Seychelles

Sailing in Seychelles

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Starry Horizons was in Seychelles from June 13th to September 22nd – over 100 days in this beautiful island nation of Africa. Most of that time was spent on Mahe Island, the main island of Seychelles, but we went out to explore the rest of the Inner Islands twice.

About Seychelles

Seychelles is an independent island nation off the east coast of Africa. It’s fairly small, with 115 islands and a population of less than 100,000. Despite that, Seychelles is a fairly wealthy country – it has the highest per capita GDP of independent nations in Africa, plus it is classified as the highest Human Development Index of African countries.

Basically, Seychelles is more westernized, cleaner, and healthier than most African countries.

Seychelles has no native population. It was claimed by the French first, in the 1750s, but by the end of the century, Britan took over and lumped it with Mauritius as a colony. Seychelles gained its independence in 1976.

Despite being predominantly a crown colony through its history, the island is more French than British. This was due to the crown allowing the French upper class to remain in residence in Seychelles. French, English, Seychellois Creole (based in French) are the official languages.

The Islands of Seychelles

Seychelles has one large island – Mahe – which is where the capital, Victoria, is and a majority of the residents.

About 40 km northeast of Mahe are a cluster of islands. The largest is Praslin (pronounced Prah-lynn), but there is also La Digue and Curieuse.

All these islands are part of the Inner Islands of Seychelles. The geographic distinction is that they reside on the Seychelles Bank – and wide, relatively shallow area of the Indian Ocean. They are almost all granite islands, which makes them more unique and visually stunning.

There are Outer Islands, a small group of islands that are not on the Seychelles Bank, but they are far apart and difficult to travel to. Only two have accommodations: Alphonse Island Resort and Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island.

Public Beaches

One of our taxi drivers told us (and I confirmed on the internet) that the constitution of Seychelles declares all beaches public property. This means that while you might be denied access to a beach from land, no one can stop you from accessing it from the water.

Eden Island is a great example of this. It’s a man-made island with private residences and several beaches. These beaches ARE public property, so several times I paddled to these beaches from the marina and enjoyed a little bit of sand time!

Sailing Your Own Boat to Seychelles

As with the rest of the Indian Ocean, formalities are complicated and more expensive. I wrote a report on Noonsite detailing our experiences.

Chartering a Boat in Seychelles

Dream Yacht Charters, one of the largest charter companies in the world, was founded in Seychelles. There is also a Moorings/Sunsail base, plus a variety of other smaller operations.

Sailing Itineraries in Seychelles

There are not that many islands in Seychelles, and they are all fairly close together. You don’t need much time to see everything.

We did this route twice, as we had friends come to visit us. The first round we did with David’s friend from high school, Vishnu, and her family. The second round was with David’s friend Kyle and his girlfriend.

Sailing Season

We were visiting the Inner Islands in July, during the southeast monsoon season. This season goes from May to October, when the winds lighten up for a little bit before developing into the northwest monsoon season in November to April.

Yes – that’s most of the year in monsoon seasons. We were surprised how much it rained. It certainly rained, at least a little bit of rain, most of the days we were in Seychelles. Some days were mostly gray and dreary, others just a light shower passed over.

10-Day Itinerary

There are definitely more islands one could visit, like Felicite, Coco, and Silhouette. Additionally, you could spend an extra day hiking or diving.

Mahe Island Anchorages

Victoria

We did not anchor in Victoria, but with our fuel fiasco, David took the dinghy in long enough to see how filthy the water was.  We opted not to stay in the harbor off of the Seychelles Yacht Club, but friends did. You can anchor in the harbor and buy a weekly yacht club membership at the Seychelles Yacht Club. The cost is 300 SCR/week. The SYC has a bar, restaurant, wifi and laundry facilities. However, their wifi is pretty terrible. The laundry facility is the best option on the island though.

Eden Island Marina

Eden Island Marina. Starry Horizons is the bottom left!

We based our time in Seychelles in the marina, Eden Island Marina. We chose this marina because out of all the marinas we contacted (three) in Seychelles, Eden was the only one to respond to our emails asking to book a stay so I could fly back to the states for my grandmother’s service.

The marina is NOT expensive – we paid $46 USD a night, which is on par with the marinas in New Zealand and the cheaper marinas in Australia. When we went to a monthly rate it was even cheaper – $20 USD a night.

While the marina is well-kept and clean, the amenities are just ok. There are several restaurants in the Eden Island Plaza. The (cold) showers and restrooms are white and clean. There isn’t a self-operated laundromat, so instead, you have to use the full service and expensive laundromat, Eden Laundry, or wash onboard.

The marina is primarily full of charter boats and, in peak season, mega yachts. Transients are not common, but we haven’t been the only ones on the docks.

We often saw eagle rays in the marina.
Yoga at sunrise at Eden Island Marina.

Through friends of ours, we met a South African couple who owns a condo on Eden Island and a catamaran in charter here. They invited us over for dinner one night, and we got to check out what life is like for the residents on Eden Island – not too shabby! Richard and Susan have been visiting Seychelles for decades, so they were extremely knowledgeable and fun to chat with. We hope to catch up with them in South Africa!

The view of their boat from their condo.

Other Anchorages on Mahe

We did not anchor elsewhere on Mahe, but because of the SE winds, Beau Vallon is the best anchorage.

Praslin – Anse Lazio

We anchored at Anse Lazio on Praslin. The bay is wide and sandy, though the water isn’t clear. The beach is absolutely gorgeous, with wide white sand and big granite rocks.

Starry Horizons at Anse Lazio.

We used Anse Lazio as our base to explore Praslin. We hired a driver, Jose (pronounced the French way: Joe-say). He took us to Vallee de Mai, where we saw the coco de mer trees and other endemic species of Seychelles.

So heavy!

Then Joe took us to Holy Day Cafe where we ate a takeaway lunch overlooking the water.

We drove around the south loop of the island looking for the endemic Seychelles black parrot but didn’t see one. We enjoyed the view from the road anyway.

Joe is incredibly knowledgable about the island and is trained in the tourism industry. He knows a lot! We thought he price was very reasonable and enjoyed chatting with him.

With Kyle and Lauren we also did two of the local hikes – but kind of failed miserably.

Lazio can have some serious swell – it rolls in wide but can make landing the dinghy tricky. Also, we did swim a few times but were tormented in the water by hordes of small stingers. Nothing serious, but uncomfortable.

Lauren rocking the inflatable pineapple.
Kyle paddleboarding at Anse Lazio.

Curieuse Island

From Lazio we moved to Curieuse Island first thing in the morning. The anchorage is unprotected, and in a national park, so we only planned to anchor for the day. We left Starry Horizons in Laraie Bay to go meet the giant tortoises of Seychelles.

Many of the crewed charter boats drop their guests off in Laraie Bay for the short hike. There is a picnic lunch facility at the end of the hike on Anse Jose, and that’s where the charter boats anchor to pick up their guests.

Praslin – Côte d’Or Bay

This bay is on the north side of Praslin. We didn’t stop at the beach, but it does look more protected in a SE swell.

Technically, this is a marine park, but no one came to collect the fees.

St Pierre

This is where the snorkeling is reputed to be the best in Seychelles. Now, we’ve been spoiled by amazing places like Tonga and French Polynesia, so the snorkeling here barely held our interest. But, with our guests onboard, some of whom were snorkeling for the first time, it was a treat.

We anchored off the southwest side of the island. It’s nice sand and shallow but only allows for a few boats. Smaller boats can anchor pretty close into the island.

Some highlights were spotting one reef shark and one sea turtle. I also found flower urchins under our boat in the sand, which was my first time to see them. On the snorkel with Kyle and Lauren, we found two spotted eagle rays. The rays were gliding and feeding along the bottom. Normally they are incredibly shy and we often startle them away, but not these two!

Unfortunately, we also got hit, once again, with tiny stingers.

Chauve Souris

For a better-protected anchorage for the night, we dropped the hook to the northwest of Chauve Souris Island where there’s a shallow sandy patch. There’s room for several boats here.

Huge spadefish feeding off of our food scraps.

La Digue

Next up, and our favorite stop, was the island of La Digue.

Our first visit we anchored off the shelf on the west side of the island, just north of the entrance to the harbor.

The second visit, we took the plunge and moored in the harbor. It is a med-moor style harbor. There is only one line of boats up against the east side of the harbor. Line up, and drop your hook in front of your space and then back up. Locals are often around to help with lines, as are neighboring boats.

La Digue is great for two days – or more! I really enjoyed the island.

La Digue traffic jam.

Saint Anne Marie National Park

Just outside of Victoria is the Saint Anne Marie National Park. We anchored there as a good stopping point for in and out of Eden Island; move out for the night to save a few miles in the morning when you head to Praslin.

Diving in Beau Vallon

We hadn’t been diving in a while and I was wanting to change that. I booked us a two-dive day with Blue Sea Divers out of Beau Vallon. We dove two sites: L’ilot and Aquarium, both in Beau Vallon Bay. While the coral wasn’t great, we did spot interesting things at both sites; L’ilot had soft corals and Aquarium was clear with lots of sea creatures.

We only took our GoPro, so pictures are not good quality.

A Highlight of the Indian Ocean

We really enjoyed our time in Seychelles. Though we didn’t plan on getting stuck there, we took the time to live a quieter life, one that didn’t require us to be on the more so much.

While there isn’t much to cruise, the islands we visited are beautiful. The beaches are fantastic and I loved getting to spot species that were unique to Seychelles.

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