Rodrigues is a delightful remote little holiday island 650 km east of Mauritius in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Measuring only 18 km in length and 8 km at its widest point Rodrigues is entirely surrounded by coral reefs offering world-class diving and snorkeling.
Rodrigues Island, named after the Portuguese explorer Diogo Rodrigues, is the smallest of the Mascarene Islands and a dependency of Mauritius.
Rodrigues is a place that is strikingly beautiful. The island is hilly with lot of flora and has a lot of beaches and tiny islands around it, such as Ile aux Cocos. Its highest peak is Mont Limon, which reaches 395 meters. The rest of the island is made of basaltic rock and along the coastlines (total length of 78km) there are numerous coves and creeks and high cliffs.
The landscapes vary from hilly lands to steep volcanic hills standing up as basaltic organ pipes. Its coasts are made of wild creeks, marvelous sandy beaches and coral reefs, surrounded by small islets. The lagoon and coral reefs of Rodrigues are twice the area of the islands and are very rich and full of marine life.
Rodrigues is a well preserved island where people live simply and where those who want to go 'off the beaten track' should stay for a few days.
Time seems to stand still on Rodrigues. Its charm and simple unhurried pace of life attract celebrities from around the world who come to enjoy the island's tranquility and natural beauty.
Rodrigues Island is definitely one of the best places on earth to spend a quiet and a memorable holiday. Those who enjoy nature’s beauty will be mesmerized on seeing the scenic beauty of this peaceful island. The tropical vegetation of the region is extremely enchanting. Also, the island provides the perfect settings for honeymoon couples as well as for families wanting to relax.
Rodrigues Island Tours & Activities
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Rodrigues is a volcanic island rising from a ridge along the edge of the Mascarene Plateau. The island estimated to be 1-4 million years old. Over time Rodrigues has developed a unique environment, including many endemic species: 42 species of trees; the Rodrigues Fruit Bat; two species of bird-the Rodrigues fody and the Rodrigues warbler; and on the reef a species of coral, two species of damselfish and many new species of crustaceans. Other endemic animals such as Rodrigues giant tortoises and Rodrigues Solitaires are now extinct.
The coral reef of Rodrigues is of a particular interest as it is self-seeding - it receives no coral zooplankton from elsewhere. This has led to the development of the endemic coral and a small number of species being present.
With its 38 000 inhabitants Rodrigues is very authentic. The particular charm of the island comes mainly from the calm and harmonious lifestyle of its inhabitants. Kindness and simplicity are the principal traits of the Rodriguans.
The population consists of more women than men and about 90% of the populations are creoles, inhabitants with jet-black skin, descendants of Malagasy, African slaves and a minority of half-castes, descendants of the first European settlers. The Inhabitants of. Rodrigues is part of Mauritius even though it’s a separate Island. Rodrigues Culture is dominated by the majority of the "Creole" people.
The catholic faith is predominant. The Catholic Church is profoundly rooted in the Rodrigues society. The Anglican Church, the Adventist Church and the Assemblies of God are also present in Rodrigues. There are also a small number of Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Religion, respect of traditions and family are the pillars of the Rodriguans lifestyle. There is a very lovely Muslim mosque in Port Mathurin and in the village of Crhve Coeur, the Hindus have a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
English is the official language of the island, though you're bound to hear French which is widely spoken, Créole (a mélange of French and various African dialects), Indian and some oriental languages are also spoken.
Weather and Best Season to Visit
Rodrigues is a tropical island and like many tropical islands it is lush green and has colorful vegetation throughout the year. It is a great travel destination as it offers the visitors a perfect holidays all year round.
The climate in Rodrigues is pleasant; generally it’s warmer and drier than in Mauritius. Rodrigues is subject to regular winds blowing from the south east. Rainfall is fairly low.
There is no big difference in the sea temperature throughout the year . The sea is warm in summer (25°C to 28°C) and cools down in winter (22°C to 24°C).
- Rodrigues has only two seasons: Summer is from November to April and winter is from May to October. Summer: November to April with an average temperatures of 24 - 34°C during the day
- Winter: May to October with an average temperatures of 16 to 27°C during the day
Arts and Crafts
A wide variety of handicraft goods are now available to tourists . The island's main contribution to the performing arts is the Créole séga, a foot-shuffling, body-gyrating, downright erotic dance that's generally performed on the beach to the rhythm of Latin American, Caribbean and African pop. Séga variations to Créole music are popular in the island's discos and are certainly more entertaining than the well-choreographed 'cultural shows' you'll see in hotel lounges.
Important Festivals and Exhibitions
Most of the festivals and celebrations in Rodrigues are the same as the ones celebrated in Mauritius mainland. The major festivals are Diwali, Holi, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Easter, and Eid ul Fitr.
This beautiful island is the result of volcanic activities that took place some 4 million years ago.
From the 10th century, Arabs have been known to visit the Mascarene Islands. A 12th century map by the Arab geographer Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi, clearly shows the island of Rodrigues. The island was named after the Portuguese navigator Dom Diogo Rodrigues in 1528.
From 1601, the Dutch began visiting the island for fresh supplies of food. In 1691 the Huguenot, François Leguat and 7 companions landed on the island, intending to set up a farming colony of Protestant refugees. Farming was not successful, but there was an abundance of tortoises, turtles, birds, fish and other seafood.
During the 18th century several attempts were made by the French to develop the island. African slaves (ancestors of the present population) were brought to Rodrigues to develop stockbreeding and farming. In 1809, after a brief battle with the French, British troops took possession of Rodrigues. And with British occupation, slavery was abolished.
In 1968, Rodrigues was joined with Mauritius when it attained independence; today it is an autonomous region of Mauritius which aspires to full sovereignty.
Rodrigues is a very small economy mainly dependent on Mauritius. The main sources of income and economic activities are Tourism, fishing, cultivation of vegetables (especially of onions, garlic and chili), and animal rearing. With the recent surge in tourism activity, the Rodriguans have become increasingly aware of the economic importance of their local crafts.
In its whole, the economy of Rodrigues is quite poor. The inhabitants often engage themselves in numerous activities. The income derived from the export of sea products, cattle, and food crops, and is largely in deficit when compared to the costs of the imported products.
Lately, tourism has become the focused sector. The people of Rodrigues have become aware of the value of their handicrafts and of the touristic value of their island.
Ile aux Cocos
Ile aux Cocos, Located at 4 km to the west of Rodrigues.
This small island, emerging from the lagoon is a beautiful nature reserve and has become one of the main tourist attractions of Rodrigues. The island is covered with coconut trees, casuarina trees and has a long fine sandy beach.
The lagoon around the Cocos Island is of shallow water and at some places it is possible to see the corals and rocks above the water surface. This is why the boat trip to Cocos island becomes often an adventure for itself, and in addition to the fun boat ride you get a clear view of the lagoon and of the marine life from the boat.
On Cocos Island it is possible to see thousands of birds and sea birds.
A small path that travels through the center of the island allows us to discover the different species of birds. The best time to see most of the birds is during the summer period. At this period, up to 5000 birds can be seen on the island.
In order to visit Cocos Island it is required to get a proper authorization. This authorization is usually obtained by tour operators only as part of organized tours. Also, part of Cocos Island cannot be visited and is closed for the public.
Diving in Rodrigues
Rodrigues is home to some of the world's most breathtaking coral
reefs and marine life ever to be seen. Full with bright-colored fish, the underwater world of Rodrigues is a natural wonder.
When diving in Rodrigues you will see many types of corals, the local unique fauna of the Indian Ocean and selection of endemic species. The marine is rich with numerous caves, canyons and tunnels. It is possible to see variety of big fishes such as: tunas, sharks, kingfishes, jackfishes and barracudas.
Best period for diving
The best period for diving is during the summer period, from October to April. During this period the visibility is very good, and it is possible to go diving both inside and outside the lagoon. During the winter months, from June to September, the winds prevent from going on diving trips beyond the coral reef, and then, diving is possible within the perimeter of the lagoon and accordingly the selection of dive sites is limited.
A special program for the reforestation and the protection of the flora in Rodrigues has become a top priority. The people of Rodrigues have shown a genuine enthusiasm in the cultivation process of endemic plants and are working hard to preserve their natural heritage. Few areas of the island have been declared as nature reserves.
It is possible to find unique plants which are typical for Rodrigues or are rare such as: vieille-fille, café marron, bois de mangue, bois pipe and bois de fer.
One highlight of a visit to Rodrigues is the magnificent mixture of cuisines on offer. The most common varieties are Créole, European, Chinese and Indian, with big selection of seafood.
The secret of the Rodrigues cuisine lies in the freshness of the ingredients, the expertise handed over from the past generations and the local flavors and aromas of well-preserved culinary traditions.
A typical Rodrigues buffet might include a biryani, Chinese pork, chicken curry, Créole roast beef and vegetables French-style.
Mandatory specialties are the octopus curry, chicken curry, honey glazed pork, cono-cono salad, Mussel gratin, corn-fed chicken salad with ginger, sautéed crab, steamed fish smoked ham and the piments limon which are small pickled green lemons ground and mixed with chilies. It’s highly recommended to try the delicious soup of fresh shellfish gathered from the beach, seasoned with coriander. Common dishes include rougaille, a Mediterranean dish of tomatoes, garlic, onions, meat, fish, and octopus stew. Boiled rice is served with almost all dishes.
Favorite local beverages include a refreshing yogurt and ice-water drink (Lassi), and alouda which is a syrupy brew of agar, milk, and flavored syrups available almost everywhere in Rodrigues. Also, it is possible to find locally produced beer and rum which are potent and cheap. Wines, European spirits are hard to find, and when found, are usually very expensive.
For dessert, there is a rich selection ofpapaya or coconut pies with freshly grated coconut or flavored with cinnamon, and a maize pudding. Also, there are the local delights of the sweet potato cakes and the Cassava cakes.
- Time zone: GMT +3 hours in summer GMT +4 hours in winter
- Capital: Port Mathurin
- Visas: European and South African and Nationals do not need visas
- Getting there: Air Mauritius operate several daily flights between Mauritius and Rodrigues
- Currency: The Mauritian Rupee
- Health: There is no malaria and it is safe to drink the water
- Electricity: 220 V
- Density of population: 350 inhabitants/km2
- Statute: Dependence of Mauritius
- Spoken languages: Creole, French, English
- National Day: 12 March
- Newspaper: "Le Vrai Rodriguais" and "La voix du Peuple".