January 9, 2015

On an Aldabra (Seychelles) beach before snorkeling with Susanna and Renate

No country in Africa has fewer people than Seychelles ― only about 90,000. The country encompasses some 115 small islands spread out over a vast area almost as large as the state of California.

Most people (nearly 80,000) live on Mahé,
the largest island. A majority of the small islands are uninhabited.

Like Mauritius, Seychelles has a strong French influence in language and style that the later long British rule (1810-1976) never erased.

After departing Zanzibar, we spent a week cruising around the outer islands and then the inner Seychelles islands and atolls before finally concluding our adventures in the capital Mahé.

Our sunny Seychelles days focused on
  1. Snorkeling
  2. More snorkeling
  3. Some swimming
  4. Beautiful white sand beaches
  5. Nature walks with giant tortoises and one atoll with an enormous bird colony 

Assumption Island

The first of many unspoiled, white sand Seychelles beaches ― with no other people around.

We saw many other fantastic giant tortoises on other Seychelles islands but the
first ones we saw roaming around Assumption Island were a special thrill.

View of our expedition ship (Noble Caledonia's Island Sky)
from the white Aldabra beach and shallow shore.

Aldabra offered stunning beaches but the highlight was the drift snorkeling in the channel as the ocean tide filled the lagoon, coasting along with the current while viewing an amazing array of colorful fish.

The large Aldabra lagoon was filled with many tortoises.

Here is where I blew it. I foolishly failed to bring an underwater camera.

On the one hand, I concentrated 100% on enjoying the dazzling array of tropical species swimming all around me. But on the other hand, I don't have that satisfying personal memento of those incredible four times that I got to drift snorkel along Aldabra's long channel.

Photo on the right was taken by one of the staff.

Drift snorkeling as the tide moves through the channel into the Aldabra lagoon ― a sweet, lazy way to effortlessly view the changing agglomerations of fish and coral.


The tiny island of Cosmoledo has the Indian Ocean's largest colony of red-footed booby.
Above is an adult on a branch and an adolescent flying a few feet overhead.

The birds were fearless although not indifferent to the visiting humans
since they flew out to closely check us out when we neared the shore.

Alphonse and St Joseph Islands

Throughout the weeks around the western Indian Ocean we were fortunate to have sunny weather, but we did have one day with intermittent rain.

In the morning we visited Alphonse Island, dominated by a private, luxury resort that specializes in diving and deep-sea fishing.

Later we went snorkeling on a reef by St. Joseph Island.

St Joseph Island (Seychelles) after the rain.
After an afternoon rainstorm, a few of us went ashore, had a nice walk on the beach,
and saw some interesting wildlife (heron, hermit crabs, and a shark out in the water).
Another view of St Joseph Island: I just liked the angles and lines of this photo.


Beautiful Côte d'Or Beach on Praslin Island (Seychelles)

La Digue

La Digue (Seychelles) has the famous Anse Source d'Argent,
sometimes called one of the world's most wonderful beaches.
Rather than the single strip of uninterrupted sand,
its giant polished boulders create all sorts of private little alcoves
and nooks of varying sizes with fine ecru sand and palm trees.
Its clear, calm waters feature silver and gold fish eager to swim around your legs.


Mahé, Seychelles' largest island," has the capital and one real sort of city (Victoria), plus tall peaks (almost 3,000 feet, 900 meters), botanical garden, and still more stunning beaches.

Sunset off the coast of Aldabra (Seychelles) viewed from the top deck of the MS Island Sky.