Mauritius has a paradoxical relationship to homosexuality. On one hand, much of the population is young and progressive, gays and lesbians are legally protected from discrimination and individuals have a constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy, and Mauritius has signed the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. At the same time, 'sodomy' is illegal and there remains a rigidly conservative streak to the Mauritian character.

As a result of the latter, gay life remains fairly secretive, mainly existing on the internet, in private and at the occasional party. While there were no gay or lesbian bars or clubs on the island at the time of writing, there are monthly underground club nights organised by text message. La Mariposa, close to Tamarin, is the only place we found that openly advertises itself as gay-friendly.

For gay and lesbian travellers there's little to worry about. We've never heard of any problems arising from same-sex couples sharing rooms during their holidays. You're still best to avoid public displays of affection outside your hotel and generally to be aware that what might be entirely standard at home may not be viewed in the same light here.