What does one think of when one hears “The Seychelles”? White sands? Azure blue sea? Tropical fish? Magical sunsets? Luxury? Relaxed island life? Well it is all as vibrant, and as beautiful as you can imagine…
April to May is the hottest and the calmest time of year for the sea; perfect for sweating and snorkeling. And so on 16th April after an over night flight we emerged out of Mahe international airport to a rather humid tropical paradise wanting to jump immediately into the sea with snorkel and fins.
We didn’t, we went straight across the road and waited for a bus. Not any bus, the right one as a kind Seychellois man told us it should be the bus that starts just before the airport. After about 30mins and 10 buses that were full but apparently not suitable, our bus arrived empty and the kind Seychellois man ushered us on. And indeed after two more stops this bus was full! A bit squashed but with loadsa money in our pocket, we made it to the capital Victoria. A sweaty wander round the sleepy capital with all our bags was followed by a sweaty walk down to the quay for the ferry.
The plan was to go to the furthest island and work our a way back and I executed the plan perfectly when two ferries later we arrived on La Digue. After a sweaty walk from the ferry we arrived at our lovely guest house Le Calou where we were met by a lovely Seychellois lady who had been drilled by the German owner to “persuade” us to buy every add on and trip imaginable. We managed to calm her down and we went too bed!
Three hours later we bought all the Seychellois lady was offering, the boat trip the next day and we hired bikes and went cruising to explore our gorgeous home for the next three days. La Digue is beautiful and so laid back with barely an inch of tarmac just the odd brick paved streets. We headed straight to the place where everyone else heads for anse l’argent. However the normal path to anse l’argent crosses an old plantation and some rent seekers wanted payment so that put us off. However we later found out that all the coast line in the Seychelles is public property so we could have just walked down the beach! If it wasn’t to be anse l’argent it was the east coast which was equally stunning. As we went for a dip in the powerful sea the sun was getting low and it was back to town for some grub. A few Seybrews later with the sun glowing on the horizon, that was perfection.
The next day we were up for trip to Isle Coco. A quick breaky and preparation especially of my new deep under camera case for my Canon (I was very excited) and we were off to the dock. Everything went well and the ILPH (the wife) and I were snapping away in and around the coral with vibrant and colourful fish everywhere at Isle Coco. We were taking great care around the coral as the water was only a metre deep. Unfortunately the next thing we knew we saw a man of the french persuasion standing up on the coral! We put that behind us and it was on to the next Isle. Isle Felicite was even more dramatic than Isle Cocos with the depth of the coral providing lots of intrigue due to all the nooks and crannies. A bright yellow puffer fish emerged and then a turtle provide the highlight. The evening was a few more Seybrews and another incredible sunset that makes such an impression that its beauty reaffirms your humanity.
Unfortunately the next morning we had to leave La Digue and fortunately we were going to Praslin. We have a little trepidation about the guest house that was awaiting us. In the 2007 lonely planet is was the first pick however in the 2011 lonely planet it was no where to seen. What had befallen this establishment!?! Well it was all booked so we arrived to find a youngish Frenchman who seemed slightly stoned… Was this the cause of the down grading? You could tell organisation was not his strong point. Did he inherit this awesome place of his great auntie? That is the only plausible explanation we could come up with and we are sticking with it! Anyway the room was nicely finished, had air con and was right on the beach ov
er looking the sea. The ILPH can dive while I can not and so the ILPH was packed off to dive Isle Saint Pierre and I was left to chill and sleep which was welcomed as the mantra was: “You can sleep when you are dead”. After a dose and the obligatory Seybrews the ILPH arrived back to the stoned man’s guest house with stories of sea creatures with the photos to match. I will shut up about the sunsets now, but there was another bloody good one to finish the day.
The curiosity of Isle Curieuse was the destination on the fifth day. It is the place where the giant tortoises roam. We were dropped off on one side of the island and pleasantly hiked to the other side where most of the tortoises are. The first thing you notice is that they are funny looking and not exactly “the fittest” in a darwinian sense. Their necks are long and thin and there teeth seem razor sharp as the chomp through the outstretched leaf presented to them by the ILPH. After a photo shoot with some small white crabs, we departed back to Praslin.
Once back on the beach opposite our hotel I managed to convince the ILPH to snorkel to and around a nearby perfectly formed island. On the way out luckily we found the fresh water pipe to the island so we took a direct 400m route to the island. What followed were in turn clouds of yellow fish, finding Nemo fish especially the captain, and many more firsts for this novice snorkeler. At about 3m deep the granite rock made this snorkel feel like we were discovering some long forgot ruin. Suitably exhausted, we made it back to the hotel getting ready for our last night on Praslin.
A cute little plane awaited us at 8am the next morning, ready to take us back to the main island. We took off being able see the pilots’ every action through a cock pit with no door. Halfway across the ocean I looked up to see the pilot point and tap the altimeter. This did not fill me with confidence, despite this we touched down without trouble.
We picked up the hire car and drove to our guesthouse, then right past our guesthouse, then a quick u-turn back. After settling in we grabbed our fins and mask for some more action. At the far end of the island we spied the Baie Ternay National Park and before we knew it we were there. Walking through an abandoned leper colony to the beach where we were greeted by some enterprising but slightly scruffy people. The were dressed in a security uniform and they claimed that the national park had been bought by Emirates and that we owed them money for walking through an abandoned leper colony. Now we were about to leave our bag on the beach and go snorkeling and to my shame I gave them a few dirhams for them to cause us no trouble while in the sea. With that unpleasantness behind us we set off into the sea and went up the left edge of the bay. The sea was terrible, cloudy and scummy. It turned out that we were snorkeling in the corner of the bay where wind was blowing everything to. So we decided to head back to shore. On the way back among the flotsam and jetsam we found two baby turtles who were obviously runts of the litter and had been blow to this corner of the bay. We instantly named them Pinky and Not So Perky. There were fighting bravely to get out to sea and we had to leave with the weak hope that they would make it. Back at the beach we were confused. This was supposed to be a tremendous snorkeling spot. Then we came across a couple in their fifties from Czechoslovakia. I know, I know they split into the separate Czech and Slovak republics but these two had such an air of the communist block about them that Czechoslovakia seems more appropriate. Also they had the most oddly shaped and over engineered snorkel known to man, well known to people behind the old iron curtain at least. I digress. In international hand gesturers they managed to convay that we had been snorkeling in completely the wrong place. We needed to head directly out to sea 500m towards the mouth of the bay. We did, fish were everywhere; the main picture is testament to that.
For the rest of the day we dashed around the island finally making it back for sunset on the beach just below our guesthouse. Once the sun had disappeared we treated ourselves to a lovely dinner at the Four Seasons followed be a romantic star lit stroll on the beach.
The seventh was a very very sad day as early doors we had to leave the beauty paradise. The Seychelles are phenomenal and other worldly; no one who visits can possibly be disappointed…