Sailing the Seychelles

  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
  • Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
Photo of Sailing the Seychelles
Photo by flickr user Camera Eye

Imagine you're a sailor grown up in 16th Century Britain, which was probably chilly, grey and a bit smelly, and your captain sailed you into the warm, bright blue waters of the Seychelles... You probably would have thought you'd found paradise. And even though photos make the beauty of these islands less of a shock, there's still something of that pleasurable wonder to be found sailing round these isles of fine sandy beaches, suggestively shaped coconuts and colourful reefs, where even the rounded granite boulders are lovely.

Praslin in the tropical Seychelles Experienced sailors looking for an adventure sailing untouched isles may find that sailing the Outer Islands, either shipping out from capital, Mahé, or booking their vessel to meet them in the Farquhar or Aldabra island groups, but the Seychelles Inner Islands are a safe place for beginner sailors to potter around, with short distances between well stocked ports and calm seas all the way. For those who prefer the idea of being sailed, rather than doing any of the physical work sailing entails, there are lots of companies offering cruises and steered charters though this region.

Whatever your skill level, the first thing to do is to decide an approximate itinerary to chart – not an easy task when comparing idyllic tropical island with idyllic tropical island... Don't get too distracted day dreaming over the photos...

Sailing the Seychelles Inner Islands

Mahé, SeychellesNumerous safe moorings to choose from, with only short distances between make the Inner Islands a popular sailing destination, which in turn means there's a bit of a yachting party circuit you can join if you want to, which by the sounds of it is reminiscent of something the Talented Mr Ripley might have wanted to do.

Most Seychelles visitors fly in to Mahé the largest island in the group and the capital. Mahé is 44 miles round, combining 65 lovely beaches, including Petit Anse, a lovely sandy bay in which to drop anchor, and numerous ports, the main ones off capital city Victoria, Beau Vallon, Baie Ternay and Port Launay. Staying in sheltered coves along the coastline is also an option, some of the nicest are Anse Major, Anse Jasmin and Anse Du Riz.

Cerf Island Cerf, with its small population but huge reputation with the diving community, is just off the eastern coast of Mahé in a sprinkling of other small isles including Moyenne, Round Island and Ste Anne, all poking out of the Ste Anne Marine National Park  which has the Seychelles largest meadow of seagrass.

There's a restaurant on Round Island and resorts on Ste Anne and Cerf, so this is a popular hop for the yachting party set. The diving off the north coast of Cerf attracts serious divers, but also less serious snorkellers, all interested in seeing the giant sea turtles who visit here and maybe a clown fish or two.

Off the western coast of Mahé are Conception Island and Thérèse, then a bit further off are Silhouette, which is the most mountainous of the group and popular with walkers and hikers and North Island, on which there's just the one luxury resort with only 11 luxury lodges.

CousineFrom there Cousin, Cousine and Praslin are 23 nautical miles away – Praslin offering its own 18 miles worth of lovely coastline, including beaches at Anse Lazio, which has the famous Creole restaurant, Anse Volbert and Anse Georgette. It's worth disembarking on Praslin and exploring a little of the interior so you can see the erotically shaped Coco de Mar coconuts in the Vallée de Mai Reserve. Curieuse island is just off the coast of Praslin and has some lovely coves in which to spend the night amongst the giant tortoises, which are the island's main inhabitants.

Praslin in the tropical Seychelles Sail four miles southeast of Praslin's Baie Ste Anne jetty and you'll get to La Digue with the tropical jungle, home to the very rare Black Paradise Flycatcher. La Digue has nine miles of coast to circumnavigate, with pleasant rest coves at Reunion, Union and Patate, and Anse Source d'Argent , one of the world's most photographed beaches. La Digue has a couple of slightly out of the way restaurants and a nice boutique or two, as well as the usual general stores.

The outer islands of the Inner group are Denis and Bird to the north and Frégate, erstwhile preserve of pirates to the east. Bird Island is known for its birds, and has a 24 room resort on it, and Denis is slightly less exclusive with 25 rooms.

Frégate Island has only 16 rooms, Brad Pitt chose this island, but more famously it's great for snorkellers and has the beach The Times recently named the world's number one: Anse Victorin.

Sailing the Seychelles Outer Islands

The Outer Islands are further apart, offering fewer home comforts, but the chance to be the first to imprint your footprints in the fine sand of their beaches. This is where Seychelles adventure begins: sailors will be challenged by narrow passages and quick rising reefs, but rewarded by acres of sparking azure and bright blue lagoons to rest in. This is terrain for sailors who dream of the 'old days' of map reading and don't mind spending a day or two at sea between ports.

The coral chain of the Amirantes is the nearest island group to the Inner Islands, about 130 miles southwest of Mahé. If these islands are inhabited it's more than likely it's by a luxury private resort, Desroches and Alphonse being the largest, but most of them are devoid of people. Just off Alphonse are some of the best diving spots in the Seychelles, as well as a sailing centre. Poivre has two isles, and along the channel between them is some of the region's best fishing.

Farquhar Atoll Another 250 miles further southwest is the Farquhar group, which lie low in the water, are covered with towering sand dunes on top, and separated by narrow channels, reefs and rocky ridges that make for interesting sailing, and world class fishing. This far out you're closer to Madagascar than Mahé, so sailors often opt to fly here and book a yacht to meet them.

Even further southwest is the Aldabra group, a World Heritage listed site and one of the world's largest coral atolls, nesting site to around 150,000 tortoises and islands almost untouched by sticky human fingers. You can only reach these islands by boat, and only Aldabra and Assumption islands have any people on them at all – most of them are scientists looking after the place.

Aldabra AtollIf you're going to sail out this far the best times to do it are March and April or October and November, the open seas round here can be rough and the seasons pass with the trade winds. The sea surrounding the Inner Islands is much calmer and you can cruise or island hop round here without much bother for most of the year. April and May are probably the sunniest months, though the air and sea temperatures hover around 30 degrees all year.

Find out more about visiting the Seychelles from World Reviewer's Seychelles Travel Specialists.

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