Juan de Nova is not a conventional tourist destination. Visitors who do come can enjoy deserted beaches where terns breed from November to March and turtles nest year-round. There are also a number of shipwrecks off the coast that can be explored by scuba divers. Many of the ships traveling from Madagascar to South Africa have been sunk by the strong currents. The most notable shipwreck is the remains of the SS Tottenham lying somewhere off the south coast; it sunk in 1911.
Europa Island is an uninhabited tropical island owned by France and located in the Mozambique channel near the Bassas da India. There is some vegetation on the island in the form of dry forest and scrubs, including some coconut trees that were planted by the French Meteorological service. The island has a roughly circular shape, with a shallow enclosed mangrove lagoon covering about 20% of the island. A number of migratory birds visit the island, including frigates, gannets and terms, as well as visiting pink flamingoes. The island has a meteorological station in operation used to predict cyclones in the area. It currently operates as a nature reserve.
Throughout the month of September daytime temperatures will generally reach highs of around 27°C that's about 80°F. At night the average minimum temperature drops down to around 20°C, that's 67°F. In recent times the highest recorded temperature in September has been 33°C that's 91°F, with the lowest recorded temperature 13°C, about 55°F.
Europa Island, situated in the fairway of Mozambique channel, is circular, about 4 miles in diameter, from 50 to 80 feet high, and visible from 12 to 15 miles. Its north-east point is in lat. 22' 19.25', long 40' 27.5' E. The island is sandy, with low hummocks in places, and for the most part covered with dwarf trees, bushes, rushy grass, and a few small casuarina trees.
Europa Island functions as an important nesting ground for sea turtles and seabirds, and also claims an endemic subspecies of land bird as well as two endemic subspecies of lizard. While Bassas da India is of scientific and biogeographical interest due to its relatively undisturbed reef system, the limited area of permanently dry land is not sufficient to support significant terrestrial life. Europa Island is considered one of the most important nesting sites for green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in the world. Chelonia mydas, the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles, was classified as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List in 1996. Between 8,000 and 15,000 females nest on the island's beaches each year, and 0.7 to 2.4 million juvenile turtles hatch annually. Only about a dozen large populations of nesting females are known to persist worldwide, and only Europa and Raine Island (Australia) appear to have stable populations that are not heavily exploited. In a good year, over 10,000 females may nest on Europa. The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is also fairly common on the island.
Europa Island is a sanctuary of well-preserved terrestrial and marine biodiversity. It has a unique profile, with a shallow interior lagoon which drains out at low tide, a mangrove area of over 700 hectares and a vast euphorbia forest. It hosts several species of migratory birds, of which 13 come to the island to reproduce.
The establishment of Europa Island as an Exclusive Economic Zone which thereby restricts control of natural resource extraction to a designated state is appears to be the bone of contention between France and Madagascar. Exclusive economic zoning exists from the shoreline to 200 nautical miles seaward.
Europa, with 30 square kilometers (km2) of land area, is 6-7 km in diameter with a maximum altitude of 6 meters (m). Its shallow lagoon (generally 1 m deep) is open to the sea at one side, and covers about 900 hectares (ha), including some 700 ha of mangrove swamp that is particularly extensive to the south. The lagoon is almost entirely exposed at low tide, and supports sparse seagrass beds at its outflow. These are dominated by Thalassodendron and Halodule species. Another smaller lagoon supports a mixed vegetation. The rim of the atoll is a karst structure; there is also a quantity of exposed coral rock and extensive sand dunes and rubble to the southwest. Europa is estimated to have formed about 90,000 years ago. It is surrounded by an abraded coral platform 200 to 600 m in width, which emerges at low tide carpeted with algae.
Juan de Nova was named after the Portuguese explorer, Joao da Nova, who discovered the island in 1501. He did not claim it. The French colonized it in 1897 and Juan de Nova has remained a French territory ever since. During the early 20th century, phosphate deposits were discovered and heavily exploited until 1970. During WWII, German submariners visited the island and installed a military post. Today, Juan de Nova is home to a meteorological station patrolled by French troops. While the French administer the island, Madagascar claims an exclusive economic zone over it.
The island also goes by the name of Juan de Nova Island stemming from its discovery by a Spanish explorer in the fifteenth century. Europa Island has been claimed as a French possession since 1897 though currently the center of a disagreement involving Madagascar. There is a French military garrison on the island known as Robinson Residence. The only other structure on the island is a weather station believed to have last been visited in 2005.