With its lush forests, white sand beaches, waterfalls, mountains and lagoons, Mauritius is the dream holiday destination for most! With so many different natural and human-made tourist attractions to see, Mauritius is becoming rapidly popular among tourists every year. Due to its tropical climate, it enjoys warm, sunny days all year around. If you're considering spending your next Christmas and New Year holidays at Mauritius, be prepared to spend time surrounded by sunshine and warmth all around.
Weather in Mauritius
Like most islands in the Indian Ocean, December in Mauritius is summertime. The temperature starts getting warmer by October, with relatively cooler evenings and nights. However, by December, day-time temperatures are hot, and the night-time temperatures keep increasingly progressively. Expect to have long daylight hours, with the sun rising as early as 05:30 AM and sets at 07:00 PM.
The temperature ranges from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius during the day and 20 to 24 degree Celsius at night. Not to worry though, the surrounding sea will help to keep you fresh and comfortable! Although generally sunny and warm, December may also see a few spells of rainfall, especially towards the end of the month.
What to Do and See
During November to January, Mauritius welcomes visitors from all over the world. This time of the year is exceptionally festive and fun, as it is the beginning of the school holidays, as well as festival season. Summer is an excellent time for a myriad of activities and tourist attractions. Eight do and see in Mauritius in December:
1. Be a part of the Festivals
Home to a population of over 1.2 million people and some different cultural and religious backgrounds, Mauritius is known to celebrate a variety of festivals every year. Some festivals are celebrated with a spirit of peace, harmony and enjoyment, in December, including:
With a culturally diverse population who enjoys celebrations, Mauritians enjoy spending Christmas in a lively summer atmosphere every year. The festivities include beautiful Christmas decorations all over the city and some shows and programs to watch. Street corners are packed with hawkers selling Christmas cards, toys, decorations, firecrackers and gifts. Like in many other countries, people decorate their homes with Christmas trees and decorations and exchange gifts with their loved ones.
Some celebrate the Christmas spirit in the merriment of the streets and nightlife of Mauritius, while others may like to have a family evening at home with a typical Christmas dinner. Many Catholics also want to attend the mass at the church. The blooming of the Flamboyant tree, with their bright red flowers, in December is symbolic for Christmas-time, similar to snow during Christmas in the northern hemisphere.
Tourists can enjoy a unique Christmas time, by spending time at the beautiful beaches of Mauritius. Some hotels and tourism companies offer Christmas packages during this time of the year.
Enjoyed under the summer sun, Mauritians bring in the new year of the Gregorian calendar colourfully, with great pomp and splendour. Depending on one's preference and budget, the celebrations range from dinners and family evenings to feasts, banquets and dances. Private parties are also common, consisting of an evening of drinks, dancing and dinner. People dress up in their best, hoping for an excellent year to come. The meals vary, depending on the culture and usually consist of a mixture of cuisines. For many, seafood is a favourite!
Many people drive to public spots around midnight, like the beaches, to watch the fireworks. One can also bring in the New Year in a boat on the ocean, with a stunning view of the coast. After midnight, some happening parties and night-clubs await, complete with music and drinks.
The celebrations for New Year often go on for up to a week. The first day of the new year is usually celebrated with family, showing the importance of togetherness and family spirit in Mauritian culture.
Commonly known as Fire-walking Festival, Theemithi is usually celebrated for 2 to 3 days between November to February in Mauritius. Although the date varies every year, it often falls in December. This ancient ceremony originates from Tamil Nadu in the south of India and consists of devotees walking barefoot on a bed of burning wood or coal to appease the Hindu mother goddess, who takes the forms of Draupadee, Kali, Durga and other goddesses (considered the incarnation of Mariamman). The festival marks the victory of good over evil and fulfilment of Draupadee's vows.
The festival is practised in several Tamil Hindu temples in Mauritius. After ten days of fasting, meditation and prayers, devotees visit the temple to make offerings and walk across the pit of wood or coal, which is said to represent the outstretched saree (a South Asian garment worn traditionally by women) of the goddess and then proceed to dip their feet in cold milk. This act of self-sacrifice is done to devote themselves to the goddess, and to fulfil their vows or wishes. They often choose to participate in the ceremonies if they have recently received an answered prayer or blessing, or are praying for something special to occur. The goddess is said to lay her sari over the pit to ease the pain of the devotees. The participants wear clothes dipped in a mixture of water and turmeric and cover their dress in neem leaves. The size of the burning pit varies and is usually about 20 feet long and 5-10 feet wide.
Porlwi by Light
The Porlwi festival, a recent occurrence in Mauritius, is a contemporary cultural festival held annually. With a new theme every year, the festival intends to reflect on the metamorphosis of Mauritian society and culture. Held in the capital city of Port-Louis, the festival covers eight central locations, including the Caudan Waterfront, the Aapravasi Ghat World Heritage site, the Place d'Armes, the old prison and the city theatre.
With three evenings dedicated entirely to art, culture and entertainment, the Porlwi festival consists of paintings, light installations, projections, street performances, concerts and over a hundred food vendors selling delightful cuisines and dishes. Witness Mauritius in its most luminous form, as streets are closed to traffic and are transformed into a charming space devoted to art and culture. The festival aims to stimulate the creative and cultural industries, and display the talents of artists, thinkers, designers, architects, technicians and more!
2. Visit the Gorgeous Beaches
Beat the December heat by spending your time in the calm, relaxing waters of the white sandy beaches of Mauritius. No matter what you want to do, there is a perfect beach for you - this beach paradise island offers some places for sightseeing, swimming, bathing and even lazing. The Flic-en-Flac beach and La Cuvette beach in Mauritius provide you with the perfect place for complete relaxation, while Tamarin beach, Mont Choisy beach and Grand Bay Public beach are known for the range of activities and water-sports offered, such as sailing, fishing, deep-sea diving, boating and surfing.
3. Try out Seasonal Dishes
You can taste the ice-cream combination, a special in Mauritius, during the summer months. It consists of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream, coconut syrup, chocolate topping and a waffle cone. These ice-creams are affordable and are usually home-made.
Summer in Mauritius also brings with it delicious fruit - lychees, mangoes and longan. Pickled fruits are also common here in summer, where you can see hawkers selling pieces of mangoes or pineapples pickled in zesty chilli powder.
4. The Mauritius Open
Started in 2015, Mauritius is home to the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, an international golf tournament with participants from all across the world. The previous version of this tournament was organised until 2008 and was later discontinued for another golf event. The current version has been held at the Heritage Golf Club and the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius since its beginnings. This event has helped to promote Mauritius as a golf destination, with several championship layouts by famous designers, great hospitality and ideal weather all year round.
5. Attempt some Water-Sports
December is a great time to let out your adventurous spirit as you vacation in Mauritius. The warm waters at this time of the year are perfect to try out activities like snorkelling, scuba diving and deep-sea fishing.
Snorkelling: With Mauritius being surrounded by coral reefs, the marine life attracts a large number of snorkelers every year. Some of the best spots include Blue Bay Marine Park, Flic en Flac beach and Ile aux Cerfs.
Scuba Diving: Some experienced divers also like to try out scuba-diving here, which can be done at locations like the Cathedral, the Whale Rock, the Roche Zozo and the Riviere des Galets Beach.
Kayaking: Tourists can try out kayaking at one of the many spots in Mauritius, like the Poste Lafayette beach, Ile D?Ambre, Tamarin Bay and Anse la Raie. Some companies also offer full-day excursion packages, complete with kayaking and sight-seeing.
Deep-sea fishing: As one of the greatest deep-sea fishing destinations in the world, tourists can also try their hand at fishing in Mauritius. In December, the waters are full of seasonal fish like Blue Marlin and Mako shark, while Black Marlin, Barracuda, and Skipjack Tunacan also be found. Also known as 'Big Game Fishing', you do not need any prior experience to try this exciting attraction.
When considering a charter, keep in mind the duration, the boat capacity and amenities you require and whether you wish to keep the catch or not. Most charter companies offer three options: catch-and-release, the crew keeps the fish or catch, clean and fillet. Deep sea fishing can go on for 5 to 8 hours during the day, or you can even opt for night fishing (starts at 06:00 PM). Packages usually include equipment needed, fishing license, permit, water and non-alcoholic drinks.
Undersea walk: For those who do not know how to swim, you can still view the underwater life in the waters by trying undersea walk-in Mauritius. Along with a motorbike transfer and a trained diver to accompany you, you are also given a specially designed helmet which has a constant supply of fresh air. As you walk on the ocean floor, you will be able to witness firsthand the beautiful corals and many different varieties of sea creatures up close.
6. Experience Nature in Mauritius
Not only is December great because of the activities mentioned above, but it is also the time when nature comes alive in many different forms. From different types of plants blossoming to bird-watching, December is an ideal time to witness the breathtaking nature in Mauritius. Being one of the largest suppliers of plants and flowers all over the world, Mauritius sees the blossoming of many common and rare flowers all over the island, including the crimson bottle brushes, plumeria flowers, purple lilies and numerous varieties of cacti and orchids.
Mauritius is home to giant water lilies in the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden all through the year, but starting December, you can find water lilies at their prime. These water lilies have an average diameter of up to 2 to 3 metres here and are scientifically known as the 'Victoria Amazonica' (after Queen Victoria).
Starting November, Mauritius also sees the blossoming of the famous Flamboyant trees. The large flowers of the tree are bright red or white, with four petals. Also known as Delonix Regia, the tree glows with red flowers at this time of the year and is a real treat for the eyes. The blossoming of the tree announces the coming of summer and the new year and is an integral part of Mauritian folklore and culture. The island country also becomes home to the rarest species of birds from March to December, such as Pink Pigeon, the Mauritius Bulbul, and Mauritius Olive White-Eye. It is best to see these birds in their natural habitats like forests and national parks.
What to Pack
As you pack for your trip, be prepared for various weather patterns in a single day. Make sure to take with you cool and light clothes suitable for warm weather. Although the days in December remain quite warm, the sea is perfect for swimming, so don't forget to throw in your swimsuit too. With approximately 12-13 hours of daylight each day, it is recommended to take care of your skin's needs too. Bring along a hat and some sunscreen too, to avoid any skin damage. The island also experiences some rainfall in December, so packing a raincoat or umbrella is advised.
Although it may sound tempting to spend all your time lounging at the beach, it is recommended to try out some of the water-sports and activities Mauritius has to offer for a complete vacation!
If you do decide to try out some of the activities, don't forget to carry a change of clothing with you.
Always remember to protect yourself from the heat of the sun during this time of the year - carry plenty of sunscreens, a pair of sunglasses and a hat or a cap with you.
If you are planning a trip in December, be sure to book flight tickets and hotel rooms in advance, to beat the peak-season prices!
Exotic Mauritius is an ideal vacation spot for most- from adventurous travellers and solitary wanderers to the lovebirds on a honeymoon and families. Although peak season in Mauritius can be a bit expensive compared to other times of the year, the tropical island destination is a perfect place to spend your holidays.