Nestled in the Indian Ocean, the Republic of Mauritius is one of the most popular destinations for holidaymakers from across the world. When people refer to Mauritius, many do not realize that the Republic is actually made up on several islands. The main island – that to which people refer generally when saying Mauritius – is named after the entire Republic, Mauritius island, but this is by no means all the Republic has to offer.
As well as Mauritius island itself, there are several other inhabited islands in the Mauritian republic. The first of the neighboring islands is Rodrigues, which is surrounded by stunning coral reefs and is a small 109 km2 in size. The population is estimated to be around 40,000. Although Rodrigues does have a dependency on Mauritius, it does aspire to it’s own sovereignty. The main industries on Rodriques are fishing and tourism, as the island boasts the same stunning beach scenery that has made the main Mauritius island it’s name.
There is also the Agalega Islands, which lie around 1,100km from the main island of Mauritius and are still governed by the main island. The islands are spaced rather like New Zealand, with north and south islands, which cover in total around 70 km2. Some 300 people call the Agalega Islands home.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Republic lies 300km south of Mauritius island. A group of 16 islands, commonly known as Cargados Carajos Shoals (sometimes referred to in English as Saint Brandon Rocks) cover an area of 1.3km2. Surrounding these small islands is nearly 190km2 worth of natural coral reefs, making it one of the most sought-after diving experiences in the world. Some of the islands have a small population, such as the island Raphael, which is home to a commercial fishing station, a coast guard and a meteorological station. This are more settlements for business and marine purposes than a living native population. Other islands with settlers include Avocadé, Cocos and Sud, but these too are minimal. The majority of these volcanic islands are devoid of any human settlement, while several islands are still unnamed.
These islands, particularly Cargados Carajos Shoals, are well worth a visit. Regular trips are made from the capital of Mauritius island to most of them, as they monitor the island and provide support and supplies.
However, if it is luxury and not sightseeing you desire, then it is perhaps advisable to stay on Mauritius island itself. This is where the main features of the Republic are, included the sumptuous resorts, flowing golf courses, relaxation spas and other tourist amenities. Some tourists have reported that visiting the outer islands is interesting, but does detract somewhat from the opulence of an overall holiday, as while the islands may be display stunning scenery they are not particularly urbanized. Many can visit just Mauritius island and have the holiday of a lifetime.
It is worth remembering those small outlying islands, though. They may not have the Westernized luxury resorts and amenities that the main Mauritius island can boast, but they have a natural charm and wonder all of their own. They are a unique paradise for scuba divers, offering some of the most unblemished reefs on the planet, so if you have time and can sacrifice the lap of luxury for a couple of days, they are most definitely worth a visit. Trips can be found from the capital of Mauritius island, Port Louis, and will rarely disappoint when it comes to viewing pristine natural beauty.