Often considered a honeymoon destination, the Seychelles are also a yachting hub prized by sailors for its remote positioning. Located in the Indian Ocean – with Kenya to the east and Madagascar to the north – the 115 islands that make up the archipelago are a water lovers paradise, with snorkelling, diving and swimming part of everyday life. Many of the wildlife-rich islands remain wild and untamed – while the tropical climate and southeast trade winds during May to October make for ideal boating conditions. Here, we reveal how to spend a week sailing around the photogenic island chain of the Seychelles.
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Day 1: Start at Praslin Marina on Praslin Island
Start your sailing voyage from the marina of the Baie Sainte Anne village on Praslin Island – just a 20-minute flight from Seychelles International Airport on Mahé. Leave your bags on board the boat before taking a tour of the island’s Unesco-protected Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. It’s easy to see how the 19.5ha (48-acres) ancient forest was once believed to be the original Garden of Eden – its treetops are alive with chatter from the Seychelles bulbul birds and the high-pitched whistle of the elusive black parrot. Enjoy dinner in one of the many picturesque beachfront restaurants serving up fresh seafood with a Creole twist.
Day 2: Set sail for La Digue
Set sail this morning to La Digue, located 2km (1.2mi) south of the Baie Sainte Anne village. This island offers a snapshot of archetypal Seychelles life – with only a few surfaced roads, a handful of cars and traditional palm-thatched roof houses. Drop anchor at La Digue Marina and pick up a bike rental from the jetty. Here, cycling is the favoured mode of travel and shops take a laid back approach to opening times. Anse Source d’Argent is the nearest and most photographed beach, while Grand Anse on the southeast coast serves as the longest stretch of sand. For those seeking solitude, the velvet sands of Petite Anse and Anse Cocos will hit the spot. Spend the day snorkelling with angelfish and spotted eagle rays – just be mindful of strong offshore currents when swimming between April and October. For dinner, enjoy a dish of smoked fish or octopus coconut curry at L’Union Estate – a historic plantation that’s one of the oldest and best-preserved examples of French colonial architecture in the Seychelles.
Day 3: Explore Cocos Island and Félicité Island
Make it an early start on leaving La Digue and enjoy a short cruise to the neighbouring and uninhabited island of Cocos. It forms part of the protected Cocos Island Marine Park – which carries a small entrance fee – but the shallows surrounding it are well worth catching sight of for their clarity and kaleidoscopic coral beds. The best spot to swim with powder-blue tangs and hawksbill sea turtles is opposite the island’s small white sandy beach – where marine life is dense and the corals are well preserved. Take provisions for a picnic as there are no amenities ashore. Alternatively, hop across to the forested granite island of Félicité. The Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles private island beach resort occupies one-third of Félicité – while the rest has been left to grow wild. Moor up for the night and enjoy a gastronomic feast at the resort’s Ocean Kitchen restaurant which makes use of fresh fish and produce from its organic garden. The dreamy ocean views from this spot are equally as appetising and photogenic as the food.
Day 4: Day trip to Grande Soeur Island
After breakfast, set your sights on Grande Soeur and the diminutive Petite Soeur – which together make up the Sister Islands and are covered in thick forest, red granite rock and a network of walking paths. As Grande Soeur is exclusively owned by the hotel Château de Feuilles of Praslin, boaters can only moor up on weekdays between 10am and 3pm to enjoy its beauty. Head to the white fine sand beach of Anse Marie-Louise or take a dip in the balmy waters – which reach temperatures of 27ºC (80.6ºF). Treat your tastebuds to lunch at Château de Feuilles’ upscale restaurant – which serves up artfully presented dishes making use of local ingredients such as prawn tempura with wakame salad or passion fruit smoked marlin. Drop anchor for the night in the deep channel that separates the two islands, where uninterrupted views of Petite Soeur’s rocky coastline makes for a great way to see out the day.
Day 5: Visit turtles on Curieuse Island
From Grand Soeur, make for Curieuse to spend the fifth day of your sailing itinerary around this protected island and bio-reserve. Once a prominent leper colony, today the outcrop is home to a spread of unique flora and fauna which includes the famed wild Aldabra Tortoise. The Curieuse Marine National Park is home to more than 200 of these prehistoric creatures with some as old as 150. Sea turtles can also be found in the surrounding waters, with the population coming on land between September and March to lay their eggs. Moor the boat at Baie Laraie and head off on the mangrove swamp-lined nature trail and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you go – a boardwalk provides access to the island even at high tide. Another point worth visiting on the island over on Anse St José beach is the whimsical Doctor’s House: a former physician’s residence which now serves as an educational centre and museum. After having a nature-packed day, spend the night at anchor – check before about any additional charges.
Day 6: Watch birdlife on Cousine Island
For your second-to-last day, cast off for the tiny private island of Cousine. A former coconut plantation, this sublime spot was bought by Birdlife International in 1968 and now the entire island serves as a nature reserve and bird sanctuary. It’s a breeding ground for hawksbill turtles and home to five of the 11 endemic land birds in the archipelago, including white-tailed tropicbirds. When approaching by boat, you’ll notice the pulsating coral reefs, which means there are restrictions around where you can moor and a tender is required to get to shore. Visits are only permitted between Monday to Friday from 9:30am to midday and from 2pm to 4pm. That said, although some islands in the Seychelles might be private, all beaches across the archipelago are public, so you are welcome to go onshore to enjoy the golden sands. After exploring Cousine Island’s wild landscape, return to the boat for your final evening to swim and enjoy a starlit dinner aboard.
Day 7: Return to Praslin Marina
From Cousine Island, it’s just a short hop back to Praslin Marina. Praslin and Curieuse are the only two islands in the archipelago where the native Coco de Mer still grows in the wild. The world’s largest tropical seed – nicknamed the “Coconut of the Sea” – can weigh anywhere from 15-30kg (33-66lbs). Only the seeds that the Seychelles government approves for sale and export can be bought, so resist the urge to take one home – even if discovered washed up on the beach. Leave your bags on board while you spend the day relaxing on the jungle-backed shores of Anse Lazio beach on the northwest of the island. It’s the perfect place to idle away an afternoon before starting the long journey home.
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