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Both have stunning white sand beaches, azure blue seas, and a fantastic range of hotels and guesthouses to choose from, so the question is: “Should I choose Mauritius or Seychelles?”
Does Size Matter?
Mauritius is one big island (plus Rodrigues if you really want to go off the beaten track), whereas Seychelles is an archipelago of islands, Mahe & Praslin being the most famous. Mauritius is home to over 1 million people, Seychelles? – just over 90,000.
Mauritius’ landscape is defined by towering, verdant, mountains cascading towards the ocean; it is dramatic & rugged. Mauritius is surrounded by a coral reef, encircling almost the entirety of the island. Seychelles, however, is made up of a mix volcanic & coral islands, each far smaller in size than Mauritius.
“But what does all this mean to me!?” I hear you cry! Well, all of this makes a big difference to your travel experience. Mauritius is the better choice for those who like more than just the beach. The island’s size, and topography, make it great for hiking. It’s home to several national parks, the most famous of which is Black River Gorges National Park – a stunning terrain of green peaks and waterfalls.
You can even divide your time between the beach and the mountains by spending a few days at one of the intimate boutique lodges. Our favourite is Lakaz Chamarel, an eco-lodge with individual chalets dotted around lush gardens – some have a private pool overlooking the rainforest, or out over the ocean.
How about Swimming?
Mauritius has some of the calmest seas in the Indian Ocean, why? Because the reef soaks up the waves before they reach the shore. This create glorious, tranquil, lagoons with gentle shallow waters, and easier access into the ocean itself. This is a key reason why I recommend Mauritius to families with younger children, or those with limited mobility who enjoy a dip.
Due to a lack of such a reef, the sea is often rougher in Seychelles. However, it is one of the finest places in the world to go island hopping. What some travel companies don’t tell you, is just how varied it is.
If you stay on Mahe or Praslin, you can go hiking and trekking, like Mauritius but on a far smaller scale. Head over to Bird Island or Denis Island, however, and you can immerse yourself in the true desert-island experience, a Robinson Crusoe-like experience. The land is flat, the beaches sweeping, and the isolation very, very, real.
Bird Island is particularly great for nature lovers, here giant tortoise roam free, turtles swim ashore to lay their eggs, and 100,000s of birds make nests to feed their young. You feel like a guest in their home.
The Seychelles probably wins in terms of visuals (we are talking very relatively here as the benchmark is high!). The sea is so blue it is like viewing it through an Instagram filter, but it isn’t as good for swimming when compared to Mauritius, lacking the protection of a giant coral reef.
Next, we come to cost…
Flights are similar, so it really comes down to where you stay. Mauritius is generally a little less expensive than Seychelles. This is because it underwent a lot of tourism development in the 1990s and competition among hotels is high, especially at the higher end. Luxury is more affordable in Mauritius.
Seychelles, being smaller and less developed, has fewer accommodation options, and therefore prices are higher. However, we’ve made it our mission to unearth characterful local gems that fly under the radar – which is the Blank Canvas way!
Both destinations have a variety of accommodation options, from local homestays all the way up to celebrity haunts with private villas and pools overlooking the Indian Ocean. The key is finding what’s right for you – and that is what we are here for.
Finally, eating and drinking…
Again, the Seychelles is smaller, and quieter. People come here to get away from it all – not to party. On Mahe and Praslin there are a handful of small local restaurants serving excellent seafood, the setting is laidback and casual – nothing fancy. Most visitors tend to eat in their resort, but we do recommend trying a local restaurant at least once during your stay!
Mauritius is another story, being bigger and home to far more people, there’s a variety of towns and villages to visit, many of which have a wide range of restaurants and bars to choose from. Mauritius is still no ‘full-on ‘party island, but there’s certainly more options and the locals love to party in their own joyful way. The best place to go in Mauritius for food and drink is Grand Baie, located, as the name suggests, along a large sweeping bay in the far north of the island. Here you can find cuisine from all over the world. It can be a little touristy in places so talk to us for the inside scoop on where to go!
In summary: If calm waters, a variety of things to do, a range of places to wine and dine matter to you – then choose Mauritius. If you prefer solitude, want to island hop, love wildlife, and budget is less of an issue – choose Seychelles. Or…choose both! They’re only 2 hours apart after all.
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