Créole Holidays, Mason’s or Travel Services Seychelles (TSS)
run numerous boat excursions. The St Anne Marine Park and Sihouette are
easily reached from Mahé, whilst the ‘Three Islands’
trip and tours to Aride are popular from Praslin.
St Anne Marine Park
You’ll read in many of the guidebooks that St Anne’s has been
impacted by the East Coast reclamation and the coral bleaching event of
1998/99. But it has always been in the sedimentation path from the Victoria
area in any case and the snorkelling is still really superb so don’t
let the bad publicity put you off. A tour is a great day out and the infrastructure
is so well developed that there are now two semi-submersibles so even
non-snorkellers can enjoy the exquisite reef and colourful tropical fish.
There are popular restaurants on Round, Cerf and Moyenne islands.
A day trip to Round Island, in the St Anne Marine Park is an absolute
must – particularly for the wonderful snorkelling. The trip, usually
in a glass-bottomed or semi-submerged boat, gives you a wonderful vista
into the colourful marine life that Seychelles has to offer. The food
at the traditional restaurant is fabulous and they are renowned for their
tuna steaks grilled on an open barbecue.
If you are into the flora and fauna then nearby Moyenne Island is the
best bet in the Marine Park. Giant Aldabran tortoises, coco de mer palms
and Wrights gardenia are among the attractions and the trees and plants
are conveniently labelled on the circular trail from the Jolly Roger Bar
and Restaurant, near the jetty. You may be fortunate enough to encounter
the owner of Moyenne on your trip. The famous Brendon Grimshaw, a great
raconteur and former editor of Reuters and the Tanzanian national newspaper
agency , is quite a character, You’ll generally hear his loud classical
music playing and he will happily expound on the pirate treasure that
is supposedly buried on the island.
Ile au Cerf
Ile au Cerf has a small resident population including the South African
author, Wilbur Smith and a number who commute to Mahé by speedboat!
It’s a peaceful place to stroll, the snorkelling is excellent and
a very good lunch at the Kapok Tree restaurant is usually included.
Amongst the best of the day tours is Silhouette Island, a marine park
only 20km from Mahé – the big island that you see from Beau
Vallon beach. You can take a short flip with Helicopter Seychelles, take
an organised tour or charter a boat from Beau Vallon. After setting anchor
at Anse La Passe you can hop ashore and explore the small village of Grand
Barbe, the centre of Copra production in the early days, or go snorkeling
at Anse Mondon. The island is actually the third largest of the granitic
inner isles but there are only 130 inhabitants and no roads so it’s
really pristine. The only accommodation available is at the upmarket Sihouette
Island Lodge. However, if you want to spend time in the area but don’t
want to stay on the island you can come on a yacht charter and enjoy some
spectacular hikes and walking trails in addition to the stunning beaches.
You’ll see the exposed granite peaks rising from the thick virgin
forest as you approach. The highest, Mont Dauban, is inaccessible but
you can climb up the steep and often slippery trail through the wonderfully
evocative forest to Mont Pot à Eau (621m). It’s hard work
but well worth the effort both for the view and the interesting flora
on route. Amongst the more interesting is the insectivorous pitcher plant
– the Pot à Eau from which the island takes its name. Take
a guide as the route is not well marked.
Bay Ternay and Port Luanay Marine Parks
Bay Ternay is very different to St Anne: there is substantially more live
coral but this reef was also severely impacted by the warming event of
1998/99. The shallow reef is a great place for snorkelling with a good
variety of reef fish, a resident group of immature Hawksbill turtles and
periodic visits (usually from August to December) from whale sharks. There
are numerous glass-bottom boats, fishing boats and of course dive centres
offering trips – mostly from Beau Vallon, or you can drive up from
the south. The beautiful drive takes you through mangrove swamps and past
the Port Launay Marine Park – also a lovely place to stop to snorkel
and enjoy the secluded beaches – and the views on the last section
of the road over the marine park are stunning. There is no tourism infrastructure
developed in this area but a number of the operators organise beach barbecues
on picturesque Anse du Riz (also known as Play-boy beach).
Day trips from Praslin
The Three Islands tour to Cousin, Curieuse and St Pierre is a great day
out. First stop is Cousin Island Nature Reserve for a two hour guided
tour of the island and its bird colony. A barbecue lunch is prepared on
Curieuse (a marine park) and you have time to swim, visit the old leper
colony or take a longer walk to the other side of the island. The old
turtle breeding area is now redundant but it’s worth visiting and
you still see the occasional turtle in the pond. Then it’s on to
St Pierre for great snorkeling. Bird lovers will enjoy a full day tour
The trip to Aride Island, a nature reserve and the most northerly of the
granite islands, is fun, particularly if you are a birder. Like Cousin,
the island is rat-free so it’s a seabird’s paradise home to
large colonies of lesser and brown noddies, frigate birds and fairy terns
(the graceful bird that is the symbol of Air Seychelles). If you take
the guided nature trail to the viewpoint you may also see rare red-tailed
tropic birds. It’s quite a climb to the top but it s worth it for
the stunning view. Lunch is served on the island, and there’s great
snorkelling on the reef.
Day trips from La Digue
Marianne, Grand Soeur and Île Cocos are popular with day-trippers
from La Digue. The tiny islands are really just jumbles of rocks with
palm trees sticking out - incredible to photograph. You can laze on the
beach or wander around and snorkelling is a big attraction particularly
on Cocos. Île Zavé, with its colonies of terns, noddies and
shearwaters, is a good trip for birders.