Pictures from Cap Malheureux and the islands in the North of Mauritius: Cap Malheureux church, Gunner's Quoin (island) and Round Island.
Church at Cap Malheureux in the North of Mauritius. In the background: Gunner's Quoin.
Cap Malheureux is a village at the north end of Mauritius. It is named after the many shipwrecks that occurred off its coast.
Some people believe that it was named so by the French settlers after the conquest of the island by the British in 1810. A few months after a defeat in the naval battle of Vieux Grand Port in the Southeast of Mauritius, the British succeeded indeed in disembarking in the North of the island and in conquering quickly the whole colony in December 1810. The conquest puts an end to a century of French colonization of "Isle de France" as the French named the island. Under British rule, the island took again the name of Mauritius, which dates back from the Dutch era.
The 1815 Treaty of Paris, a peace treaty following the second abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte, formally attached Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles to the British Empire. At the same time, the Reunion island returned to the French.
English became the official language of Mauritius. However, the English allow residents, including the French settlers, to keep their religions, laws, customs and languages. Twenty years later, the British abolish slavery in Mauritius. The British granted a financial compensation to the settlers and helped them to hire a large number of coolies, mostly of Indian origin, whose life was not much better than that of slaves.
Cap Malheureux is famous for the splendid panoramic view on the northern islands: Gunner's Quoin, Flat Island, Gabriel Island, Round Island and Serpent Island. Excepted for Flat island and Gabriel Island, all the other islands are legally protected nature reserves. They are not open to tourists. Some of these 5 islands may be seen from any place in the north coast of Mauritius. However, the view from Cap Malheureux is probably the nicest one. Few tourists in Mauritius miss a visit of this charming place.
The cape is occupied by a small park in the center of which the Notre Dame Auxiliatrice church stands. With its red roofs, this small church has become the emblematic landmark of Cap Malheureux. It is probably the most photographed site in Mauritius. The church retains its religious functions and the population of the village meets annually in December in the park for a friendly parish feast.
As for tourists, Cap Malheureux is mainly a favorite excursion destination. It offers rather limited accommodation facilities.In the area, you find the Coin de Mire Attitude hotel and the self catering accommodations of Kuxville Beach Cottages and those of Cape Garden. Most visitors come from the nearby tourist resorts or any other place in Mauritius.
Gunner's Quoin (Coin de Mire island) in the North of Mauritius.
Gunner's Quoin is the closest island to the north coast of Mauritius. Located just 4 km. off the coast, this majestic island and its beautiful cliffs - the highest in the country - mark the landscape of a large part of the north coast. Gunner's Quoin is a 65 hectare nature reserve that is not open to tourists.
Further away, about ten kilometers off the coast, Flat Island and Gabriel Island are accessible to tourists. They are classical destinations of boat tours or picnic in the North of Mauritius. The lagoon that separates and surrounds both islands is an ideal spot for snorkeling. The area has also a few famous scuba diving sites. Flat Island hosts one of two lighthouses of the country.
The other main destinations of boat or catamaran tours in Mauritius are Ile aux Cerfs on the east coast and the Morne Brabant lagoon (including Ile aux Bénitiers) on the west coast. The south coast of Mauritius is wilder and is not appropriate to diving in most cases.
Silhouette of Serpent Island and Round Island, off the north coast of Mauritius - a photo taken from Cap Malheureux.
Serpent Island (31 ha) and Round Island (214 ha) are nature reserves located a bit more than twenty kilometers off the north coast of Mauritius. Both are bird sanctuaries.
They were able to retain parts of their original fauna and flora thanks to the relative distance to main coasts. They are strictly forbidden to tourists due to the high sensitivity of these ecosystems to external elements.
With an area of 214 ha and a highest point of 280 m. above the mean sea level, Round Island - the island in the center of the photo - is the second largest offshore island of Mauritius. It is also one of the largest rodent-free tropical high islands.
Round Island is a semicircular islet (rather than as its name suggests). It is worldwide famous for its rich flora and fauna. It is home to several endemic species like Keel Scale Boa (a non-venomous snake) and Gunthers Gecko (a very rare lizard). Some animal or plant species from Round Island such as Telfair Skink and, in a larger scale, Bottle Palm have been reintroduced to Mauritius main island where they were almost extinct.
Round Island is under the joint management of the Mauritius Department of National Parks and the NGO Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which is also in charge of Ile aux Aigrettes in the South of Mauritius. The most reliable access to the island is by helicopter. A field station has been set in the island. Guards continuously care for conservation and preservation of the endangered species.
Serpent Island is the most remote and inaccessible of the five northern islets of Mauritius. Despite its name (Serpent is the French word meaning snake), it does not contain reptiles in contrast to Round Island. Serpent Island is dome-shaped and has a circular base. Its steep slopes make it almost inaccessible to people.
Much of these two islands are covered with bare rocks. There is nearly no vegetation on Serpent Island.