MAURITIUS is an island nation off the east coast of Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900km (560 miles) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the republic includes the islands of St. Brandon, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. The French island of Réunion is 200km (125 miles) to the southwest. Together with Réunion and Rodrigues, Mauritius is part of the Mascarene Islands.
This archipelago was formed in a series of undersea volcanic eruptions, as the African plate drifted over the Réunion hotspot. They are no longer volcanically active and the hotspot now rests under Réunion where La Fournaise is still very much active. The island of Mauritius itself is formed around a central plateau, with its highest peak in the southwest, Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire at 828m (2,717 ft). Around the plateau, the original crater can still be distinguished from several mountains. The island’s capital and largest city is Port Louis in the northwest. Other important towns are Curepipe, Vacoas, Phoenix, Quatre Bornes, Rose-Hill and Beau-Bassin.
The island is well known for its exceptional natural beauty; “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius”, as Mark Twain noted in “Following the Equator”. When discovered, the island of Mauritius was home to a previously unknown species of bird, which the Portuguese named the dodo (simpleton) as they appeared not too bright. However, by 1681, all dodos had been killed by settlers or their domesticated animals. Nevertheless, the dodo is prominently featured as a supporter of the national coat-of-arms. Mauritius is a new and emerging superyacht destination well worth visiting.