What is this safari about?
The beauty of the Seychelles is matched tenfold when you head below the surface of the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, and the further one moves away from the Inner Islands and the heavier human pressure experienced there, the more this becomes true!
Scuba diving in the Seychelles is truly a wondrous experience for a number of reasons. The water is warm and clear giving you visibility of up to 50m, and the abundance of species here are simply spectacular! Each of the Outer Islands are surrounded by expansive coral reefs that reach for the skies.
The Atolls of Alphonse, Astove and Cosmoledo are arguably home to the best scuba diving in the world and the dive sites ensure experiences that will challenge and excite divers of all levels. Impressive coral structures, unique species and excellent visibility allow these dive sites to stand above the rest!
There are many famous dive sites at all three the islands, one example being “The Wall” the best dive site at Astove. Along most of the north-west side of Astove there is a hugely impressive wall that drops steeply from a depth of only one or two metres to hundreds of metres almost vertically. In front of the lodge there is a particularly nice section to dive where you can start the dive by descending through a hole in the reef top and then emerging at a depth of around 15 m on to the wall itself. Pure magic!
Species spotted when scuba diving range from pelagic fish and inquisitive predators to a range of reef species and macro life. The views of countless Green and Hawksbill Turtles making their way along the reef is always popular with divers. There is also up to 15 species of Moray Eel to be spotted hiding in the cracks and crevices of the reef. The selected dive sites are also teeming with large shoals of fish like Barracuda, Bigeye Trevally, Batfish, Emperor and Fusilier. Large schools of Bluelined, Humpback and Bohar Snapper are known to encircle divers – this is quite an experience!
Divers who enjoy the thrill of viewing predators can feast their eyes on large Dogtooth Tuna, Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Sweetlips, Potato Cod as well as a variety of grouper. Many of the sites hold stunning, sheer drop-offs which allow divers to spot pelagic species out in the blue. Be sure to also keep an eye out for the different sharks found in the waters of the Seychelles, including Hammerhead, Silvertip, Whitetip Reef, Bull, Tawny Nurse and Grey Reef Sharks.
Macro-enthusiasts are also in for a real treat as they can view a host of species like Leaf Scorpionfish, Longnose Hawkfish, Pipefish, Tasseled and Devil Scorpionfish, Porcelain Crab and Seychelles Anemonefish. You can also spot an array of flatworm, nudibranch, Peacock Anemone Shrimp, Cleaner Shrimp, Coral Whip Goby, Peacock Shrimp and Tiger Mantis Shrimp.
The Dive Centre at Alphonse Island ensures that all the equipment and scuba gear is perfectly maintained and kept in tip-top condition. The Dive Centre provides all gear and equipment needed for the courses and scuba diving excursions during your stay. This includes wetsuits (3 mm short and full suits), masks, weights, cylinders (aluminium), regulators, fins (assorted sizes), BCD’s, dive computers and torches. The Dive Centre has partnered with Paralenz to provide guests with the best cameras for scuba diving, and these specialist cameras can be rented on a daily basis, or as part of a scuba diving package.
To ensure that guests reach their diving destination quickly and comfortably, Alphonse has two purpose-built dive boats, Bijoutier and Zanbren. These twin engine, 225 hp vessels are covered to allow shade from the sun and there are also towels, drink and snacks onboard for during or after your dive. The number of divers per trip are kept to a minimum with a maximum ratio of 1 guide to 5 divers which ensures a more personal experience. All of the skippers are fully licensed as well as being divers themselves. Along with their extensive knowledge about the gear and equipment, they also hold great insight into the various dive sites of the area.
The Dive Centre manages all of the PADI Accredited Dive Resorts in the Outer Islands and have a 5-Star accreditation by PADI. The Dive Centre offers a variety of PADI-accredited diving courses for guests of all experience levels. Beginners can choose from a selection of PADI Beginner and PADI Open Water Courses on offer. These scuba diving courses are perfect for those new to the sport as well as for children as they include the Discover Scuba Initiation Programme and the PADI Bubblemaker course. For those who are accredited but haven’t dived in more than a year, refresher courses are also on offer.
For the experienced divers, there is an array of Advanced & Beyond Courses like PADI Divemaster, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, PADI Underwater Naturalist and more to dive into. There is also a selection of AWARE courses to take on, including AWARE Shark Conservation, AWARE Coral Reef Conservation and AWARE Specialist.
Snorkelling at the Outer Islands is also world class, including snorkelling with Manta Rays and Sailfish, one of a few places on the planet where this is possible!
Who can go?
The Outer Islands are recommended for nature lovers of all ages, and families with children of any age are also most welcome. Divers of all experience levels are catered for and it is the ideal trip for diving enthusiast couples or single travellers.
The camps also offer an array of other land and marine activities so non-divers will be also be kept busy at all times. Snorkelling and fly-fishing are also world class! Read more about the other activities at Alphonse Island Lodge.
Where is this?
The Outer Islands are those situated beyond the Seychelles plateau. They comprise 72 low-lying sand cays and atolls lying anywhere between 230 km and 1150 km from Mahé. Less visited than their granitic cousins due to their relative remoteness, these pristine miniature worlds, some little more than sand spits or lonely rocky outcrops, offer untouched habitats for many species of wildlife. The recommended Outer Islands for diving are Alphonse, Astove and Cosmoledo.
Alphonse, the principal island of the Alphonse Group, is a small triangular island barely 1.2 km wide, sheltered by a spectacular coral reef. Located 400 km southwest of Mahé, the island provides excellent opportunities for fly-fishing, deep-sea fishing, and diving in virgin waters. Alphonse is serviced by air from the main island of Mahé in a flight time of one hour and accommodation is at Alphonse Island Lodge.
Astove, some 1 045 km southwest of Mahé and 160 km west southwest of Aldabra, is one of the most southerly links in Seychelles’ chain of islands. The atoll is encircled by a coral reef and features a shallow lagoon. Astove is a turtle nesting site and offers the experienced diver extraordinary diving opportunities along the sheer walls of its spectacular coral rampart. Astove also has an airstrip and is serviced by aircraft from Mahé on a charter basis. The Astove Coral House provides wonderful accommodation on the Island.
Some 1 045 km southwest of Mahé and 120 km from Aldabra, the atoll of Cosmoledo comprises a ring of nine main islets surrounding an inner lagoon roughly 16 km long and 11 km wide at the widest point. The sea around Cosmoledo is particularly rich in fish while the atoll itself is home to large colonies of frigate birds, terns and boobies. On Cosmoledo Atoll, the single eco-camp situated on Wizard Island is where nature meets sustainable hospitality, the likes of which you won’t find elsewhere.
What should I expect to pay?
The outer islands are reached by scheduled charter flight from Mahe and given its remoteness it is a fairly expensive destination, but oh so worth it!
The rate for a 7-night diving package in a Beach Bungalow at Alphonse Island starts at around USD 8 385 per person on a twin share basis. This includes accommodation, all meals, scheduled inter island charters, scuba gear hire and 5 double tank and 1 singe tank dives. Other non-motorised activities on the island are also included.
What Extensions do you recommend?
Any of the safariFRANK safaris in East or Southern Africa can be added before or after the diving itinerary. Popular and more active safaris are the Gorilla’s in Uganda, walking in the Serengeti, or trekking the Ngorongoro Highlands. One of safariFRANK’s absolute favourites is Tusk and Mane in Zambia for a wonderful combination of walking, boating, canoeing and fishing along the Zambezi River, just magic!
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