Diving and Snorkeling in Mahé

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Diving and Snorkeling

Qualified divers can book tanks and a guide to explore rich underwater worlds of coral reefs and abundant sea life. But you don't need to be a certified diver to enjoy the marine life of Seychelles, where shallow reefs and lagoons offer perfect conditions for snorkeling. Ask your hotel for a recommended operator. The best time of year for diving is the hot season (November to April), when the waters achieve that legendary crystal-clear visibility. Unfortunately, the coral bleaching that affected the entire Indian Ocean in 2002 damaged the majority of the Seychelles' reefs, so don't expect acres of colorful corals. The real thrill of diving in the Seychelles is the abundance of game fish and the rich, large marine life—turtles, rays, and huge shoals of fish—centered around Seychelles' unique underwater granite formations.

Best Dive Sites

Port Launay Marine National Park. Located on the northwest coast, the Port Launay marine park is famous for its beautiful beaches and whale-shark sightings; the reefs on both sides of the bay provide stellar snorkeling, and in season, the gentle whale sharks can be seen feeding on plankton. Swimming is also excellent here. The beach itself is large and wide with white sand and plenty of shady trees, making it popular with picnickers on the weekends. Tickets for the marine park must be purchased at the ranger base in Port Launay. Organized tours normally include the price of the ticket in the total fee. Mahé. Rs200. Daily 9–5.

Shark Bank. Also on the northwest coast, about 9 km (5 mi) off of Beau Vallon, this dive around a 30-meter granite pillar is famous for—surprise!—shark sightings. Usually divers will encounter reef sharks, though in season whale sharks also abound. Huge brissant rays, barracuda, batfish, and yellow snapper are common. This site is for experienced divers only, as a strong current runs here. Mahé.

Best Snorkel Sites

Bay Ternay Marine National Park. On the northwest coast around the point from Port Launay, the reefs here are excellent for snorkeling. There is no vehicle road to Bay Ternay, so you must go by boat, usually with an organized tour. Mahé.

Ste. Anne Marine National Park. The first protected marine park in the Indian Ocean, Ste. Anne Marine National Park was established in 1973. Just offshore (a 20-minute boat ride) from Mahé, its boundaries incorporate six islands, one of Seychelles' most important Hawksbill turtle nesting sites, and large sea-grass meadows. The warm, clear, shallow lagoons are perfect for snorkeling and exploring the profusion of marine life from tiny, iridescent tropical fish to colorful corals and swaying anemones. The best way to get here is on one of the many half- or full-day boat trips offered by tour operators on Mahé, or to stay on one of the islands with accommodation. Mahé.

Sunset Beach, Northolme Beach. Both of these excellent snorkeling spots that you can swim to from shore are in the northwest. The snorkeling off Petite Anse (by the Four Seasons Resort) is some of the best in the southwest. Mahé.

Recommended Operators

Big Blue Divers. Located in Beau Vallon, these friendly folks have 15 years of experience and more than 75 dive sights to show you. They offer PADI certification, and focus on smaller groups. next to Divers Lodge, Beau Vallon, Beau Vallon, Mahé. 426–1106 or 251–1103. www.bigbluedivers.net.

Dive Resort Seychelles. Another five-star PADI dive resort, this one is based in the south. Also with more than 15 years of experience in Seychelles, they are well versed in dive sights both in the inner and outer islands. Anse a la Mouche, Anse a la Mouche, Mahé. 436–1361 or 271–7272. www.seychellesdiving.net.

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