For a paradise holiday destination, there is no better choice than between the Maldives or Mauritius.
These two Indian Ocean Island nations are renowned for their exquisite beaches, glorious weather and stunning natural beauty. Both are outstanding destinations for an exotic and luxurious holiday, offering exclusivity, world-class hotels and an allure that few other locations can offer.
However, while both Mauritius and the Maldives are idyllic locations, they are markedly unique and will appeal to very different types of visitors. This guide provides an independent and unbiased opinion of each, helping you to choose the best destination for your paradise holiday.
Before comparing Mauritius and the Maldives as holiday destinations, you must first consider the weather - and the timing of their wet seasons. While both destinations lie within the Indian Ocean, they can have very different weather depending on the time of year you are planning to visit.
Mauritius lies in the southern hemisphere, and offers almost perfect weather for nine months of the year, from April through to the end of December.
The cooler winter months of Mauritius (June to September) provides the best weather and is the ideal season to visit. After the winter the humidity starts to increase, and this leads into an unpredictable rainy season, but there will be constant heavy rains from mid-January until the end of March. During July and August, a powerful wind blows in from the Indian Ocean, and the eastern coastline is exposed to these strong winds.
The peak season for Mauritius is at Christmas and Easter and during the school summer holidays of August, and this is when the island will be at its most expensive.
The best time of year to visit the Maldives is from December to April. The peak seasons are the Christmas and Easter holidays, which is when the resorts will be at their most expensive.
The Maldives weather has two distinct seasons: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season lasts from late December through to April, and provides glorious weather with temperatures between 32-34°C (90-93°F).
The Maldives experience two monsoon seasons; the much heavier south-west monsoon (May to September) and the lighter north-east monsoon (October to December). Never plan a holiday to the Maldives between May and September, as there is a very high chance of intense rainstorms, and diving/snorkelling may be disappointing due to the low visibility of the water. October and November provide great value (for the Maldives!), but there is always a risk of rain.
The Maldives comprises of 1,192 coral white sand islands, that span the tops of an extinct oceanic volcanic mountain range. These paradise islands extend in a north-south direction for over 871 kilometres, and habitable dry land only accounts for 1% of the total area of the Maldives.
At the centre is Male, one of the largest islands and capital city, where a third of Maldives' 300k population lives. Male is the location of the main international airport, and from here are seaplanes and speed boat connections to the tourist islands.
The Maldives are unique as a holiday destination, as the tourist resorts are clearly separated from the deeply conservative Muslim population. Since the start of mass tourism in the 1980s until relatively recently, hotels for foreign tourists had to be built on uninhabited islands.
This law encouraged the construction of luxurious all-inclusive resorts that span entire islands, and kept bikini-wearing, alcohol-drinking visitors very separate from the Muslim population.
With a holiday to the Maldives, you will be very tied to the food, facilities and activities offered by the resort, as there will be no local shops or alternative tour operators close by.
Before booking any resort, always check to see if it is suitable for you (designed for honeymooners, activity based or family-focused), and check a variety of reviews for food and general standard. No other paradise holiday destination requires as much pre-booking research as the Maldives.
The sea-bungalows of the Maldives
Every resort island in the Maldives is a paradise
The luxurious resorts of Mauritius
The 97m drop of the Chamarel Waterfalls
Mauritius is a dormant volcanic island situated in the south Indian Ocean. The island, which is 61 km long and 47 km wide, is almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs, and along much of the coastline are white sandy beaches. The interior is mountainous and lush, with dense rainforests to the southside, and most of the population lives on the cooler and flatter central plateau.
The majority of the tourist developments lie along the north and western coastlines, which are sheltered from the strong, south-easterly winds that blow during July and August.
Mauritius is a safe and stable country, with a welcoming mix of people and cultures. Hindus make up the largest religious group here, but there are also substantial numbers of Muslims, Africans along with French nationals (ex-pats). The island is technically part of Africa, but has a surprising level of infrastructure and development, which can rival any Europe or North American country.
The capital city is Port Louis, but it offers little in the way of attractions for tourists, other than as a possible day trip. The largest and liveliest resort is Grand Baie (to the north-east), but for a more idyllic destination consider Trou-aux-Biches (north-east), Flic en Flac (west) or Pereybere (north). Found along the northern side of the eastern coastline are the super luxurious resorts, but these can feel very remote from everything.
Mauritius offers a wide variety of accommodation, along with fantastic places to eat and varied activities. A holiday here is equally suitable for a romantic honeymoon or a family holiday - and even as a backpacking trip, if you can find cheap flights!
The difference between Maldives and Mauritius
Apart from the obvious difference of Mauritius being a single island, while the Maldives are a series of tiny islands, the main difference is in the style of holiday that they provide
The Maldives are perfect for a luxurious, secluded and relaxing holiday, where days are spent around your exclusive resort, including snorkelling or diving trips. With tourism being based around exclusive island resorts, prices are astronomically expensive - and significantly higher than in Mauritius, where you can pop to the local shops for water, drinks and snacks.
The Maldives provides a more picturesque paradise location than Mauritius, but there simply isn't that much to do once you've admired the beaches, been diving and tasted all of the exquisite food in your hotel. The Maldives is a destination for a honeymoon, or luxurious escapism holiday.
Mauritius also has beautiful beaches and world-class hotels, but has more to offer in terms of activities and things to do. There are mountains and dense rainforests to explore, adventure and safari parks, and the island has a rich cultural heritage to discover. It feels more like a conventional holiday destination, but set on a paradise island. Being a popular holiday destination, the main resort towns in Mauritius will be very busy during the peak season, so you will never have an entire beach to yourself as you might in the Maldives.
So why Mauritius?
Mauritius makes the perfect paradise holiday destination if you’re looking for more than just beaches and luxurious resorts.
Its 5-star resorts will rival anywhere else in the world, but it is what lies beyond the white beaches and endless margaritas of your hotel where the real appeal of Mauritius can be discovered.
The diverse history of Mauritius means the island has a compelling mix of cultures and people, with Indian and African influences blending with the colonial heritage of the French, English and Dutch. To the south-east are the mountains and dense rainforests of the Black River Gorges National Park, with its towering waterfalls, stunning natural scenery and challenging hiking trails.
There is also the nightlife and holiday fun of Grand Baie, the largest resort town of Mauritius, and the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Gardens, one of the finest botanical gardens in the world.
Mauritius boasts outstanding diving, with the entire island surrounded by coral reefs and the wrecks of numerous ships that were caught on these reefs. Being a safe, stable and well-developed country, makes Mauritius an ideal holiday destination for families or older travellers.
Mauritius is the paradise island for a truly hassle-free holiday that offers so much more than just beaches.
So why the Maldives?
There is no doubting that the Maldives contain some of the world's most idyllic islands and beaches.
Here you'll discover white, powder-soft beaches, fringed with palm trees, calm blue lagoons, and below the warm and inviting waters you’ll find coral reefs teeming with life. This isn't just at one or two locations - this applies to each and every one of the 110 tourist islands.
Where the Maldives really excel are with their 5-star all-inclusive island resorts, providing unrivalled service, outstanding facilities and sumptuous meals. A luxury holiday in the Maldives will be expensive, however it will be faultless - which is why they are so popular for a once in a lifetime holiday such as a honeymoon.
One of the best, most unique experiences of the Maldives is staying in one of the sea bungalows. These delightful villas stand above the calm lagoons, and there is no more magical experience than waking up surrounded by the turquoise waters and diving into them from your own private jetty.
Diving and snorkelling is always a highlight of the Maldives, with each resort having its own private diving site. As the Maldives sit atop a series of volcanoes, there are fantastic coral cliffs, impressive drop-offs and calm lagoon water in the craters that are perfect for snorkelling.
If you want an exclusive, relaxing holiday, then the Maldives is the perfect destination.
Sights of Mauritius
Capital city of Mauritius 1) Port Louis
Main resort towns: 2) Grand Baie 3) Pereybere 4) Flic en Flac 5) Balaclava 6) Trou aux Biches
Best beaches: 7) Flic en Flac 8) Pereybere 9) Grand Baie 10) Belle Mare
Tourist sights: 12) Black River Gorges National Park 13) Chamarel: 7 Colored Earth 14) Le Morne Brabant 15) Tamarind Falls 16) Ganga Talao and Grand Bassin 17) Aventure du Sucre 18) Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden 19) île au phare 20) Casela Nature Parks
Transport: 21) Mauritius airport
Sights of the Maldives
1) Male (Capital city) 2) Gran island and airport 3) Noonu Atoll 4) Shaviyani Atoll 5) Faafu Atoll 6) Rasdhoo Atoll 7) Baa Atoll 8) Ari Atoll
Note: zoom in or out to see all of the points
Getting the most from your Maldives holiday
When choosing the Maldives for your luxury holiday, please put significant effort into selecting the resort that looks right for you. Don't be swayed by last-minute deals or website recommendations (which are often paid for).
The island you choose is where you will be based for your entire holiday and eat all of your meals, with your resort providing all of the included activities and equipment (such as kayaks, paddle boards and snorkelling equipment). Because of the one resort per island set-up, there will be no other options for tours, shops or activities on the island you select.
Insight: The saying "you get what you pay for" is most true for the Maldives. Never skimp on the resort you will be staying at, otherwise you will be faced with the same buffet food every day of your stay.
One good point is that all of the islands are similarly beautiful, with every resort having the same stunning white sands and idyllic seawaters. The location of your island is not as important as the services and facilities that your resort can offer.
The sea-bungalows of the Maldives
The luxurious resorts of Mauritius
Where to be based for your Mauritius holiday
Mauritius is a varied holiday destination and this variety also applies to the many resort towns situated around the island. Due to the winter winds (Jul-Aug), tourism first developed along the sheltered northern coastline, but has since expanded to wherever there are beautiful beaches, such as Belle Mare and Flic en Flac.
When choosing a hotel or resort, decide what style of holiday you are looking for, then select a location that reflects this. Grand Baie, to the north of Mauritius, is the largest resort town, however this may be too overdeveloped and hectic for your paradise holiday. The surrounding villages of Trou-aux-Biches, Pereybere and Pointe aux Canonniers have a much calmer atmosphere, along with beautiful beaches.
Flic en Flac town is highly recommended, and has a bit of a trendy backpacker vibe and is surrounded by many outstanding resorts along the beautiful, western coastline. Belle Mare is one of the finest beaches of Mauritius, with the eastern side having a more exclusive atmosphere.
Mauritius is a relatively small island with decent roads (but awful traffic), and no matter where you are based you will find that all of the island is accessible via day trips or organised tours.
Which is more expensive for your holiday?
The following price comparison looks at both destinations for a 1-week holiday in the next month, giving you an indication of prices for a range of accommodation.
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