Sometimes called the 'Cinderella of the Mascarenes', Rodrigues is a tiny island roughly 348 miles (560km) east of Mauritius, and a popular excursion from there. The island is volcanic in origin and is surrounded by stunning coral reef; there are some even smaller, uninhabited islands off the coast. The reef that fringes Rodrigues forms a calm lagoon, which shelters the inlets and beaches of the island and creates wonderful conditions for swimming and snorkelling. There are some glorious little beaches to lounge on. Less touristy than the resort towns of Mauritius, Rodrigues Island offers visitors a glimpse of a simpler and more authentic way of life. The island itself is scenic, with unspoiled flora and fauna offering good opportunities for bird-watching, hiking, fishing, and exploring the stunning caves. It is the only island in the archipelago that has extensive limestone deposits and caves. Rodrigues has a unique environment and a number of endemic species, including the critically endangered Rodrigues flying fox. Although it was once a district of Mauritius, Rodrigues became an autonomous region of Mauritius in 2002. The best way to get to Rodrigues Island is by plane from Port Louis to Plaine Corail Airport.