For those who think Mauritius is just one big island with an abundance of beaches and lagoons, you might not be entirely correct. In fact, you would be surprised to learn about the numerous nearby islets close to the mainland of the paradise island. The one we are talking about here is the Ile du Phare, located in Mahebourg.
Also known by the name of Ile aux Fouquets, Ile du Phare is indeed one of the first islets to be discovered by the Dutch back in 1598. It is situated towards the southeastern corner of Mauritius and is closest to the Vacoas Island. It is also reputed as one of the national parks of the island nation. This rocky island sits between the calm sea towards the side of the lagoon and the high sea, which can be discovered on walking across the island. It is right beside the Ile aux Vacoas and Ile de la Passe and is the second island of the chain. In comparison to the other islands, Ile du Phare is relatively hilly. A ruined lighthouse sits on its topmost point, from which the island derives its name.
Back in Time
History tells us about the strategic purpose fulfilled by Ile du Phare during the naval battles fought at the Grand Port. The 26-metre high lighthouse was built in 1864 to guide ships to the port of Mahebourg. Before the British came to Mauritius and shifted all port operations to Port Louis, Mahebourg was an important port until the presence of the original French settlement up to the early 20th century. Once the harbour was shifted to Port Louis, the light station in Ile du Phare was abandoned, and it did not take long before it fell into ruins.
The lighthouse has not restored unfortunately and thus, parts of the metal orbs can be found scattered all over the island. In fact, the ruins do the work of providing shade from the sun and act as a shelter from the wind. The lighthouse features an interesting construction, with a spiral staircase made from basalt stones. Since it was looted several times, some stones are missing. One part of the building was made of coral.
Flora and Fauna
Ile du Phare also has a mini beach, which is generally occupied by tourists. It is also a favourite picnic spot for the local people and the anglers as well. You can also see a colony of tropical birds nesting in the steep part of the drop, right behind the lighthouse. As coral surrounds ile du Phare, it is only possible to access it with boats that have a flat bottom. The turquoise blue water is home to a massive number of sea urchins, including species like the Stone urchin and the Priest's Cap urchin.