Reasons Why You Should Visit the Mascarene Islands

Everyone dreams of having a world tour once in their lifetime, and some of us are able to achieve this ultimate dream. If you are not able to have a world tour, then a visit

Everyone dreams of having a world tour once in their lifetime, and some of us are able to achieve this ultimate dream. If you are not able to have a world tour, then a visit through the Mascarene Islands is the best option to explore this part of the world. Often forgotten amid bigger countries, these islands are the real gems of the Indian Ocean, these gems are Mauritius, Reunion Island, and Rodrigues Island. Mascarene Islands was named after the Portuguese navigator Pedro Mascarenhas, who visited in April 1512. These islands share a common geologic origin in the volcanic of the Reunion hotspot beneath the Mascarene Plateau, thus forming a distinct eco-region with unique flora and fauna.

As mentioned earlier, the three main islands are Mauritius, Reunion, and Rodrigues, there are also many volcanic remnants in the tropics of the southwestern Indian Ocean. These islands are Cargados Carajos is the remnant of one or more large volcanic islands which sank as tides rose. It is under the administration of Mauritius. Saya de Malha is a large submerged bank that was prehistorically part of a volcanic island, that is now joined to the Great Chagos Bank as continental drift pushed them apart. Soudan Banks was part of the group of low-lying banks on the Mascarene Plateau. Located just north of Cargados Carajos, Nazareth Bank is the large and shallow fishing bank in the Indian Ocean. Hawkins Bank is located on the northernmost point of the Mascarene Plateau.

These islands have their beauty of their own that gives each traveler various reason as to why to visit them once in their life. If you are still thinking of the ‘why’ to visit this amazing place, I am going to give out some reasons why you need to visit one of these Mascarene Islands.

Reunion Island

As one of the overseas department and region of the French Republic, Reunion Island has been inhabited since the 16th century, when people from France and Madagascar settled there. Slavery was abolished on the 20th December 1848 when the French Second Republic abolished slavery in the French colonies. Later on, indentured laborers were taken from South India to Reunion. The island became an overseas department in 1946. The official language of this gem is French and Reunion Creole. This island is loaded with history that will make you wonder about its origin, as there are no details about this island prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 16th century. Exploited earlier by the Arab traders, Reunion island was later occupied by Portuguese, French and British colonies and handed over to the French. It has a vastly different personality from the rest of Africa’s islands. Unlike Mauritius, which is known best for its white and sandy beaches, Reunion Island is rough, rugged, and full of adventurous ways to explore every corner of it.

Reason to visit:

Visa is easily available to the island, which means there is little to do in preparation for this trip. There are numerous direct flight available to Reunion Island; also if you are of French nationality, then you’re on a domestic flight! You can hike the active basaltic volcano of Piton de la Fournaise. It is quite a spectacular view. Visit the villages inside the large craters; Cirque de Cilaos is a popular one for people’s attraction. There is only one road in and out of the crater and once inside, the temperature drops; be prepared to see amazing and lush rain-forests and waterfalls instead of ragged rocks. There are one thousand kilometers of hiking trails on the island, and they all lead to amazing destinations. If you are diving amateur, then visit Reunion Island for the clear water, five hundred different fish species, and 150 different species of coral. Diving is best on the west coast, and underwater lava flows can be seen while diving on the east coast. Do visit their museum dedicated to rum, La Saga du Rhum in Saint Pierre. You must have one of the traditional carri while there. Carri is an authentic Creole dish made with meat, fish, seafood or poultry. Do have a trip to the Saturday market in Saint Pierre.

Mauritius

Mauritius is the closest land to Reunion Island and the second-largest island in the archipelago. The island is known for being a luxury tourist destination ideally located near the Tropic of Capricorn. The main asset of Mauritius is its purely tropical climate which offers an average temperature of 28 °C all over the year. Mauritius is only 65 kilometers by 48 kilometers. It is full of attractions and places to visit; some authors have named the island full of wonders. With a total of 330 km of coastline and a barrier reef that goes almost entirely around the island, it is always possible to swim and sunbathe on the heavenly beaches.

The island has coral reefs rich in biodiversity, mountains, lakes like the famous Grand Bassin sacred lake located 600 meters above sea level – tea plantations and gigantic sugarcane fields. But these are not the only attractions of this island, where people of Creole, Muslim, Hindu, and Asian origin live in perfect harmony: Port Louis, the capital, is still very lively, and its central market gives the city a pleasant and cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Reasons to visit:

The main reason is the endless beauty of white and soft sand that surrounds this marvelous island. Take a walk in Port- Louis to discover the many facets of the country. At every street corner in Port Louis, you’ll find something to do with markets, museums, architecture and other religious monuments. If you visit the city on the weekend (which we recommend), you will have the chance to discover the famous horse track of the capital, the Champ de Mars, one of the oldest in the world. For plant lovers, head north to discover the SSR Botanical Garden in the village of Pamplemousses. A romantic place to walk under the giant palm trees and other endemic plants of the country. Stop at the famous Château de Labourdonnais to sample the local traditional rum and discover the gastronomic pleasures of the island at La Table du Château. The numerous beaches will make you want to stay for more than you initially planned. Be prepared to fall in love with this pearl of the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is a place that is truly heaven!

Rodrigues

Rodrigues is the smallest island in the Mascarene Archipelago. Rodrigues has had more names than most, including Diogo Fernandes, Domingo Froiz and Diego Rodriguez. At one stage, the French referred to it as Île Marianne. With an area of 108 km² and a population of 41,669 inhabitants, the island is literally in a wild state. Rodrigues Island is located 560 kilometers from Mauritius, and its main feature is its isolation and simplistic way of life. Its relief is less mountainous than that of Mauritius and has beautiful beaches and protected bays. This is the ideal place for those seeking total privacy in the tropics, as the island is far from being touristy, although there are some small hotels. Like the other islands of the archipelago, Rodrigues Island enjoys a mild climate that lasts all year.

Reasons to visit:

Surrounded by coral reefs that also contains the smaller islands like Ile aux Cocos, you are in for an unforgettable time. Rodrigues is an island limited to modernization, making it one of the best places for retreats and relaxation time. If you are in for hiking, then the highest mountain is Mount Limon. With an array of beaches, you can surely enjoy your time in the sun and the white sands. You can also go on a fishing trip. Have a coastal walk from Graviers to St François past some of the sandiest beaches. Do add snorkeling on your list, the best in on the south coast. Rodrigues is the place in the world to forget all about your worries.

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