The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 idyllic islands that entices visitors with tropical, white sands, turquoise water, and some seriously good scuba diving. 41 mid-oceanic granite islands make up the Inner Islands - these are some of the oldest on earth and are simply stunning. The Outer Islands consist of 74 exotic coral atolls and beautiful sand cays, offering divers unlimited exploratory experiences on pristine reef systems.
Located in the West Indian Ocean, the Seychelles lies 1600km off the east coast of Kenya, Africa; the country sits between 4-10 degrees south of the equator. The main island of Mahé, at the center of the Inner Islands, is home to some of the Seychelles best beaches and the hub of tourism, travel, and culture. Praslin and La Digue are two smaller, but popular, central islands. The official languages are Seychellois Creole, English, and French.
On the larger granite islands, lush green forests meet the warm equatorial waters; the pristine natural beauty is breathtaking. The pro-active government has protected over 50% of the country as National Parks and Reserves, and scenic guided walking tours are an interesting activity. The Seychelles has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aldabra - the world's largest raised coral atoll; and Vallée de Mai, on Praslin, which is home to the famous Coco-de-mer nut. Conservation efforts of endemic flora and fauna are exceptional, and many rare species exist on the islands.
A year round destination, the Seychelles do not experience any extreme weather changes, as they predominantly lie outside the cyclone belt. The lighter trade winds blow through the islands during November-May; the seas are fairly calm at this time and the diving is good. The rainiest months are December-February, creating a hot and humid climate until April. June-October is the coolest season; stronger winds make the sea more challenging for diving conditions, although the northern part of Mahé is generally unaffected.
The air temperature hovers between 24-32 Celsius, depending on the time of year. Water temperature ranges from 25-29 Celsius, with July being the coolest month. Long 3mm wetsuits offer suitable thermal protection against the deeper thermoclines. The underwater visibility is best during the calmer months from November to May.
The diverse scuba diving in the Seychelles ranges from exquisite coral reefs to wall dives; granite rock formations to wrecks. Drift diving is common due to the stronger currents that occur in the southern islands. The coral is healthy and abundant, with gigantic gorgonian fans and barrel sponges decorating the reefs. Marine life is prolific - divers can see everything from huge whale sharks and manta rays, to colonies of green sea turtles, and rare macro life.
The Inner Islands are part of a shallow plateau; average underwater depths are between 8-30 meters, and conditions are perfect for certification training and fun diving. The Outer Islands have dramatic drop offs, giving more experienced divers the opportunity to go 40 meters as recreational level divers.
The northwest dive sites of Mahé are dive-able for the majority of the year, and best during March to December. Grouper Point is at the east tip of the Bay Ternay Marine Park and a favorite with divers. The depth ranges from 6-30 meters; large granite boulders are decorated by hard coral formations, leading down to the sandy bottom. Reef fish, grouper, eels, and turtles are commonly sighted, with reef sharks and schooling pelagic occasionally visiting the area. Whale sharks can be seen during the Whale Shark season. Willy's Rocks/Bay is another great site for congregating whale sharks.
The northeast dive sites of Mahé are only accessible during the months of December-March. The sites in this area are suitable for all levels of divers with average depths of 15 meters. Schooling pelagic, reef sharks, turtles, and whale sharks are seen in this area, as well as all the amazing reef fish and invertebrates. Good sites are Beacon Island and Cheedle Rocks.
The purposely sunk selection of wrecks that are located in this area are the Twin Barges, Dredger, and Aldebaran. Depths on the wrecks range from 14-35 meters. Corals and sponges have covered these artificial reefs, and a wide diversity of invertebrates is found on them. Larger pelagic fish are often seen around the wrecks, and black grouper and lionfish are fairly territorial. Ennerdale Wreck is further out, between Mahé and Praslin, and is a British fleet auxiliary tanker. Sitting between 18-30 meters, she is a hive of activity; attracting eagle rays, stingrays, reef sharks, and other pelagic schooling fish.
Long distance dive sites are generally only visited by the land-based dive centers in calmer seas conditions. These sites are most suited to experienced divers, due to the deeper depths and stronger currents. Dramatic granite boulders create interesting gullies and swim throughs; steep walls drop off to sandy bottoms; beautiful hard and soft coral formations provide shelter for reef fish. Barracuda, jacks, and other pelagic fish are common for divers to see. A variety of sharks, turtles, and rays are also frequently attracted to this area. Great sites are Shark Bank, Trois Bancs, and Conception Arena.
The Seychelles has 10 land based PADI dive centers - they range from PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centers to PADI Dive Resorts. Many charter boat operators will offer scuba diving packages, as registered PADI Dive Boats. The Outer Islands are serviced by a selection of scuba diving liveaboard operators too. Silhouette Island has the only recompression chamber in the Seychelles- a quick 15-minute flight from Mahé.
PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, Big Blue Divers, is based at Beau Vallon Bay on Mahé Island. Owner-instructors Gilly and Elizabeth have a team of professional and friendly Seychellois staff. PADI courses from beginner to Dive master (including specialties) can be taught in English, German, French, and Dutch. Small dive groups ensure personal service and high quality attention. Two custom dive boats operate daily-guided diving and snorkeling trips, to both the Inner and Outer Islands; the closest site is 15 minutes by boat, and the furthest is 40 minutes.
Octopus Diver is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort, voted as one of the world's top 100 scuba diving clubs by German dive magazine Unterwasser. Located at Cote d'Or, on Praslin Island, the Curieuse Marine Park is right on their doorstep. This French-owned resort employs a team of passionate and fun Seychellois and international staff. PADI courses from beginner to Assistant Instructor are offered, with nitrox and specialty courses available. Two speedboats cater for the daily-guided diving trips, which are mainly small groups of divers, selected on experience level.
Dive Seychelles Underwater Centre is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort on Beau Vallon Bay, Mahé Island. Founded in 1976, this is the longest running dive resort in the Seychelles, and they have been instrumental in many of the conservation and research efforts over the years. Owners David and Glynis have a great team of multi-lingual instructors and staff, and David is the Chairman of the Marine Conservation Society. They offer all the PADI courses and run daily-guided boat diving and snorkeling from their 3 custom dive boats. Nitrox is available.
Air Seychelles, Condor, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Kenya Airways, and Qatar Airways all fly into the Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) in Mahé. Air Seychelles offers frequent island hopping flights between Mahé and Praslin. They also service some of the smaller islands such as Bird, Denis, Desroches, and Alphonse Islands. Zil Air is a helicopter charter company that operates transfers and scenic excursions. Taxis, tour buses, and rental vehicles are available on Mahé and Praslin. La Digue has a few taxis and bicycle hire is popular. Ferries travel between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.
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