Rodrigues Island is an exceptionally under-rated cruise destination with far more to offer than white sandy beaches and azure, tropical waters.
This remote island with Mauritius as its closest neighbour has lots of unique places and features like fresh foods, colorful festivals, local cuisine, beautiful parks, and of course the stunning blue sea. It is part of the Mascarene Islands, which include the equally beautiful Mauritius and Réunion.
Only 18 kilometres in length and 8 kilometres wide at its widest point, Rodrigues is small, but entirely surrounded by coral reefs and a dream tourist destination. People here are hospitable, polite, and friendly. Mauritius has other islets and islands; you can explore there and spend your beautiful holiday there. But Rodrigues island is a must for you to visit.
Below are the top 10 places you can enjoy and explore on Rodrigues Island during a port call.
Experience the history
Rodrigues Island was founded in 1528 by the Portuguese explorer Diogo Rodrigues. Diago named the island after himself, as you do. Although he was the first to name it and claim it, the island had been used for centuries already by Arab sailors.
The island became a leading trade route back in the 17th century, with the Dutch using it as a resupply port from 1601 thanks to its abundance of seafood, tortoise, and other resources. The history of Rodrigues Island is evident in its architecture, such as St. Gabriel Cathedral, the the ‘Caverne Patate’ caves and Coral Quarry and, if you’re interested in diving, the more than 400 shipwrecks that surround the island, a tribute to its long maritime history.
While exploring the island, you’ll need to get yourself an exquisite hotel for your stay. Hotel Rodrigues, a creole style resort also known as the Mourouk Ebony Hotel is one of the comfiest on the island.
Visit the Saturday Market
While there are markets on other days of the week, the Saturday market is the most vibrant and lively – making it a perfect place for photography. The locals are amicable and hospitable an in addition to English, they speak Creole, and French, which are the most popular languages.
There are hundreds of stalls around the market. There you can see various fresh fruits and vegetables stands, as well as colorful hats, baskets, bracelets, and cloth stands.
Hike to Trou d’Argent Beach
A walking trail snakes through the countryside of Rodrigues. This trail can be taken from Saint Francois beach through the wooded hillside to hidden coves. It is also locally known as Trou d’Argent Beach. The coral reef is very near to the beach. Maintain a schedule if you intend to go swimming – because of the tide. If the tide is out, swimming opportunities are limited.
Rodrigues is a thrill-seeker’s paradise. It has a wide range of watersports and one of the highest ziplines in the world. There is also a pendulum swing on a bridge specified for this ride. The bridge is so thin that its only two wooden planks wide. The zipline here is even more significant than the Eden Project in Cornwall.
Watch the Beautiful Sunrise
Waking up early to enjoy the sunrise is always worth it on a cruise, but when docked in Rodrigues it’s a must. Walking down the beach during the morning is also breathtaking. If you manage to see the sunrise from the beautiful sandy beach of Saint François Bay, you’ll be one of the luckiest people to visit Rodrigues Island.
Explore Caverne Patate
Rodrigues Island has plenty of cave systems. There is a rumor that these caves have pirate treasure hidden in their depths. There is one called Caverne Patate. It is translated as Sweet Potato Cave. Walking through the cave provides a wonder of stalagmite and stalactite formations as you descend below sea level.
Visit François Leguat to See Giant Tortoises
Francois Leguat is a 20-hectare area with 3,000 giant tortoises. The zoologist Owen Griffiths discovered this area and created a reserve for his beloved giant tortoises. There are also approximately 110,000 endemic and beautiful plants all over the city.
The island was once abundant with the giant reptiles, but they were used as a food source by early sailors and were almost wiped out. You can find Aldabra and Radiata tortoises on the island browsing, eating, and spreading seeds. These are the lost giant species of the giant tortoise and they love neck scratches.
Visit Coco Island
At the Lagoon of Rodrigues, there is a coral reef with a small number of uninhabited islands. One of them is called Coco Island. It takes about an hour to reach via boat. The lagoon is huge and the island is surrounded by a light strip of sand with plenty of bird life in its lush interior, surrounded by turquoise water. The local tourism office provides a short, guided walk and lunch to conclude the Coco Island trip.
Small green lemons are unique to Rodrigues and look just like limes. They’re ideal for a refreshing lemon drink mixed with sugar and water. They’re grown all over the island and form an important part of many of the dishes of the local cuisine on the island.
Speaking of the food, Rodrigues Island is obviously surrounded by the sea, so seafood is naturally very popular on the island. Rodrigues Island features Wahoo and Carangue fish on most menus as it is the most abundant type of fish in the local waters. A signature dish called ‘Gratin de Fumee,’ also known as Smoked Marlin Salad, is mouth-watering. It can be found at Restaurant le Marlin Bleu.
On 1st March, they celebrate a fish festival to begin the new fishing season on the island. It’s held every year. The men work as a team deploying large nets in the sea to catch fish.
Swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the lagoon
The main lagoon and coral reef are a snorkeling wonderland. The shallow water looks beautiful and warm and is ideal for free swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving. The lagoon is twice the size of the entire island, but to see the really impressive marine life, like tunas, sharks, kingfishes, jackfishes and barracudas, you’ll need to go scuba diving beyond the reef (the summer months are the best time for this).
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