Mauritius is an up and coming dive destination. In 2012 it was named the Indian Ocean’s leading dive destination, and this small island has plenty to offer divers. Mauritius sits 2000km off the coast of Africa and is part of the Mascareignes Islands, along with Reunion, Rodrigues, and St. Brandon. Just 65km long and 45km wide, there is 330km of coastline offering a variety of diving including pretty reefs, drift dives, wrecks, caverns, and coral arches. Humpback whales migrate to the island in winter to mate and give birth to their young.
Diving is done all around the island, although some say the north and west coasts are the best. A barrier reef encircles almost the entire island, creating a shallow lagoon reef good for beginner divers. On the other side of the barrier reef, caverns and crevasses make for interesting bottom topography. Boat diving a bit further offshore often includes shark sightings, pelagic fish, dolphin, and humpback whales in the winter. The waters around Mauritius boast more than 430 marine species and 200 coral species, several of which are endemic to the island. There are over 20 wrecks from both the 18th and 19th century and recently sunk ships.
Major airlines from Africa and Europe fly into Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) and the island is easy to get around. There are rental cars available and the fairly inexpensive taxi service operates around the entire island. A major highway runs north to south through the country and the public bus system is also a way to get around the island. There are no liveaboards in Mauritius, but most dive shops organize diving around the whole island. Several companies have multiple shops in different locations around the island as well.
Diving in Mauritius occurs year round. The island has a tropical climate with hot, humid, and rainy summers from November to April; and slightly cooler, drier winters from May to October. The summer season is also cyclone season and the island does commonly get storms during this time frame. The water temperature in the summer ranges form 26-29C and 23-25C in the winter. During the summer a shorty or 3mm wetsuit is useful and a 3mm or 5mm in the winter.
Mauritius is lucky to be almost completely surrounded by a barrier reef, and there is great diving on all sides of the island. To the inside of the barrier reef, the diving is very shallow and calm, making some very good locations for beginner divers. To the outside of the barrier reef, there are beautiful coral reefs, wall dives to drift past, sunken ships from the days of the pirates, newly sunk artificial reefs, coral arches and caves. A 3mm wetsuit in the summer and 5mm in the winter is recommended.
The north coast of Mauritius is home to several small islands including Coin de Mire and Flat Island that have sheer rock walls dropping hundreds of feet, and are great places to see large pelagic life. Schools of barracuda, huge parrotfish, several shark species, and dogtooth tuna are often seen swimming past these islands. Flat Island in particular has a large concentration of sharks, although it can only be accessed when the seas are calm. To the west of Gunner’s Coin Island is a dive site called Gunner’s Coin that has turtles, rays, and a beautiful wall with gorgonians.
Wreck diving in the north includes the Silver Star Wreck, an old fishing boat with swim-throughs and lots of marine life. Sitting upright in the sand at 34m is a Japanese fishing boat, the Djabeda Wreck. This ship has great marco life including nudibranchs and leaf scorpion fish on the deck.
Cathedrale is one of Mauritius’ most popular dive sites. It is a huge underwater cave with lots of light penetrating through the walls looking like a church cathedral. Great visibility and lots of fish and coral make this site a favorite for underwater photographers. Rempart Serpent was named because the site looks like a snake moving in the sand. Hammerheads are sometimes seen at this site as well as dolphins. In the corals there are morays, stonefish, and lionfish.
Boulders is another favorite site with massive volcanic basalt rocks and large coral heads making for fantastic swim-throughs and interesting topography. Fish love hiding in the cracks crevices, and this site has plenty of huge eels. The Stella Maru was sunk as an artificial reef in 1987 and sits at 26m upright. Its minimal time underwater hasn’t allowed much growth on the wreck yet, but it has great marco life including frogfish, moray eels, and stonefish.
South and East Coast
These less dived coasts are often windy and known for their rough seas, but offer great drift diving when conditions are good. Several dives start inside the barrier reef and drift through the pass to open water. La Passe De Belle Mare on the east coast covers a 2km stretch that has eagle rays, kingfish, barracuda, wahoo, and sometimes bull sharks.
The south coast has the Blue Bay Marine Park, which is a protected area with great coals and fish life. Pass St. Jacques is a drift dive going through a narrow pass and has good chances of seeing large pelagic life. There is also Roches Zozo, an underwater rock pinnacle starting at 40m and the Sirius Wreck, a 19th century British frigate with lots of marine life, although sometimes low visibility.
A great way to find out the best diving shops in Mauritius is through the Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA). Reputable dive shops in Mauritius are affiliated with the MSDA and must abide by a set of statutes showing good diving business practices including diver safety and environmental care. Members of the MSDA also provide guides in the water with divers and must follow teaching standards. Mauritius has many dive shops to choose from.
Some of the most popular shops include Prodive Limited, which offers both PADI and Naui instruction at three locations including the Casuarina Hotel, Trou aux Biches, and Grand Bay. They do daily diving excursions to many different dive sites around the island and offer accommodation packages at the Casuarina Hotel. Liquid Dreams is a PADI Gold Palm IDC Dive Resort that has four shops and offering training and boat diving excursions.
On the north side of the island Orca Dive Clubs is a popular dive shop offering PADI and SSI training and daily boat dives from the Merville Beach Resort. Emperator Diving Centre has three locations and offers PADI instruction and daily boat diving tours. They do boat trips to some of the northern islands including Serpent Island, Flat Island, Gabriel Island, and Gunner’s Coin. Also in the north, Atlantis Diving Centre offers diving in the Trou aux Biches area and PADI training.
Located in the south area of the island, Sun Divers Ltd., was Mauritius’ first PADI diving center and has been in business for 23 years. They have two boats offering access to diving over 30 sites and offer their diving services to five resorts with two centers in La Pirogue and the Hilton Hotel. On the southeast end of Mauritius, Blue World Explorer Ltd. offers PADI courses and daily-guided dives.
The main international airport of Mauritius is Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) and is located on the southeastern corner of the island. It receives daily flights from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Getting around the island is easy with a rental car, taxi, or bus service. The island is small enough that the taxis will go anywhere on the island, and there are plenty of taxis.
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