Only 18km long and 8km wide, this tiny volcanic island surrounded by a turquoise lagoon is the place to be if you are looking for some tranquillity. This travel destination is perfect for family holidays or a honeymoon. The island has very cheap accommodation and food. The least a holiday can cost you is about 500$ (15000 Mauritian Rupees or 400 Eur) if you are travelling from Mauritius for five days. Rodrigues is probably the perfect budget destination. Rodrigues population is only about 40 thousand inhabitants, a fraction of the 1.3 million inhabitants of Mauritius.
Best time to visit Rodrigues
The best time to visit Rodrigues is during Summer. Temperatures are high but the weather and sea are always calm. If you want to enjoy the sea, then Rodrigues is not perfect all year round. The wind can get somehow strong during the winter season making it very bad for scooter rentals. During this season, the sea be very rough making beaches like Trou D’Argent practically un-swimmable.
Arrival at the Sir Gaetan Duval Airport
If you are going to Rodrigues by air, then you will definitely land at the Sir Gaetan Duval Airport, also the only airport of the Island. Situated in Plaine Corail, you will have a magnificent taste of the blue lagoon and the “île aux deux cocos” islets.
As only ATR 72s serve this charter, you should expect some turbulence in case of bad weather. The trip is perfectly fine in good weather. The engine of the ATR can be quite noisy and disturbing. Bringing along some earplugs can fix the problem. The room space for the legs are quite small too. The one-and-a-half-hour trip from Mauritius to Rodrigues can be quite stressful for your legs if you are above 1m80.
The tiffin meal served onboard is not consistent. We would suggest that you bring along a sandwich and some water to remain hydrated during the flight.
Accommodation in Rodrigues
There is a vast range of accommodation in Rodrigues. From hotels, villas, bungalows, bread and breakfast, etc., there is always something for everyone’s budget. However, we do not recommend staying in Hotels in Rodrigues. The majority of Hotels do not offer the activities they publicise.
Cotton Bay Hotel
Our trip to the Cotton Bay Hotel was a real catastrophe. The rooms were in a pitiful state with the A.C failing very often. However, the room service was enough kind to fix it several times. It was quite tiring to call them over and over again to come and fix the A.C. The tile flooring was beginning to pucker. It could be felt while walking over it.
The light switch was not working properly and some of them were out of order and not fixed properly causing a lot of dust to gather behind them. The balcony was the resting place of sparrows who in their quest for food, served themselves from your biscuits left on the table. It is not to mention the uncleaned excrements left by them on the beautiful wooden rails.
Even though, there was a flat TV in the room, the tv channels and the image quality was very poor, barely watchable.
The services they publicised on their websites, like water sports was unavailable and the tennis playground was in a state of ruin, not suiting a three-star hotel. Even the wooden staircase, present all over the establishment had paint cloaking and the metal base rusted.
It seemed like the hotel was an abandoned place, quickly renovated to take in guests.
The pool was quite desert, as it was winter time. The management said it was recently renovated but all we could see was some unclean strokes of blue paint. The kiosks and deckchairs, adding some charm to the place, were also not in state and should definitely be replaced.
Regardless of the poor infrastructures, the service was quite an excellent one. We received a very nice welcome from the receptionist, a very charming lady which offered us a nice lemonade and found us a scooter rental.
The rooms are usually vacated at noon. However, we had to wait two hours before the check-in. In the meantime, we had ample time to take the bus to Port-Mathurin which is some thirty minutes away. The journey is quicker if you are travelling by your car rental or scooter rental.
The Rodriguan people are nice and welcoming. Starting a conversation is quite easy.
The hotel has two restaurants, one of which was closed during the length of our stay. The main restaurant offers an Open buffet to its guest for breakfast and for dinner. Breakfast can be taken as from 7.30 in the morning and is served until 10.30. Dinner also is served from 7.30 p.m until 10.00 p.m.
Due to the bad weather during our stay, we couldn’t enjoy the beach. The beach in front of the hotel is not good for swimming though. The Coral boulders on the beach could injure your feet. We recommend the beach situated just after the hotel which is also a place of choice for Rodriguan who come here to picnic in the week-end.
The best accommodations
The best accommodations according to people who travel regularly to Rodrigues and Rodriguan locals are accommodations found in “Anse aux Anglais”. In fact, it is perfect due to its close proximity to Port-Mathurin and to the beach. It is also a very quiet place and many inhabitants offer bread and breakfasts and rent some rooms. You will have a real taste of what an authentic Rodriguan lifestyle and food means.
Honey: How to buy?
Rodrigues Is world famous for its eucalyptus honey sought after by many travellers and tourists. Unfortunately, during the past years, the demand for this precious liquid has seen an unprecedented rise.
To meet the demand, the sellers, especially those in the central market of Port-Mathurin, resolve to certain dark practices such as mixing it with sugar and water. This low quality “honey” is then sold for cheaper to tourists in small pots, the same they use to sell their pickles and grounded pepper and lemon paste. However, some honest tradesmen will confess to this crime. This type of honey is void of all therapeutic properties and bad for health due to the sugar it contains and is mainly sold during winter where bees are in a state of hibernation mainly due to the bad weather.
The best time to buy honey though is during summer where bees come out of their hibernation. The best honey is produced, according to apiculturists, at the peak of the heat during the summer. However, do not let yourself get fooled with the price, even though the quality may be the best during this season, you can always get a cheaper price in Mauritius.
Port-Mathurin: The capital
A unique charm reigns in this small town. It seems like Port-Louis stuck in time, some 25 years ago. Port-Mathurin as its name suggest is the only port of the Island. A long time ago, when there was not yet an airport, the island highly depended on it for food supplies and other commodities. The Sailing into port of ships into the harbour was, some time ago, a real event to the islanders and was celebrated by the rhythms of “Ravannes” and “Sega typique” dance moves.
There is nothing really interesting to visit in the town apart from the Central Market, situated in front of the sea and next to the mouth of a river.
Mont Limon: The Highest peak
Mont Limon stands at only 398m high. You won’t even have the time to realize that you are on the highest peak of the island. Mont Limon is situated at the cross road of Port-Mathurin and Pointe Cotton, where our team has been resting. It is situated at one of the most populated villages on the island, Mont Lubin, a very handsome little town where roads all across the island meet. Standing on Mont Limon will get you a 360-degree view of the tiny island with an ocean of blue surrounding it.
The lagoon of Rodrigues is the main pantry of the island. The islanders highly depend on it for their food. As you arrive by air, you will see the proportion of the island to the lagoon, rich in fish. The lagoon has not been over exploited compared to Mauritius and is very rich in various sea food.
The island’s main staple foods are rice and corn which are often cooked together to form a thick consistent paste. You will not find any curry food on the island as Indian immigrants are less than in Mauritius.