Perhaps everyone dreams of a holiday in a tropical paradise — turquoise waters, palm trees and white sandy beaches. Look no further than the Seychelles — an archipelago of more than 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the east coast of Africa. For sailors, this destination offers even more than it does for the average tourist. The numerous breathtaking anchorages are just a short distance away from each other, so you can avoid longer crossings and with a typical air temperature of around 30 degrees and water of 27 degrees, it's perfect for water sports. Let's take a look at where you should sail and where to anchor.
Basic yachting infrastructure in the Seychelles
Most of the sailing is centred around the main island of Mahé, where the international airport and the base of most charter boats are located. On the island, you'll find the luxurious Eden Island Marina, where you can rent the perfect boat. The marina is located on a man-made island between the airport and the capital city of Victoria with the boats easily reachable by taxi across the bridge. The marina infrastructure meets all the standards we are used to.
Luxury Eden Island Marina on Mahé Island
Before you set sail, supplies can be purchased directly from the marketplace on the pier or, alternatively, you can take a taxi to the cheap STC supermarket. Expect to be able to buy no more than sundries on the voyage itself, as there are only smaller, less well-stocked shops on the other islands. Catamarans are ideal for cruising in the Seychelles as they offer greater comfort, plus the shallow draft allows you to get closer to the coral atolls and beaches than on a monohull.
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Where to sail in the Seychelles?
Most sailors visit the area of the so-called inner islands bordered by the private Bird Island to the north, Mahé to the south, Silhouette Island to the west and Grande Soeur to the east. The other islands of the archipelago are too far away and are only accessible with a special permit and a local captain on board. But the inner islands themselves will keep you happily occupied for several weeks.
The island of Mahé alone (28 km long) offers enough to keep you occupied for a week. It has one of the most beautiful beaches, Beau Vallon, which you won't feel like leaving. If you do want to explore the whole of the inner islands, expect to cover some 250–300 nautical miles (the farthest Bird Island is 54 NM from Mahé, the popular Praslin about 20 NM). If you want to enjoy leisurely sailing without much stress and enough time to discover all the beauty there, go for a fortnight's holiday instead.
Another option is to divide your holiday in paradise into two separate parts — boat and land — and dedicate a week to each. Trust us, you'll never get bored. See below for our tips on how to make the most of a week at sea in the Seychelles.
Seychelles: week-long sailing route between Mahé and Praslin
The most famous islands of Mahé and Praslin certainly have plenty to offer their visitors. Come with us as we depart on a 7-day sailing adventure that really makes the most of this piece of paradise.
Day 1: Mahé Island, Eden Marina — St. Anne Marine Park
Day 2: St. Anne Marine Park — Praslin Island, Anse Lazio
Day 3: Anse Lazio — Curieuse Island, Anse Volbert
Day 4: Anse Volbert — Baie St. Anne
Day 5: Baie St. Anne — La Digue Island, La Passe Harbour
Day 6: La Passe — Mahé Island, Beau Vallon
Day 7: Beau Vallon — Eden Marina
Our voyage starts in the Eden marina on the main island of Mahé. From there we sail along the southwest coast of the island to the islands that make up St. Anne National Park. The park is open daily from 8.30 am to 5 pm and there is an admission fee, including a boat charge for overnight moorings. Keep on the lookout, as giant petrels like to hang around St. Anne's National Park.
The following day we sail northwards to Anse Lazio Bay on the northwest side of Praslin Island. Turquoise waters and white sand make Anse Lazio one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Be sure not to leave your snorkelling gear on board the boat — if you're lucky you'll be able to swim with the sea turtles that feed among the rocks at the edge of the beach.
After a night in the bay, we head east to the town of Anse Volbert with a stop at Curieuse Island. If you have time, head ashore and visit a turtle farm with over a hundred wild specimens. On the fourth day, the voyage will take us to the picturesque bay of Baie Sainte Anne and the town of the same name with its numerous inviting restaurants and bars.
On the fifth day we leave Praslin Island and sail through the Indian Ocean towards the island of La Digue. Here you can anchor in the local harbour. Anchoring here is a bit more complicated here — first drop the bow anchor and then, using a dinghy, you bring the rope ashore. Remember that the harbour is often full and reservations are not possible, so don't arrive too late. There are several restaurants in La Passe as well as a grocery store for restocking. If you're sporty, rent a bike from one of the local bike rental shops and take a ride along the empty roads of La Digue. These lead to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, such as Grande Anse or Anse Source d'Argent, where Bacardi and Raffaello commercials were filmed. From Grande Anse, walk (about 45 minutes) to the deserted paradise bay of Anse Cocos. But we'll save the most stunning beach for the last day — sailing back to Mahé Island to Beau Vallon beach to bid farewell to our voyage of the Seychelles.
Grande Anse Beach, La Digue Island, Seychelles
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Snorkelling with turtles
In addition to its breathtaking beaches, the Seychelles is teeming with natural beauty and culinary delights. The delicious Creole cuisine, which consists primarily of rice and fish, is worth sampling and you'll discover fascinating fauna and flora both above and below the water's surface. Inland, you can visit rainforests and waterfalls and observe some of the many species of turtles that live on the island. On land, you'll even encounter giant tortoises.
Aldabra giant tortoise on the beach near Praslin
Whilst scuba-diving and snorkelling, you may come across a hawksbill or big leatherback sea turtle, which has a shell length of around 2 metres. And such an encounter underwater is a magical experience! In addition to turtles, you'll see hundreds of species of marine animals, including the majestic stingrays, beautifully coloured corals as well as ancient shipwrecks.
And by far the best snorkelling is from the deck of your own boat. So why not ditch the usual destinations for something a little more exotic and try out yachting in the Seychelles?
YACHTING.COM TIP: Do you like to snorkel and explore the underwater world? Then you should definitely check out the Caribbean. What marine life is there to discover beneath the surface Caribbean waters? What can you get up close to and what should you watch out for? Find out in our article — Snorkelling and sailing: what inhabits the Caribbean coral reefs?
Tropical fruits and vegetables at the famous Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market on the island of Mahe, Seychelles
When to sail in the Seychelles?
High season in the Seychelles is between May and September. From December to March there is a light, steady northwesterly monsoon of 5–15 knots, which brings more frequent rain showers. From May to October, a strong (10–25 knots) but rainless southeasterly monsoon blows, bringing clear skies. However, it is accompanied by rough seas that often wash up large amounts of seaweed on the island's southern beaches. So at this time of year, most of the southern anchorages are rather unusable and the beaches are not as idyllic as in the pictures. That is why most tourists choose the windless interim period, which, give or take, is similar to our summer holidays. At this time, the sea is calmest and clearest, and therefore most suitable for scuba-diving and snorkelling.
Paradise Beach on the island of La Digue in the Seychelles
Who is sailing in the Seychelles for?
It could be said that even beginners can handle sailing in this region. There are plenty of good anchorages everywhere, the distances are short — no big open sea crossings, currents are gentle, winds are relatively predictable and storms are very rare. Still, there are a few little things that make the Seychelles a destination for more experienced sailors. Firstly, apart from the main marina on Eden Island, La Passe marina on La Digue and the floating dock at Baie Sainte Anne on Praslin, the Seychelles lacks in yachting infrastructure. So if you don't like to anchor and prefer heading to a marina for the night, the Seychelles is not the right choice for you.
Saint Pierre Island
YACHTING.COM TIP: Prices in marinas in the Seychelles range between 60–100 Euros (Rs 700–1,300). In any case, it is worth booking a place in the marinas at least 24 hours in advance. Otherwise, you can easily find yourself without a berth for the night.
You also need to keep an eye out for various rocks and cliffs, not all of which are recorded on the charts, especially outside the main islands. Therefore, it is essential to be on the lookout throughout your voyage. If you prefer to just have fun on your trip rather than following a route, however, this problem can easily be solved by hiring a professional skipper. A visit to the Seychelles is definitely worth it!