Seychelles is one of those destinations that take our breath away when we see photos from travel agency brochures or when we can’t take our eyes off the television while watching a Discovery Channel report. The almost unreal splendor of the crystal clear, turquoise sea, the whiteness of the unspoiled sandy beaches, the magnificent granite boulders, and the never-ending canopy of palm palms may leave you speechless. Yes, it is yet another one of those places where everyone wishes to visit and experience their own personal piece of “earthly paradise.” Until almost twenty years ago, Seychelles was almost unattainable and very expensive. A country in the western Indian Ocean, near the equator, on the high seas. Now, however, they are much closer than they seem at first glance.
Today, a seven-day package to Seychelles costs between 1000 and 1200 USD (very often only bed and breakfast). Depending on where you are coming from, the simplest option is to fly to Victoria, Seychelles’ capital. You’ll agree that it’s a minor hassle in comparison to the paradise that awaits you. The flight may be a little exhausting, but all of that fades away as the plane lands on the major Seychelles island of Mahe’s runway, which is directly close to the ocean.
Geomorphology distinguishes Seychelles from the majority of the world’s other “wonderlands” on Earth. Due to the expansion of tectonic plates, the major archipelago was created as a granite massif that “broke” from the depths of the sea. Additionally, several smaller coral atolls were developed very recently in geological history. Seychelles differs greatly from similar volcanic islands, such as Tahiti or Hawaii. In that granite rock has exceptionally attractive smooth textures and interesting shapes.
Seychelles is made up of three main granite islands: the biggest, Mahe, followed by Praslin and La Digue. In the archipelago, there are a dozen other smaller islets like this. The surrounding islands are made up of smaller or bigger coral atolls. The most renowned of which is the Aldabra atoll. Which is located just south of the abovementioned. Victoria, the capital, is located on the main island of Mahe where the international airport is located. The majority of Seychelles’ population is concentrated in a few kilometers, and immediately next to Victoria is a big port where nearly all of the products that Seychelles is obliged to import are continually unloaded. It’s also worth noting that numerous British Navy ships are regularly docked in the harbor, with Seychelles serving as one of the important locations for the British Navy. Tourism has, without a doubt, been the most significant economic branch in recent years. It’s a dynamic process. Fortunately, it does not move in the direction of “concreting” or “cruising,” but Seychelles are dominated by smaller or larger “resorts” that precisely match the danger of tourism “eating itself.” That is why there are no obnoxious and pushy locals who believe visitors are here just to sell them something, nor unpleasant waiters and receptionists who regard you as a passing item whose appearance is compensated.
Every traveler will find Seychelles to be quite a lovely and welcoming destination. Even a casual discussion with our hosts is often punctuated with tales of turbulent history. Thus we learn that Seychelles has been the main base of many pirates in the Indian Ocean for centuries, and many of today’s inhabitants are in one way or another their descendants. Even a local police officer will engage in such a conversation with you when you just ask him along the way how to get to Big Ben, one of the most famous squares in Victoria. In truth, it’s just an ordinary crossroads, but in the middle of it stands a five-meter-high replica of London Tower, built in honor of the British monarchy. For two centuries Seychelles has been a British colony.
History of the Seychelles
Seychelles is an island country in the western Indian Ocean, about 1,600 kilometers northeast of Madagascar. They are surrounded by Mauritius and Reunion in the south, Comoros in the southwest, and the Maldives in the northeast. Arab traders were the first to explore then-uninhabited Seychelles, and the Portuguese were the first Europeans to set foot on the islands in 1505. For many years after that, Seychelles became a sanctuary for different pirate groups. In 1756, the French took control of the islands and called them Seychelles after the then-French Minister of Finance, Jean Moreau de Seychelles, and the British have controlled the islands since 1814. Seychelles have been an independent country and member of the Commonwealth and Francophonie since 1976. Following that, turbulent circumstances led to a rebellion in 1977, when France-Albert René was elected president until he resigned in 2004 and was replaced by President James Michel.
Seychelles consists of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean of which 33 are inhabited. In geological terms, the islands that make up the archipelago’s core (Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue) are really microcontinents created in the distant past by the penetration of granite magma to the sea surface. Granite formations are most responsible for today’s unique view of the islands, which makes the Seychelles recognizable across the world. The other islands are mostly of coral origin. Aldabra Atoll, one of the world’s most beautiful atolls, is the most well-known. The capital, Victoria, lies on the island of Mahé, which is home to 80 percent of Seychelles’ population. On the same island is the highest peak of Seychelles, Morne Seychellois 905 meters high. Since gaining independence in 1976, Seychelles’ GDP has increased almost sevenfold. Tourism, which employs about 30% of the population and generates 70% of the country’s revenue, was primarily responsible for this expansion. Another important industry is fishing.
It’s also worth noting that Seychelles is one of the world’s most indebted countries, with total external debt equaling 122.8 percent of GDP, while simultaneously having the highest GDP per capita in Africa. Since Seychelles have no natives, the local population is made up entirely of newcomers. French, Africans, Indians, and Chinese make up the majority of them. The official languages of the nation are French and English, as well as Seychelles Creole, which is developed from the French language. The majority of the people are Christians, with the majority of them being Catholics.
Scuba Diving in Seychelles
When considering the diving aspect of a journey to Seychelles, the first and most essential factor to consider is the place of landing or the location where you will be staying. Because Seychelles is spread out over such a vast region, most divers’ first choice is the major island of Mahe. But those looking for more exotic locations will certainly pull to the more remote islands of Praslin, La Digue, Aldabra, and others. This will require the use of sympathetic tiny tourist planes, which are a frequent mode of transport between distant locations.
Most of the diving centers are located in the vicinity of Victoria or Beau Vallon on Mahe Island, and there are quite a few on Praslin. The main form of transport on the neighboring island of La Digue is a bicycle. Nature remains untouched, and a diving center is located in the garage of a local store. On the neighboring island of La Digue, the main means of transport is a bicycle, nature is untouched, and a diving center is located in the garage of a local store. Other atolls with some of the greatest locations in the Indian Ocean are either deserted islands that are extremely far away or a few closer but smaller islands with just modest resorts for approximately twenty people. Something like the Maldives a few thousand miles away. As a result, diving cruises, which are several times more expensive than “land” arrangements, are practically the only way to visit some of Seychelles’ most famous spots. The Amirantes, Farquhar, and Aldabra atolls are examples of this. Aldabra is the world’s largest coral atoll (not a reef), and it was recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Diving spots are primarily focused in the northern section of Mahe, the major island of Seychelles, therefore most of the centers are centered near the resort of Beau Vallon. One of the most globally known locations is the shipwreck of the British military tanker “Enneralde”. It sank in 1970 when it ran into an unmarked reef. This two-hundred-meter-long behemoth was tragically dissected (by the British Navy) when it sunk in the middle of the Victoria Waterway. Therefore nowadays divers are interested in the ship’s preserved stern third, which rests at a depth of thirty meters. However, it should be noted that the popularity of this place stems from the desire of every member of the British Navy, which is stationed in large numbers in Seychelles, to dive into this, for them, one-of-a-kind location. For us, other divers, Enneralda is not so attractive. Simply because it is only one part of the ship, and it does not abound in corals or shoals of fish as one might expect.
The Seychelles’ wrecks and granite sikes
However, the nearby “Brissaire rocks” are an exciting location. There are several of these bigger granite sikes that are characteristic of Seychelles, and scuba diving there is extremely intriguing. This isn’t a typical coral reef, The location is full of marine life with frequent whitetip sharks, Napoleons, and numerous rays. The only thing divers need to be aware of are potentially strong currents, and the diving should be adjusted accordingly. The granite massif is covered in fiery and acroporous corals, among which are numerous smaller fish species and, on rare occasions, large shoals of colorful “sweetlips” as well as the other coral reef fish. Brissaire is one of the finest places to see in Mahe and should be on your list of places to visit.
Shark Bank is by far the most popular location on Mahe. It’s a granite spire similar to the one on Brissaire, but Shark Bank is considerably closer to Beau Vallon, thus visitors are more likely to come here. Several granite boulders rise up to twenty meters from a thirty-meter-deep sandy plateau. It’s about diving into the blue. You’ll be greeted by a large flock of “sweetlips” once you descend to the top of it. You may anticipate sharks here, as the name implies, but they are in lesser numbers than on Brissaire. But at the shark bank as a safe option, you can always expect a large stingray the size of at least half a meter. Local rays are less photogenic than the famed Egyptian blue-spotted rays, but they are bigger and you can often see flocks of them. The “home” place where the centers will take you multiple times in a package is Shark Bank, and it is well worth it.
L’ilot – Seychelles
The islet of L’ilot, which is located at the very eastern extremity of Beau Vallon’s vast bay, is the next “nearby” site. The granite outcrop with a few palm trees at the top is about thirty meters in size, but in the seabed it hides a great variety of coral and fish species. The maximum depth is around twenty meters, so it’s a good choice even for beginners, as long as there are no too strong currents during the tides. Because it is near to the coast and shallow, the spot is perfect for night diving. You’ll have a higher chance of spotting lobsters, moray eels, prawns, and octopuses here, which are harder to see during day dives. This is a place that should be visited at any time of day or night.
Auberge & Ternay National Park – Seychelles
One of the intriguing places on the west side of Beau Vallon Bay is the shipwreck Auberge. Which was purposefully sunk on a sandy plateau particularly for scuba divers. However, the Bay (or Baie) Ternay National Park, which begins at the very western tip of the bay, is far more interesting. For even total novices and ordinary snorkeling, this is a spot where you may have a fantastic time. The sandy beach is up to ten meters deep, and there are enormous coral formations along the rim, so you may spend days exploring it.
Murines and shoals of reef fish may be found among the numerous corals, and huge examples of gorgeous batfish can be seen on the sandy edge. Turtles can also be seen in surrounding area. When a group of more experienced divers goes diving, they may wind up on the western border of the bay (or, more exactly, outside it), where they are subjected to powerful currents known as the “washing machine.” Then you literally need to be careful that sudden changes in current flows don’t throw you off a cliff. There’s a good chance you’ll see a couple whitetip sharks here.
Trois Bancs – Seychelles
Trois Bancs is another granite spire worth seeing. However it is located on the Mahe’s western uninhabited end, thus the trip there is a little longer than the others mentioned. Divers can explore several smaller canals and canyons produced by fractured granite slabs at depths of twenty-five to thirty meters. You can also encounter numerous shoals of bat fish, as well as a few shoals of magnificent spotted eagle ray. This area is only for advanced categories due to diving into the deep blue and potentially stronger currents. It’s generally done as part of a full-day excursion. So you head to nearby Conception Island for a second dive, where the water is slightly shallower. But they are equally interesting so this is a very popular day tour.
For better locations, picking the right season is crucial.
The locations around the islands of Praslin and La Digue are typically nicer than those on Mahe. But because to the distance, you must stay on one of these two islands- A larger choice of accommodation is on Praslin. As a result of the government’s efforts to encourage luxury tourism, expect a somewhat greater financial expenditure than if you were to stay in Mahe.
Praslin is also known for having a large ornithological reserve and being the home of the endemic “sea coconut,” one of the Seychelles’ symbol.
Here, you will get the opportunity to walk among the many local giant turtles on the island of La Digue.
Cousin and Cousine, two small granite islands south of Praslin, have several “domestic” centers. Unlike those on Mahe, you’ll be able to see large tropical gorgonians, numerous groupers, and Napoleons, as well as flocks of barracuda and a few sharks. Although without any specific time sequence, south of these islets there are frequent encounters with whales, which occasionally gather in larger flocks. These islands are generally visited on full-day expeditions with three dives, and it is definitely worth visiting them several times. In comparison to the Mahe, there is a somewhat larger concentration of underwater life.
East Sister bank – Seychelles
Another local favorite is East Sister Bank on Sister Island, north of La Digue. Huge granite blocks are scattered across a large region, and, in addition to reef fish, there are more regular encounters with pelagic fish such as tuna, barracuda, sharks, and others due to the continuous currents. As a result, drift diving is particularly popular here, requiring slightly more experienced diving groups. In fact, the general problem with locations around Praslin and La Digue is that most attractive locations require at least average weather conditions. Therefore, you should be very careful at what time of year you decide to come to such locations. Unlike Mahe Island where diving is generally possible all year round. Therefore, the general rule is that maritime conditions for local sites are good between March and April until October. The waves are too big and the currents are too strong the rest of the year, so it would be a great pity to be on Praslin at this time of year because you won’t be able to get to the best spots. Then, staying at one of Mahe Island’s places is a much better alternative. Similar excellent dives may be found on the Ave Maria cliffs and on Felicite Island, particularly on the southern end.
Anse Severe – Seychelles
Anse Severe is a spot near the far northern extremity of the island of La Digue that is also one of the above-average sites when the weather is clear. Many walls, fissures, and canals are formed as coastal granite formations fall sharply into the bottom. The world of fish, as well as the colonies of hard and soft corals, is incredibly diverse.
Because there are so many sponge colonies here, it’s one of the most popular spots for underwater photographers. In addition to the interesting lion and murine fish, the slightly rarer scorpion fish may be seen in large numbers here. Numerous anemone wigs with their symbiotic companions, clown fish, or the well-known “Nemo,” may also be seen on Anse. Anse Severe also has a remark about seasonal maritime conditions, so in any case avoid going there during the winter.
You will not be disappointed wherever you dive in the Seychelles. The locations are numerous and spread around the archipelago, and the whole spectrum of life is covered. From tiny barnacles to massive whales, which are most frequently observed between September and November. All you have to do now is decide to come, relax, and dive into the warm turquoise blue water.
Thank you for reading.