Mauritius vs Maldives

When it comes to the Indian Ocean, both Mauritius and the Maldives conjure up images of the perfect island getaway. Charlotte Flach looks at what they do best for travellers

Mauritius and the Maldives are two of the most popular destinations in the Indian Ocean – and rightly so. Both famed for stunning white-sand beaches and crystalline ocean, they also set what is often considered the industry standard in luxurious resorts.

Although each destination offers a wide range of unique draws and attractions, they have some key differences that make them better suited for different types of travellers.

Here are some important considerations when deciding whether to send clients to Mauritius or the Maldives.

Best for nature and beaches

There are tons of high-calibre nature experiences to be found in The Maldives, which is also considered to be the poster-child for picture-perfect beaches and five-star resorts. With exceptional scuba diving and snorkelling spots for glimpsing a huge range of wildlife such as turtles, dolphins and manta rays, it also ticks the beaches box for its endless secluded stretches of white sand.

“The Maldives is the quintessential escape to paradise, with each island showcasing its unique style and Maldivian story. Guests can explore remarkable reefs and spot local marine life in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, or, tick another one off the bucket list with a private dining experience on a pristine, white beach,” says Julie Murray, Product Executive – Indian Ocean & UAE at If Only.

The new Dhawa Ihuru resort in the North Male atoll is the latest to offer windsurfing, wakeboarding, waterskiing and canoeing, with 30 dive spots at the house reef and a PADI 5-star Gold Dive Centre onsite. Or there’s the Kahan’bu Catamaran that takes guests on private sailing excursions over the house reef to snorkel, or to dining spots on uninhabited islands.
However, Mauritius perhaps has the edge when it comes to nature.

The island is home to an array of natural wonders: from lush rainforests to cascading waterfalls. The island’s rugged interior is ideal for exploring by bike or on an extended hike up to one of its many peaks for panoramic views of the ocean.

Top tip: In the Maldives, you’ll find world-class beaches on pretty much every island and most resorts have their own private sands. It’s also home to some of the world’s best coral reefs and is popular with surfers, due to its uninterrupted ocean, gentle and safe surf, and quiet, private beaches.

Best value for money

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When it comes to value for money, Mauritius is the frontrunner. The island is relatively less expensive than the Maldives and offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guest houses to luxury resorts.

“Mauritius is proud to offer travellers zero compromises on a luxury getaway at more affordable prices than its competitors,” says Arvind Bundhun, Director of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.

“The island has a varied range of accommodation options, from high-end resorts to charming guest houses suitable for any budget and acting as a great base to explore the natural beauty of Mauritius.”

Additionally, the island has a strong local culture and a wide range of activities and attractions that don’t require a large budget – such as hiking, visiting the local markets or exploring the island’s national parks like Black River Gorges.

The Maldives, on the other hand, is known for its ultra-luxury resorts, which often have a higher price point. When considering the world-class spa facilities, iconic overwater villas, and international fine-dining, resorts such as Outrigger Maldives, Halaveli and Moofushi are worth splashing out on.

Top tip: Mauritius is a fantastic four-star option, made even better value by its all-inclusive offering. The Attitude brand also offers three- and four-star resorts, making an island break feasible on a lower budget

Best for families and adventure

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If your clients are travelling with kids, Mauritius is an easier sell. The island has a wide range of family-friendly activities and attractions, including waterparks, zoos, and theme parks.

“Mauritius offers year-round sunshine, beautiful accommodations and adventures available to all ages,” says Bundhun.

“The short time difference allows family routines to be largely undisturbed, allowing plenty of quality time together spent snorkelling or exploring one of Mauritius’ national parks. The surrounding coral reef around the island’s shores ensures minimal waves and warm waters, making beaches perfect for young children taking their first swim in the Indian Ocean.”

Casela’s Nature and Leisure Park is a one-stop child’s paradise which includes a zoo featuring many of the big five, canyoning, segway, quad & buggy rides, a 4D cinema, pony rides, a playground, and giant slides. Or there’s the Polaris Fun Drive Adventure for kids aged seven and above, where they can tear around a racing track in complete safety. And resorts such as Heritage offers childcare, kids’ clubs and even golfing initiations for teens.

Mauritius also offers a wide range of adrenaline-boosting adventure activities, including ziplining, rock climbing, and paragliding. Travellers seeking adventure will find it in abundance in Mauritius.

Says Bundhun: “The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority encourages visitors to spend time hiking the Mauritian National Parks, discover natural phenomenons such as the underwater waterfall in Le Morne and take to the sea for scuba diving, snorkelling and catamaran joyrides.
E-biking is a great way to see the island’s iconic and varied landscapes.”

Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth Geopark offers many of these activities, along with the chance to get up close to the famous colourful volcanic sand. Directly opposite is the tortoise pen, where specimens aged over 100 years old amble around.

Although the Maldives might not appear quite as child-friendly, there are plenty of resorts that offer top quality kids’ clubs and activities, meaning the whole family feels included. Many have specially-trained nannies who lead a range of activities from nature discovery sessions and treasure hunts to yoga and dance.

Kids will also delight in the huge variety of watersports, wildlife cruises and snorkelling safaris which are often adapted for them.

Siyam World is home to Siyam Water World, The Maldives’ biggest floating water park to date, as well as a range of watersports activities including Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1, the world’s first hydrofoil e-bikes, as well as the Seabreacher, a semi-submersible vessel that can jump over and dive under waves.

Top tip: Chamarel is home to some of most exciting quad biking on Mauritius, with tours taking riders through the mountains. The winding paths, hilly areas and steep drops make this an adrenaline junkie’s drive of a lifetime.

Best for culture

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The Maldives is known more for its natural beauty than its culture, but there are still pockets of history to be found. The capital, Male, is home to the National Museum Maldives plus other local cultural hotspots where travellers can meet with locals. Male is also home to the Grand Friday Mosque, National Art Gallery, and the contemporary Esjehi Art Gallery, where visitors can mingle with the artists.

If Only’s Murray adds: “Immerse yourself in the Maldivian culture by joining a cookery class and learn to use local produce and techniques. The Maldives’ laidback culture is epitomised by the barefoot concept which is popular within many resorts.”

“Settlers reached The Maldives from all over the world, starting in ancient seafaring times, and this has created a unique culture,” says Steve Silver, Product Manager for Blue Bay Travel. “Visitors will find the traditional Maldivian music and dance practices, accompanied by hand-beaten drums, reminiscent of cultures from Africa and India.”

Meanwhile, Mauritius has a rich cultural heritage, with influences from Africa, Asia, and Europe, alongside a large, and devout Hindu population. Visitors can experience this blend of cultures by visiting the island’s museums and markets, and even receive blessings from Hindu gods at local temples, which welcome curious tourists.

The island has a strong tradition of music and dance, which can be experienced at local festivals and events, particularly its characteristic music Sega, which is often described as unlike any other musical genre.

Top tip: Cora Cora Maldives is the first resort in the region to have its own on-site historical museum, which is open to the public during a guided tour. It is also only the second museum to open throughout the Maldives.

Best for luxury

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When it comes to top-drawer luxury, the Maldives is the undisputed frontrunner.

The island nation is home to some of the world’s most exclusive resorts, many of which are located on private islands.

These resorts offer a wide range of high-end amenities and activities, such as The Heritage le Telfair which sells itself on its top-tier wellness and golf facilities.

“Ultra-luxurious hotels, 24-hour butler service and world-class spas: the Maldives is truly the pinnacle of tropical luxury,” says Murray.

“Many hotels offer one-of-a-kind wellness packages where guests can indulge in soothing treatments with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.”

That said, there are some extremely high-end properties scattered throughout Mauritius. The recently rebranded and refurbished Sunlife brand has four luxury resorts across the island: Sugar Beach, La Pirogue, Long Beach and the adults-only Ambre, plus private island Ile aux Cerfs, home to Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club and luxury bubble lodges. Guests staying at Sugar Beach can even have a head-to-toe makeover and choose from dozens of gowns to glam up for ’Putting on the Ritz,’ part of the brand’s ‘Come Alive Collection’.

Meanwhile LUX* Resorts offers four high end properties across Mauritius: LUX* Belle Mare on the wild east coast, LUX* Grand Gaube on a peninsula in northern Mauritius, LUX* Le Morne at the foot of Le Morne Mountain on the west coast and newest addition LUX* Grand Baie, a boutique-style property on the northern shores. Clients can indulge in a sunset aperitivo on Le Morne mountain, a 500-candle dinner on LUX* Le Morne’s beach or a helicopter tour of Reunion Island.

Top tip: For better value for money in The Maldives, all-inclusive is usually the most economical option. The Heritance Aarah has a premium all-inclusive offering that includes a massage, sightseeing excursion, attraction entries and dining experiences.

Where to book it

Kenwood Travel
A seven-night stay in a Beach Villa at The Heritance Aarah including return flights from Heathrow is priced from £2,860pp. Based on a May 30 2023 departure on a premium all-inclusive board.
kenwoodtravel.co.uk

Kuoni
Seven-nights in a Duluxe Garden View Room at the Heritage Awali Golf & Spa resort in Mauritius is priced from £1,749pp based on selected departures in September 2023. Includes direct return flights from London Heathrow with Air Mauritius and is on an all-inclusive board.
kuoni.co.uk