Sailing and Snorkeling Seychelles


St. Pierre Islet

Yesterday was an active but mellow day exploring beaches and inner islands near Praslin. I joined a day tour beginning at 6 am with a drive to Cat Cocos ferry and an hour-long ride from Mahé to Praslin. On Praslin, we boarded a catamaran for a sailing and snorkeling adventure.

Catamaran Oplezir

Sailing on Catamaran Oplezir

There were about 30 people aboard Creole Travel’s splendid 82 ft. sailing catamaran Oplezir. The group was mostly French, German, and Spanish tourists.

Giant Aldabra Tortoise

St. Pierre Islet

Sailing from Praslin to our first stop, St. Pierre Islet, took about an hour. St. Pierre is a small, picture-perfect island, but the current was too strong for snorkeling. We stopped for photos and continued to a calmer area where we spent an hour snorkeling in the warm, heavenly Indian Ocean!!  The variety of fish was disappointing, but we saw angelfish, a few striped, blue, and yellow schools, groupers, and sea bass scuttling along the bottom in the seagrass. The strong pull of the current was obvious.

Curieuse Beach

I snorkeled with a Spanish couple who were on a diving holiday and had been in Mauritius and the Comoros before Seychelles. They were disappointed in the fish and coral near Praslin, but thought Seychelles beaches were the most beautiful in the Indian Ocean.

Mangrove Forest Curieuse

Curieuse Island

Next, we sailed to Curieuse Island – fifth-largest inner island – to hike and visit giant Aldabra tortoises. The tortoises don’t swim, but roam freely throughout the island. They’re named for the place where they originated – Aldabra coral atoll – part of the outer islands. They’re friendly, loveable creatures that seem to enjoy being touched. They can live to be 250 years old!

Colonial House Curieuse

We explored the flora and fauna, including magnificent coco de mer palms and mangrove forestsCoco de mer is a rare species of palm endemic to Praslin and Curieuse. It’s the subject of legends and folklore. The coco de mer nut is the “largest seed in the plant kingdom”.

Early Morning at Mahé Harbor

The hike was easy except for climbing a few boulders along uphill sections of the trail. The beaches, views, and vegetation were exceptional! Pointe Rouge, a coral garden off the eastern coast of Curieuse, is a popular diving spot.

“From 1833 until the mid-20th century, Curieuse Island was a quarantine station for lepers. Today, old ruins and the doctor’s house remain. The house is a French colonial building from the 1800s. Now, it has a small museum and visitor’s centre.”

Palm Plums

Part of the hike was a boardwalk trail through a mangrove forest teeming with fiddler crabs, sea snails, geckos, skinks, palm spiders, and birds, including the elegant white-tailed tropicbird. A curious skink posed for us on a palm tree trunk.

Fiddler Crab

Palm Spider

Sea Snail

Aldabra Sea Snail

Skink

Reddish laterite soil characterizes the island and led French explorer Lazare Picault to name Curieuse “Ile Rouge”. The name changed to Curieuse (curious in English) in 1768, when a boat led by French explorer, Marc Jospeh Marion de Frense, claimed ownership of the island in the name of the French crown. Today, only park rangers live on Curieuse.

Picturesque Swimming Beach

The hike led to Anse Josee Beach where we boarded Oplezir again for a Creole lunch prepared by the crew. The food was simple but healthy and delicious. We enjoyed it in good company surrounded by stunning scenery and turquoise water!

Palm Tree

Anse Georgette Beach Praslin

After lunch we cruised to nearby Anse Georgette Beach for a photo stop, more snorkeling, and a swim. Anse Georgette is known for its “untouched, natural, astounding beauty”.

Beach Scene

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“Anse Georgette’s incredible mix of gorgeous turquoise ocean water, pristine white sand, and incredible palm trees make for a truly jaw-dropping beach”.

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Oplezir Mast

Anse Georgette has excellent snorkeling, but the current can become unexpectedly strong, and there’s no protection from offshore coral reefs. When the surf came up, our guides decided it was too dangerous to snorkel, so we sailed to a nearby beach. I was eager to enjoy more snorkeling but soon experienced a taste of the Indian Ocean’s power.

Enjoying Catamaran

I joined the Spanish couple again, and we swam toward an offshore rock formation near the beach. Mesmerized by the surroundings, I didn’t notice the surf on the way there, but later got pounded hard near the beach. Thankfully, I wasn’t near rocks or coral reefs. An older man had to be ferried back to the boat. I swam back with a swimsuit full of itchy sand – a small, humbling reminder of the sea’s all-encompassing power!

Chillin’ on the Way Back to Praslin

White-Tailed Tropicbird

Heading back to the ferry, we cruised Praslin’s north-east coast and saw a small pod of dolphins – too fast for photos. Many fell asleep on the forward trampolines hypnotized by the soothing, rocking motion of the boat. After an idyllic, satisfying day, I had a better understanding of life in the Seychelles – my home for the next three weeks!

Anse Georgette Beach

Guide with Coco de Mer Seeds

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