From imposing boulders to secluded award winning beach spots, the Indian Ocean’s dot on the world map, Seychelles, represents one of the very few luxurious and untouched frontiers for vessels wishing to cruise in tranquillity and diversity.
The first humans settled on the islands only at the end of the 18th century, before then the entire archipelago was completely uninhabited. Having first become a French colony, then a British one, the Seychelles saw the arrival, along with the settlers, of numerous slaves from various parts of Africa. This mix of nationalities gave birth to a multicultural and multi-ethnic nation, which boasts an unspoiled ecosystem and an incredible variety of plant and animal species, thanks to its long isolation.
Seychelles is an archipelago comprising of 115 Granitic and Coralline islands dispersed over 1.3 million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean. There are 42 granite islands in the Seychelles archipelago, including Mahé, Praslin & La Digue. These islands form the heart of the Seychelles, the only remote oceanic islands in the world that originated from a single continental mass with no coral or volcanic influence.
The Seychelles archipelago’s islands fall into six groups. The first is the ‘Inner Island’ group of the main islands of Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and the surrounding islands up to a distance of 100 km. 250 km south west of Mahé we have the Amirantes group followed by the Southern Coral group, Alphonse group, Farquhar group and finally the Aldabra group, 1100 km from Mahé.
The islands of the Amirantes such as Desroches, d’Arros and Poivre, 250 km to the south west, offer exceptional sailing in virgin waters where only the privileged few have sailed. Further afield still, the Southern Coral, Alphonse, Farquhar and Aldabra Groups are where the abundant natural beauty of these islands still await the visit of adventurous seafarers. Not many local residents or tourist adventure seekers have the opportunity, due to accessibility and remoteness, to explore these virgin islands and take in their natural beauty.
This exclusive destination has a great deal to offer. Enlightened conservation measures have ensured that almost half of the limited landmass has been set-aside as a “living natural history museum”, boasting some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth – a heaven for ornithologists and nature lovers.
Seychelles is already home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the fabulous ‘Vallée de Mai’ on the island of Praslin and ‘Aldabra’, the largest raised coral atoll on earth. The islands also provide spectacular opportunities for safe swimming, snorkelling and diving in warm crystal waters fringing beaches of powder-soft sand, framed by age-old granite boulders and lush palm forests.
Straightforward Immigration (no visas required) and health regulations also make for an uncomplicated, hassle-free stay and the official languages are Seychellois Creole, English and French.
Port Victoria has the capacity to accommodate all categories of vessels of up to 210 meters (LOA) with draft 11 meters and vessels of up to 300 meters (LOA) with draft 9.5 meters including: geared container vessels, cruise ships, military ships, research vessels, bulk carriers (fuel, cement), Roro (Roll on roll off), industrial fishing vessels (purse seiners, long- liners), submarines, yachts, super- yachts, mega- yachts and many others.
Berthing is available at Eden Island Marina once vessels have been cleared in. Recently transitioning to Asia Pacific Superyachts Seychelles, the Managing Director of Hunt, Deltel & Co. Ltd., Christophe Houareau, remarked: “With experience attending to Superyachts and vessels of all types in Seychelles for the past 22 years and the Co-Developer of Seychelles’ largest marina, Eden Island Marina, we are immensely proud to form part of the Asia Pacific Superyachts Brand and Network”.
Climate & Winds
The Seychelles Islands enjoy a tropical climate, with air temperatures well above 20 ° C throughout the year, and water temperatures varying between 27 ° C and 30 ° C.
Between June and September, the south-east trade wind blows in this part of the Indian Ocean. The wind is mostly even, and provides a refreshing breeze on the beaches, disturbing the ocean surface too. Average wind speeds are 12-15 knots increasing to 20 to 25 knots during the peak of the season in July and August
Between November and March the north-west trade wind blows weakly on the Seychelles islands. Between these two periods the Doldrums months, there are almost no wind, and the sea remains calm all the time. Thanks to their location, the Seychelles are never affected by bad storms. In fact, they generally only experience gentle breezes from such storms happening thousands of kilometres away. In general, north-westerly winds strengthen at daybreak with average wind speeds of between 10-12 knots.
Uniquely there is no really bad time to cruise in Seychelles, but the off-season from March to May, and from September to November is often appreciated as the islands are less crowded, deserted beaches and sailing becomes even more enjoyable. Everything depends on your interests: Botanic lovers will prefer to go to Seychelles in January or February, while dive enthusiasts will find their happiness with even more clear seabed and a particularly calm ocean between October and March.
Seychelles is located outside the cyclone belt with no risk of contracting malaria, yellow fever, cholera or other common tropical diseases and with a sublime tropical climate and has the potential for a carefree, year-round cruising season.
Among the Yachts & Superyachts visiting Seychelles have been vessels such as – M/Y Katara III, M/Y Emirakh, M/Y Al Duhail, M/Y Umalhoul, M/Y Halul 63, M/Y 9G, M/Y Viking, S/Y Mendrugo , S/Y Moonwave, M/Y Kaizen, M/Y Explorer, M/Y Ace, M/Y Garcon, M/Y Constellation, M/Y Faith, M/Y Mercy Oceans, M/Y Ocean Victory, M/Y Andromeda, reports Peter Alvis, manager of Asia Pacific Superyachts Seychelles.
“Yachts are granted a one month visiting permit from date of entry. For a longer stay the agent needs to apply for a temporary import permit before the one month visiting permit expires”, adding: “With seamless entry, cruising and departure, at APS we strive to deliver a tailored, efficient and proactive service. On hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, tap into our wealth of local knowledge through our concierge services to best assist with as much or as little as you desire.”
The APS team works with each Owner & Captain on a customised itinerary to ensure it meets their expectations and desired adventures and activities. An example of an Itinerary over 4-days of a 12-day cruising voyage might start off with the following islands.
ITINERARY SAMPLE – (partial itinerary)
Day 1: Denis Island
Depart Eden Island Marina (am) – Anchor off Denis Island (4hrs Sailing)
A tiny speck in the Indian Ocean ringed by flawless white sand, just 375 acres and none of it off-limits to see and explore. Denis Island is a living, breathing island community, for those who believe giving back to nature is the only way to receive its bounty in return.
Arriving around mid-day, guest can go ashore and check in to the resort for the day and make use of the many facilities available, such as the bar, open lounge, boutique, tennis court and more outdoor land based activities such as nature walks , bicycle rides, jogging trails just to name a few. The island’s resort is renowned for its culinary delights with an excellent menu choice or creole buffet for it guests to dig in at lunch or dinner time.
Activities suggested include: canoeing & snorkelling; diving; deep sea fishing at Drop Off – provides hallowed waters for prized catches of big game; Spa treatments
Day 2: Bird Island
Depart Denis (midday) – Anchor off Bird Island (1 hr Sailing)
A 1hr sail time headed further north west will take you to a private sanctuary island, lined with pristine beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters; an island where nature reigns, this beautiful and rather simplistic island, Bird Island does not host any resorts but instead an eco-lodge is nestled amongst coconut palms from which numerous activities can be enjoyed.
Activities suggested include: Guided nature tours; observe terrestrial and marine tortoises; October to November visitors can experience the migration of whales and see dolphins.
Day 3: African Banks
Depart Bird Island (evening) – Anchor off African Banks (9 hrs Sailing)
The African Banks are the uninhabited northernmost islands of the Amirantes Islands, of the Outer Islands. A stop at this bank provides activities such as deep sea fishing, common in this areas with big catches such as red snappers, GTs and other rainbow coloured fishes. Trolling can also bring great catches like marlins, sailfish and even swordfish. Guests will also get to experience green & hawksbill sea turtles as they nest.
Baby Hawksbill sea turtles can be found on either Cousin, North Island or Bird Island. Hawksbill sea turtles lay their eggs in broad daylight every year on these sunlit beaches. Nesting season is from September onwards, hatchling season is from January to March and monitoring volunteering is held November to March.
Activities: beach landing via tender; small isolated beach picnic; water sport activities; sea turtle experience
Day 4: Remire Island
Depart African Banks (evening) – Anchor off Remire Island (2 hrs Sailing)
Previously a private getaway for the ex-president of Seychelles, Remire Island is also known as Eagle and lies approximately 245km south west of Mahe. A charming island surrounded by fish-rich waters, bird life, nesting turtles, greenery and the number of fishing spots is nearly limitless.
Activities: fishing at nearby atolls, African Banks, St Joseph Atoll & Lady Denisan Banks. From chasing Bonefish to jigging for Dogtooth, Yellowfin & Big Eye Tuna, Marlin & even Swordfish. Arrangements with game fishing charterers; the lodge is new and provides local cuisines and a small bar (permission to use toys is required)
A stay in the Seychelles also offers unique and interesting sites and activities in between island cruising. Among the most favoured, consider the following:
“Victoria & Victoria Market”. One of the world’s smallest capitals, the vibrant, bustling hub of Seychelles, is the place to observe local Seychellois life. Seychelles’ most famous market in Victoria is known as the Sir Selwyn Clarke Market. The market’s liveliness marks it as the true heart of the capital and shows a harmonious blend of the old and new Seychellois way of life.
“Vallée de Mai on Praslin”. A stunning nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is home to the remnants of Seychelles’ original palm jungles, with over 4,000 trees of the legendary Coco de Mer – often described as the ‘Garden of Eden’.
“Mahé Island hiking trails”. Truly beautiful nature trails which take you through idyllic scenes of vibrant wildlife and stunning views across the island. Perhaps the easiest is the Copolia Trail in Morne Seychellois National Park, taking you 500m above sea level.
“La Digue Island”. Home to the stunning Anse Source d’Argent beach. Here you’ll find L’Union Estate farm, where coconut production is sustainable and managed. Visitors can see an ox-powered oil extraction machine, the historic Old Plantation House, vanilla plantations, a colonial-era graveyard, a boatyard and a tortoise pen.
“Giant Tortoises”. Found on either Curieuse Island or Cousin Island, these gentle giants are a delight. The only other place they exist is in the Galapagos Islands. On Curieuse Island you can hike your way to a conservation and rehabilitation centre, home to tortoises with shells the size of bathtubs! You can see more tortoises on Cousin Island as well as on the coral atoll, Aldabra.
“Creole takeaway”. Order fresh grilled fish and Creole curries from street food stalls, always a treat whether onboard or at a pub.
The Seychelles promises an exquisite visit into a land of rich diversity and amazing cruising waters.