Sailing in the Seychelles islands is an adventure of a lifetime for anyone looking to experience the archipelago's dazzling sandy beaches, lagoons with clear emerald waters, and beautiful coral reefs from the comfort of a chartered yacht or catamaran. With countless possible sailing routes and more than a hundred unworldly, mostly uninhabited islands to explore, the archipelago is known as one of the world's top sailing destinations.
The Seychelles islands offer a true getaway from civilization, with picturesque landscapes, unique wildlife and warm weather luring visitors to their shores throughout the year. The three main Inner Islands, Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, attract the greatest number of visitors, both with their impressive scenery and marine life, and with easy sailing conditions and short distances between anchorages.
The captivating beaches, magnificent coral reefs and lush tropical forest of Praslin make the island a top yachting destination in the archipelago, while Mahé, the home to the capital city of Victoria, welcomes countless visitors to the Seychelles’ largest national park. The Morne Seychellois National Park includes the 914 m peak of Morne Seychelloi, the archipelago’s highest mountain, and a rich variety of habitats that cover 20% of the island. The park is one of the best places to explore the islands’ indigenous flora and fauna.
The National Marine Park of Sainte Anne and the Curieuse Marine National Park are also showcases of the local marine life and home to hundreds of turtles, but also make wonderful places to go swimming or snorkelling. Those looking for spectacular underwater scenery can also head to the island of Saint Pierre, another popular destination for snorkelling trips.
The commanding rocks of Cocos Island (Île Cocos) and plethora of multi-coloured fish in its waters are another must-see and the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve on the island of Praslin, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the place to go to explore the island’s unique wildlife, rare birds, the island-endemic coco de mer and several other palms.
Most Seychelles sailing itineraries begin with one of the three main islands. The short sailing distances between the three and their proximity to other notable Inner Islands make them an excellent starting point for exploring the archipelago’s best known attractions.
The islands easy to reach from Mahé include Cerf, Frégate, Moyenne, Silhouette and Ste. Anne. Cerf Island lies only 4 km off the coast of Mahé and is part of the Ste Anne Marine National Park. The island is surrounded by coral reefs and known for its exceptional marine life, with over 150 different species of reef fish, starfish, octopi, sea urchins and many other species. The island is a popular destination for swimming, snorkelling and watching giant tortoises.
Moyenne Island, a protected flora and fauna reserve, is known for pirate treasure legends and home to more species per square foot than any other place in the world. The world’s smallest national park harbours more than 100 land tortoises, 16,000 trees and a number of Seychelles bird species.
Silhouette is known for its biodiversity and has some of the most dramatic scenery in the Seychelles. The third largest of the granitic Seychelles has five peaks more than 500 m in altitude, one of only two rainforests in the archipelago, and is home to many endemic and endangered species.
Frégate, the easternmost of the granitic Inner Islands, was named for the abundance of frigate birds that can be seen there and is known for its luxury resorts and some of the world’s best beaches. The island is a nesting area for the endangered Hawksbill Turtle and Green Turtle, as well as to more than 2,000 Aldabra giant tortoises.
Located only about an hour away from Mahé, Praslin is the second largest island in the Seychelles. Less developed than its larger neighbour, the island is known for its dreamlike beaches, laid back charm and the stunning, World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai.
Island hopping trips from Praslin take travellers to Aride, Cousin, Cousine, Curieuse and St. Pierre. Aride, the archipelago’s northernmost granitic island, has a population of more than 1.25 million seabirds, including five species endemic to the Seychelles. Cousin and Cousine islands are both nature reserves. Cousin is identified as an Important Bird Area, while Cousine is home to endemic land birds and has a sizeable population of Aldabra giant tortoises.
A trip from Praslin to La Digue takes only about 15 minutes and, sailing from La Digue, the islands of Grande Soeur and Île Cocos are only 20 minutes away. La Digue contains the Veuve Nature Reserve, home to the rare, endemic Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, and is popular for its spectacular beaches and rich underwater life. Covered with tropical forests, Grande Soeur is a superb destination for diving and its pearly sand beaches are among the archipelago’s finest.
The Seychelles islands have warm, welcoming weather for most of the year, with the occasional brief tropical shower interrupting the year-long holiday season. The temperature in the Seychelles hardly ever drops below 24°C, making the islands ideal for a relaxing beach holiday with swimming, diving and a number of other activities to choose from while visiting their shores.
More rainfall is to be expected from December to February, when humidity is also at its peak, while the drier season from May to October is slightly friendlier to sailors, with southeast winds to help them on their journey.