How to stay safe in Mauritius

Mauritius - a beautiful, tropical paradise. What could possibly go wrong? Set up for tourism, this small multicultural island in the Indian Ocean is a paradise where sunburn may be the only real threat to your safety! However, it is always good to be aware of the risks however small they may be.

Crime

On the whole Mauritius has a very low crime rate. What little crime there is tends to be petty theft and non-violent. Downtown Port Louis and central tourist areas understandably do have a slightly higher crime rate but in general it is very safe to travel in and around the country.

(Pickpockets love markets, because you're distracted by the great sights)

As with most countries security risks increase after dark, particularly on beaches or secluded areas so you should take normal precautions such as not walking alone after dark, locking your valuables in your hotel room or somewhere safe and be very cautious if staying at beachside bungalows. Remain vigilant and exercise the normal caution you would to prevent becoming a victim of crime.

Local Laws

Like all countries, drug smuggling / trafficking is illegal and punishments include a life sentence. You should also be aware that prosecutions often take a year or more to get to court with detention the norm until the trial.

It is also illegal to possess or import cigarette papers.

If you have medicine for personal use make sure you have copies of prescriptions and you have obtained them from a pharmacy. Scheduled drugs, such as psychotropic preparations (e.g. tranquillisers, hypnotics), narcotics (e.g. morphine) and other strong pain killers require, by law, authorisation before import. Failure to obtain prior authorisation may result in arrest and detention.

Health

Chikungunya (an insect born virus similar to dengue fever - symptoms include fevers and joint pain that can often last weeks or months) periodically occurs in Mauritius, particularly in the warmer months (October-May). Although there are no malarial mosquitos in Mauritius, on arrival at the airport an officer from the Ministry of Health may ask you for a blood sample if you have travelled from a country where malaria is common.

Other than that, Stonefish stings are uncommon but can be fatal, you should obtain urgent medical attention if stung.

Some reef fish in Mauritius have been found to contain a neurotoxin similar, but not identical, to that found in Caribbean reef fish so don't eat them.

Stray and sometimes vicious dogs are common in Mauritius, however, rabies is not a risk.

Natural Hazards

The cyclone season in Mauritius runs from November to May. Cyclones can cause extensive damage to property and the authorities have a well-structured system of phased warnings. You should always follow local advice and heed the following:

  • monitor local tv, radio and print press
  • keep in touch with your tour operator or a local contact
  • register with your Embassy, Consulate or High Commission
  • keep in mind that airports and hotels may shut down if a large hurricane approaches

Depending on the time of the year, many of the beaches are infested with sea urchins, and it is not uncommon to see broken glass on the beach or in the water. It is a very good idea to either wear wet shoes when venturing into the water. This is generally not a problem at the big hotels as the designated swimming areas on the beaches are regularly cleaned of urchins and debris.

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