Rodrigues Island, aka Ile Rodrigues, is recommended as one of the top places to visit in Mauritius for a day or two. But there are so many things to do you’d easily fill a week and then need time to chill and recover from all the adventure, foodie encounters and activities.
Rodrigues Island, Mauritius has something to suit every kind of traveller. The perfect blend of adventure, activities and relaxation; from adrenaline fuelled ziplines to scuba diving and local foodie encounters to wildlife and secluded islands. You’ve read about my first impressions of Rodrigues. Here are some more reasons why Rodrigues has so much more to offer than perfect beaches and sunshine and why you should allow at least a week for your trip to this beautiful Indian Ocean island.
Rodrigues Island for Wildlife Lovers
One of the best places to visit in Rodrigues is the Francois Leguat Giant Tortoise and Cave Reserve. Thousands of giant Aldabra tortoises once roamed Rodrigues until they became extinct after colonisation of the island in the late 1700s. The tortoises were re-introduced from a reserve in Mauritius in 2006-07 and Francois Leguat is now home to over 3000 tortoises.
We walked through the beautiful 2 km reserve surrounded by hundreds of the friendly creatures. Just standing still for a moment encourages the tortoises to head over to you for a neck rub, which they are rather partial to, and which I’m sure makes them smile. The oldest and biggest tortoise in the reserve is Romeo who is over 100 years old. You can also visit the newborns in the nursery which scurry around with surprising dexterity.
The Grande Cavern is a network of caves beneath the reserve which is worth visiting to see the interesting rock formations. Remember to stop by the museum which has some fascinating exhibits.
Ile aux Cocos
Ile aux Cocos is the ultimate Rodrigues excursion and recommended as one of the top Mauritius attractions. We took a relaxing boat trip out through the sparkling waters of the lagoon to Ile Aux Cocos off the west coast of Rodrigues.
The tiny island is a shallow sand bar and nature reserve inhabited by 45 thousand sea birds plus three human guardians whose job it is to protect the island and its wildlife. A guided walk through part of the island introduced us to colonies of white fairy terns which lay their eggs directly on tree branches. We also discovered the Brown Noddy and Lesser Noddy. A permit is required to visit from the tourism office and part of the island is off-limits due to its nesting sites. Various companies and tour operators offer tours to the island.
As well as discovering the wildlife on Ile aux Cocos we tucked into a delicious lunch, swam in the clear, warm water and snorkelled. As I walked along the beach, my feet sinking into the soft white sand, I couldn’t help but think I’d found a slice of paradise.
Rodrigues Island for Adrenaline Junkies
Fly high across Rodrigues on the island’s Tyrodrig zipline adventure at Montagne Malgache in the south of the island. The fourth longest zip-line in the world will whizz you across three verdant valleys suspended at around 100 metres above a nature reserve. You’ll see some stunning views of the island and out to the shimmering lagoon beyond. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Sadly, we didn’t have time for this on our busy itinerary but I’d have loved to add it to my zipline repertoire which, so far, includes Cuba, St. Kitts, Morocco and Mauritius.
Thanks to Fiona McLean of London Unattached, who was also on our trip, who provided this image.
If ziplining isn’t quite enough of a buzz for you then maybe you’d be up for diving or jumping off a rope bridge above a ravine at Cascade Pistache. The pendulum swing is a bit like a bungee jump except you’re attached by a harness around your body and not by your feet.
I like to think that I’m up for a bit of an adrenaline hit. I’ve had a go at parascending in Tenerife, ziplined in Cuba and parasailed behind a truck in Namibia but I think I’d draw the line at this one. The bridge was closed when we visited so
luckily sadly I didn’t get the chance to test my mettle. If you don’t like the idea of jumping off half way across the rope bridge you can just carry on walking to the other side of the ravine.
Rodrigues Island for Water Lovers
From gentle snorkelling over the coral reefs of Rodrigues to scuba diving in deeper waters or skimming the turquoise waters of the lagoon whilst kite-surfing there’s a water activity for every kind of water lover. The shallow waters of the lagoon are alive with fish and corals and are warm for most of the year not generally dropping below 22c.
Scuba diving will take you to an underwater world of colourful reefs with around 280 types of coral and an assortment of marine life including Green Turtles, Rays and countless species of fish and coral which live in the underwater caves and canyons. There’s no industrial pollution in Rodrigues so the waters are clear, clean, safe and you’ll have them pretty much to yourself.
South-east trade winds blow straight from Western Australia making Rodrigues an excellent destination for kite-surfing. A kite-surf centre at the beach by Ebony Mourouk Hotel offers tuition and training by fully trained IKO instructors for beginners to more advanced kite surfers.
Rodrigues for Outdoorsy Types
If you love the outdoors you’ll be in your element in Rodrigues Island. The island is very much unspoiled with panoramic views, hills, valleys and the vast lagoon. Hiking is the perfect way to discover the island’s scenery and beautiful beaches. We spent an afternoon hiking which was one of my favourite activities on our trip. We started at the East coast, St Francois beach and hiked to the bays of Grand Anse and Trou d’Argent and back.
The cricks (glens and creeks) are small sandy bays framed by rocky outcrops and backed by Casuarina trees. We hiked through shady woodland filled with pink and white Impatiens (Busy Lizzy) while curious goats observed us from the rocks above.
The views across the lagoon from the top of the cricks were stunning and once we made our way down to the sands we had the beach to ourselves whilst we swam and enjoyed the pristine waters. There are various island hikes which range from 4k – 14k and explore many parts of the island including Mont Limon the highest peak on the island.
More Tropical Island Inspiration
St Kitts – The Luxury List * Island Adventures in St Kitts * St Kitts – A Food and Restaurant Guide * 20 Things to do in St Kitts & Nevis * Barbados – a Bajan Road Trip * Cobblers Cove – Barbados Boutique Hotel
Rodrigues Island for Foodies
Rodrigues offers a range of cuisines including Créole, European, Indian and, surprisingly, Chinese. Of course, fresh fish is a highlight and there’s a large selection of seafood on offer. Recipes and culinary traditions are passed down through families for generations and ingredients and seasonings are home-grown so you won’t get fresher or healthier. I ate fish most days, which I love, and actually came home a couple of pounds lighter.
Octopus is popular and I enjoyed it cooked various ways from stew and curry to a light, delicious salad. As well as plenty of fish I enjoyed an excellent Beef Sambal which was nicely spicy and a Chinese buffet. Rice accompanies most food with a range of vegetables or papaya salad. Tapioca and potatoes are mixed together and also served as an accompaniment.
A spicy condiment, which is served with most dishes, is an innocent looking pale green chilli paste. Go sparingly, you only need the tiniest amount as I found out all too quickly…!
Desserts are mainly fruit based with mangos, papaya and coconut featuring heavily. Rodrigues lemons, which look like limes, are grown all over the island. They are used to make tangy desserts, marmalades and a deliciously refreshing lemon drink with sugar and water.
Food is the perfect way to get to know the local people who are some of the friendliest I’ve met on my travels. The women of the island are especially eager to chat about Rodrigues cuisine and share their recipes and cooking tips. I’ll be writing more about Rodrigues cuisine in a separate post as there’s a lot to tantalise your taste buds with.
Rodrigues for Relaxation
If you’re looking for a digital detox then Rodrigues is the place to get off-grid, get back to nature and simply chill out. The WiFi is more off than on (although a major upgrade is on the cards) so don’t expect to get online too often while you’re away.
The perfect places to relax are the many beautiful beaches which range from small coves to wide swathes of sand backed with the delicate fronds of shady Casuarina trees. The beaches are pretty much empty although you may encounter the occasional cow or goat but they’re happy to share.
You could use the facilities at one of the many guest houses and B&Bs in Rodrigues. This is Belle Rodriguaise where I stayed for three nights.
I spent an amazing week in Rodrigues packed with fabulous food, adventure and wildlife spotting. I may also have a sneaky afternoon just watching the waves roll in and trying out the local tipple Ti’Punch. All in the name of research of course.
You could easily spend a day or two lazing on Rodrigues beaches or by the pool if you wanted to. But if your idea of a holiday is more than sun, sand and sea then I hope I’ve shown you how much more Rodrigues Island has to offer.
My thanks to tourism office who kindly hosted me on this trip. I flew to Rodrigues Island via Mauritius with Air Mauritius. I stayed at La Belle Rodriguaise and at Villa Evasion. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.