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Best islands to visit in Mauritius: adventure awaits just minutes from the mainland

best islands in mauritius to visit

In Mauritius, our paradise isn’t confined to the mainland alone. Just a short boat ride away, a world of wonder awaits on its neighboring unhabited islets. These islets hold their own charm and secrets. From the tourist-packed Île aux Cerfs to historically significant island Île au Phare, or private island such as Île aux Deux Cocos, and even the preserved Île Aux Aigrettes, there’s an abundance of weekend destinations awaiting your exploration. Many of these hidden gems are just a speedboat or catamaran trip away, and each one promises a unique day trip adventure. Let’s explore together the best islands to visit in Mauritius. 

Best islands to visit in Mauritius for a day trip

Crystal Rock and Île aux Bénitiers (West)

Crystal Rock and Île aux Bénitiers often feature together in popular catamaran or speed boat trips, given their close proximity. Several boat companies, including Océane, Croisières Australes, and Princesse Anna, offer excursions to Île aux Bénitiers from Tamarin/Black River.

One of the highlights of this journey is the opportunity to spot dolphins along the way. In our experience, we’ve been fortunate to encounter these playful creatures on three out of four trips. As you cruise towards Île aux Bénitiers, you’ll also have the chance to marvel at and explore Crystal Rock, a natural wonder that emerged from a fossilized coral reef. This magnificent rock formation is situated in the midst of the ocean, approximately 200 meters from the shoreline. What’s truly fascinating is that these rocks predate the island of Mauritius itself by billions of years, believed to be remnants of the ancient microcontinent Mauritia.

Before 2-3 pm, the island comes to life with various activities, including stalls selling local arts and crafts to delight tourists, and the presence of very cool floating bars. Île aux Bénitiers also provides a stunning vantage point to admire the scenic beauty of Le Morne. However, it’s worth noting that circumnavigating Île aux Bénitiers may lack the same appeal on the other side due to the unfortunate presence of litter.

Price: the price of boat trips to Île aux Bénitiers varies depending on the type of boat (speedboat/catamaran), the standard of the boat, the length of the trip, if the boat is privatized or not, what is included in terms of food and drinks and also whether you are resident or not. It can go anywhere from 1400Rs to 3000Rs. To give an estimation, Frolic organized its catamaran meetup with a high standard catamaran, 12pm-6pm, privatized boat, vegetarian food and alcohol included for 2250Rs per person. Watch out for our future catamaran meetups. 

best islands to visit in mauritius
Crystal Rock. Photo Credit: @just_maike
best islands to visit in mauritius
Île aux Benitiers. Photo credit: @johanna64600

Ile aux Fouquets or Île au Phare (South-East)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting Ile aux Fouquets is the 20-25 min boat ride from Mahebourg. As you arrive on the island, you’ll be greeted by the stunning landscape of South Mauritius, with the majestic Lion Mountain in the horizon. Covering just over 6 acres, Ile aux Fouquets is a small but historically significant island located off Mahebourg. Its discovery dates back to 1598 when the Dutch first set foot on its shores.  The island is also known as Île au Phare (“phare” means “lighthouse”) refering to its iconic lighthouse constructed in 1864. This historic structure served as a guiding beacon for ships navigating their way to the port of Mahebourg. Although the old lighthouse may appear abandoned, a visit to its summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.  The lighthouse also features a unique stone spiral staircase. 

Illustrative price: 600 Rs with 𝙁𝙤𝙡𝙠𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙘 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙚𝙧 𝙕𝙚́𝙧𝙤 𝙋𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙚-𝙗𝙤𝙖𝙩.

best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @kss_visuals
best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @_b.k.a.n.o_

Ile aux Deux Cocos (South-East)

Ile aux Deux Cocos, situated just off the southeast coast of Mauritius near Blue Bay, is a splendid private tropical island retreat. This idyllic destination features a picturesque villa adorned with a shaded Moroccan-style courtyard, a fragrant garden, and a refreshing swimming pool. Whether you’re seeking an unforgettable romantic getaway or planning to host a special event, Ile aux Deux Cocos offers an enchanting setting. It’s an ideal venue for weddings, anniversaries, or any exclusive celebration where you can have the entire island to yourself and your guests. 

The island also offers day passes (check also our article on the best day pass in Mauritius for more information about that), allowing visitors to soak in its natural splendor. Relax under the cool shade of a marquee, savoring delicious cocktails, or embark on a snorkeling adventure along the shores of Ile aux Deux Cocos, which borders the Blue Bay Marine Reserve. This marine reserve is renowned as one of the most breathtaking snorkeling spots in Mauritius, teeming with vibrant marine life.

In addition to its natural charm, Ile aux Deux Cocos is also famous for hosting the annual “Pure Festival,” a music extravaganza that draws music enthusiasts and revelers to the island for a celebration of sound and rhythm. 

Price: 2850 Rs on MariDeal for a day pass, buffet lunch and unlimited drinks included. 

day pass hotel mauritius ile des deux cocos
day pass hotel mauritius ile des deux cocos
Photo credit: @iledesdeuxcocos

Île Plate (Flat Island) and Ilot Gabriel (North)

Ile Plate and Ilot Gabriel, two islands located approximately ten kilometers north of Mauritius, offer an idyllic natural setting. These islands are blessed with powdery white beaches and connected by a shimmering emerald lagoon. Visitors can explore these tropical gems by embarking on day boat excursions, organized by local tour operators, and departing from Grand Baie. It’s a 1h30 boat trip from Grand Baie.

The main distinction between these two islands lies in their size and popularity. Ile Plate is the larger of the two, boasting more extensive vegetation, yet it remains a less frequented destination compared to Ilot Gabriel.  The island beckons explorers with hiking trails, and you can even stumble upon a historic graveyard, a testament to its past use as a quarantine station during the 19th century.

Unfortunately, this is a very popuplar spot and the influx of tourists and catamarans is impacting both island’s natural beauty. 

Price: It varies a lot, depending on the type of boat. You can find full day catamaran trips from 950 to 3000 Rs per person, including lunch & drinks. 

best islands to visit in mauritius
Île Plate. Photo credit: @kiba_et_mickael
best islands to visit in mauritius
Îlot Gabriel. Photo credit: @helene_usr

Île aux Cerfs (East)

Ile aux Cerfs, known as “Deer Island” in English, is a popular tourist attraction in Mauritius. Located off the coast of Trou d’Eau Douce on the eastern coast, this picturesque island is celebrated for its stunning natural beauty and a wide range of water sports and recreational activities.

While the island’s name may suggest the presence of deer, you won’t find them here. Instead, Ile aux Cerfs offers an abundance of exciting water sports activities, making it a hub for adventure enthusiasts. From water skiing and banana boat rides to glass-bottom boat tours and parasailing experiences, the island ensures there’s never a dull moment.

For golf aficionados, Ile aux Cerfs boasts one of the world’s most remarkable golf courses, designed by professional German golfer Bernard Langer. With all 18 holes providing breathtaking views of the ocean, it’s a golfer’s paradise.

Covering an area of 79 hectares, the island is also known for its pristine sandy beaches, a beautiful lagoon perfect for swimming, and convenient facilities including three restaurants, toilets, showers, and a small market offering local handicrafts. The nearby coral reef teems with marine life, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and exploring the underwater world. 

Ile aux Cerfs is exceptionally accessible, and you can choose to book a catamaran trip or simply arrive at the embarkation point in Trou d’Eau Douce and negotiate a boat transfer. It takes a mere 20 minutes by boat to reach the island from the coast.

Despite the high number of tourists and persistent vendors, Ile aux Cerfs remains a popular destination. 

Price: Speedboat transfer only to Ile aux Cerfs from Rs500. There are many tours offered by tour operators including lunch and other activities at various prices. 

best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @luseevasko
best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @aman_1450

Île d'Ambre (North-East)

Île d’Ambre, also known as Amber Island, is a hidden gem nestled along the northeastern coast of Mauritius. It’s also one of the largest islands of Mauritius. As you step onto Île d’Ambre, you’ll be greeted by lush vegetation, pristine beaches, and a sense of serenity that sets it apart from the more crowded tourist destinations in Mauritius. The island’s natural beauty is well-preserved, making it an ideal spot for those who crave peace and tranquility.

One of the island’s standout features is its inviting coastline, which boasts powdery white sands lapped by the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean. For nature enthusiasts, Île d’Ambre offers walking trails through its verdant interior, where you can discover unique flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for tropical birds and indigenous plant species as you explore the island’s lush landscape.  Its underwater spectacle also makes for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure.

To reach Île d’Ambre, you can either join a guided kayak trip or catch a 15 min boat from Grand Gaube.

Illustrative price: For residents, 1750 Rs per person for 3h guided kayak trip (Yemaya Adventures).

best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @emmalucxs
Photo credit: @emmalucxs

Îlot Flamants (East)

Not actually an islet but rather a sand bar, Îlot Flamants is popular with kitserfers. It is located less than five kilometres away from the east coast, just between the lagoon and the deep blue ocean. You can reach the island by boat.  

best islands in mauritius to visit
Photo credit: @_katia_m_
best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @thiery_volcy_videographer

Île aux Aigrettes (South-east)

Ile aux Aigrettes, a pristine 26-hectare nature reserve, lies just 800 meters off the southeastern coast in the turquoise lagoon of Mahebourg, Mauritius. This secluded island serves as a vital sanctuary for a diverse array of endemic and endangered wildlife species, including the rare pink pigeon and Gunther’s gecko. More than just a nature reserve, Ile aux Aigrettes offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and witness Mauritius as it existed before the arrival of humans.

This remarkable eco-tourism site has gained global recognition for its outstanding efforts in nature restoration and conservation, serving as a model for successful environmental preservation. To explore this natural wonderland, guided tours with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation are the only option. These tours commence from Pointe Jérome, with a short and scenic 10-minute boat ride to the island, setting the stage for an unforgettable journey through this ecological gem. 

Price: Eco tours provided Mauritius Wildlife Foundation include the Boat trip and 1.5 – 2 hour trail led by a trained Guide  and cost Rs900. 

Photo credit: @promenonsnousfamily
Photo credit: @mihaella__daniella

Ilot Sancho (South)

Ilot Sancho is a small islet located to the south of Mauritius. Following the scenic coastal road in the southern part of the island, you’ll find it nestled next to Baie du Jacotet Beach, between Bel Ombre and Chemin Grenier.

The beach next to Ilot Sancho, while not featuring the pristine white sands of other regions, offers a cozy spot for a picnic. However, the main attraction here is the small islet itself, accessible on foot depending on the tide. During high tide, a narrow stretch of water separates the land from the islet, requiring a short swim or walk through the shallow water to reach it.

Once you’ve crossed the islet’s lush vegetation, you’ll find a strikingly different landscape on the side facing the open sea. Devoid of vegetation, this area resembles a lunar-like surface with peaks and crevasses awaiting exploration. The view of the deep green or blue sea begins immediately at the rear of the islet, making it a favorite spot for fishermen who discover a variety of marine creatures beyond just fish.

Ilot Sancho is also steeped in legend, with tales of hidden treasures left behind by pirates and corsairs who are believed to have lived here in the past. While the treasure legends remain unproven, the historical significance of Baie-du-Jacotet is well-documented. During the French colonial period, a fort was situated here, known as Fort Jacotetguarding this stretch of coastline.

It was in this region that the British first attempted to seize the island of Mauritius. According to maritime history, in 1810, Captain Willougby aboard the Néréide made an initial attempt to capture the island from the southwest but was ultimately repelled by French forces.

Photo credit: @nadia_jeetoo
best islands to visit in mauritius
Photo credit: @madhviittoo
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