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The Indian Ocean islands that comprise Mayotte are fabulous destinations for a holiday. White sand beaches, sparkling seas and lagoons, gorgeous vistas and an abundance of historic sites and activities are among the draws which ensure visitors keep coming back for more. The ease of exploring the tiny main island of Grande Terre by car puts Mt Choungui, Sazile beaches and atmospheric towns such as Sada within easy range.
The road network on Grande Terre consists of just 60 miles (95kms) of roads. Around 80 per cent of these roads are paved and in fair condition. There are few signposts on Mayotte. Drivers need to beware of sudden, unmarked bends in roads. Local drivers can be unpredictable so it is best to keep a safe distance. Night driving is best avoided as even village and town streets are not lit.
Driving licences: holders of valid UK photo licences can drive here. UK drivers using old style licences without photos should get an International Driving Permit prior to travel.
Which side does Mayotte drive on: the right.
Rural highways: no speed restrictions
Built-up areas: 19mph (30kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.05 per cent, which is slightly over half of the UK’s level of 0.08 per cent. Drunk drivers face fines, confiscation of their vehicle and possible imprisonment.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: laws here specify drivers and front seat passengers have to wear seatbelts. The law does not require children to travel in safety seats, but car hire companies offer them as optional extras.
Mobile phones and GPS: there are no laws applying to mobile phone use and driving, but common sense dictates using a hand-held device in conjunction with a phone is the safest way to communicate while driving. GPS systems are allowed but few places are mapped.
Cost of fuel in Mayotte: cheaper than at petrol stations in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: the few petrol stations on the island do not usually accept payment by credit card. However, international car hire suppliers do accept credit card payment.
Insurance: hire vehicles come with third-party insurance but it is advisable to take out extra excess insurance.
Traffic and parking: driving and parking in Mamoudzou is stress-free as the streets are uncongested and there are plenty of spaces for parking. In other villages and close to beaches and attractions, there are usually adequate parking facilities.
Passengers boarding shared taxis in Mamoudzou pay for the seats they occupy. On rural routes, the same system applies on mini-buses, which are known as brousse. At peak times, brousse are packed and there is often standing-room only. Fares around the island are never more than £3.
The only large buses on Mayotte are those operated by tour companies.
There are ferries twice a week from Anjouan, on the nearby island of Comoros, which dock at Dzaoudzi on Petite-Terre. Mayotte’s international airport is also located here. Frequent car ferries make the short hop from Petite-Terre to Grande-Terre. Dzaoudzi and Longoni ports are stopovers on occasional cruises from Madagascar and for yachts cruising the Mozambique Channel.
The airport at Dzaoudzi receives daily flights from Reunion as well as less regular flights from Paris Orly airport. Dzaoudzi Pamandzi International Airport is just four kilometres from the commune, which is located on the island-nation’s smaller island of Petite-Terre.
For most visitors, their first experiences of Mayotte are Petite-Terre and the town of Dzaoudzi. The fabled crater lake of Dziani Dzaha is on this island.
Mamoudzou on Grande-Terre is the capital and the arrival point for ferries from Petite-Terre. Rue du Commerce is at the heart of a choice of shopping and dining venues.
Attractions close to Mamoudzou that are car accessible include Majimbini Forest and Sulu Cascades. Beaches such as Rassi Douamounyo are deserted and lapped by aquamarine waters.
Heading southwards, the villages of Boueni and Chirongui, hiking trails up Mt Choungui and Ylang-Ylang Museum await the adventurous holidaymaker.
N'Gouja Beach is on the south coast and close to the picturesque village of Kani-Keli. Solitude, a picture-postcard perfect bay, and the chance of swimming with turtles make this a must-visit location.
Mayotte has a warm and humid climate, with temperatures typically between 19°C and 30° all year round. The wet season runs from December to May and there are few days without any rainfall during these months. There are occasional cyclones at this time of year. From June to September, it is much drier and less sticky, making this a more conducive period to enjoy the charms of this tropical heaven.