All the usual car-hire suspects - Avis, Sixt, Europcar, etc - can be found at the airport in Port Louis, and at points throughout the island.
Air Seychelles (www.airseychelles.com) flies direct to Mauritius two to three times per week from London, Air France (www.airfrance.com) flies via Paris, Emirates (www.emirates.com) has regular flights via Dubai and Qatar Airways (www.qatarairways.com) flies via Doha. Air Seychelles also offers frequent flights to other Indian Ocean islands, such as Praslin, Frégate, Bird, Dennis, Desroches and Alphonse, and it can also arrange special charter flights.
There is a rail network on the island, but it is not particularly reliable.
Country code for Mauritius: 230
The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian, the fourth in his acclaimed Master and Commander series, is a beautifully written account of being all at sea during the Napoleonic wars. Mutiny and The Rape of Sita by Mauritian author Lindsey Collen evoke life on the islands of the Indian Ocean.
Do go / Don't Go
The best time to visit Mauritius is between April and October, when the mercury doesn't shoot up too high in the thermometer and the island is at its driest. Humidity levels are very high between January and March.
The island itself is a big, simmering gumbo of cultures, and the food you will find here reflects that. Chinese, Indian, French and Creole dishes all make their way onto menus and into the diets of local people, but it is a widespread use of fiery spices and fresh seafood that most typifies Mauritian dishes. Try local specialities such as roti with dholl puri (a pancake filled with curried beans, a spicy tomato sauce and lots of chilli) or fresh prawns slathered with sauce rouge.
There are plenty of taxis on the island - and ranks can be found in most of the major towns - but make sure you agree a fee with the driver before you get into the cab, as most Mauritian taxis don't have a meter. If in doubt, ask your hotel to organise taxis for you.
Tipping is entirely at your discretion, and very few Mauritians expect it. However, if you do decide do reward good service, then 10 per cent is perfectly acceptable.
Mauritius rupee. £1 is approximately MUR63.
Domaine les Pailles (+230 286 4225), just off the M2 motorway between Port Louis and Moka, is a heritage centre that celebrates the country's unique make-up. This is also reflected in the island's rich literary heritage, and contemporary writers such as Khal Torabully and Loys Masson bring the vibrancy of a society made up of many cultures into their work. Sega, a rhythmic form of music driven by repetitive drum beats, came to Mauritius with African slaves, and has become incorporated into the island's traditions.
With pagodas on the streets, and aromatic steam issuing from the doorways of its many restaurants, Chinatown in Port Louis is worth a visit for the atmosphere alone. It's great for cheap clothes and, if you're feeling peaky, Chinese medicine. The central market, known locally as Bazaar Port Louis, is a bustling hubbub at which you can pick up everything from spices and wonderful fabrics to delicious Indian street food. Jewellery and gems are relatively cheap on the island, so it's worth having a look in places such as Adamas Diamond Boutique in Floreal (+230 686 5246) or Caunhye Bijoux in Port Louis (+230 211 5160). Making miniature reconstructions of famous ships - the Cutty Sark and HMS Bounty are favourites - is also a Mauritian speciality. The best place from which to buy these scarily realistic models is Historic Marine (+230 283 9304) near Goodlands.
Climb to the top of the Trou aux Cerfs volcano, and survey great swathes of the island from the edge of its enormous crater - don't worry, it's extinct.
You may have to put your hand into your pocket for a couple of drinks, but if you have even a passing interest in football, then head to a Mauritian bar when a match between two big English teams is televised, for the bizarre experience of being surrounded by some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the world. British football is hugely popular on the island, and Manchester United and Liverpool, the two best-supported teams, are as big here as they are in Salford and Toxteth.
14 January Spectacular Thai Pongal is both a celebration of the end of the Mauritian harvest and the beginning of the Tamil new year, in which cattle are painted in bright colours and then fed bowls of rice. May The winner of the Le Prince Maurice literary prize, a competition that aims to recognise 'writers of the heart, is announced at the eponymous Poste de Flacq hotel. The award switches annually between books written in French and English to reflect Mauritius' two principal languages. 9 September Pere Laval Day is when thousands of Mauritians of all faiths come to Sainte Croix to celebrate at the tomb of the Christian missionary who devoted his life to the abolition of slavery. Even though he has never been canonised, Laval is considered to be the island's patron saint. October/November Hindus all over the island celebrate Diwali, the festival of light, which sees Mauritius' towns and villages illuminated by rows of twinkling lanterns and candles.