In the 18th century colonial period, Mauritius had many operational lighthouses which were built to aid ships navigating the sea. The construction of the lighthouses saw a boom as there were many trades occurring at this period of time. Mauritius, being in a strategic location was considered crucial to traders throughout the centuries attracting many European states during colonial expansion.
Ship navigation was the only means to transport goods therefore; lighthouses had an important role in guiding the ships. Today the lighthouses are maintained by the Mauritius Ports Authority. They have become historical emblems and remind us of the colonial period.
Pointe aux Caves (Albion) Lighthouse
The iconic Pointe aux Caves lighthouse, commonly known as the Albion lighthouse stands on a gorgeous cliff edge overlooking the vast ocean. This red and white tower stretches towards the sky; up to 30 meters!
It is located on the west coast of the island precisely at Albion and is a major navigation landmark for ships arriving Port Louis harbor.
Very popular among photographers, the lighthouse stands beautifully on the cliffs and caves of Pointe aux Caves and thus offers a unique photo shoot spot. The construction of this structure started in 1909, and was eventually inaugurated in 1910.
The structure of the Albion Lighthouse
The 30 meter lighthouse consists of four floors with a steep stairs leading to the dome and the balcony. At the first floor there is an electrical panel which controls other equipment of the lighthouse. Previously, this room was used to store accumulators for the supply to the light, and currently only the electrical panel remains. The second floor acts as a lens room of the lighthouse but which instead projects a red light pointing to the entrance of the Port which in turn helps sailors to locate the entrance of the Port.
The third floor has an old cupboard which was used to keep spare parts for the engine. Finally, the fourth floor was previously used to power the lighthouse. It also has steep stairs which leads to the dome of the lighthouse. The dome has enormous old lenses which have been very well preserved. Every night the system rotates by an electric motor to generate a double flash every 15 seconds which is visible to a distance of 29 nautical miles. In order, to enjoy the magnificent view you can step out of the dome leading to the balcony. One of the awe-inspiring views is from the ‘Montagne Jacquot’.
In case you wish to visit the lighthouse you are required to receive an authorization letter from the Mauritius Ports Authority. It is recommended to avoid visiting on very windy days, as if you intend to climb out of the dome you should be very careful, especially if you are afraid of heights.
Lighthouse Island (or Fouquets Island)
The historical Fouquet Island or locally known as Ile aux Phare, is and islet is located at the South Eastern coast of Mauritius near Mahebourg. The five hectare Ile aux Phare played an essential role in the history of Mauritius. It served as a strategic geographical position by being an outpost of maritime surveillance in the bay of Grand Port. Historically speaking the lighthouse and its surrounding structures date back to the Napoleonic period and today they are declared a historical monument. Parts of the structures are still undergoing restoration.
The lighthouse was used by French sailors to enter the Mahebourg port until the early 20th century whereby the British colonists moved all port operations to Port Louis on the opposite side of the island. With the port moving, the light station was abandoned and fell into ruin.
Today the lighthouse stands majestically and represents a historical legacy to Mauritians as it has witnessed the Great Battle of Vieux Grand Port. Many people like to visit this isolated islet to spend a day picnicking. You can easily spot beautiful white tropicbirds nesting right behind the lighthouse, in the steep part of the drop.
You will also find some additional old lighthouses across the island which most of them have turned into ruins. Below is a list of the remaining lighthouses:
Pointe aux Sables Lighthouse: This black stone, Martello tower with two vertical white stripes (24m) was probably built in the early 19th century to repel attacks from the sea.
Port Louis Range Front: The triangular steel skeletal tower (33m) is painted with red and white horizontal bands and is located on Quay A at the Port Louis waterfront.
Port Louis (Range Rear): The short skeletal tower (69m) is mounted on the roof of the State Bank of Mauritius building in downtown Port Louis. It also carries a diamond-shaped daymark.
Roche Bois (Dockers Flat): This is a 20m drum-shaped water tank atop a slender cylindrical tower. It is painted with red and white vertical stripes, whilst the supporting tower is painted with red and white horizontal bands.
Pointe aux Canonniers (Le Canonnier): The 14m black stone, Martello tower with a lantern stands on the ground of a hotel where it was once used as a daycare center for the children of hotel’s guests.