Port Mathurin has a population of around 6,000 people (2006). Sights include its market while the town also has the island’s only bus station and a viewpoint on Mount Fanal, south of the town. There is a Roman Catholic church, an Anglican church, and a small mosque. The two ships of the Mauritius Cargo Handling Corporation, namely MV Mauritius Pride and Mauritius Trochetia, anchor at Port Mathurin five times every month.
Early in the morning, while the port handlers are already loading and unloading the containers of one of the vessels connecting Mauritius to Rodrigues every week, the bus station prepares for the arrival of its lot of workers by bus . The shops start gradually to open while the school children start to go to school.
This small “provincial” capital bears the name of the first inhabitant of the region, the settler Mathurin Bréhinier. Port-Mathurin is not without charm with its streets at right angles, its colonial houses with the worked roofs of tôle and long varangues, its boutiks with colored facades.
Although the harbor is the most lively spot on the island, the capital of Rodrigues is still peaceful and restful. During your stay in Rodrigues, you will be able to discover ancient colonial dwellings and La Residence, which was the former residence of the Queen of England’s representative.
The colorful Port-Mathurin market
In Rodrigues, you will not see sugarcane plantations stretching as far as the eye can see, as in Mauritius, but a multitude of market gardening plantations scattered in the heart of the eucalyptus forests. The fruits of these plantations are embellished every Saturday, the multicolored stalls of the market of Port-Mathurin, as well as the fresh fish, the crustaceans, the poultry, the meat and the local specialties such as the cow cheese or the tortoise Rodriguaise of Marylou Augustin . The rodriguaise pie, based on sanded dough, is a classic of the local family cooking. It is topped with coconut jam or papaya, silt, mango and is decorated as a work of art. You will also find basketry, simple and craft. The craftsmen work vacoas or vetiver, local essences, and make baskets, hats and various utilitarian or decorative objects. Rodrigues Island also enjoys an international reputation for honey production. You can also bring home craftwork items in memory of your trip to Rodrigues.
The market is Port Mathurin is a key moment of the island life, especially on Saturday mornings. Vegetables, fruits, but most importantly, your traditional food and straw hats or hand crafted vacaos basket are on sale. This activity is one of the island’s specialities. It is a friendly gathering for which everyone prepares and no one can miss
The old colonial houses, like La Residence, built in 1897, make up most of Port Mathurin , rendering a warm and festive ambiance in the capital. The building is closed to the public, although it is possible to get an idea of the structure from the veranda of the tourist office across the road.
Saturday is also market day in Port Mathurin giving the locals a chance to buy their fruit and veg and catch up on the local gossip, and giving tourists the opportunity to stock up on local specialities before the flight home. A trip to Rodrigues isn’t complete unless you’ve bought some jars of “achards” and “piments”, and some baskets or trays woven from vacoas plants.
A few tips by Mauritius Explored:
Taste some of the local food
Visit the West coast
If you are taking the public transport, check the time the last bus will leave