The larger, granitic inner islands of the archipelago (primarily Mahé, Praslin and La Digue) contain the population of the country, its international airport and cruise ship port. Visitors must arrive here, after which they can proceed to the outer islands by air or sea. The islands are the peaks of the submarine Mascarene Plateau.
Inner Islands Water Sports
Visitors to Seychelles can engage in sailing, diving and fishing. Chartered monohulls and catamarans will travel between the moorings of the inner islands and the beaches, lagoons and coves of the outer islands. Snorkelling and diving are facilitated by dive centers throughout the islands, and swimmers can observe some of the 900 fish species and over 100 species of coral.Anglers can engage in big-game, bottom, trolling and salt-water fly-fishing. The most productive big-game and fighting catch banks are those around Mahé, Fregate, Bird and Denis Islands. Trolling fish include tuna, jackfish and dorado. Bottom fishing can produce giant red snapper, grouper and Job. Fly-fishing, by wading or small skiff.The best sailing and windsurfing is in May and October, at the beginning and end of the trade winds. The Mahé/Praslin Windsurfing Competition, which starts from Victoria, Mahé and finishes at Maison des Palmes Beach on Praslin occurs in September. There are two annual Regattas: the Round Table Beau Vallon Regatta in August/September, and La Digue Annual Regatta in September.For sailors, there are two tides a day and two seasons, wet and dry. The best anchorages are on the south and east coasts of the islands or in sheltered bays.
Inner Islands Flora & Fauna
The islands contain a variety of wildlife, especially birds, tropical fish and tortoises. On land there are skinks, flying foxes, geckoes, insects and the giant rhinoceros beetle. Birds predominate, however, and the major bird sanctuaries are located on Bird, Cousin/Cousine, Aride and Fregate Islands, and in the Morne Seychellois National Park.Whales, dolphin and porpoise can be observed between the islands, and the big-game angler can find shark and barracuda. Snorkellers and divers can see over 150 species of tropical reef fish in many spots, including the four National Marine Parks. In total, some 27,000ha/66,690ac of marine areas including coral reefs are officially protected.Most of the vegetation on Seychelles is coconut palms and casuarinas. Malé, Silhouette, and the Vallée de Mai on Praslin feature virgin forests containing the giant coco de mer palm, the carnivorous pitcher plants, orchids, bouganvilleas, hibiscuses, gardenias and frangipani.
Three high peaks covered in tropical vegetation characterize this granite island. The tallest height is Mont Dauban (740m/2,427ft). The rugged terrain has protected biodiversity and precluded development and there are only around 150 inhabitants.The Silhouette Marine National Park protects over 2,000 species living on the island, including birds, geckos, chameleons, turtles and skinks. The visitor will find caves to explore, beaches suitable for swimming or snorkelling, and a variety of flora and fauna such as carnivorous pitcher plants, coco de mer palms and millipedes, slugs and snails.
Easternmost of the inner islands, Fregate was named in 1744 for the nesting frigate birds. The flora and fauna of the island features Takamaka, cashew and Indian almond trees, some 50 species of birds including the endangered Magpie Robin, and the giant, flightless Tenebrionid Beetle. For the hiker there are wooded trails through cashew thickets, bamboo glades and the citrus and avocado plantations that supply the markets of Mahé. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, snorkelling, and fishing.
Third largest island in the archipelago, Denis is located at the edge of the Seychelles bank, which drops to a depth of 610m/2,000ft, making the island a base for game fishing of dog-tooth tuna, bonito tuna, marlin, sailfish, barracuda, wahoo and dorado. A diving station is also located here.Sightseers will find dense palm groves, nesting bird colonies, land tortoises and nesting sea turtles. The small population can be seen working plantations of copra, cinnamon and sugar cane.
Îles aux Vaches
Bird Island is remarkable for its population of migratory Sooty Terns, which swells to 1,500,000 birds during the May to October breeding season. Birdwatchers and photographers can use raised observation platforms to get close to the nests. Other species visible are Fairy and Noddy Terns, Cardinals, Ground Doves, Mynahs, Crested Terns and Plovers.There are also giant land tortoises in residence. The nearby Seychelles Bank, 1,000 fathoms deep, presents opportunities for big-game fishing.
La Digue Island
Measuring 15 sq.km/9.3 sq.mi in size, La Digue is the fourth largest island in the archipelago. Named after one of French explorer Captain Dufresne's ships, it is characterized by white sand beaches, numerous granite rock outcroppings along the shore and the colonial-style houses of the 2,000 inhabitants. Foot, bicycle or oxcart easily accomplishes sightseeing on the small island.
Rock Climbing on La Digue
Rock climbing opportunities can be found at Anse Caiman, Anse Pierrot, Pointe Source d'Argent, Pointe Belize between Gant and Petite Anses, Anse Grosse Roche and Anse Patates. Cliff climbs are available at Pointe Jacques and L'Union behind the copra factory.
Widow Bird Reserve
This small bird sanctuary contains the endangered Black Paradise Flycatcher, (Terpsiphone corvina), which Seychellois call the widow because of it's streaming black tail feathers. Birdwatchers can also observe Chinese Bittern, Cave Swiftlet and Waxbill.
White sand swimming beach so named for its granite rocks, worn by sea and wind into smooth curves that makes them look like potatoes. Black Paradise Flycatchers can be observed in the woods fringing the beach.
L'Union Estate (Copra Factory)
Visitors can see the operating factory, the State Guest House, which is used for presidential guests, a boat yard, a vanilla plantation, tennis court and several old Creole houses. North of the estate is an old colonial cemetery.
This festival of celebration of Seychelles' underwater world is held over a one week period in October or November and attracts worldwide recognized underwater experts in photography, film making and conservation. Local hotels on Mahé and Praslin host presentations and seminars by visiting experts, and there are competitions in photography, video and painting.
The major non-religious event of the year, it is a celebration of Creole culture which attracts Creole performers, artists and chefs from around the world. It occurs around the end of October and lasts one week. Street performances and colourful decorations are prominent.