There are 17 small islands sprinkled around Rodrigues' lagoon and perhaps the most interesting of these is Île aux Cocos. Around 1.5km long, and 150m wide at its broadest point, Île aux Cocos is a nature reserve and the only island in the Indian Ocean on which four seabirds – the lesser noddy, brown noddy, fairy tern and sooty tern – all breed. The southern quarter of the island is fenced off as a restricted zone. Elsewhere there is a virgin quality to the place – the lesser noddies and fairy terns are remarkably tame, just as all wildlife (including the ill-fated dodo) was when the first sailors arrived on Mauritius and Rodrigues.
The reserve is overseen by Discovery Rodrigues – staff meet all boat arrivals and give a brief (and mostly French) overview of the island's more interesting features. The outfit does not, however, organise the boat trips – you will need to make arrangements through your hotel, a tour operator or directly with boat owners.
A trip to Île aux Cocos will cost around Rs 1500 per person if you organise it through your hotel, but it will cost significantly less (Rs 1000 to Rs 1200) if you go directly to the boat owner. This price includes the boat trip, park admission and a picnic lunch.
Most trips depart from Pointe du Diable, though check with the boat owner when making the booking. If you don't have your own wheels, the owners may be able to arrange a pick-up from your hotel. The departure time could be anywhere from 7am to 10am depending on the tides, and the trip takes an hour each way. You'll probably end up spending around three hours on the island – bring your swimmers.
Boat owners we recommend include: