If you consult any travel guide about the island nation of Mauritius, it is likely to mention three things, seemingly without fail. First, it will talk about the endless sandy beaches and coral reefs, the ideal destination for lovers of the classic beach holiday. The second near certain mention will be for the volcanic landscape, which is as awe-inspiring as the beaches are breathtaking. Thirdly, cyclones will be mentioned.
The first two points are valid, as amazing beaches and jaw dropping scenery indeed fact when it comes to Mauritius. Mauritius boasts some of the most unspoiled beaches in the world, fitting for an island miles away from any other kind of civilization, an oasis in the vast Indian Ocean. The geographical scenery is also spectacular, as dormant volcanoes and geographical peaks of Mauritius’s tectonic past dot the landscape and look down upon the island below.
While it is undeniable that Mauritius is extremely prone to cyclones, there is a tendency in travel guides to overestimate the true scale of Mauritian cyclones. In the past 30 years, only two cyclones have done anywhere near the damage that Mauritius travel guides seem to see as normal.
In 1994, Cyclone Hallanda caused an estimated $134 million worth of damage. However, though this was one of the most severe cyclones Mauritius has ever seen, the total problems it caused still pale in comparison to what some Mauritius travel guides would have you believe. The island lost around 50% of electricity and water for several days, and two people were killed by a falling tree. When this is compared to the hurricane seasons in the United States, it’s odd that so many Mauritius travel guides feel the need to stress the danger of cyclones.
Cyclones are actually seen by many native Mauritians as an essential part of life, as the rain they cause helps replenish water stores and thus prevent drought. Mauritius is well prepared for cyclones. Huge, devastating cyclones only occur roughly once every 30 years (the last severe one was in 2002, Cyclone Dina) and even then are not as destructive as other weather phenomena.
Any Mauritius travel guide will tell you the cyclone season is between November and May, and for the large part this is true. The hot summer months of December and January give birth to the most cyclones, so if you are worried then it is probably best to avoid Mauritius at this time. However, by doing this you will miss the country at it’s most glorious in terms of heat and visibility.
The trick is simply to be prepared. Before you leave, check meteorological charts and see if a cyclone is destined to hit Mauritius for the duration of your stay. The most severe are usually predicted in advance. If you do find yourself on Mauritius island during a cyclone, it is nowhere near as horrifying as some travel guides would have you believe. Act sensibly – stay indoors – and stay away from remote locations. Cyclones tend to last from a couple of hours to a maximum of three days, and if wind speeds reach over a certain level (usually 150km/h) all flights are grounded for safety. However, most tourists who have experienced delays due to Mauritius cyclones say the system is quick to recover.
So to an extent, ignore the travel guides. Mauritius is susceptible to cyclones, but everywhere on this earth has possible dangers. Try not to let the warnings put you off visiting this stunning country, and if you do find yourself in a mild cyclone, it might even add to the fun and experience of your holiday!