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Out of all of our stops while cruising the inner islands of Seychelles, La Digue has been my favorite. The island is small and quaint, with plenty to do to keep entertained. It’s touristy, but not too touristy, and it holds onto the Creole culture pretty well.
We visited La Digue twice; once with our friends Vishnu, Frido, and their three-year-old daughter, Ranju, and the second time with our friends from Houston, Kyle and Lauren. You may remember Kyle as he visited us back in Fiji (2016) and New Caledonia (2017).
La Digue is located in a small cluster of granite islands 20 miles east of Mahe, the main island in Seychelles. There are two options to get to La Digue. Cat Cocos offers a ferry from Mahe to La Digue directly twice a day. Or, you can take a small flight to Praslin via Air Seychelles, and then a 15-minute ferry ride on Cat Cocos.
The highest point of La Digue is Nid d’Aigle (Eagle’s Nest) at an altitude of 333 meters. Most of the way up is a paved road leading to the Belle Vue Cafe. We walked with Kyle and Lauren from the jetty to Belle Vue, which took us about 45 minutes. It was a very steep walk! We were huffing and puffing by the time we got to the cafe, but we enjoyed the scenery. If you keep an eye out, you can spot fruit bats, millipedes, lizards, and heaps of fruit trees (star fruit, pamplemousse, golden apple, and papaya to name a few).
If you’re not inclined to take the steep walk, you can arrange a taxi to take you to Belle Vue, or rent a bike (see below) and ride it as far as you can, then stash it on the side of the road and walk the rest of the way.
The barman at Belle Vue was happy to give us directions for the trail, which took about 20 minutes. Unfortunately for us, the weather wasn’t very clear. There were plenty of viewpoints along the walk and hike that gave us a look over Praslin and the other surrounding islands. But on a clear day, you should be able to see all the way to Mahe. Even if the clouds blocked our view, it was still worth it to hike all the way up to the top, because Nid d’Aigle was in the clouds.
On our way down we stopped at Belle Vue for beer (Kyle & Lauren) and juice (me and David).
There are very few cars on La Digue. We’ve been told there are five taxis on the island, plus a variety of golf carts. Many of the hotels have their own golf carts to get around. However, most of the tourists and locals alike will ride around on bikes.
When we came off the dock, we were always approached by local guys asking us if we needed bikes. When we went to shore to reserve some, we actually just booked with the first guy we talked to, and it went pretty well. I knew to expect a price around 150 SCR – $10 USD – and I think the bikes we got were in good enough condition. Be sure to not only test out the seat and brakes but all your gears. There are a few hills if you bike the whole island.
L’Union Estate is a colonial-style plantation and the gateway to one of Seychelles’ most popular attractions. It is open from 6 am to 6 pm and costs 115 SCR per person ($8.50 USD).
I would highly recommend powering through to the beach first, as that’s the most popular place on L’Union. If you arrive there as early as we did, between 8 and 9, you’ll find the beach much less crowded than when you leave a few hours later.
The plantation house has been maintained by L’Union Estate and is open to tour. There’s very little information available about the house though. We heard somewhere that the president of Seychelles will come and stay there. There is also a cattle-driven mill nearby, public restrooms, and souvenir shops.
Just past the plantation on the left is Giant Union Rock, which a review on TripAdvisor calls “largest contiguous granite rock on earth”. Apparently, you can climb to the top of the rock, but we passed. At the base of the rock is a pen for more Aldabra Giant Tortoises. It’s not quite the free-roaming fun that the tortoises on Curiuse have, and the pen is a little sad.
There’s not much to see here, but biking through the small vanilla plantation is scenic. We did not see any vanilla flowers or pods, and I’m not entirely sure that they cultivate the vanilla anymore.
On a tiny road off the main track is a boat building plantation. When we stopped by there were men working on the boats, and they were happy to stop and chat with us. Turns out, this boat is one they’ve built from scratch over the past few years!
And finally, the crown jewel of La Digue and, some would argue, all of Seychelles; Anse Source d’Argent. Is it a series of small beaches between granite boulders, or one long beach where the granite boulders reside? Not sure, but it is a lovely beach with granite boulders. There is a trail that leads all the way down the beaches to the end through the trees, so if you are keen to get as far as you can early, which we did with Lauren and Kyle, take the trail. Or, you can walk the beach, climb the boulders, and wade around the big ones, as we did with Vishnu&Co.
While this beach is reputed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic, I beg to differ. It is certainly beautiful; the scenery is lovely, the barrier reef makes it nice and calm, and the water is clear and refreshing. However, the beach is nearly gone at high tide and is littered with chunks of coral and seaweed. If you arrive early enough, you will actually see the beach being raked, the seaweed gathered into piles and then buried.
Regardless if it’s not the best beach in the world, we spent hours there with our friends, relaxing in the shade and enjoying the view and people watching. Kyle and Lauren brought inflatables; Kyle’s infamous pizza and a pineapple for Lauren. They would set themselves drifting out and to the left, and the wind would blow them down the beach and back into shore in about 10 minutes.
While we’re on the subject, the best beach I’ve ever been to? Perhaps Fraser Island in Australia, where the sand is so white and fine you squeak when you walk. Or maybe Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island.
At one point, Kyle was blown past a set of granite boulders and onto one of the smaller beaches. A man in the water, not a native English speaker, saw him and asked, “Are you the future?”. Gave us all a good laugh.
There are fruit stands selling fresh juices and cocktails at the beach. They also put on a lunch BBQ, which we didn’t partake of but it smelled amazing!
After leaving L’Union Estate, we biked back into town for some lunch and then continued on the road north. We passed the La Digue modern cemetery, went over some hills, and continued along the rocky beach, enjoying the stunning view as the waves washed up over the rocks and sometimes crashed into the road. On the last hill, we spotted three gray lumps on the side of the road – possibly rocks, but on closer inspection, free-range tortoises! They must belong to a local family or hotel.
Finally, we reached the end of the road, a dead-end. With Vishnu&Co, we turned back around and pulled over at the closest beach. Ranju had passed out in the child’s seat of the bike quite a while ago, so she continued her nap on the beach. Frido, David and I biked a few minutes south to Chez Jules. We picked up snacks and took them back to the beach. With Kyle and Lauren, we stopped and had a cocktail at Chez Jules while a rain shower passed by. I would have loved to eat at Chez Jules for a meal, but we never made it at a reasonable lunch hour.
If you’d like to explore another beach, one that’s less crowded, check out Grand Anse on the southeast side of the island. You can even bike there!
Book a tour with Trek Divers to explore one of the many dive sites around the islands. While the snorkeling is lackluster, the diving is reputed to be better, because at lower depths, the water temperature hasn’t risen enough to bleach the corals.
There are plenty of great places to eat in La Digue, especially if you want to get a local taste.
This restaurant is just a few hundred feet from the jetty and is a bit nicer (although, it’s island-nice, not upscale-resort nice). We had dinner here with Kyle and Lauren. Lauren and I both had fish, David had ribs (which were surprisingly good) and Kyle tried the local staple, octopus curry (which he loved). The cocktails were great, and the ambiance was lovely.
We loved this place so much we went twice! We took each set of friends here. The view is stunning, with the restaurant being on the water’s edge in a palapa. It’s definitely great to come for lunch or sunset – after it gets dark there’s not much to see. Lunch is a limited menu, but it doesn’t matter – order the seafood tacos! They come either fried fish or grilled shrimp, and they were so very good!
I wish we’d had a chance to eat at Chez Jules for a meal, as friends told me its very good and they have a great-looking menu. We did stop in for snacks & afternoon cocktails, though, and enjoyed sitting at the outer edge at the barstools watching the view.
When looking for places to stay in Seychelles, be aware that the cheaper options are “self-catering”, meaning it comes with a kitchen for you to cook your own meals – just perfect for the budget traveler, but be aware that sometimes these self-catering places are far from restaurants or grocery stores.
We were staying on our boat, so we didn’t get any first-hand experience in the hotels. However, I would stay for sure at Le Nautique just for those darn tacos! Le Nautique is in the $200-300 a night range. If you wanted something more high-end, with full resort facilities, check out Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie Resort and Spa, located just north of town, but at a much pricer $400-500 a night.
For more budget-friendly accommodations, there are several pensions and guesthouses around the island, though they are not cheap. While not located on the water, Chateau St Cloud is gorgeous. Pension Hibiscus is equidistance between the jetty and L’Union estate, and Buisson Guesthouse is closer to the jetty. These places go for $150-200 a night.
Photos without our watermark are courtesy of Kyle. Thank you Kyle!