Diving in the Seychelles
Diving is astounding in the Seychelles. The reefs that encircle many of the islands contain upwards of 300 species of fish and more than 100 varieties of coral: suffice to say that this is a diving Valhalla, with visibility generally exceeding 30 metres and water temperatures reaching 28ºC.
Schools on Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and Desroches cater to both first-timers and advanced divers, and charter operators sail out to the best dive sites, although there are dozens just off the coast of Mahé. Experienced divers will probably not need to be told about the Desroches Drop - a limestone coralline plateau adorned with mysterious caves and canyons. The underwater scenery is similarly superb off Alphonse. The El Nino effect has been felt in the Seychelles, bleaching some hard corals, but the soft corals are already growing back, especially around the Inner Islands reefs.
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Seychelles Diving Information
As well as many surfers find their perfect wave in the Seychelles - many divers find “home” in this tropical paradise thousands of miles from anywhere boosting excellent diving in spectacular surroundings. The Seychelles is a group of about 115 islands which lie 1600 km (990 miles) off the coast of east Africa. The islands are predominately granite islands and due to oceanic isolation have managed to preserve a large number of unique species such as the giant tortoises. Minimal currents, abundant fish, colorful corals and an above average chance of seeing large pelagics such as manta rays, turtles, and whale sharks make this a top dive travel destination.
The three central islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. They are all out of granite, while the outlying islands are coral atolls. Aside from palm-fringed beaches and superb snorkeling and diving, there's also plenty of forest wilderness with an abundance of wildlife.
Diving, particularly around the outlying islands is popular and diving is offered both from dive centers on the islands or from a hand full of liveaboards with good facilities. The Seychelles has four marine national parks, and more than 150 species of tropical reef fish have been identified. In 1987 the Seychelles were affected by the coral bleaching and especially the inner islands we have had a lot of hard coral mortality, mainly of branching Acropora species (finger corals, stag-horns etc). Since then there are visible signs that the reefs - like many other areas affected by this natural phenomena - has started to recover. It is important to notice that the amount of fish has not been affected.
The tiny granite outcrop of L'ilot, at the exposed tip of Beau Vallon Bay at North Point on Mahé, is a spectacular site bursting with marine life. Although the current between L'ilot and the mainland tends to be quite strong, the small cluster of boulders in the center yields one of the highest densities of marine life imaginable and is not to be missed. Golden cup coral festoons the canyons and gullies, while gorgonian sea fans, sea whips and other soft corals abound. Several Spanish dancer nudibranchs complete with symbiotic shrimps have been sighted on night dives, all within 1m (3ft) of each other, and in November it is here that divers and snorkelers regular have the opportunity to swim alongside majestic whale sharks.
Situated to the south Beau Vallon Bay, the huge granite blocks called Whale Rocks are a special spot where unique white gorgonians and fields of huge plate anemones, reside. Golden cup corals and colorful bryzoans reside in the shady areas, together with spiny lobster and various species of shrimp. The spotted snake eel, which is actually a member of the conger eel family, is an active feeder around these rocks at night.
Virtually smothered in fire coral, which inflicts a nasty burn, this exposed offshore pinnacle is home to countless species of fish, including Napoleon Wrasse, as well as eagle rays. Schools of parrotfish and wrasse, as well as eagle rays. Schools of parrotfish and wrasse intermingle with snappers, grouper and enormous aggregations of chromis and fusiliers. There are also large stands of staghorn coral where sweetlips and squirrelfish hide in the shadows. Nurse sharks are a regular occurrence and can be found sleeping under the overhangs.
Situated approximately 8km (5 miles) northwest of Mahé, Shark Bank is a massive granite plateau in approximately 30m (100ft) of water. As its name implies, sharks are frequently spotted in the area, although large stingrays are more commonly seen these days, especially around the boulder outcrops. These coral-encrusted boulders are a natural focal point for all divers, particularly photographers, as they teem with fish life not normally associated with the main island. One example is the cowfish. Although fairly common at this site, it is rarely seen around Mahé. Pincushion starfish, with symbiotic shrimps on their shells, are also frequently spotted.
This ship sank on a sandbar after striking an uncharted rock, 11 km (7 miles) from Victoria in 1970. Lying in three sections in 30m (100ft) of water, the crumpled bows of the Ennerdale tend to have a congregation of stingrays and small whitetip reef sharks.
As you descent to the wreck, the water column soon becomes crowded with large shoals of batfish and onespot snapper, which vie for your attention. The tangled superstructure is quite interesting and, being easily accessible, allows for relatively safe exploration. Dives tend to be around the stern section which is mostly intact. The wheelhouse and propellor are both readily accessible as well.
Best Time to Go
The Seychelles Islands are widely spread out in the Indian Ocean, resulting in greatly varying winds, currents, and rainfall. For instance, the main island of Mahé has an annual rainfall of approximately 100 inches, while the western atoll of Aldabra receives only 39 inches a year. Generally speaking, the wettest months are December, January and February.
Land temperatures are consistent throughout the year, rarely dropping below 76°F (24°C). Rain, algae blooms, and winds affect the diving conditions. The Seychelles are mostly unaffected by cyclones. Diving is possible year-round; the best months are considered to be April/May and October/November.