The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean on Earth, surrounded by Africa, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. But it is not empty. There are several islands and archipelagos scattered around it, each of them with its own exotic beauty. One of them is Seychelles, a constellation of 155 tropical paradise-like islands with hidden gems in their surrounding waters. Let’s go diving in Seychelles and discover these gems!
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Seychelles is a small archipelago and a sovereign country in the Indian Ocean. It belongs to Africa, but only politically because this is the closest continent to the country. But geographically, it is out of the African continental plates.
In fact, Seychelles consists not of one but several archipelagos and isolated islands. The country has 115 islands (including islets, reefs, and sandbars) in total, but almost all but three of them are inhabited. Most of the other pieces of land are turned into nature reserves. The country’s capital is Victoria and it is located on the largest island- Mahé.
The landscape of Seychelles
Unlike the nearby Maldives, the islands of Seychelles are divided into two types- granitic and coralline. The granitic islands are underwater mountains that rise above the surface. They are 42 in number and all of them are located in the central Seychelles Bank. Here is the highest point of the country- Morne Seychellois (905 m/2969 ft), located on the largest island of Mahé.
The granitic islands, as well as all of Seychelles, are not of volcanic origin. There are no traces of volcanism here. Instead, the Seychelles Bank is a part of a local microcontinent, located far from the main continents.
All of the other archipelagos (including two islands on the Seychelles Bank) and isolated islands are coralline. The country is located in the southern tropical humid zone and the islands are covered by lush tropical rainforests. One of the landmarks of Seychelles is the large granitic rock formations at the seacoast of Mahé and the other Granitic islands.
This is what Seychelles looks like. But how about their underwater world? Definitely yes! Let’s see…
The underwater world of Seychelles
With so many granitic and coral islands, located in the tropics, you can expect a fantastic underwater world. And indeed, there is a variety of diving sites and landscapes.
Around the granitic islands, the granite rocks are underwater too. They can be seen in various formations covered by corals. In some places, these rocks are mixed with a sand floor.
And around the coral islands, you can see plenty of classical coral reef underwater landscapes, as well as some drop-offs and other types of rock walls.
All of these two types of underwater places are full of amazing marine wildlife. Around the Granites, you can see various kinds of pelagic fish- angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, reef sharks, octopuses, nudibranchs, etc. And the waters around the outer coral islands are full of nurse sharks, manta rays, sailfish, and many more. In addition, you can also find some shipwrecks.
Diving in Seychelles
Due to all of the above, Seychelles attracts divers from all over the world and diving tourism is well-developed. However, it is focused mainly on the three large islands of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. This is because they are close to the capital Victoria, the entry point of Seychelles.
But of course, there are a lot of fantastic places for diving around the other islands. However, most of them are quite off the beaten, more difficult to reach, and there are still a lot of undiscovered spots.
Diving sites in Seychelles
So, let’s see the diving areas around Seychelles and the best diving spots in these areas. The whole territory of the country can be divided into two regions- The inner and Outer Islands. And we will see the diving spots according to this division.
The Inner Islands of Seychelles are the main archipelago of the country. It consists of 42 granite islands (The Granites) and 2 coralline islands. The largest island of Mahé, as well as Praslin, La Digue are a part of the Granites.
This is the most central, most populated, and most touristy part of Seychelles. It consists of Mahé Island- the largest island in the country, and dozens of small “satellite” islands and islets.
There are a lot of diving spots in this area, and all of them present various types of granite terrain and formations, mostly covered by corals. And these are the best diving spots here, located mostly on the northwestern coast of Mahé:
- One Tree Island. This is a shallow granite bank near the coast of Mahé, covered by corals. The main highlight here is the abundance of pelagic fish.
- Trois Bancs. This is an attractive group of three granite reefs with amazing terrain, including drop-offs and caves. Currents are relatively strong here.
- Ennerdale Wreck. This is a remnant of a British tanker that sunk near the coast of Mahé in 1970. Due to the strong currents, it is only for advanced scuba divers.
- Aldebaran Wreck. This is an intentionally sunk fishing boat (due to illegal fishing) in 2008 and it stands upright. Although sunk only recently, it is already full of marine wildlife.
- Dredger Wreck. This is another boat, a dredger, sunk in 1989, now lying on one side.
- Shark Bank. This is a granite plateau, about 8 km northwest of Mahé Island- a great place for diving with pelagic fish, and as its name suggests- with reef sharks and whale sharks.
- Fisherman’s Cove Reef. One of the best spots for beginners. This is a shallow coral field that descends gradually, almost without currents, full of coral marine life.
- L’ilot Islet. This is a tiny islet (only about 20-30 m wide) off the coast of Mahé. One of the best spots for night diving, with circling the islet. Here you can see octopuses, and various fish, including barracudas and sharks.
- Baie Ternay Marine Park. This is a small shallow bay at the westernmost point of Mahé Island, covered by corals, full of marine wildlife, and surrounded by a real paradise of tropical rainforests. It is one of the best diving spots in the Indian Ocean.
- Brissare Rocks. This is a small underwater granite reef. Its highlight is some rare species like nurse sharks and more. One of the best places for those who want to explore rare fauna.
- Chuckles Rocks. This is a single granite massif, covered by corals and featuring incredibly diverse marine wildlife.
Praslin and La Digue group
This group of the Inner Islands is located north of Mahé. It consists of two larger islands- Praslin and La Digue, as well as many other small islands like Cousine, Felicite, Marianne, Grande Soeur, Curieuse, and more.
Praslin and La Digue are well-developed for tourism, with a local population and a lot of resorts. Most of the other islands are uninhabited but feature some great diving spots. Here are some of the best diving spots in this area:
- Marianne Island. This is the easternmost island in this group, currently uninhabited. Its southern part offers an otherworldly landscape of pinnacles, canyons, and other formations. From the fish, grey reef sharks are the highlight, but there are a lot more marine species.
- St. Pierre Island. This is a small islet (about 80 m in width) with a smaller “brother”, located north of Praslin. It offers shallow waters (up to 10 m deep) with an incredibly beautiful underwater world. Great for beginners.
- White Bank. This is an amazing shallow bank, located between Praslin and La Digue islands. As its name suggests, it presents white corals with abundant coral wildlife.
- Channel Rock. This is another great diving spot for all levels of diving skills, presenting some spectacular rock formations, richly covered by corals.
This is a small local group of islands, consisting of the main Fregate Island (the easternmost of all the Inner Islands of Seychelles) and three mini islets west of it. Fregate Island is inhabited and turned into a private luxury resort with special environmental protection.
Here you can dive privately since they usually accept only two guests at a time. The diving area around the island is proper for every level of diving skills and presents granite rocky formations, some drop-offs, and an abundance of marine wildlife.
These are two islands- Silhouette and North, located west of the Inner Islands. Silhouette is hilly, with about 200 population (living in the only village on the island). North Island is smaller, with about 150 people living on it.
Both Silhouette and North are turned into resorts and present some great diving sites. Here are some of them:
- Black Rock. This is an iconic dive spot at Silhouette, marked by a black-colored rock that stands over the surface. It has amazing terrain of granite rocks, full of marine wildlife.
- Anse Mondon. This is a small pristine bay on the north coast of Silhouette Island, great for beginners. Here the wildlife is rich, with a highlight on turtles and rays.
- House Reef. This is a spectacular coral reef full of marine life. Its highlights here are turtles, barracuda, stingrays, and colorful nudibranch. The symbol of this place is an old anchor covered by corals.
- North Island. There are a lot of diving spots here, but the best one is the Five pinnacles separated by sand channels. The terrain is fantastic. And needless to say, it is full of wildlife.
Coral Inner Islands: Bird and Denis
These are the only two coral islands in the Inner Islands group. They are also the northernmost pieces of land in Seychelles (closest to the Equator). Although they have a small population, due to their remoteness, tourism is less developed, they are quite off the beaten.
Bird and Denis islands present a typical coral reef underwater world. There are coral fields, as well as drop-offs and other types of walls of corals. And the marine wildlife is also typical of the coral environment. In addition, you can see manta rays, reef sharks, and a lot of fish schools.
The Outer Islands are all of the other pieces of land that form Seychelles. They consist of several small archipelagos and isolated islands. All of them are atolls. And all of them, due to their remoteness are quite off the beaten and far from the tourist crowds.
The Amirantes are a group of 13 coral atolls and sand cays with a total population of 300 people. Except for Desroches Island, all of them are located on the Amirantes Bank. Here you can expect fantastic diving opportunities, and you can find them on every island.
The most visited one (but still off the beaten) is Desroches Island. There are about 18 recognized diving spots around it, and the best of them are Secret Passage, The Cave, and Canyon- otherworldly places underwater with unique terrain, and full of marine wildlife.
Diving spots can be found around the other islands too, and the best of them are around African Banks, Poivre, Remire Reef, Marie Louise, and Ile des Noeufs (Desnoeufs). Actually, many of the spots are still undiscovered.
The Alphonses consist of three islands united into two atolls- Alphonse and St. Francois. Only Alphonse Islands is inhabited by 82 people. And according to many scuba divers, this is one of the best diving destinations in the whole of Seychelles.
There are many diving spots around Alphonse, and these are the best of them:
- Napoleon. This is an incredibly beautiful place, an open water reef full of coral wonders. However, it has strong currents, so only experienced divers can go there.
- Wonderland. This site is proper for every level of scuba diving experience. Its highlights are the coral head formations on a large plateau. Really like a wonderland!
- Trigger Hill. This site is located around St. Francois Island. It is a sharp hill with three coral rivers. Its main highlights are the Yellowmargin Triggerfish which lay its eggs here.
Southern Coral Group
This group is located south-southeast of the Inner Islands and consists of two sand cays- Platte and Coëtivy. Both of them are inhabited. However, they remain far from tourism and their diving spots remain still undiscovered.
This is a small archipelago, consisting of three atolls and one single island. The largest one is Aldabra Atoll, the only inhabited place in the archipelago, consisting of more than 40 islets.
Cosmoledo is the other large atoll with more than 18 islets. It has only one fishing village, abandoned in 1992, and now the whole atoll is uninhabited. Astove Atoll consists of only one island, and Assumption is just a single island (not atoll)- both uninhabited and untouched.
All of the islands are visited by tourists, and the best diving spots can be found in Aldabra. They are so many and so fantastic that it is difficult to choose just one or two “best”. Here you can see the best of the coral reef environment, a lot of fish schools, reef sharks, octopuses, barracudas, nudibranchs, and many more.
This group consists of two atolls- Farquhar and Providence, one island- St. Pierre, and several reefs (most of them submerged). The only settlement of 20 constantly living people is located in Farquhar. Everything else is wild and untouched.
The only atoll, normally (although seldom) visited by tourists is Farquhar. There are a lot of diving spots around it, but most of them are currently undiscovered. Sometimes, occasionally, eco-tourists can visit Providence too, but there is no developed diving activity around it.
Diving resorts and diving centers
The main starting points for short diving trips are located on the Granite Islands- mostly on Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. They organize diving courses and tours to the nearby diving spots.
Besides them, there are also diving resorts on Silhouette, Fregate (a special private resort), Denis, and Bird islands. On the Outer Islands, there are resorts on Desroches, Alphonse, Aldabra, and Farquhar.
This is the list of the most popular of them:
- Blue Sea Divers– on Mahé Island, at Beau Valon Beach.
- Big Blue Divers– on Mahé Island, at Beau Valon Beach, Tel: +248 426 1106
Mobile: +248 251 1103 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dive Seychelles Underwater Center– on Mahé Island, Tel: + (248) 4247165
Mobile: +248 251 1103 email@example.com
- Dive Resort Seychelles– on Mahé Island, at Anse La-Mouche, Tel: +248 4372057 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Octopus Diving Center, on Praslin Island, in Berjaya Praslin Beach Hotel, Tel: (+248) 423 26 02 Mob: (+248) 271 54 41 email@example.com
- Hawksbill Dive Center, on Praslin Island, in Baie Sainte Anne, Tel: 248-271-9150
Mobile: +248 251 1103 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Whitetip Divers, on Praslin Island, in Paradise Sun Hotel, Tel: +(248) 423 22 82
Mobile: +(248) 251 42 82 email@example.com
- Trek Divers, on La Digue Island, in La Passe, Tel: (00248) 2523585
- Azzura Pro Dive, on La Digue Island, in La Digue Island Lodge, Tel: +248 429 2525
- Alphonse Dive Center, in Alphonse Island Resort, Tel: +27 82 496 4570
However, a better, although the more expensive option is to go on a longer scuba diving adventure on a liveaboard tour.
Liveaboard tours in Seychelles
Although there are a lot of diving sites in Seychelles, many of them at a world-class level, liveaboard tourism is still not so developed. There are only a few liveaboard boats that operate in the country. Let’s see more about them.
Sea Bird & Sea Star
These are two sister ships that operate around Inner Seychelles. They offer 8 day/7 night tours between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue, and their routes include some of the best diving spots in this area.
But they would not just guide you in scuba diving. They also stop at some of the most interesting on-land sites in Inner Seychelles, so you can also enjoy some hiking, bird watching, and other activities.
Sea Bird & Sea Star are sailing yachts, designed in traditional style. They offer 9 cabins for 18 guests. Their social areas include bar and dining and saloon halls, and spacious sun decks on the board.
Sea Pearl & Sea Shell
These are another pair of two sister ships, again operating around the Inner Islands of Seychelles. They offer pretty similar routes like the Sea Bird and Sea Star, with some variations between summer and winter.
Sea Pearl & Sea Shell are schooners designed in traditional style with sails and offer 9 cabins for 20 guests. Their social area includes the same facilities as the other “Sea” couple. And again, their tours include some on-land activities, so they are also proper for non-divers.
This is a totally different vessel. It is a catamaran, twice as fast as the “Sea” ships, with only 3 cabins (called “Aldabra”, “Granites”, and “Amirantes”) for 6 guests, providing a unique experience for scuba divers.
Explorer 1 has a very diverse tour program. It offers small and short (3 day/2 night) tours between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue, but also longer tours that include the two northern coralline islands of Bird and Denis. And at least once a year Explorer 1 travels on an expedition to the Amirantes- to Desroches, St. Joseph, and Poivre.
This is a large schooner in traditional style with sails. It provides 7 cabins for 14 guests, a comfortable social area that includes a dining saloon and bar, and several sun decks for relaxation.
Galatea travels in the Inner Islands, between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue, visiting the best diving spots in this area. Its tours are stable and every week- 8 day/7 night, and they are all charter only.
This is a new liveaboard vessel, very different than any other in Seychelles. It is a luxury double catamaran with 4 cabins for 6 guests. And it is designed for friends and families- the payment is not per person, but per 4 or 6 people.
MY A’mani starts its tours from Alphonse Island and operates around the Alphonse and Amirantes group of islands. Its tours are 6 day/5 night or 8 day/7 night long. Yes, it is much more expensive than the average liveaboard but the experience it provides is worth it if you can afford it.
MV Maya’s Dugong
This is a former Canadian expedition vessel, now turned into a luxury yacht, another unique boat different than any other in Seychelles. It provides 7 cabins for 14 guests and is operating exclusively in the Outer Islands of Seychelles.
MV Maya’s Dugong is much more expensive than the average liveaboards, because its tours are different, in fact, they are expeditions. The yacht explores the area around Aldabra, Farquhar, Cosmoledo, Astove, and Assumption, but it also includes Mahé. The tours are 8 to 10 days long.
Seychelles diving and exploring tips
All of the above sounds great, but how to prepare and what to expect if you want to go diving in Seychelles?
Seychelles is located just south of the Equator, so its climate is tropical-equatorial. So, you can’t expect any cold, even in the coolest season, in the southernmost islands.
There are two seasons in the Seychelles- hot and rainy season, from November to April, and cooler and dryer season, from April to the end of October. These seasons are formed by the monsoons- the northwest monsoon blows in the rainy season, and the southeast monsoon- in the dry season.
Actually, the difference between the two seasons is not so big- rains are possible in the dry season, and sunny days- in the rainy season. Anyway, the time between April and November is considered the “high season”- people always prefer sunny days rather than rain.
Diving skills requirements
Many diving spots are easy to dive and proper for all levels of diving skills. The easiest diving spots are located near the big islands of the Granites group- Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue, especially in some bays where currents are almost missing.
However, the most beautiful diving spots are usually difficult and require significant diving experience. After all, Seychelles is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean and many currents pass or meet around the islands.
As a result, many short diving boat trips, as well as liveaboards require an advanced open water certificate before allowing you to dive in the spots on their route. Otherwise, you will just wait for the experienced divers on the boat while they enjoy the beauty of the difficult spots.
So, it is recommended to join a PADI scuba diving course. You can do it in your home country (if you live near the seacoast) or in Seychelles. There are a lot of courses you can join, mainly on Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.
Permits and fees
Currently, there are six marine national parks in Seychelles that require entrance fees. These are: Sainte Anne, Silhouette, Port Launay, Baie Ternay, Ile Cocos, Curieuse, and St. Pierre. The fees vary from 11 to 26 USD per national park for foreigners.
Usually, the short diving tours and the liveaboards include these fees in their offers, so you don’t have to pay them in advance. However, if you go there on your own (for example- by ferry or by a land vehicle near the spot), you have to pay the fee at the local visitor center.
How to reach Seychelles
Seychelles is a famous tourist destination, and as such, it has a well-developed system for tourists- visa policy, transportation, and accommodation, at least for the main tourist areas of the country.
The good news is that citizens from every country in the world can visit Seychelles without a visa. What you need is just a valid passport, return or onward ticket, proof of accommodation, enough money, and an application form with a statement for health and that you don’t bring infected animals, that’s all.
The only normal way to reach Seychelles is by plane to Victoria (the only international airport in the country). Several air companies offer flights to Victoria, including the Emirates, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Sri Lankan Airlines.
Reaching Seychelles by water is possible only by cruises and private yachts, following the local regulations for arrival, related mainly to environmental issues.
Once you arrive in Victoria, you can travel around the country in several ways.
There are multiple domestic planes by Air Seychelles from Victoria to Praslin, as well as a few times per week to the more distant islands- Bird, Denis, Fregate, Desroches, and Alphonse. There are also charter flights to Assumption and Coëtivy.
Another exotic way to travel is by helicopter. Zil Air offers spectacular helicopter tours between the islands.
There are regular ferry services between the Inner Islands, mainly between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.
But if you want to go to the Outer Islands, there are no ferries. You can get there only by flights, non-diving cruises, liveaboards, or by private yacht. Normally, the distant islands with only one resort on them (like Fregate) arrange private transportation for their guests.
There are buses, taxis, and car rentals on the main islands of Seychelles. If you rent a car, just have in mind that the traffic is on the left. Another nice way to explore the islands is by rental bike.
This is the tropical paradise of Seychelles- a constellation of wonderful islands, covered by lush tropical forests with their iconic granite rocks, and a fantastic underwater world. The country is far from the rest of the civilization and can be an ideal destination for those who want to explore the frontiers of our planet.
Take a look at this video for more impressions from Seychelles:
Check some travel books about Seychelles:
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
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