Mauritius is increasingly promoting itself as a shopping destination. While clothing is a mainstay of any shopping experience here, other possibilities include the island’s signature model ships, glasswork, artwork and basketware. Port Louis generally has the widest range of souvenirs and handicrafts, and there's a daily market in Port Louis, and weekly markets in Mahébourg and Port Mathurin (Rodrigues).
Although the textile industry has been eclipsed by that of China, it remains one of Mauritius' biggest earners, to the extent that many of the brand-name clothes on sale in Europe, Australia and the USA are produced in the factories around Curepipe, Floréal and Vacoas. Shoppers can save by buying at the source, and many of the bigger suppliers have outlet stores where you can snap up items at a fraction of their usual retail price.
Floreal Knitwear in Floréal is renowned for its stylish sweaters and other knitted garments. The company supplies Gap, Next and other international outfitters, but you can buy the same items before the branded labels have been added for a fraction of the final cost at the Floréal emporium.
Handicrafts & Souvenirs
Locally produced basketry, essential oils, sugar, spices, rums, teas and T-shirts all make very portable souvenirs. The Craft Market in Port Louis' Caudan Waterfront complex offers perhaps the widest choice. Most of the crafts and souvenirs sold at Port Louis' Central Market and the Grand Baie Bazaar, like leather belts and bags, masks, embroidery and semiprecious-stone solitaire sets, are from Madagascar.
It's difficult not to be impressed by the skill that goes into producing Mauritius' famous model ships. Small-scale shipbuilding has become a huge business and you'll see intricate replicas of famous vessels, such as the Bounty, Victory, Endeavour, Golden Hind and even Titanic, for sale all over the island. Model shipbuilding dates back to only 1968, when an unknown Mauritian carved a model ship for fun and launched a whole new industry.
The models are made out of teak or mahogany (cheaper camphor wood is liable to crack), and larger ships take up to 400 hours to complete. Men usually work on the structure and women do the rigging and sails, which are dipped in tea to give them a weathered look.
To get your goods home safely, shops will pack the models for carry-on luggage or in sturdy boxes to go in the hold, and deliver them to your hotel or the airport at no extra charge.