Justifiably, Seychelles is famous for its spectacular beaches.
Diving in the SeychellesPerhaps one of the most alluring characteristics of the Seychelles is the clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean which surround the islands. The stunning topography of expansive reefs, walls, pinnacles, drop offs, wrecks and canyons make for one of the most diverse marine environments around, teeming with both fish and coral life.
Coral bleaching in the Seychelles in 1998In 1998, the coral reefs of the Seychelles were affected by the El Nino Southern Oscillation. The exact cause for this event is unknown but it is thought global warming was primarily to blame. The changes in the atmosphere caused an increase in sea temperatures, resulting in significant consequences for the surrounding coral and marine life. The warmer waters caused the coral to repel the bright algae (which gives the coral its vivid colours) from their tissues, thus causing them to take on a pale and white appearance (hence the commonly used term “coral bleaching"). The inner reefs were hit harder than the outer reefs, however the granitic nature of the reefs meant they were not as badly affected as first feared, and 11 years on from the event there has been a remarkable recovery and the diving generally remains excellent.
When to go scuba-diving in the SeychellesWith dive sites ranging in depth from 8m to 30m there are options for both beginners and experienced divers to enjoy. It is possible to dive throughout the year in the Seychelles – however waters are calmest during the months of March, April and May and September, October and November. During these months visibility can reach a staggering 30m and with water temperatures reaching 29oc it makes for a very pleasant and relaxed diving experience. The calmer waters also mean dive boats can reach the more remote sites, where encounters with mega fauna such as sharks and manta rays are common – these sites are particularly good for experienced divers.
During the months June, July and August the south-east monsoon brings stronger winds making access to the more remote dive sites difficult and unreliable. Cooler waters are blown in and temperatures drop to around 25oc. These cooler waters are filled with nutrient rich plankton so visibility can be significantly reduced; however these nutrients encourage the appearance of whale sharks, which can reach an incredible 10m in length. Local dive shops offer specific whale shark programmes during these months, so the chance to snorkel or even dive with these magnificent creatures is very high.
Marine lifeAround the inner reefs, marine life you can expect to see among others includes – angelfish, butterflyfish, octopus, lionfish, nudibranchs and mantis shrimp. Slightly further out, napoleon and humphead wrasses, schools of humphead parrotfish, stingrays, reef sharks and green and hawksbill turtles are common.
Sailfish, silvertip, oceanic whitetip and nurse sharks, manta rays and whale sharks are more common around the remoter outer islands – you may even be able to spot the occasional hammerhead shark if you're lucky!
Where to dive in the SeychellesLocal dive companies offer relatively inexpensive options for individual dives, multiple dives or PADI courses, with all equipment of generally good quality and provided at a reasonable rate. We haven't dived with all the dive companies on the Seychelles, and we're certainly not qualified to 'vet' them for safety. However, possible dive centres that you may want to consider include:
Diving centres on Mahe IslandThe Underwater Centre
Situated on Beau Vallon beach at the Coral Strand Hotel, the Underwater Centre was established in 1976. They provide multilingual dive instructors with an excellent knowledge of local dive sites and marine life. Their equipment is well maintained and of a high quality and can be rented at a reasonable rate. PADI courses are cheaper if pre-booked.
Website: Telephone: +(248) 345445
Big Blue Divers
Also located on Beau Vallon beach, Big Blue Divers is a small team of professionals who have been operating for over 10 years. They have good knowledge of the dive sites and prepare and carry all your equipment out and back from the boat. Once a week they organise a day trip, often to the beautiful Baie Ternay Marine Park, where diving is combined with a Creole style BBQ on a secluded beach for lunch. Non-divers are welcome on these trips to snorkel or swim while others are diving.
Website: www.bigbluedivers.net Telephone: +(248) 261106
Diving centres on Praslin IslandOctopus Diving Centre
Located on Anse Volbert on the Côte d'Or, Octopus has two speed boats which can each hold 11 people. They offer full and half day excursions, which can include a Creole BBQ as part of the boat trip which can be enjoyed by divers and non-divers alike.
Website: www.octopusdiver.com, Telephone: +(248) 232602
Diving centres on La Digue IslandAzzurra Pro Dive
Situated at Anse Reunion, next to the La Digue Island Lodge, Azzurra has professional multilingual friendly staff. They operate a small dive groups with a maximum of 6 divers to one guide. First dives depart at 9:30am, including a 45 minute surface interval and a second dive, returning at 1:30pm. The second excursion of the day departs at 2:30pm and returns at 4pm.
Website:www.ladigue.sc Telephone: +(248) 292525