Coin de Mire, or Gunner’s Quoin, is one of the 6 islets north of the tip of Mauritius, including Gabriel and Flat Islands. The closest to the coast, it is also the most recognizable thanks to its high cliffs. Transformed into a nature reserve, Coin de Mire is not open to visitors, but its superb seabed is prized by diving clubs. With its cliff of 162 meters high, Coin de Mire has a very dominant view compared to Gabriel and Flat Islands.
Classified as a nature reserve, it extends over 65 hectares and serves as a habitat for several endemic species. These are divided between plants, such as the blue latanier and Lomatophyllum tormentorii (aloe growing only on the northern islets) and animals, such as the Nactus coindemirensis, a small nocturnal gecko. Notably, the remains of a sugar plantation dating back to the 16th century can still be seen on the island. They bear witness to the attempt by the Dutch, the first settlers of Mauritius, to develop this crop in Coin de Mire.
It is home to 24 endemic species. Some of the invasive species such as Fallow Deer, Black Rats and Wild Rabbits have been eradicated, which has enabled a project to introduce endemic reptiles from the round island further offshore, such as the Telfair Scintilla, to be carried out. The first were released in December 2006. Coin de Mire is home to the nesting grounds of several seabird species, including Pacific Shearwaters, Red-billed Shearwaters (Phaethon rubricauda) and Yellow-billed Shearwaters.
Although you are not allowed to set foot on Coin de Mire, given its status as a nature reserve, it is a striking sight when viewed from the sea. Don’t forget to bring a camera with you, it will give you some beautiful shots with the island as a backdrop. To get there, there is nothing better than one of the catamarans that offer cruises to the Mauritian islets. These boats often drop anchor near the Coin de Mire to allow their passengers to explore the seabed with mask and snorkel. It is, indeed, a fantastic diving spot. You will surely see the famous Paille-en-Queue, the emblematic bird of Mauritius, flying fish jumping over the water and maybe even dolphins if you are lucky.