Lighthouses, Our Heritage...
A lighthouse guides captains of the seas in their navigational process. Most lighthouses that exist worldwide look like a tower as architecture and have a system to emit light from a lens structure to perform their respective tasks. Mauritius has known some lighthouses since it was colonized. Very few still exist and are operational today, while others are inactive. This post will be on the four main lighthouses in our country: Albion, Pointe Aux Cannoniers, Ile Aux Fouquets and Flat Island. Among them, only two are still active!
Pointe Des Cavernes
Commonly known as Albion or Pointe Aux Caves, the Pointe Des Cavernes lighthouse is located on the West coast of Mauritius. It is the most popular operational lighthouse locally due to its beautiful surroundings, precisely the Albion’s cliffs, which attract photo and video shoots from amateurs and professionals.
Built during the mandate of Sir Cavendish Boyle, the lighthouse was inaugurated in 1910. At that time, the light emitted was visible at a distance of more than 30km away. Unfortunately, you cannot visit the lighthouse without permission from the authority. The regions are well-known for agitated waves, particularly partly from the sea of Médine until Montagne Jacquot.
Several drownings have occurred there, and a lighthouse is useful to alert sea captains about the dangerous cliffs ahead. The sea of Albion is dangerous. Swimming is disallowed! During the rainy season, be careful to descend at the bottom of the cliff. The track can be slippery and the risk to fall, or getting injured is high. However, the Albion cliffs remain one of the best spots in Mauritius for photo and video shoots and also for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Another operational lighthouse in Mauritius since 1855 is Flat Island. Located around 11km away from the North of the mainland, this island was used as a quarantine place during the period of Malaria and Cholera in the 1860s.
The sea around Flat Island is most of the time dangerous, particularly when the weather deteriorates. Several vessels have drowned there. Flat Island can be visited by the public, and it is permitted to hike up to the lighthouse. However, accessing the lighthouse requires approval from the authority. Flat Island had a cemetery where a few tombs can still be found. It had a bakery, a hospital, a governor's house, and others. All were active during the quarantine period. Today, most of these ruins have been abandoned and destroyed.
On the top of the island, you can enjoy the magnificent northern coasts and a glance at the nearby islets such as Round, Serpent, Gunner’s Quoin, or Gabriel. Camping on the island is prohibited, to protect the environment and the species there.
Pointe Aux Cannoniers
Move on to the North of Mauritius, precisely at Pointe aux Cannoniers, where a French Fort was built in the 18th century to protect the region against invaders. Cannons were on the coasts for safety and defensive reasons. These cannons still exist today. Among the buildings, there was a Martello tower, and a lighthouse was built in 1855. The lighthouse is a National Heritage, and it is presently in the Le Cannonier Beachcomber hotel property.
That region had a quarantine station as well during epidemic periods. The tomb of Dr. Idriss Goomany is located in the Club Med yard at Pointe aux Cannoniers. Idrice Amir Goumany was born in Plaine-Verte on 4th May 1859. He was a medical practitioner and was among the first to accept serving his country during epidemics. He used to work at the Pointe aux Cannoniers quarantine station. He died from smallpox on 28th July 1889.
Today, this beautiful area is famous for its beach. The Pointe Aux Cannoniers beach has always been a place that offers an amazing seascape. The sea is tranquil, and the coast is famous for hiking as well.
Ile Aux Fouquets
Finally, we end this article with the Ile Aux Fouquets lighthouse, also known as the Grand-Port lighthouse in the 19th century. Built in 1865, it was used mainly to guide the ships which entered the area in that era.
Grand-Port was the primary location for the port in Mauritius but Mahé de Labourdonnais moved it to Port-Louis in the 1740s. The lighthouse, currently inactive for several decades, is on an islet known as Fouquets or Phare. It is also classified as National Heritage and can be visited easily through catamaran or speedboat packages.
This islet holds an important facet of our history. The Battle of Grand-Port occurred around it, and this islet was used for defense purposes just like its neighbor, Ile De La Passe.
Unfortunately, due to fewer activities in the region in that period, the lighthouse was abandoned, and today, it is in ruin! Tourists and locals can visit it via catamarans or speedboats. Camping is not allowed on the islet, except if permission from the authority is granted. Watch a video of it below.
An Heritage We Need To Preserve
We are blessed to have some lighthouses on our island. They are a beauty and must be preserved. There were other lighthouses too, located in different places like Pointe Aux Sables and Port-Louis, but they are all inactive.