STOP 17 | Day 47 to 51 |
The next leg of our journey was Africa! This would be the first time we were to both visit Africa, so the feelings of excitement and apprehension ran in parallel. In planning the best way to get from Paris to Kenya (where our African overland tour would commence), we decided to go via the Seychelles as the flights were affordable and more direct than other transit points. We flew via Turkish Airlines with a brief layover in Istanbul to Mahe, the main island of Seychelles.
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. Given its white soft sand beaches and clear turquoise waters it makes for a popular honeymoon destination. Unfortunately with the remoteness of the Seychelles, it is also a pretty expensive island with accommodations being mostly resorts and restaurants charging tourist inflated prices (we quickly had to adjust our expectations from our daily South East Asia budget). However we did find that food at the groceries stores to be quite reasonable and accessible throughout the island for us to grab food.
Landing in Mahe we were amazed at the lush mountains. It reminded us of Jamaica with a blend of the Caribbean – the white soft sand beaches surrounded by mountains and greenery. We rented a car for 35Euro per day which ended up being the best option given we wanted to explore the island, taxis are quite expensive and the local buses although cheap were not as frequent and often packed with locals. We positioned ourselves in Beau Vallon as our plan for the next few days was scuba diving and this was the main departure point for the scuba dive operators. The first day we stopped by a few dive shops and explored Beau Vallon beach. The beach was one of the best we have ever visited and on par with the best of Caribbean beaches. The water was refreshing and there wasn’t anyone hustling you with stuff to purchase. Seychelles is also known for its Aldabra giant tortoise, which averages 122 cm (48 in) in length with an average weight of 250 kg (550 lb)! J made friends with Bulldozer who enjoyed his daily visits and star fruit feedings!
The next day was our first “dive day” with a full day dive trip to the Baie Ternay Marine National Park with Big Blue Divers. We joined 3 other divers at the boat and headed to our first dive spot. After the dive we went to Anse Du Riz beach (as pictured above), which was only accessible via boat so it ended up being a private beach getaway! It felt like we were in our own scene of Castaway only we were getting lunch. Our dive master and boat captain cooked us an amazing Creole BBQ lunch with grilled chicken and fish, garlic bread, coleslaw, and mango papaya salad. We feasted and relaxed on the beach before our next dive at Ray’s Point. The visibility on the dive was okay (at only 20-30 feet), hindered by the nutrients due to the up-welling in the water. However, temperatures were ideal, at 27 degrees celsius, as we both prefer to dive without wetsuits. There was also tons of marine life and we saw some of largest schools of fish we’ve seen in our lives. This was our favorite dive day in the Seychelles and we were lucky to be with a small group to enjoy the pristine private beach!
The following day we did a two tank dive. The first dive site was Shark Bank and we had a couple more divers including the party from the previous day (7 people). On the way to the dive site luck would have it that we saw two humpback whales breaching in the distance, so of course we did a bit of whale chasing. Seeing them up close you realize how massive they are, but surprisingly quick – a few of the divers managed to jump in with the whales before they sped off. Our second dive site of the day was at L’ilot Rocks, beside the small granite island with two coconut trees on top. For this dive there was a full boat (15 divers), so it was a bit more chaotic. That evening along Beau Vallon beach we visited Bazar Labrin (occurs every Wednesday evening), where locals set up stalls selling fresh produce, local arts and crafts to some local Creole BBQ. We enjoyed some plantain and sweet potatoes chips, grilled fish and curry for dinner, but the highlight was cassava cake. We managed to score a few of these (the lady selling them said they are mostly reserved by locals due to its popularity) delicious cakes which are made without flour.
The next morning we did a dive at Willie’s Rock, but unfortunately the boat was packed again. On the plus side we did manage to spot a sting ray and octopus (on top of the coral and many schools of fish)! After diving we decided to check out Petite Anse beach where the Four Seasons hotel is located (about an hour drive from Beau Vallon). This is the most luxurious resort on the island with private bungalows that go for about 1,500Euro per night! Although the beach is public the resort does not permit non-guests to enter the property with a car. As such, we had to walk about 7 minutes into the property before one of the employees in a golf cart offered to drop us off at the beach (there a multiple golf carts available carting guests around the expansive hotel grounds). We made the most of our resort crashing, after enjoying some time on the beach we caught the sunset views on top of the spa.
On our last day we made a quick visit to the gym before hopping on our afternoon flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Seychelles was such a great stop and tops the various Caribbean islands we have visited – a perfect beach and dive destination!