Made up of a nucleus of 42 spectacular granite islands and a further 73 outlying sand cays and atolls the Seychelles lie 1000km off the East African coast, and 7¡ã south of the equator.
The inner, granite islands provide a diversity of diving rarely found anywhere in the world. With pure coral reefs, rocky walls, gullies and wrecks, there are dive sites to suit any diver. All manner of reef life can be seen, from the ubiquitous Soldierfish to the Napoleon Wrasse and Giant Grouper. For even bigger thrills, the Whale Shark can be found all through the year along with Reef Sharks and Ribbon-tailed Stingrays. Add to this heady mix the invertebrates such as Octopus, Spiny Lobsters and more nudibranchs than you can shake a Spanish Dancer at, and you have a marine ecosystem to entertain and surprise even the most hardened diver.
The outer islands are possibly best served by liveaboards, although there are dive centres located on quite a few, and the diving is every bit as rich and varied as the inner isles. Numerous wreck-sites, walls and gullies and within the huge Gorgonians and massive Barrel Sponges the diver can often see rare, exotic species alongside Grey Reef, Silvertip, Nurse Sharks and the occasional Hammerhead. If these aren?t big enough for you, at the right time of year, migrating Manta Rays can turn a great dive into an awesome one.
The shallower reefs were affected somewhat by the El Nino weather pattern in 1997 and 1998. However, the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles are reporting a healthy regeneration of the coral. (www.mcss.sc)
At 59 square miles Mahe is, by far, the largest island, and it is home to the capital, Victoria, the international airport, the fishing and commercial ports, most of the population and many resorts and hotels, plus four casinos.
Its powdery white, idyllic beaches, lush vegetation, plantations of coconut palms and cinnamon rise to forested peaks with unequalled views of the neighboring islands. Surrounded by coral reefs the clear, calm waters invite relaxation and many water sports. Although it is the nation's economic hub, it has retained all of its natural beauty and charm.
Many tourists decide to stay at (and some never get much farther than) beautiful Beau Vallon Bay...but there is so much more to see and explore. Both island roads and public transportation are quite good and rental cars ubiquitous and fairly easy to manage (although the British driving on the left convention is observed)...making it very, very easy to sightsee the entire island...or you can take an island helicopter tour for a real bird's eye view.
Try and take time away from the beach to see Mahe's attractions: the markets, the 100 year old Botanical Gardens (with giant land tortoises, coco-de-mer and orchids); the capital, Victoria, with its famous clock tower; the National Museum dedicated to island history, folklore and music; graceful colonial mansions and old plantations; and vibrant green jungles.
Mahe is also the centre for craft artisans as well as fine art painters, sculptors and woodworkers. The pirate treasure dig at Bel Ombre has been worked for decades. It is supposedly the site of an 18th Century french pirate's share of the loot from a plundered Portuguese treasure ship. At Jardin du Roi, a renovated and now working plantation and spice garden there are walks, a museum and an excellent restaurant featuring, of course, interestingly spiced cuisine.
Morne Seychellois National Park can be visited and the summit ascended to view one of the most spectacular vistas in the world. Walking is the best way to get the feel of the island; many trails and nature walks are well posted and the capital, itself, is a walker's delight and an excellent chance to experience why the Seychellois are called "the friendliest people on earth." With its incredible amount of daytime activities and lively nightlife, Mahe can truly offer something for everyone.
Mahe Dive Sites:
Trompeuse Rocks lie 24km North of Mahõd. The rock which breaks the surface drops down 20m to where the rocks are broken. There are many large schools of fish: fusiliers, tuna, jack and shark. Mamelles, 12km North of MahôUis an uninhabited island with a cave running through. The dive sites are all around the southern half of the island. Beautiful coral formations over a flat reef with many different fish, especially in and around the many gullies. Thick schools of fusiliers often block the view. Depth ranges from 12m - 18m.
The Ennerdale wreck, a British tanker, lies 2.5km south of Mamelles Island. The stern is mostly intact with its huge bronze propeller and wheelhouse readily accessible. Home to numerous moray eels, the deepest part is 30m, but the wreck stands well up off the bottom. Large schools of batfish follow you for the duration of the dive. Huge groupers, stingray and nurse shark can be seen.
Ennerdale Rocks, 3km southeast of the wreck, range from 12m - 25m. A divesite often visited by large pelagics including tuna and kingfish. There are always octopus and sometimes crayfish.
Brissare Rocks, 4.5km north of MahôUis made up of two rocky islets. It is probably one of the liveliest areas. Fire coral attract multitudes of small fish. The larger fish include humphead wrasse, schools of large batfish and small white-tip reef sharks.
L'Ilot Island, is a tiny granite outcrop north of Beau Vallon Bay with a few palmtrees. A constant current passing through the narrow passage between the island and shore ensures a high concentration of marine life. The east and west sides are spectacular and the north, with its enormous boulders, is incredible. Large bumphead parrotfish scrape at the coral. The coral garden of the east side is one of the finest soft coral sites in Seychelles.
Shark bank is a set of deep-water rocks 8km west of Beau Vallon Bay that rises from 45m to 19m. It is renowned for huge grey stingrays seen on almost every dive and the large number of gorgonian fan corals. Small barracuda and batfish are seen in large schools. As with most offshore sites, almost anything big can go by and whale sharks and enormous grouper make their home in this dramatic dive site.
Chuckles: Depth: 12 - 18m : Granite reef with hard corals. Almost at the North Western end of Beau Vallon Bay, this reef is a single granite massif which is deeply incised with gullies with an adjoining granite boulder field. Subject to regular current streams, the rocks are heavily encrusted with soft corals and fan corals. The steep sided gullies shelter a wealth of reef fish and invertebrate life. This site is used for night dives in good conditions.
Vista Bay Rocks: Depth: 5 - 13m. Towards the North Western end of Beau Vallon Bay, these rocks comprise of a single vertical sided granite massif and two adjoining granite and coral reefs. Occasionally swept by current, the vertical sides are covered in soft corals and fan corals and are home to an impressive array of invertebrate life. The adjoining reefs are home to a number of Moray Eels and Lobsters
Sunset Rocks: Depth: 5 - 12m : Granite reef with hard corals. An easy dive onto a promontory of granite which breaks the surface. A wide central channel leading towards shore is home to a variety of reef fish. The surrounding coral and granite reef shelters a number of Moray Eels and is a favorite feeding site for Bump Head Parrot Fish.
Aquarium: Depth: 6 - 14m: Comprised of two huge coral heads flanked on either side by large low-lying patchwork reef, this is a favorite site for novice divers. As the name implies is home to an abundance of reef fish; a large carpet anemone at the top of one of the coral heads is the home of two large three banded Seychelles Clown Fish.
Beau Vallon Reef: Depth: 12m : This is a large patchwork reef in the middle of Beau Vallon Bay. An area of hard coral with abundant reef fish, it is also visited by deeper water species and Hawksbill turtles. This site has some good invertebrate life with numerous anemones.
Fisherman?s Cove Reef : An easy dive and favorite site for novices, this patchwork reef is one of the closest to the Beau Vallon dive center. This gently shelving reef has abundant hard coral formations set between sand patches making it an ideal site for beginners and also macro-photographers. Feeding Hawksbill turtles are a common sight.
Twin Barges Wreck : Depth: 12 - 24m. These two wrecks were purposely sunk at the foot of the Corsair Reef in 1989 by the Association of Professional Divers Seychelles, and have become heavily encrusted with hard corals, fan corals and sponges. Resident Lion Fish welcome divers to this shelter for a wealth of marine life and invertebrates. Although a slightly deeper dive, it is a favorite night dive site.
Corsair Reef: Depth: 6 - 12m. The largest fringing reef on north western Mahe; this shelving reef has a shallow reef top at 5 - 10 with abundant reef fish and is a regular feeding ground for Hawksbill turtles. The reef slope is characterized by several large coral heads which provide shelter for Sweet Lips, Coral Cod and the odd Lobster.
Scala Reef: Depth: 6 - 12m. Towards the western end of the Corsair fringing reef system; this shelving reef has good reef fish and is a frequently visited by Hawksbill turtles. The deeper side of the reef is occasionally visited by schools of pelagic fish.
Dredger Wreck: Depth: 18 - 26m. This wreck was purposely sunk by the Association of Professional Divers Seychelles, and has become a haven for marine life including a wealth of invertebrates. It is often visited by pelagic fish and is occasionally the temporary home of large Black Groupers and juvenile Red Snappers.
Danzille Rocks & Reef: Depth: 6 - 18m. An easy dive onto a promontory of large granite boulders; there are several archways and swim-through's with many reef fish and a variety of Moray Eels. Hawksbill turtles feed on sponges on the fringing coral reef which is a good area for invertebrates and nudibranchs. This site is one of those used for night dives when the vertical rocks are a vivid wall of orange colour from encrusting cup corals with the reef providing the chance of finding many different crustaceans including sponge crabs.
Horseshoe Rocks: A large granite massif several hundred off the coast with spur and groove formations on the off-shore side; this site occasionally picks up a long-shore current. This is a good site for reef fish, Moray Eels and invertebrates. Hawksbill turtles and ribbon tailed sting-rays can be found and octopus dens are often found at the base of the granite walls.
Whale Rock: Depth: 8 - 14m. An easy dive onto a reef of large granite boulders stacked together to form areas of archways, swim-through's and corridors. There are many reef fish, Moray Eels, occasional Hawksbill turtles and ribbon tailed sting-rays can be found while garden eels can be seen in the sand on the offshore side. This site is one of those used for night dives when the coral studded rocks are a blaze of colour.
Willy's Bay & Rock: Depth: 5 - 16m. A shallow dive with a protected coral reef within the bay and a huge granite massif descending to the sandy sea bed. Common reef fish, Moray Eels and occasional Hawksbill turtles are found in the bay and there are plentiful invertebrates on the outlying rocks.
Ray's Point Cove: Depth 4 - 16m. An easy dive with large granite boulders descending from a rugged shoreline to the sea bed; many reef fish, Moray Eels, occasional Hawksbill turtles and ribbon tailed sting-rays can be found.
Ray's Point: Depth: 8 - 20m. An easy dive with large granite boulders descending from a rugged shoreline to the sea bed; many reef fish, Moray Eels, occasional Hawksbill turtles and ribbon tailed sting-rays can be found.
Bay Ternay Marine Park: Depth: 5 - 18m. An easy dive with probably the best hard coral formations around Mahe; many reef fish, Moray Eels, good invertebrates and anemones; Hawksbill turtles are commonly seen at this site and schools of Jacks. Marine Park Regulations apply.
Lighthouse: Depth: 5 - 24m. An easy dive with excellent hard coral formations; many reef fish and occasional Moray Eels. Hawksbill turtles are commonly seen at this site.
Grouper Point: Depth: 7 - 20m. This dive may have currents dependant on seasonal influences. Large dramatic granite boulders and massifs with hard coral formations dropping to sand at 28 - 30 ; many reef fish, especially medium sized groupers, occasional Moray Eels and Hawksbill turtles. Reef sharks are sometimes seen at this site as are schooling pelagics such as Jack Fish; Whale Sharks are seen off the point during the Whale Shark season.
Cap Ternay: Depth: 10 - 20m. At the base of the sheer granite of Cap Ternay descending into the deep water channel running up the West Coast of Mahe. The sheer sides drop steeply to a sand and boulder field at 20m. There is a regular current flow which encourages visits by Turtles, Sharks and Pelagic fish.
Conception Arena: Depth: 15 - 30m. West of Conception Island, this submerged granite reef forms a natural arena with huge boulders and deeply incised gullies forming swim-through's. As an offshore area and with a shelving sandy bottom dropping away from 30m, the site is liable to current and attracts larger fish species. Visits by schooling Pelagics are common as are sightings of Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks; Whale Sharks are found in season.
Conception South: Depth: 10 - 20m. The southern point of Conception Island provides an area of steep walls, gullies and boulders which are home to an impressive number of larger reef fish and invertebrates. The site is open to current and attracts schooling Pelagics, Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks.
Plateau Lune: Depth: 18m Between Conception and Therese Islands, this can be a great drift dive with schooling pelagics.
Therese Island: Depth: 12 - 18m. Off the Northern point of Therese Island, this site is a little more protected than the neighboring sites and shelters a variety of larger reef fish and invertebrates. The site occasionally picks up current and with it schooling Pelagics, Stingrays and Reef sharks.
Steps: Depth: 12 - 20m. This dive may have currents dependant on seasonal influences. Large dramatic granite boulders and massifs with hard coral formations dropping to sand at 28 - 30m; many reef fish, especially medium sized groupers, occasional Moray Eels and Hawksbill turtles. Reef sharks are sometimes seen at this site as are schooling pelagics such as Jack Fish; Whale Sharks are seen off the point during the Whale Shark season.
Coral Gardens:Depth: 10 - 14m. This is a large area of patchwork reefs on a gently shelving sand bottom. This site is visited by Sting Rays and Hawksbill turtles.
Therese South: Depth: 15 - 18m. Off the Southern point of Therese Island, this site is a little more protected than the neighbouring sites and shelters a variety of larger reef fish and invertebrates. The site occasionally picks up current and with it schooling Pelagics, Stingrays and Reef sharks.
Trois Dames: Depth: 18 - 25m. Situated between Therese Island and Mahe, this submerged granite reef of huge boulders provides protection to a variety of reef fish and invertebrates. Renowned for its 'creaking rock' which moves gently in the swell pattern, the site is affected by current and is often visited by Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks.
Iles Vaches: Depth: 8 - 20m. A small island just off the West Mahe coast, it is relatively protected but occasionally liable to current. Granite gullies and boulders provide shelter for a variety of reef fish and invertebrates and occasional schooling Pelagics, Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks can be found.
Trois Bancs: Depth: 5 - 25m. Several miles offshore, this is an area of three large submerged granite reefs made up of steeply walled massifs, deep gullies and large boulders which form a maze of swim-through's and small caves. These in turn host an impressive number of large reef fish and resident schools of Black Snappers. The site suffers occasionally from current but attracts schooling Pelagics, Barracuda, Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks. Whale Sharks are also present in the right season.
Malgas: Depth: 15 - 18m. Several miles offshore, this is an area of submerged granite reef made up of steeply walled massifs, deep gullies and large boulders which form a maze of swim-through's and small caves. These in turn host an impressive number of large reef fish and resident schools of Black Snappers. The site suffers occasionally from current but attracts schooling Pelagics, Barracuda, Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks. Whale Sharks are also present in the right season.
Stork Patch Depth: 7 - 23m. Several miles offshore, this is an area of three large submerged granite reefs made up of steeply walled massifs, deep gullies and large boulders which form a maze of swim-through's and small caves. These in turn host an impressive number of large reef fish and resident schools of Black Snappers. The site suffers occasionally from current but attracts schooling Pelagics, Barracuda, Stingrays, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks. Whale Sharks are also present in the right season.
Dragon's Teeth Depth: 12 - 20m. Just adjacent to Brissare Rocks, this group of rocks just breaks the surface and are always seen as jagged teeth jutting out from the foaming waters, hence the name! The site has good reef fish and invertebrate life and is home to several white Tip Reef Sharks as well as large Brown Morays; Occasionally swept by current it also attracts schooling Bump Head Parrot fish, Jack Fish, Stingrays, and Whale Sharks in the right season.
Beacon Island: Depth: 12 - 18m. The most Easterly of the islands in the St. Anne Marine Park, this granite island's sides are characterized by a deep spur and groove formation on the Southern side which is home to abundant reef fish and invertebrate life. This area is visited by Turtles, Sharks and Pelagic fish. Marine Park Regulations apply.
Pinnacle Point: Depth 12 - 18m. The Westerly submarine promontory of Beacon Island which is named after the three rock spires which break the surface. The granite sides are grooved and along with the boulder field are covered on coral formations giving shelter to a variety of reef fish and invertebrate life. This area is visited by Turtles, Sharks and Pelagic fish. Marine Park Regulations apply.
Cerf Island: The most Westerly of the islands in the St. Anne Marine Park; this is an easy dive onto a shallow gently sloping granite and coral reef, particularly suitable for novices and macro-photographers. A reasonable selection of reef fish and invertebrates can be found and the site is occasionally visited by reef sharks. Marine Park Regulations apply.
Harrison Rocks: Depth: 5 - 18m. A granite rock outside the St. Anne Marine Park; a profusion of granite boulders encrusted with coral which attracts a variety of reef fish. A reasonable selection of invertebrates can be found and the site is occasionally visited by Hawksbill turtles, schooling Pelagics and Reef sharks.
Turtle Rocks: Depth: 15 - 23m. East of Seychelles International Airport, this submerged granite and coral reef is a magnet for all sorts of fish life. A good selection of invertebrates can be found and the site is occasionally visited by schooling Pelagics, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks.
Lost City: Depth: 18 - 25m. East of Turtle Rocks, this submerged granite reef is deeply incised with gullies swim-through's and clefts providing shelter to numerous reef fish. Being further offshore and liable to current, the area also attracts larger fish species and has abundant invertebrates; it is regularly visited by schooling Pelagics, Hawksbill turtles and Reef sharks.
When To Go
Diving is possible all year round but best conditions around the inner islands are March - May and October - November when the water temperature can reach 29¡ãC and visibility is at 30 metres. The Southerly islands are close to the cyclone belt, so during the months of December and January they can experience extremely rough conditions. However, due to their remoteness marine life around these islands tends to be even more prolific than around the Inner islands.
The Seychelles is a year-round destination. The islands' equatorial location means hot weather and some rainfall all year. May to October are the driest months - temperatures are fairly constant at about 30C and there are more than seven hours of sunshine per day. October to April are the more humid months when rain falls in short, heavy bursts and the skies generally clear rapidly. December, January and February tend to be the wettest months.
Vaccinations are recommended for polio and typhoid and travellers should be aware of the rabies threat. The water has not been treated and should not be drunk. Medical facilities are extremely limited, especially on the more remote islands. Travel insurance with full evacuation cover is considered essential.
Although the Seychelles Rupee is the official currency, most businesses prefer to receive hard currency, with the US Dollar being the most favoured. Credit cards are accepted at most restaurants and hotels and the ATM coverage is almost non-existant.
The main international airport is on MahõdAll flights within the Seychelles arrive and depart from Mahõd
Air Seychelles (01293 596 656; Website flies to Mahîewice a week, via Z?or Dubai; British Airways (0845 779 9977; Website flies twice a week direct; Air France (0845 0845 111; Website flies to Mahîgia Paris.
Air Seychelles (01293 596 656) runs an efficient inter-island service using Twin Otter planes. All flights arrive and depart from MahôUalthough the airport on Praslin is currently being expanded. Helicopter Seychelles (00 248 373 900) flies to Denis, Praslin, Frñˆte, Cousine and Silhouette islands. Transfers are expensive, and not included in accommodation prices. Travel Services Seychelles (00 248 322 414) can organise all flights, as well as accommodation and excursions.There is also a motor-schooner ferry service (00 248 234 013) which operates between all the islands. There is a departure tax of US$40, payable at MahîRirport.
Dive Location Filter
As long as the whole journey is carried out on Air Seychelles, divers are afforded an extra 10kg weight allowance. Check with the airline for terms and conditions. All hotel accounts must be paid in foreign currency or by credit card. Seychelles rupees can only be exchanged for foreign currency with a foreign-exchange receipt from the bank where you bought them. The islands are really very different from each other - pick the right one for you! A multi centre holiday is a real option here.