Barefoot-on-the-beach Expert Island Hoppers for Hire
Mahe - Praslin - La Digue
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Expert Beachcombers (At least, we claim to be.) Always looking for paradise….and found it a few times. Are we addicted to island life?
So, should we explore Seychelles?
Think we deserve the title of expert island hoppers? I think we’re the real deal, if you’ve read our Comores blog or our Madagascar blog. Islands to be explored? Always. We’ll be there to discover them! A small fee would be welcome, even a plane ticket or two would do to a dream paradise destination. Barefoot, on the beach, that’s our style. Dipping our heads underwater; even better. We’ll tantalize our taste buds at the same time. Bonus: we’ll even give a raving review. Interested? Sigh… OK then, I give up. We’ll foot our own bill, but how about a cocktail on the house? Dream on, with me.
Another destination that is renowned for taking your breath away was on our bucket list. Although we had been to many other islands before, we’ve discovered one tropical paradise just isn’t enough. The thought had crossed our minds: Have we become addicted to paradise in the tropics? This particular one held an attraction partly because of all the enthusiastic reports from other family members.
We were privileged to visit this gorgeous island in 2007. Not another island, you would groan. It’s just palm trees and beaches. Besides, you’ve always got sand between your toes.
They may have some similarities, but each island is exceptional in a different way, with different cultures. Seychelles is stunning with its own archipelago of 115 islands and formations of granite boulders.
A blissful image of sipping multi-coloured decorated with a tacky mock umbrella in a frosty long-stemmed glass or half a coconut appeals to most people, although admittedly some would find it boring. How does white powdery beaches with sea breezes whispering to the palms that bow over calm turquoise balmy waters lapping the beach sound? ...Ok, you can come down to earth again. Back to work everyone, unless you want to read further.
From South Africa, we flew to the Comores for a long fuel stop. As we sat in the plane, in the tropical heat, we weren’t perturbed. We were reminiscing about one of our previous trips to the Comoros archipelago. Soon we continued the last leg of our trip.
The humidity enveloped us as it does in a tropical climate once more as we landed in the Seychelles in the evening. After settling in our room we decided it was time for that obligatory cocktail. Hubby opted for one of the local brews. I of course decided you can’t visit a tropical island without sampling one of those signature cocktails. The cocktail arrived and I allowed the first delicious mouthful to slip down my parched throat. This was the life - until our waiter promptly handed us the slip. I nearly regurgitated that precious mouthful, but it would have been a waste. I’m pretty sure we were paying for a whole year’s supply of cocktails.
We’d learnt our lesson. The next day we bought a supply of cold beverages at a local corner store as hotel prices were ridiculously expensive. A little bar fridge kept our drinks cold, so we were organized. We purchased the occasional drink from the hotel bar, but with the amount of fluid needed we were glad we had our stash.
After that first night it became a ritual to find a quiet spot on a beach after a gruelling (lies, all lies, you say) day of sightseeing. We’d watch the sunset while we swam. Most of the time fruit bats flew over us for their nightly ritual. Family joke, shouting bat…bat! (oh, and we sampled a tiny portion of bat for dinner one evening too…a bit like eating a chicken neck with too many bones.) Still boring for you?
Seychelles cannot be classified as an inexpensive destination. It’s beauty, breath-taking views, and its culture make up for it though.
The first week was spent on Mahé at Beau Vallon. We whiled away the time, sightseeing and used the local bus to get around. We explored Victoria, the capital. We had fun discovering what was for sale at the market and shops and visited the Botanical gardens.
Paul dived the first dive without me. It was a wreck dive and was quite far out. The conditions would not have appealed to me as the current was quite strong and I as some of you have discovered, I’m predisposed to seasickness, so was happy to stay behind. I snorkelled just off the beach to a nearby reef. I bobbed about, watching and listening to a huge turtle crunching the coral, enthralled by the clarity of the water. Many other fish held my interest as well. It would be so easy to forget the time while floating on the sea, but you could end up with a snorkeler’s tan. When hubby returned from his dive I raved about my jaunt. By the time we headed back to the reef, the tide had turned. The water was like pea soup, so he wasn’t impressed. We will always associate turtles with Seychelles, though. I’m quite sure each time we dived or snorkelled we saw a turtle.
On one occasion we hired a compact vehicle that reminded me of a Matchbox car. We drove around Mahé and had fun exploring. The roads were narrow and winding. We often had to avoid busses as they sped downhill, narrowly missing us. At each bay we plunged in for a swim. At one such bay that was recommended to us, we took the plunge and snorkelled as suggested. By the time we got there, the tide was wrong and caught us out, although the bay looked deceptively calm. We swam back against the current but saw a few interesting sights. Baby squid, a whole school of them, entertained us for a while, prancing around, then disappeared with the current. A few other juvenile fish amused us too.
Spectacular views were the order of the day, with gorgeous vistas. Each bay looked as beautiful as the next and we chose a delightful one for lunch and another swim. Island life can be so exhausting!
I have to concede that Praslin airport is a charming airport. It resonates tropical island bliss.
We spent our second week on Praslin at Paradise Sun. Sitting on the patio of our hotel room, we could peer through lush green tropical lawns, plants and palms towards the beach. Between the beach and the horizon, calm turquoise waters glistened in the sunlight. Our bungalow was the epitome of comfort.
We had significant dives on numerous occasions: Underwater beautiful coral gardens, humungous granite boulders grounded on the sea bed with gaps and tunnels to swim through. There were countless different fish. At times the visibility underwater was simply outstanding. At other times, it was back to dull pea soup.
On one occasion, the water was like dirty dish water. We found an opening under some huge boulders. I was chatting mentally to the colourful fish darting around me. (yes, I know, C.R.A.Z.Y.!) Coral was popping and parrot fish were crunching. I avoided the largest stone fish I have ever seen and then I diverted my attention to the gliding unicorn fish poking he coral with the spikes on their heads. Suddenly my tranquil world was shattered as a huge blob moved towards me. The visibility made it impossible to see what it was, but I knew it wasn’t just your average little fish and I was hoping it didn’t want to snack on me because it was as big as me. I managed to signal the other divers and we hovered around. It was a hefty buffalo parrot fish at least 1.5 meters long. He floated past us, a substantial body worth scrutinizing. Most of us ticked that one off our lists of unusual sightings.
We could only spend the day on La Digue. One of my slipups in life, that I hate to admit, is my lack of balance on a bicycle. I was built for comfort and not speed, even less on two flimsy little wheels. We had a teeny-weeny problem on La Digue. Part of our tour was to ride around the island on bicycles, because they don’t have any vehicles, except for an ox drawn cart. Initially I wanted to give it a try, but these aren’t futuristic machines, elevated by an air-cushion, doing the work for you. I gave up and decided it was better to be on foot. That way I would see more of the island and not concentrate on avoiding face plants.
I’m sure my dearly beloved better half wanted to disown me then and I think he could just possibly still be annoyed with me because I made him walk from one side of the island to the other. Thankfully it isn’t such a large island. Along the way there was a perfect albeit quaint contraption that suited me better, but I didn’t think the owner would approve if I seized it for myself.
We only saw three of the 115 islands and maybe a smattering of a few more on the horizon, while we were in the Seychelles, but we had a delightful time. So, what’s your verdict? Are we addicted to island life?