In 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama succeeded in rounding the cape of Good Hope and called at various Arab-Swahili cities along the East African coast on his way northwards.
It was at one of those city ports that an Arab or Indian pilot showed him the way to Goa, India. Within the next ten years, numerous Portuguese expeditions explored the Indian Ocean, visiting Madagascar, the Seychelles and the Comoros Islands.
Around 1507, the Portuguese seaman Domingo Fernandez Pereira sighted Mauritius and named it Ilha do Cerne. (Island of the Swan). The group of islands consisting of Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues were given the names of Mascarenes after the Portuguese captain, Pero Mascarenhas.
The Portuguese never attempted to settle on any of the Mascarenes islands. They were more interested in protecting their trade routes with India and therefore established settlements along the coast of Mozambique instead.
The Portuguese used the island as a reserve of fresh food for the ships directed to India.