THE SEYCHELLES ARCHIPELAGO IS MOTHER NATURE'S MASTERPIECE
Little did we know that when we kissed “I do” we would kiss the ordinary goodbye and enter into a world of freedom and fresh air. We were now honeymoon bound – headed for paradise – to the Seychelles and the stuff brochures are made of.
Touch down into paradise was more spine tingling than expected but I guess that is part and parcel of a runway that seems to start and end in the ocean.
But the landing, and the fact that we were 1,000 miles from the nearest mainland, were soon forgotten as we arrived at Eden Island to pick up our 39 foot Moorings catamaran and discover that yes, the waters truly are that blue.
As we left the main island of Mahe and made our way across the waters to the Sainte Anne Marine National Park, we realised that the words cobalt, emerald and turquoise don’t even do the Seychelles ocean justice. When I jumped off our yacht and stuck my snorkel-clad face into the water, there was nothing blocking my view of the colourful fish swimming among the delicate corals 15 feet below. Perhaps the water should rather be described as a window, giving one a glimpse of how a sea floor should look – untouched, unspoilt and unlittered. I was clicking away underwater with the Canon D30 I was test-driving and the beauty and variety of the corals alone took my breath away – literally: I sucked a heap of warm water through my snorkel and into my mouth.
A few hours later we were chartering the open-water passage from Mahe to the Seychelles’ other granitic islands – just the two of us; the South East trade winds were not deterring these wind-accustomed Capetonians. There we discovered a tiny harbour at La Digue where we moored to a palm tree and watched eagle rays glide past from the comfort of our yacht – complete with G+Ts in hand. I could not believe that we were in a harbour with water so clear we didn’t even need to snorkel – and not an ounce of litter in sight!
Later in the week, sitting in our very own rim flow pool on Fregate Island, feeling like we were somewhere adrift in the middle of the ocean, we caught a glimpse of a lemon shark swimming effortlessly through the waters below. And that is when it hit home – this is one of nature’s last sanctuaries – not just for plants, birds and animal life but also for travellers. Never more evident than when a magpie robin – a species brought back from the brink of extinction – hopped and sang beside us, trying to peck at my fruit sorbet made fresh from produce out of the island’s garden.
For us, more than anything, paradise meant having the freedom to choose how, why and when we wanted to spend our days. After the stress of planning a wedding, there could be no better way to relax. Our fairytale three nights with the fairy terns at Fregate Island brought a level of pampering akin to nowhere else on earth – there are definitely things to be said for the celebrity lifestyle.
At this sanctuary in the sea we ate in a treehouse while blue pigeons cooed in the trees. After breakfast among the birds, and a day with our toes in the sand, we were wooed with a seafood BBQ on the beach with palm trees flanking us. The use of our own golf cart meant we were free to explore the island on our own schedule while dodging the prehistoric giant millipedes that crawled along our path. We strolled along the water’s edge in our tropical retreat made for two – a sign reading “beach in use” meaning we hardly saw another guest for the duration of our stay. We did absolutely everything the island had to offer, from sailing and nature walks, to high tea on the mountain peak. It was sheer bliss.
Back aboard our Moorings catamaran we embarked on the ultimate romantic adventure. The use of our own water transport meant we had our choice of hundreds of idyllic coves where we would drop anchor and snorkel off the granitic rocks seeing coral after colourful coral. Sometimes we simply chose to watch the curious fishes swim around our private yacht – this was sailing for the soul.
I can’t even count the number of times during our island hopping discovery that I turned to my new hubby and breathlessly uttered the words, “ooh, that’s pretty”. We strolled through ancient mangrove forests admiring colourful crabs before they disappeared into their burrows, and laughed at the Aldabara giant tortoises mating on the island of Curieuse.
We docked our dinghy at beaches voted time and again as the most beautiful in the world and we walked hand in hand through Praslin’s Vallée de Mai – often referred to as the Garden of Eden and home to the legendary Coco de Mer. On La Digue and Fregate we walked along exotic jungle trails, discovering endemic birds and insects at every turn – each island home to a unique plant and animal ecosystem often found nowhere else on earth, not even the next island. Only a sprinkling of tourists populated the beaches, and sometimes there was no one else around at all. And of course the weather was always balmy (at only a few degrees off the equator, I expected nothing less).
For years the Seychelles remained undiscovered and uninhabited, and stories of pirates on these lands continue to thrive today. Fregate even has its own “Pirates Wall”. Tales of these isles of abundance established themselves as legends and even today this place boggles the mind. The Seychelles lives up to those brochures but not because of clever advertising and pretty words. The Seychelles is authentic, inspiring and encouraging – a land which Mother Nature sculpted, and then seemingly threw away the mold so it could never be copied again.
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Fregate Island Private
Fregate Island Private is a secluded paradise with seven extraordinarily beautiful beaches, coral reefs and jungle trails. 16 villas are nestled amid the flora, each with its own private pool and personal butler. The natural surroundings are home to free roaming giant Aldabra tortoises, sea turtles and a plethora of rare and exotic birds, all cared for in an ambitious conservation programme. Rates start at EUR2,900 per room on a full board basis.
There is no end to what you can see while sailing with The Moorings. The Moorings offers bareboat or crewed charter options in a variety of destinations around the world. The Seychelles base is located at the upmarket Eden Island Marina and their variety of catamarans provide the perfect home from which to explore the beautiful islands of the Seychelles. Rates start at US$4,582 for a 7 night charter.
About the Author
JANINE AVERY is the first to confess that she has been bitten by the travel bug… badly. She is a lover of all things travel from basic tenting with creepy crawlies to lazing in luxury lodges; she will give it all a go. Janine is passionate about wildlife and conservation and comes from a long line of biologists, researchers and botanists. She is the general manager of Africa Geographic when she is not out exploring Africa and, as seasoned sailors, this honeymoon marks Janine and her new husband Ryan’s first trip on the ocean as newlyweds.