It is a single coral island which measures 11.07 km2 (4.27 sq mi) in area and which has a small settlement on the sheltered western side, surrounded by Casuarina trees. An abandoned coconut palm plantation is just south of it. There is a concreterunway that runs from between the two sand dunes on the southeast to the settlement. The western shore features an almost uninterrupted sandy beach of 5 km. Two large sand dunes are prominent on the southeastern coast of the island, one of them 32 metres (105 ft) high.
The long, white, sandy beach that stretches the eastern side of the island has been several times named 'the best beach in the world' for its white sand, crystalline waters, diversity of marine life and, due to its remote location, lack of crowds (or in fact, any people at all). The island was once home to a great diversity of seabirds, including the Abbott's booby, which is now confined to a single breeding island: Christmas Island, in the eastern Indian Ocean. Efforts are now underway by the Seychelles Islands Foundation, in conjunction with Island Conservation Society and the Islands Development Company, to restore the habitat of the island. The first step in this process is the removal of invasive, introduced bird species, Madagascar fody and red-whiskered bulbul.
Due to the disruptive effect of guano mining which lasted until 1983, the island is dominated by expanses of bare rock and caves, and is sparsely covered with low-growing vegetation.