10 things I wish I knew before going to Mayotte

10 things I wish I knew before going to Mayotte

Devraj Lahiri13 October 20209881 views7 min. read
10 things I wish I knew before going to Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas territory of France. It officially goes by the name of the Department of Mayotte. It is a part of the Comoros Archipelago and consists of a few islands, namely Grande-Terre or Maore and Petite-Terre or Pamanzi and several smaller islets.

Where is Mayotte?

small village It is located in the northern section of the Mozambique channel, which lies in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the continent of Africa. It essentially is sandwiched between the north-western section of Madagascar and North Eastern Mozambique. Mayotte is a recently established department under the French sovereignty and remains its poorest developed one though compared to the other regions in that area, it is prosperous. Mayotte is a densely packed island with the majority of the population speaking the local Shimaore, which is the usual language spoken among all the Comoros islands. So now, if you are making plans to travel to Mayotte, these basics will hold you in good stead. However, it would still be enough. Here are the 10 things I wish I knew before going to Mayotte:

1. Travel to Mayotte

mayotte island panorama Mayotte being an offbeat destination, comes with its unique challenges. There are regular flights from the Island of Reunion to Mayotte, while a one-way ticket to Mayotte from Paris will cost you 800 Euros. The Kenya Airways, Paris - Nairobi flight has been extended till Mayotte since November 2006, which allows more mainland tourists to travel to the island territory and bask in the warm climate surrounded by the staid Indian Ocean. If you are travel to Mayotte from the adjoining islands, then there are regular flights from Anjouan and Moroni and vice versa. Your travel to Mayotte would require a bit of planning if you intend to beat the usual rush of travellers and tourists. Also, please bear in mind that the trip to the islands is an expensive affair, so be prepared. One can also travel to Mayotte by boat or ferry services, which are also a comfortable way to travel. However, they are sporadic and as costly as the Int'Air Îles.

2. Religion

Mamoudzou 95% of Mayotte is devout Muslim. However, as like the Comoros Archipelago, they are extremely tolerant and liberal in their outlook. Perhaps being a centrepiece of the travel industry has rendered them open to worldly views. However, it would still be prudent to respect local customs. If you are planning to travel to Mayotte, then it would be better to avoid the months of Ramadan since the services are low during this period. The other months are lively and ideal for travel.

3. Language

Language As mentioned previously, Mayotte being a part of the Comoros Archipelago, mostly indulges in the local language. The current generation does speak fluent Frenchthough. French as an official language is slowly catching up. It is taught in schools, and the locals expect that the tourists who arrive on their shores are fluent in it too. However, if you aren't conversant in the romantic language of French, you need not fret. You can do without the language and still have a wonderful time. However, it helps to know a few words, though.

4. What is the capital of Mayotte?

mamoudzou Are you wondering what is the capital of Mayotte? Well, this is common knowledge which helps. Mamoudzou is the largest city of the island territory. It was chosen as the capital of Mayotte in 1977, relinquishing Dzaoudzi from its former role. The capital city is also the largest prefecture of the island. There is a radio station which broadcasts programmes in French and Mahorian. Most of the Government offices are located here. It is here that the central bank is located as well as offices of Air France and Ewa Air. There is also the tourist office, a colonial structure that assists tourists for outbound and inbound travel. The city centre is the hub of all economic activity. The shopping centre and the restaurants are all situated here. Mamoudzou is known for its multi-cuisine restaurants. Some of the restaurants of repute are Les Terrasses, Hotel Restaurant Isijiva, Le Barfly and Le Moana. There is a ferry service from the capital city to the island of Petite-Terre. The service is a comfortable journey, though it is sporadic and costly. If you wish to travel around the city, then hire a cab. It is the best way to watch this quaint commune come to life. There is not much nightlife in Mamoudzou. However, you do have the entire ocean for yourself to lie in solitude or walk on the sidewalk by the prefecture. The evenings in the capital of Mayotte is spectacular, with the setting Sun creating a splendid golden wash across the horizon. The distant fishing boat and the silhouetted ships on the edge of the meeting point of water and sky make for a surreal canvas.

5. Prices

woman sleeping in her shop This is one thing that needs to be kept in mind. Travelling to the Comoros Archipelago, of which Mayotte is a part, is a costly affair. This is an offbeat travel destination, and hence air travel is expensive. Air France and Kenya Airways are two of the prolific airlines' companies that have regular air services from the continents of Europe and Africa. The ferry service between the islands too are pretty expensive, costing as much as the inter-island air tickets. They are a comfortable ride, though. Mayotte is slowly turning into a favourite playground for the weary traveller. With the increase of tourists, there is also a rise in demand for services. At present, it is limited since the numbers of inflowing travellers is less. The hotel rooms are costly, and before you travel to Mayotte, do check on the room rates. It is an essential part of the planning. The cab rides in and around Mamoudzou are affordable, though, and there is the added fun of negotiating the prices. However, overall, a trip to Mayotte can burn a hole in your pocket if you aren't planned enough.

6. Accommodation

universitaire centre Most hotels and accommodation in Mayotte is based on a twin or a double room. The services vary from island to island. Some of the best ones are to be found in the capital city of Mamoudzou. It is always advisable that you do a little bit of research before embarking on a vacation to the island. The quality of food is consistent, though, and they are some of the best we have had. If it's guava season, then does not forget to ask for the red guava juice. It is ethereal. The room charges vary too and are expensive compared to the services provided. So be prepared while booking a room for the island stay.

7. Places to visit

coast of mayotte The island is a nature's paradise. One of the interesting facts about Mayotte Island is that it is one of the best places to watch humpback whales with their calves, prancing around the lagoon. The ideal months to watch them would be August-September. Another example of interesting facts about Mayotte Island is related to primates. The Makis or Brown Lemurs are found in plenty but inhabit the remote regions of Mayotte Island. If you have been to Mayotte and have not scuba dived into the lagoon, then I do not know the purpose of your visit. This is the third-largest lagoon in the world that we are talking about. The sight beneath the waves, waiting to be discovered by you, is breathtaking. On the southern beaches of the island, sea turtles come to nest. Watch them from afar how they go about their mundane lives in an otherwise cacophonic world. Finally, conquer the summit of Mont Choungui. This mountain provides a spectacular view of the island and the ocean surrounding it. Do not forget to carry your camera with you. These wonders of nature need to captured on the lens, forever.

8. Currency

Money The sought after currency in Mayotte Island is the euro. Though locals do accept franc too, the exchange rate for euros is the best. For those carrying dollars, make sure to exchange them for euros before you set foot. The local produce on the island is rather inexpensive, but if you are looking for imported ones, then they are pretty expensive ones.

9. How safe is Mayotte?

mayotte soldier It is certainly safer than most countries in the world. The local populace take pride in their land and hence are immensely respectful towards the visitors. Just be alert regarding the weather. The rainy season is notorious for deadly cyclones. Stay indoors during such times. Mayotte Island is also a malaria-infested zone. Do carry your anti-malaria prescription drugs along. A mosquito repellent is also a handy tool.

10. Cuisine

seafood The last thing on my list to know before you travel is food. Mayotte has a varied cuisine and being a tourist destination, it is mostly multi-cuisine. However, because of the French connection, Mayotte Island is replete with French restaurants, most of whom create amazing dishes. The prices are a bit off the charts, but the savouries are delicious and fulfilling. Do not miss the seafood preparations. They are some of the best-cooked meals I have ever had. Now that we know where is Mayotte and how to get there, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to fly. The island on the Indian Ocean will not disappoint you.

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