Diving in the Seychelles

Whether scuba or just snorkelling, the diving is "to dive for" in the Seychelles.

Jul 25, 2009
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You needn't dive to luxuriate in the embrace of the Seychelles, as this aerial view of Cosmoledo Atoll makes clear.
You needn't dive to luxuriate in the embrace of the Seychelles, as this aerial view of Cosmoledo Atoll makes clear.
Photography David Doubilet
Clownfish display delicate shades of pink and yellow, part of the magnificent show beneath the surface of the waters.
Clownfish display delicate shades of pink and yellow, part of the magnificent show beneath the surface of the waters.
Photography David Doubilet
A diver explores the brilliantly hued underwater world of the Seychelles.
A diver explores the brilliantly hued underwater world of the Seychelles.
Photography David Doubilet
An Oriental sweetlips shows off its exotic blue, black and yellow stripes.
An Oriental sweetlips shows off its exotic blue, black and yellow stripes.
Photography David Doubilet

There are many good reasons to travel to the Seychelles Islands, and one of the very best is the diving. Some 1,800 kilometres (about 1,000 miles) from the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles is an archipelago of islands of temperate climate, of lush vegetation, of beautiful beaches and soaring granite formations. And diving opportunities that bring travellers from all over the world.

Swimming with the Sharks

Divers come to the Seychelles in search of the whale shark during certain seasons and find them, often only requiring snorkel gear. This formidably sized member of the shark family is generally thought to be quite harmless—even gentle and playful with divers—eating mainly plankton and nektonic prey such as small squids.

Professional diver Peter Driessel remembers his own comic encounter with a whale shark as he prepared to topple into the sea fully loaded with gear. Just as he did so, he noticed a colleague gesturing frantically. “One of our skippers was screaming, ‘Shark! Shark! There’s a shark in the water!’ I turned around to see a whale shark as I entered the water. It was heading in my direction and I bounced off its huge mouth. We watched this majestic creature eating plankton for the rest of the dive.”

What Lies Beneath the Surface

In addition to whale sharks, an obvious draw for visitors are the reef sharks swimming their figure eights, whose natural birthing grounds are off of La Digue, one of the Seychelles’ main inner islands. But divers go beneath the surface for an entirety of visions, for the egregious and the exotic.

Schooling fish come with names like Oriental sweetlips, yellow-nosed and blue-striped, and raccoon butterflyfish, their eyes hooded. There are rip butterflyfish, who lack the mask but nothing of the fluorescent yellow body, and regal angelfish, their stripes spiralling electrically as they abruptly change direction. The scorpionfish is by contrast hideous, squat and spongelike, and the spotfin lionfish is a massively antennaed travesty of its animal counterpart.

A Variety of Diving

Should you want a wreck to explore, there is one, although it’s no 18th-century pirate ship but a merchant vessel, the Ennerdale, which went down in 1970 near Victoria. Should you want a night dive, the best is around L’Ilot Fregate at North Point on Mahe, another of the Seychelles’ main islands. If you’ve got a full moon for it, then your need for torches will be less, although you’ll still want them for safety and to stay with your team. And should you want the experience of massive schools of fish funnelling around you—or is it you who are simply joining them?—then Police Bay is a steady bet.

You needn’t dive to luxuriate in the embrace of the Seychelles. But ask for at least a mask and wade into the water and glance. And then see whether your next whim is a snorkel or even more.


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