Coin de Mire Island
Approximately five miles off the north coast of Mauritius is Coin de Mire island, or Gunner’s Quoin. Famous for its prolific tropical bird population, twitchers will have a field day spotting species such as the Red and White-Tailed Tropicbird, Sooty Tern and Masked Booby. While visitors are not allowed on the island for conservation reasons, the picture-perfect nature reserve offers some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in Mauritius. Look out for a range of fish and, if you’re lucky, sea turtles and dolphins.
Ile aux Gabriel
You’ll feel like you’ve arrived in paradise after setting foot on Ile aux Gabriel. Take a dip in the crystal-clear aquamarine waters, before relaxing on the pure white sandbar that the island is famous for. Visitors will also see a range of birds who have made the island their home, such as the White-Tailed Tropicbird. Other residents include the orange-tailed skink and the Bojer’s skink. It’s worth taking a steady stroll around this idyllic island to get a sense of what the mainland looked like before development began. Pure heaven!
Ile Plate (also known as Flat Island)
Situated just five minutes from Ile aux Gabriel, Ile Plate was used as a quarantine station from the mid-19th century to the 1930s for those suffering with cholera, smallpox and malaria. Some overgrown structures remain on this uninhabited island, and a historic white lighthouse continues to be a beacon for fishermen; elsewhere, a cemetery is still identifiable on the southern side of the island. Experienced divers will love visiting an internationally renowned dive site known as The Shark Pit. Situated at the foot of a huge rock known as Pigeon Rock, divers can witness grey reef sharks and silvertip reef sharks swimming in a circular pattern in the pit.
Following its designation as a nature reserve in 1957, this diminutive island represents one of the longest-running island restoration projects in the world and an ecological success story. Habitat restoration, eradication and reintroduction have all led to the resurgence of reptiles, birds and plants on this uninhabited island, including the recovery of the Round Island Boa from the brink of extinction. Access is not permitted unless for scientific research purposes, but the rough seas and rocky shoreline mean this rotund rock is best appreciated from a distance.
This mountainous island is the most remote and inaccessible of the five northern islands of Mauritius. Despite its name, there are no snakes on the island, but it is home to a large colony of seabirds. The water around the island is a popular spot with divers, with excellent visibility. A wall that drops to a depth of 50m creates ideal conditions for observing colourful batfish; elsewhere, reef sharks are regular visitors to a place known as Shark Arena. Access to the island is not permitted, but the surrounding waters offer plenty to enthral visitors.