You remember when I spent a week on Rodrigues island in the Indian Ocean in the beginning of December 2017? Seven days there were enough for me to realize it’s one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited. Thanks to its secluded location it’s home for many endemic species of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. If you ever plan a trip there, and trust me, you so should, what could you do there? What top things to do on Rodrigues island Mauritius?
Hopefully my list will get you excited. Despite of the relatively small size of the island, just 108 square kilometres, you would be surprised how many different activities are possible to do on the island. Get inspired below.
15 top things to do on Rodrigues island Mauritius
Surprisingly, Rodrigues is rather a hilly island. Almost each hill gives you an opportunity for a different view, which is an advantage, right? There’s quite a few viewpoints spread around the island.
We stopped at the Eau Claire viewpoint meaning ”Clear water” in English where we could see some of the small islets around Rodrigues. That viewpoint was the first thing I saw the morning after landing on Rodrigues the night before. And let me tell you, I was more than impressed with the view! So many different colors of the Ocean around! I’d call it 50 shades of blue 🙂 From there we could also see the Grande Passe, the dark blue water passage through which the boats can get from the Ocean through the lagoon to the Rodrigues coast.
Then we drove to the Citron Donis viewpoint a little bit further to the West. The viewpoint offers a similarly great view of the small Southern islets around Rodrigues. There I found out, that mostly 4 out of all the 17 islets around Rodrigues are those visited by the tourists the most. I’m talking of the Ile Cocos in the West (not visible from the Citron Donis viewpoint) and Ile Hermitage, Gombrani and Chat de Pierrot islets in the South. Hermitage is the small island you can spot from the viewpoint next to the Grande Passe.
TIPS: When exploring Rodrigues, it’s good to wear hiking shoes or hiking sandals. It’s not a typical beach destination with flat surface and no rocks and no hills. It’s the complete opposite.
2. Botanical garden Jardin des 5 Sens
Botanical garden of 5 senses opened back in 2012. They started to build it in February 2012 and opened it to the public in October 2012. A former corn field was transformed into a garden with loads of decorative plants and some plants that are also used for medicinal purposes. It’s possible to get a guide there in English, Creole and French. As I was visiting it with a German friend, we did a garden tour in English.
During the interesting tour our guide showed us some familiar plants, such as hibiscus flower which can be put into dishes, but also endemic plants. For example, hibiscus fragilis, also called Mandrinette with yellow flowers is endemic only to Rodrigues. I’ve seen many different kinds of hibiscus around the world but I have to say I really haven’t seen this one yet.
I will mention just a few of the many plants we observed at the Botanical garden in order not to take away its charm. If you like nature, then you should not miss a visit to this special botanical garden.
We also saw the following plants that grow not only on Rodrigues:
Traveller’s tree, called also traveller’s palm comes from Madagascar and has a lot of water inside its stems.
Christmas tree has green leaves but during winter they become red. The leaves really change color like chameleon, so interesting!
Croton leaves need to be cooked and put into salads, otherwise they are very bitter if not cooked.
Garlic flower (called also the Royal trumpet) smells like garlic, both leaves and flowers. But it’s not good to eat.
It’s not advised to build houses very close to ficus as its very hard roots can damage the house foundation.
Yellow allamanda cathartica is used for infusion if you are sick.
Smelly Curry leaves are used for food
Citronella is used to make tea or against mosquitoes
Mint is awesome for digestion, to perfume dishes or make refreshing drinks when it’s hot.
Thyme is added to honey or to perfume dishes.
Ayapana is used for to stop vomiting.
Fishtail palm Caryota urens has very interesting leaves in the shape of fishtail
Deers wood Cocos ruccifera grows like a parasite (similarly to orchid) and has unique leaves in the shape of deer antlers.
Miss Honkog is a plant with beautiful red flowers that Chinese sometimes wear, hence the name.
Virgin white leaves are green with white color in the middle. They are used for diabetes and they reminded me of similar leaves but with red instead of white color I saw in Costa Rica.
Part of the Jardin des 5 Sens is dedicated only to endemic plants growing ONLY on Rodrigues, nowhere else in the world. Also a handful of plants endemic to Mascarene islands (Rodrigues, Mauritius and Reunion) can be found there. We could see these endemic plants:
Cinnamon canphora which wood is used for furniture when hard
Bat wood has very shiny leaves and its fruit is eaten by bats, hence the name
Carrot wood smells like carrots but its not used for dishes.
Brown palm (palm Marron)
White wood has really white-colored wood inside
We were going around the botanical garden smelling, touching, tasting, seeing and hearing about the plants. That’s why it’s called Garden of 5 senses because you need to use all your 5 senses to get to know all the plants they grow in there. They also have a few games to play to make it even more interesting 🙂 You will learn so much within an hor visit, trust me!
TIPS: Most probably it will be very hot when visiting the Botanical garden so take light clothes, a hat and protect your skin with cold-pressed vegetable oil with natural SPF factor, such as raspberry, carrot or avellana oil. I also recommend to use a natural mosquito repellent as there’s a few mosquitoes living around the plant waiting for a new victim to bite.
3. Caverne Patate
Caverne Patate is a cave located in the Southwestern part of Rodrigues. It was discovered by farmers, and been private since 2007. Caverne Patate is the longest limestone cave in both Rodrigues and Mauritius. It’s open to visitors all year long except when flooded due to heavy rain.
Your guide will give you a helmet and a torch and walk you towards the entrance, and then inside the cave and back outside to the surface. First you do a short hike from the office down the hill towards the sea to enter the cave, then through the cave up to 42 m downwards which is 8 m below the sea level. You can walk approx. 600 m out of 1000 m of the cave. The other 400 m have some water in there as that part of the cave is connected to the sea.
*** IMPORTANT: Humans have certain acid in our body which stops the grow of the stalactites and other mineral cave formations if you touch them. So please always when visiting a cave, avoid touching the formations in order not to kill them or break them. Be careful. It’s taking them thousands or even millions of years to grow so please don’t stop that with a quick touch/move.
You’ll get impressed by many interesting cave formations inside the Caverne Patate and some of them resemble famous persons, countries, animals etc. We could see one that looks like Buckingham Palace, also a Buddha statue, a turtle, crocodile’s mouth, a shark eating a fisherman, dodo endemic bird of Mauritius, Mother Teresa in Cathedral, maps of Africa, Rodrigues, Mauritius, Madagascar, Reunion… One thing that made me laugh a lot was seeing a witch with a baby who could also kiss the baby.. I loved trying to guess what some stalactites and stalagmites looked like.
TIPS: I recommend you to wear comfortable hiking shoes as it can get slippery inside.The air inside was humid and it didn’t feel cold at all when I visited in December, but in some other months I heard it’s good to carry a light hoodie/jacket. There’s no artificial light inside the Caverne Patate, except the torches you will have, so take a good camera if you’d like to take some photos. And speaking of a guide… Our guide Paul was a tall muscular guy with good sense of humour who was knowledgeable and also made us laugh. I can highly recommend him, he was so much fun and he also had the biggest biceps I saw on Rodrigues but don’t tell anyone 😀
Stalagmites are mineral cave formations that grow from the floor up. Stalagmites grow up from ceiling drippings, while stalactites grow from the ceiling down. If a stalagmite connects with a stalactite, they form a pillar called stalagnate.
4. Francois Leguat Reserve – turtle and cave reserve
Francois Leguat Reserve turtles
Francois Leguat Reserve is a 19-acre nature reserve located not far from the Caverne Patate. Probably it’s the most visited attraction on Rodrigues island. The reserve was named after Francois Leguat, a French explorer and naturalist who was one of the refugees who settled on Rodrigues in 1691. Francois was amazed by all the thousands of giant turtoises living freely on the island. It’s believed that in the end of 17th century up to 300,000 giant turtoises lived on Rodrigues. And not just one, but 2 different giant turtoise species used to dwell on the island.
In the past there were thousands of giant turtoises living on Rodrigues island until a big human explotation in the 18th century when animal predators and mainly people were eating turtle eggs and also killing turtles for meat and shells. Nowadays, the reserve is reintroducing turtles to the island to make it look like 300 years ago.
The Francois Leguat Reserve was initially opened in 2007 with just 555 turtles. When I visited on the 9th December 2017 they had 3489 turtles, out of which approximately 2,900 were young baby turtles.
There’s 3 different species of turtles living at the reserve: giant turtoise, ploughshare tortoise Angonoka and radiated tortoise.
The Aldabra giant turtoise comes from Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles, while the other two turtle species come from Madagascar. In the end of 2017 they had 11 female and 1 male adult radiated turtoises which is a bit of a problem as one male doesn’t have any competition and he doesn’t feel like reproducing. If they had more, it would be more of a natural environment in which the population of radiated turtoises could grow easier.
The baby turtles are first in the turtle nursery so no predators can eat them. The reserve staff takes a good care of the baby turtles and they count them every single day, similarly to all the other turtles in the reserve.
The oldest giant female turtoise living in the reserve is 80 and oldest male turtle is more than 100 years old.
Our guide also asked us NOT to eat turtle meat nor buy souvenirs made of turtle shells. People are the biggest predators and they were the reason why all the giant turtles died on Rodrigues. People would kill the turtles to eat both the eggs and then the meat, and also use the shell to make different products. It made me so upset not to be able to see giant turtles freely walking around Rodrigues any more, except those seen in the reserve. Being a vegan myself, you know I don’t support ZOOs but I do support conservation projects like this reserve. I give them a big thumb up for taking a great care of fauna and flora and trying to reintroduce original animals and plants to the island.
Walking around the reserve observing giant turtles and learning about their life was an unforgettable experience. It was so cute to see them eating and taking a nap under the trees at mid-day. Did you know they like people to pet them under the neck? The turtles really come closer to you and put their head up so you can touch their necks. One of a kind photo opportunity, right?
And what’s the recipe for long life similar to the one the turtles have? According to both our guide and me: no alcohol, no cigarettes, smile every day, live in peace, take a rest and don’t eat animals (become a vegetarian or vegan).
Walking around the Francois Leguat Reserve you will also notice hundreds of different plants. Some of them known, others endemic to Rodrigues or Mascarene islands. The aim of the reserve is to restore areas of native forests once found on Rodrigues. Up to 2017 more than 186,000 endemic and indigenous plants have been planted in the reserve! Altogether 39 plant species were planted, out of which 25 are endemic to Rodrigues. What an achievement! They don’t water the plants, but they are left to live in their normal environment.
Francois Leguat Reserve cave
After spending time with turtles, the guide will take you up the stairs and through the reserve down to the cave entrance.
There’s 11 caves in the reserve, but just one of them the Grande Cave is open to the public. Hiking shoes are recommendable as it can get a bit slippery, even on the pathways. This cave is different from the Caverne Patate not only because of having pathways built inside the cave, but also lights pointing to important stalactites, stalagmites and stalactates. I once read that Grande Cave is the only cave in the Indian Ocean equipped with lights, walkways and handrails for safety reasons. We can spot cave formations reminding us of a crocodile, turtle, boat, Santa Claus etc. You can walk 500 m along zig zag paths inside the cave. Please be careful and watch your head and step, as you don’t want to touch and destroy cave formations that have been growing for thousands of years. There were bones of solitaire, extinct endemic bird of Rodrigues, found inside the cave.
In the end of 2017 only the locals worked at the reserve (28 Rodriguans to be exact). No foreigners worked at the reserve, except the Australian owner who is a huge animal and nature lover.
There’s also a museum and a good restaurant at the reserve.
TIPS: I also recommend you to wear hiking shoes as you will walk 2 km through the reserve. You have to visit the Francois Leguat Reserve with a guide. You can visit or just the turtles, or both the turtles and the cave. If you have time, do both as this cave is very different to Caverne Patate. The guide will explain you all the details about turtles, plants and the cave in both English and French. I can praise my guide Bernard who was the best guide ever. You will get a helmet before the visit. Drink water before the visit and use the toilet as there’s no toilets until you finish the visit. Here’s more information about Francois Leguat Reserve.
Aw and don’t forget to look up when walking around the reserve. You will spot white-tailed tropicbirds flying above your heads.
The reserve is located in the Southwest of the island, approx. 1.5 km Southeast from the airport. A sign on the main road is designating where to turn. Notice the unique rock formations around the road leading to the Francois Leguat Reserve. We are talking of former coral reefs that were below the Ocean surface millions of years ago.
5. Zipline Tyrodrig
If you’ve been following me for longer, then you know I am crazy about zipline. You don’t even need to try to convince me to do zipline because I do it everywhere possible. Each zipline is very different, so is the scenery around. Yet, they all have one thing in common… they give me a feeling of freedom when I step out of my comfort zone (yes, I’m scared of heights) and just shout it all out. Adrenaline is an important part of my life and zipline is one of the easiest things to get feel the adrenaline rush.
You will get all the gear you need at Tyrodrig and once the guide explains everything step by step, you can enjoy 4 zipline ropes from 100 m to 400 m long. The first one is the longest and the fastest one. The most amazing thing is that you will see the Ocean in the horizon, but also forests 50 to 100 m below you and hills around you.
The funniest thing was that it was me and the rest were men. Their partners were scared to do zipline and those men didn’t seem to be gentlemen either as they made me go first. You know, ladies first 😀 So I went as the first one and because I always shout, I screamed at each zipline, too. Al the men then laughed at me, imagine! But they didn’t have guts to go first… well..
TIPS: comfortable hiking shoes are again recommended as you will hike fom the end of one zipline rope to the beginning of the other. Hiking is quite short and easy, so no stress. Better don’t take any caps, nor lose sunglasses/glasses, nor flip flips as you might loose them while ziplining. I used a Gopro with a selfie stick to record a video and take some photos. You can leave your stuff at the Tyrodrig office if necessary. And to get to their office, there’s a sign on the main road between Mont Lubin and Grande Montagne.
6. Suspension bridge and pendulum swinging jump
If zipline sounds too much for you, then you could walk along the suspension bridge in Cascade Pistache. The bridge was built above a canyon where in rainy season you can observe a little waterfall and then a river making its way through the canyon below you. Unfortunately, when I visited, it was rather dry so I could only look at the trees around the canyon and white-tailed tropicbirds flying above. A guide will give you a harness and attach you to the side rope of the bridge so then you can walk safely. If you are scared you can have a guide walking in front of you. But I managed to record a video with a Gopro in one hand and hold the bridge with the other hand only. So much fun!
And if zipline is not enough for you, then what about pendulum swinging jump? They call it bungee jump but in reality you don’t jump with your head down, but standing and attached with a harness to the rope.
To be honest, I was so scared of the pendulum jump you have no idea. I had my period and also sinus infection so not in my best physical condition … plus the fear. Just imagine. But another journalist, our taxi driver and our guide convinced me it would be worth it. And I’m so happy they managed to do so 🙂
If you are doing just the suspended bridge, then you will walk the whole bridge from one side to the other. If you’d like to do also the jump, then you will walk to the middle where the platform is and jump from there. Once the walk to the middle of the suspended bridge, the guide will attach you to the rope and when all is safe and ready, he will push you. The first second was incredible, I thought I would scream my lungs out… but then when I could release my arms from the rope and just swing there and back was the most relaxing feeling ever. Such a liberating experience I will never forget. Thanks guys for convincing me, it was an amazing choice.
Cheers to getting out of my comfort zone once again!
It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t advise you to relax on the beach too. You would never expect so many unbelievable beaches on Rodrigues island, trust me! But the island offers quite a few beaches, and all of them look different. That’s the best part of it. The nicest beaches are on the Southeastern and Eastern coast of Rodrigues. I had time to only visit Mourouk beach (I stayed there at Bakwa lodge), Graviers beach (where I stayed at La Belle Rodriguaise) and St. Francois beach (where I had lunch at Tekoma resort).
Usually during the day I was exploring the island and then before sunset I would go to the beach, go for a dip and then watch the sunset on the beach. Every sunset was unbelievable!
TIPS: Notice the volcanic stones that unveil during the low tide on the Graviers beach. If I saw the beach only during the high tide, I would never imagine all those black stones in the water as the rest of the beach is white sand. I also liked the little forest that starts right from the sand so if you feel hot, you can go there to the shade, or even have a picnic under the trees. And bring enough water and snacks to the beach, there’s no beach shacks to buy anything.Just remember to ALWAYS throw the garbagge to the bins or take it with you when leaving. Keep the beaches clean, please.
St. Francois beach Rodrigues island
St. Francois beach Rodrigues island
Mourouk beach Rodrigues island
Graviers beach Rodrigues island
sunset at Graviers beach Rodrigues island
yoga at Graviers beach Rodrigues island
playing with local kids at Graviers beach Rodrigues island
Care-co is a non-profit workshop place where handicapped local people make handicrafts from coconut shells and wood. 18 people worked there in December 2017 when I visited, mostly deaf and some with sight problems or even physically handicapped. Care-co is located in the capital Port Mathurin. You can buy their products at the souvenir shop right there or at a small shop close to the main market in Port Mathurin. If you are looking for exceptional souvenirs, this is the place to go. And you will also support a good thing 🙂
I was really impressed to see how skilled the craftsmen are. Personally, I could never make those phenomenal souvenirs, no way. I am not good at hand-making small things. And btw, and they also make natural soaps.
9. Port Mathurin market
I can never get enough of markets. I could easily spend half a day at a market and not experience any boredom. That energy and local products simply get under my skin. A big market at Port Mathurin is opened every morning. It’s the busiest on Saturday, especially until 10 am which makes Saturday morning the best time to visit. You can buy dozens of different fruit and vegetables inside the market, and locally made handicrafts and many other things outside the market building. And they sell young coconuts outside of the market next to the parking lot, too. Finally a place to get a coconut.
TIPS: Visitors can use free toilets.
10. Festival Kreol
Festival Kreol (Festival Creole in English) takes place on Rodrigues island each year in the end of November or beginning of December. It was happening exactly when I was on Rodrigues island which was also one of the main reasons why I visited the first week of December. I had a chance to watch locals playing at the Theatre at Mont Plaisir one of the nights and it was so much fun. I didn’t understand almost anything as it was in Kreol and French which I don’t speak at all. But it made me laugh to look at the locals laughing like crazy and also interacting with the actors, which is a rare thing.
And when I was at Port Mathurin, I walked as well around the tent where they were selling local products and traditional food and drinks. I tasted papaya smoothie and also lemon water with herbs. But if you get a chance to visit the tent next to the Tourism Rodrigues office during the Festival Kreol, definitely check the locals products, such as paintings, wooden handicrafts, jewelry and bags.
And if you like music and dance, then go to the festival to watch the local bands playing different instruments and dancing the traditional Sega dance. That’s something I left for my next visit.
11. Snorkeling and diving
Many travelers enjoy also snorkeling or diving in the lagoon around Rodrigues. Unfortunately, I was supposed to go snorkeling on my first day but my flight was delayed and then my suitcase was lost for 24 hours with my bikini and snorkeling gear inside. As the rest of my trip was fully planned already, I didn’t get another chance to go snorkeling. But you can hire a boat to take to snorkeling around the Southern islets in the Marine Reserve. Based on what I’ve heard, it should be a blast.
Southern coast of Rodrigues where you can go snorkeling
12. Saint Gabriel Cathedral
Saint Gabriel Cathedral is the biggest church on Rodrigues. This Catholic church was built between 1936 and 1939 by local volunteers who brought sand, stones and corals from all the parts of the island. The Cathedral is located in Saint Gabriel town in the middle of the island. You can take a guided tour or visit on your own. Just remember that on Sundays hundreds of locals gather in the church to attend a mass. Big majority of the locals are Christians.
Across the road there’s a big local cemetery if you would like to learn their burying habits. I found the tombs very interesting.
Having talked of beaches above, I have to mention that many travelers visit Rodrigues also for hiking. I think that Rodrigues is mostly know for hiking, beaches, turtles and adventure sports. I didn’t have enough time to go on longer hikes, and only hiked a little bit when hiking was part of other activities, such as zipline. However, I’ve heard that one of the most hiked routes on Rodrigues are those between St. Francois beach towards Graviers, or vice versa. Because you can hike for a bit, then find a secluded beach, go there for a dip to refresh yourself, and then continue hiking and keep doing the same along the whole trek. I wish I had a full day without any activities planned as I would have definitely hiked this entire route.
TIPS: Bring water, hats, natural oil with SPF factor, and loads of water and some snacks. Hiking shoes or hiking sandals will be way better than flip flops. The whole hike will take you longer than they say, as you will also stop and think twice at some places if to go left or right. That’s what I heard. So it’s better to leave at least half a day, if not a full day for hiking along the coast between St. Francois and Graviers. It’s possible to also hike around other parts of Rodrigues without any problems. I saw some tourists also walking along the main roads and hiking through the hills. When hiking around the Grande Montange Nature Reserve, remember to stop and observe the birds.
14. Camp Pintade Church
If you like churches and you’d like to visit a boat-shaped church, then drive to the small village of Camp Pintade in the West of the island to take a look at the Chapel of St. John. The church is dedicated to St. John, hence its name. It was designed by a Mautirius architect and built by locals in 2012. Before the chapel construction the locals had to travel to La Ferme town to go to church.
I bet you’ve never been to a breath-taking small church like this one. And when inside, do turn back towards the main door and look at the mount you can see through the door. Interesting view to see a mountain on the horizon.
15. Bee farm
I’ve heard there’s more than 100 bee farms on Rodrigues. They are all small family-owned businesses where they take a good care of their bees. We visited Miel Victoria bee farm. They make different honey products there, such as propolis, honey bonbons, honey coco cream etc. The honey produced here is from eucalyptus trees mixed with some other flowers. Local eucalyptus honey has a very significant flavor. If you have kids, honey bonbons would be a great and healthy option to buy.
As you can see, there’s many things to do on Rodrigues island. The island is great for beach lovers, but also adventure seakers and everyone can find something to do even on such a small island.
*I visited the Rodrigues island thanks to Tourist board on the Rodrigues. So grateful for this unique opportunity! You can find more information about the island on their Tourism Rodrigues website both in English and French.
*It took me 8 hours to go through thousands of photos I took, choose the best from them, resize them, upload them, write this article and double check all the facts in the article to be sure they are right. Please appreciate my time by liking, commenting and sharing the post. Thank you, I appreciate it 🙂
Alex is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. In March 2011 she quit her stewardess job and hasn't stopped ever since. Her motto is ''I live to travel, I travel to live.'' She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos.
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