The official currency in Mauritius is the Mauritian rupee or MUR, another example of the Indian influence on the country. The exchange rate makes you feel like you’re almost a millionaire. Clearly it fluctuates but one rupee is worth around 2p, which means you can have Rs25,000 in your wallet and feel very wealthy indeed although it’s actually worth about £500. The smallest note is Rs25, worth around 50p. You’ll use notes far more than coins, which are of little value. A 10-cent coin is worth less than a quarter of a penny.
Of course, you’ll want to get the best exchange rate and there are a few ways to make sure you get great value when you’re picking up your spending money. And they’re not what you might expect.
Usually we advise travellers to buy your currency in the UK from your local branch of Thomas Cook before you fly. You can certainly still do this by ordering the currency in advance and collecting it from the store or having it delivered to your door.
But in the case of currency in Mauritius it’s better to leave it until you arrive because, surprisingly, the best exchange rates for the rupee are on the island itself. And the airport, which usually offers the worst rates of all, has good deals. There are Thomas Cook counters in departures and arrivals, open even if you land in the middle of the night. Most of our hotels have money changing services or you can exchange pounds for rupees in several Thomas Cook branches on the island, including in Port Louis, Grand Baie, Flic en Flac and Chemin Grenier.
A safe alternative is to take a Cash Passport. This prepaid travel card means you’re protected if things get lost or stolen. It can be used at cash machines, and with chip and pin and credit card readers worldwide, it’s very convenient. Of course, there’s always travellers’ cheques. Few businesses accept them as direct payment today, but they’re still a great way to pick up a bargain exchange rate, and then change back to cash when you need it.
Withdrawing Mauritian rupees from a local cash machine is also an option, as there are plenty of ATMs around the island. But make sure you’re aware of any charges and limits your bank may have. Some may charge you to withdraw in a foreign country, or in a different currency, so make sure you check before you head out on holiday.
You can use credit cards in most places, but you’ll still want some cash for markets and tipping. Occasionally sterling and dollars may be used when paying in tourist areas, but the locals prefer rupees where possible.