Its location will challenge even the most dedicated geography nut, but this tiny isle in the Indian Ocean is worth hunting for.
When Prince William first set foot on Rodrigues for his gap-year visit in 2000, he sent Paparazzi scrambling for their atlases. Far across the Indian Ocean almost 600km from Mauritius, Rodrigues is a challenge to spot on the map and the closest African terrain to Australia. William first landed here while working on a conservation project for the Royal Geographic Society, then returned four years later with friends for a holiday. Yet despite its brush with royalty, Rodrigues still flies under the radar compared to better-known Indian Ocean destinations, and its sleepy isolation is world away from the upmarket resorts of the Maldives or Seychelles. An autonomous territory of Mauritius, the island is just 18km long and home to about 40,000 people with a mix of African and French decent. Its food, traditions and music all reflect a centuries-old blend of African and European traits, and its people maintain a proudly independent mindset with a determination to uphold the island’s easy-paced lifestyle. Among its highlights are white beaches and secluded bays, mostly free of the beach clubs, hawkers and sun lounges of other island destinations. Its lagoon shelters some 20 coral islets with evocative names like Gombrani, L’hermitage and Ile aux Chats. Some, like Ile aux Cocos, are sanctuaries for thousands of seabirds and make popular destinations for boat excursions. Inland, the tropical Rodriguan landscape is home to several conservation parks and reforestation projects, including the François Leguat Reserve where more than 1000 giant tortoises roam freely under a captive breeding program aiming to replace reptiles wiped out in the 1700s. Other natural attractions include the island’s colonies of bats, networks of caves decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, and extensive areas of coral reef ideal for diving and snorkelling.