of extreme weather. However, like all islands of the world, Mauritius is experiencing important change in its climatic patterns. Adding to this its 27 micro-climates, giving precise information about the climate of Mauritius would not be a fair exercise.
For a more general information about the weather conditions at different times of the year, see our blog with practical information about Mauritius.
Among the unanswerable questions, the winner is…
The east-coast regions at a glance
The east coast has retained some authenticity and Mauritian identity; not only in its landscapes but also for the atmosphere and the kindness of its people. The impressions that a visitor will get and keep from staying in the east are closer to what made Mauritius a favourite tourist destination for several decades Again, all regions of the east are not the same; here are some insights of the main ones.
ROCHES NOIRES & POSTE LAFAYETTE
This region is our favourite mainly because it is quiet. It is one of the few places where buildings are just on the sea side of the road, and consisting mainly of villas, of which many are not occupied 365 days a year. Many are holiday rentals. The region counts just three hotels, two restaurants and two grocery shops. This configuration allows a fair preservation from an environmental point of view. The beaches are mostly sheltered coves, kept clean and tidy by the villa owners and used mostly by them. No beach hawkers, campers and voyeurs, just some occasional fishermen minding their own “business”. Last but not least, the coastal road is fairly quiet, at least 6 days a week, offering a nice walking/jogging/mountain-biking track that can be combined with the natural ones running across the Bras d’Eau national park, a place of choice for walks under the shade where some monkeys, bats and the Paradise Fly Catcher, an endangered species of endemic bird, can be observed.
Other than hiking and mountain-biking, the region of Roches Noires and Poste Lafayette is great for kayaking and kitesurfing. (See our blog about kitesurfing in Mauritius.) Roches Noires is North-east to North-facing whereas Poste Lafayette is East to South-east facing.
Very similar to Roches Noires and Poste Lafayette except that its villas are all north to north-east facing, therefore sheltered from the winds in all seasons and that it counts long public beaches free of buildings. Very popular on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, they are great venues for walks and joggings with stunning views on the clear lagoons as described above. Belle Mare also counts an inner lagoon with a totally different atmosphere and scenery, counting a succession of tiny mangrove-rich coves with an ecosystem of its own; a kayakers’ paradise. There is also a small village at the back of the main public beach, adding a touch of authenticity.
Trou-d’Eau-Douce is different to the above. Four decades ago, it was a remote fishermen’s village where the only contacts with the rest of the island were through the bungalow owners coming for week-ends and school holidays.
Then came the hotels; nowadays to the number of four in Trou-d’Eau-Douce but many more had sprung further up the coast. Paradise island of Ile-aux-Cerfs was turned into a major tourist attraction with the closest point of embarkation being Trou-d’Eau-Douce. Tourists passing by were an unexpected manna. The youth quickly learned to work as skippers, tourist guides, boatmen and entertainers. Many courageously invested money they did not have into powerful speedboats or shuttles. And the village became animated within an authentic dressing.
Another succession of bungalows,villas and apartments, a few small-scale hotels and guest-houses, two restaurants. For those who grew up there, it is undoubtedly the nicest beach of Mauritius; which may be true for at least part of it. As an ensemble, Pointe d’Esny is definitely a living postcard. Bright-white beach, beautiful panorama with islets scattered in a Turquoise lagoon and mountains framing the whole landscape. It is the largest and longest lagoon of Mauritius totalling 25 kilometres from La Cambuse to Trou-d’Eau-Douce, offering a palette of sea activities from snorkelling the marine reserve of Blue-Bay to visiting the historical sites on islets or Ile-aux-Aigrettes, Mauritius’s most precious nature reserve managed by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Pointe d’Esny is famous for its excellent kitesurfing and windsurfing conditions, more precisely for hydro-foiling. Climbing the Lion mountain nearby is another must-do for the fittest. On the land side, the proximity of Mahebourg, a historical village is another highlight.
A charming village of the South-east coast, near Pointe-d’Esny, in the airport region. It is cosmopolitan as it hosts all the ethnics of the Mauritian population, yet it is of 100% “Mauritian” identity as it gathers all the typicality of Mauritius, probably owing to its history.
It is the last village built by the French, in the very first years of the 19th century, just before the arrival of the British. Replacing an existing a hamlet, it had a “modern” planning with parallel street and roads that still bear typically French names such as Rue de Suffren or Rue de la colonie.
It is from its waterfront that the population watched, dumbfounded during three days, the famous Bataille du Vieux Grand Port naval battle in 1810. (See our blog A brief history of Mauritius).
Some typical Creole town-houses can still be seen while strolling along its streets, it hosts the naval museum and a market at its very centre. The best day to visit Mahebourg is on Mondays for its weekly fair attracting people from the whole neighbourhood. Sunday’s, treat is the “Merveilles”, a crispy salty pancake topped with some sauce with a vague taste of Salsa, proposed by several street-side merchants.
Another speciality if the tasting of the manioc biscuits with a cup of tea, at the factory that bakes them in a traditional fashion since 1870.
Considering regions is important, so is the type of holiday accommodation.
Guest-houses are generally the structures that combine very well the pros of hotels and villas. They provide the individual attention and the warmth of real hospitality while discharging the guests from any possible “duties”. They also bring the solution to the meals/dining questions. However, being forced to socialise over diner served at a fixed time may not be to everyone’s liking. Guest-houses on the beach are not very common in Mauritius, probably owing to the high costs of property along the coast.
Hotels are often cheaper solutions for couples or families that can cram into one bedroom. They may also fit those who travel to any sunny destination just to lie down on plastic sunbeds, watching a screen while waiting for drinks and meal times. Buffet food is generally on the border-line of acceptability, served in noisy factory-like dining areas.
Private homes contain the country’s identity and the staff bear the Mauritian kindness and sense of hospitality. It would almost be right to say that the destination could be discovered from within the villa. Unless staying in the luxury end or in hotel villas, those looking for privacy and spontaneous personal attention will much prefer our serviced villa rentals with enhanced boarding solutions.