We are blessed to be surrounded by several beautiful islets. Many businesses and individuals have relied on them for income, as well as the tourism industry. Apart from the few reserved islands such as Round Island, Serpent Island or Gunner's Quoin (Coin De Mire), which are prohibited to visit, locals and tourists can enjoy the magnificent adventures of the others. Flat Island is among them! Together, let's learn more about it today.
Situated around 11 kilometers from the North of the mainland, Flat Island, or commonly known as Île Plate, is among the most visited places by locals and tourists. This is also one of the largest outer islands in our sea territory, covering an area of 2.53 square kilometers. Even though it bears the name "Flat", however, the island has a hill where a lighthouse is located. The highest point is approximately 100 meters. Like Gabriel Islet, which is just a few hundred meters away, Flat Island is also protected. Very close to Flat Island stands Pigeon Rock, a rocky hill, and a protected area. The island has magnificent fauna and flora. You will surely find several Tropic birds flying around the island. There are more than 100 non-native plants too.
The History Of Flat Island
The island became famous during the British era. The British used it as a quarantine station in 1816. During that period, Smallpox and Dysentery were rampant among slaves coming from Madagascar by ship. A few decades later, the British government officially made the island a quarantine station in 1857. After slavery was abolished, Indian indentured laborers worked in our economy. Unfortunately, hundreds had Smallpox, Cholera, Malaria, etc. The island experienced several epidemic outbreaks throughout the years, beginning in 1816 with Smallpox and Dysentery, followed by Cholera outbreaks in 1819, 1854, 1856, and Malaria, until the 20th century.
Due to the quarantine station, the island has experienced few infrastructure developments. Among the examples are a medical warehouse, a distilling house, a colonial house, a hospital, indentured labor camps, a cemetery, and so on. Few historical ruins have remained today, even they have not been protected properly like it should be by the authorities.
Moreover, in 1855, a lighthouse was built to warn sea sailors of the dangers of crashing against the island. The lighthouse is still active today. For more information regarding lighthouses in Mauritius, see here.
Due to the number of victims who died from epidemics, the island had a cemetery on the coast. It is believed that more than 100 bodies were buried in it. Today, the cemetery has been abandoned and only a few tombs are visible. We are unsure if all have died in those epidemics. Among them, is Joseph Henri Mélotte, born in 1892 and died from the Spanish flu. He was buried on Flat Island in 1919. He was a nurse.
Unfortunately, we have lost several ruins, and a few of them are forgotten in the thick bushes somewhere. There were few archaeological researches which have been carried out, and from them, we know some historical facts associated with the slaves, indentured laborers, etc.
Things To Do On Flat Island
This island is visited by hundreds of people daily. It offers a range of activities. As stated earlier, it is among the most popular places to go in Mauritius. If you are searching for a day off to enjoy yourself, whether it is with family, friends or solo, Flat Island is a must! Below, is a list of the most fun things to do while visiting Flat Island:
Enjoy the gorgeous beaches.
This is the most popular thing to do on Flat Island. The water is splendid, turquoise color, white sandy beaches, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. During low tides, you can admire corals with your googles or even walk in the water for a long time. Also, children can play on the sands. The adults can relax and appreciate the breathtaking views of Round Island or Gabriel Island, and others.
Hiking along the coast.
If hiking is your hobby, you can hike along the coast. The trail can be full of bushes if it has rained recently, otherwise, it is practically acceptable to walk from the North to the South of the island. Wear hiking shoes, as you will encounter a few rocks on your way.
Visit the lighthouse.
Another hiking trail leads to the lighthouse. To reach the top of the hill, in front of the lighthouse, it takes about 30 minutes one-way. Again, the trail can be inaccessible if there are bushes after a rainy period. At the top, you will find other nearby islands, Pigeon Rock, and more.
Explore Historical Ruins.
Along the way to the lighthouse, you will encounter a few remaining historical ruins, such as the quarantine station's kitchen. The cemetery is located in the South, and it can be difficult to find if you have never explored the region. However, you will not be disappointed if you add history to your journey.
Visiting Flat Island
Are you interested in visiting Flat Island? You should be! Plan a trip with your family or friends, and believe me, you will not regret it at all. Flat Island is most commonly reached by catamaran. There are plenty of cruise services that provide trips to this destination, but personally, I highly recommend Wind Dancer. I will explain the entire booking process, why you must choose it, what you get on board, and how the trip works.
Located in Grand-Baie, Wind Dancer, is the only catamaran providing 3 tours in one package for many years. Their catamaran, the Scape 39 model, was designed in South Africa. It provides the maximum comfort for passengers and the crew, the utmost level of safety while sailing, and a spacious deck to accommodate a substantial number of people.
Wind Dancer provides a panoply of services such as a tour of the Northern Islands, including Flat Island, Gabriel Islet and Gunner's Quoin. It is their most popular service. Other services include sunset with dinner, sunset with cocktail, and for those who want to book the whole catamaran for a private tour, Wind Dancer is here to satisfy your demand.
So, how do I get to Flat Island? It is very simple! Firstly, sign up to the booking page, select Sharing - Full Day Northern Isles Catamaran Cruise or if you want a private journey, select Private Full Day Northern Isles Catamaran Cruise, read the trip details, input your date and number of people, and you are done. You will receive your trip details via email. The shared trip to Flat Island takes around 8 hours as it includes other destinations. If you plan to visit only Flat island in a private trip, the duration will be different.
On trip day! It is important that you arrive at Grand-Bay beach, next to Sunset Boulevard, by 07:45am. The crew will validate your booking details. You will have to remove your shoes before boarding. They will be disposed of in a basket by the crew. A small boat will transport you from the beach to the vessel.
Relax, it is enjoyment time! While onboard, the crew will introduce themselves to the passengers. You will receive a warm welcome. You will be guided and briefed on how to behave on the deck. Not only that, but you will also be briefed on the safety measures in place, what you can do and what you should not do, etc. Once onboard, you will have a light breakfast, which includes coffee, tea, and snacks. During your trip, it is advisable to be cautious onboard, particularly on the trampoline.
How is the trip? Flat Island is 1.5 hours away. The catamaran will sail from Gunner's Quoin. From this region to Flat Island, the sea is rough sometimes. So, expect some up and down movements. Rough sea conditions can make you seasick, vomiting. You will already be instructed by the crew about what to do if you feel motion sickness earlier. The rough sea lasts for a couple of kilometers, then you will be fine once you reach Flat Island.
The Flat Island Journey! The crew will brief you again before disembarking to Flat Island. In addition to 1.5 hours of free time on Flat Island, they will provide you with information about lunch and other things. A small boat will take you to Flat Island. During these 1.5 hours, you can choose one or two things to do on the list above. If you are considering a hike to the lighthouse, make sure you have your shoes. Be on the beach before the crew comes to fetch you for lunch. You can hike to the lighthouse and back in 1.5 hours if you are physically active. You can also visit a few historical ruins, or have a walk on the coast, but it is sufficient for swimming and snorkeling. Then, the crew will take you back to the catamaran for lunch.
What do you get for lunch? A large variety of foods and drinks are offered for lunch. Be sure to inform the crew beforehand if you are a vegetarian. Lunch includes macaroni, grilled chicken, marinated sausages, grilled fish, salads, sauces, and others. Alcoholic drinks such as rum and beer are served. For those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks, they will have the choice of water, soft drinks and juice or soda. Please do not hesitate to ask for food or drinks at any time.
What happens next? For the Northern Islands shared package, the crew will bring you to Gabriel Islet. This is optional. After that, you will continue to visit Gunner's Quoin, and you can snorkel if you are a proficient swimmer. Then, they return to the mainland. During your return trip, you will be served some fruits and drinks. At around 16.30pm, the catamaran will be at Grand-Baie.
A note on the crew specifically, they are superb. The head skipper, Marcel and the rest, are always here to help, share nice conversations, and ready to face any situation. Their sailing skills are absolutely amazing. Rest assured, they are professionals you can trust on the deck. What are you waiting for? Reach Wind Dancer as follows:
There is no need to think twice about visiting Flat Island. Add a trip there to your list of things to do as soon as possible, as it has unique fauna and flora and historical facets. Please do not pollute the island during your visit. Be careful during the trip, and always follow the crew's instructions.