When you've finished sipping your cocktails, adventure options are everywhere – the main draws are water activities (diving, snorkelling, fishing, even parasailing) and many of these involve boat trips to the various sites, trips that can double as sightseeing tours en route. Away from the water, there’s great hiking and world-class birdwatching.
Billed as one of the Indian Ocean's great diving destinations, the Seychelles almost rivals the Maldives, though it's much less hyped – all the better for you. You don't need to be a strong diver – there are sites for all levels and plenty of places to learn.
There's excellent diving off Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, the three main islands, as well as off the other inner and outer islands. The strong point is the underwater scenery, complete with big granite boulders and seamounts – it's as atmospheric as on land.
Shark Bank Mahé's signature dive, for experienced divers only. The name is misleading, because there are very few sharks around this 30m-tall granite plateau 9km off Beau Vallon. Instead, you'll encounter round ribbontail rays the size of a small car, eagle rays, barracuda, batfish, and abundant yellow snappers and bigeyes. This site nearly always has a strong current.
Îlot This granite outcrop, just off north Mahé, consists of several large boulders topped by a tuft of palm trees. The current in the channel can be quite strong, but the cluster of boulders yields one of the highest densities of fish life in the Seychelles. Golden-cup coral festoons the canyons and gullies, and gorgonians and other soft corals abound. Îlot is about a 15-minute boat ride from Beau Vallon.
Brissare Rocks About 5km north of Mahé, this granite pinnacle is accessed from Beau Vallon. The site features abundant fire coral and great concentrations of yellow snappers, wrasses, parrotfish and fusiliers, as well as groupers and eagle rays. It's covered with bright-orange sponges and white gorgonians.
Twin Barges If you need a break from offshore dives, these two adjoining shipwrecks will keep you happy. They sit upright on the seabed in about 20m in Beau Vallon bay.
Aldebaran This boat was scuttled in 2010 off Anse Major; the maximum depth is 40m. It shelters moray eels, groupers and rays.
Alice in Wonderland Famous for its healthy coral formations. Off Anse à la Mouche.
Jailhouse Rock A high-voltage drift dive for experienced divers, with prolific fish life. Off Pointe Lazare.
Shark Point Whitetip reef sharks, nurse sharks and grey reef sharks are commonly sighted here. Off Pointe Lazare.
Praslin & La Digue
Aride Bank Off Aride Island, this pristine site can be accessed from Praslin if you don't mind the 30-minute boat trip to get to the site. A hot fave among local divemasters, it features rays, snappers, nurse sharks, jacks, barracudas and Napoleon wrasses as well as magnificent seafans.
Booby Islet Approximately halfway between Aride Island and Praslin, this exposed seamount consistently sizzles with fish action. In less than 20m of water, you'll come across parrotfish, Napoleon wrasses, moray eels, turtles, eagle rays and nurse sharks.
Anse Sévère An easy site, close to the shore of La Digue with potential sightings including parrotfish, eagle rays and turtles. Good for drift dives.
Cousin An easy site in the waters off Cousin Island.
Marianne Island An islet east of La Digue famous for its dense fish life (including grey sharks, stingrays, barracudas, eagle rays, nurse sharks and moray eels) and contoured seascape.
White Bank Stunning seascape (tunnels, arches) and prolific fish life, including shoals of jacks and the occasional whitetip shark.
Ave Maria Rocks A seamount northwest of La Digue. Noted for its shark sightings and Napoleon wrasses.
Other Inner Islands & Outer Islands
The private islands of Frégate, North, Silhouette and Denis offer fantastic, but expensive, diving options, with absolutely pristine sites and only one dive boat: yours. One step beyond, you'll find Aldabra, Cosmoledo and Astove, the stuff of legend. They feature the best sites in the eastern Indian Ocean, with electric fish action in a totally virgin territory and high-voltage drift dives. The catch? They are not accessible because of piracy in the area.
Napoleon One of Alphonse's iconic dives, Napoleon is always full of action. You're sure to see Napoleon wrasses, giant sweetlips, snappers, skipjack tuna, huge turtles, bluefin trevallies, barracudas and triggerfish in less than 20m. The seascape is incredibly scenic, with a clutch of massive coral pinnacles dotted on a vast plateau.
The Abyss This scenic stretch of reef is peppered with ledges and overhangs that are coated with photogenic coral formations and seafans. You'll come across oriental sweetlips, spotted eagle rays, turtles, giant groupers and dogtooth tuna.
The Arcade One of Alphonse's most magical dives, the Arcade is known for its sheer abundance of underwater life and healthy coral gardens. Divers are bedazzled by the incredible variety of fish, including shoals of giant sweetlips and fusiliers, bigeye and bluefin trevallies, batfish, snappers, triggerfish and pufferfish. Huge sea turtles are also frequently seen in the area.
The Pinnacles This site consistently sizzles with fish action. Here the reef plunges into an incredible abyss along a steep slope decorated with large seafans, but you don’t need to go deep: frequently observed in less than 25m are anthias, blue-striped and two-spotted snappers, honeycombed moray eels, groupers, bluefin trevallies and even silvertip sharks.
Morane A 50-minute boat ride from Silhouette, Morane features an array of boulders dotted around a sandy floor in about 20m. It's an oasis of life, with huge stingrays, eagle rays, manta rays, scorpionfish, trevallies and lionfish, among others. Because of strong currents, this site is suitable for experienced divers only. Well worth the lengthy boat ride.
Sprat City This atmospheric dive site centres on a large reef north of Silhouette. It acts as a magnet for all sorts of fish life, including barracudas, wahoos, fusiliers and batfish, and is overgrown with various species of coral. During the southeast monsoon, it's famous for its incredible concentration of sprats.
Turtle Rock Just off the northeastern tip of Silhouette, Turtle Rock features a series of atmospheric coral formations at around 10m. Keep your eyes peeled for eagle rays, barracudas, trevallies, fusiliers and green turtles.
Barracuda Rock The underwater scenery is the main draw here, with a profusion of small caves, arches and fissures. They shelter hosts of small, colourful fish that provide photographers with great opportunities in clear water. Eagle rays, tuna, giant trevallies, nurse sharks and stingrays can also be spotted.
Lion Rock Frégate's signature dive, Lion Rock is a tiny islet visible from the main island. The varied underwater terrain acts as a magnet for a host of species, including nurse sharks, eagle rays, lionfish and lobsters. Bull sharks and tiger sharks also regularly patrol the area.
Îlot Frégate Famous for its astoundingly dense fish life and its varied underwater terrain (at 5m to 15m).
Diving in the Seychelles heavily hinges on the weather conditions, currents and direction of the wind. However, diving can be sampled during all seasons as there are always sheltered conditions. The seas are calmest from April to May and October to November. Due to currents and wind, visibility is temperamental and can drop to 5m. But in normal conditions you can expect 25m visibility.
The Seychelles' 15-odd dive centres have first-rate personnel and facilities. You'll find dive centres in Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, Ste-Anne, Silhouette, Frégate, Denis, North and Alphonse. Most centres are affiliated with PADI.
The Seychelles is a fabulous fishing destination, and any tour operator, dive centre, and most hotels can set you up with an expedition out onto the open water. Prices vary according to the number of people and size of the boat. Job-fish, groupers and red snappers are commonly caught, but you're also a good chance of reeling in tuna, sailfish, marlins and trevallies.
For an unrivalled view of Mahé's coastline, consider taking a 15- to 20-minute parasail from Beau Vallon Beach. Single (€50) or tandem (€70) are both possible at the Beau Vallon Aquatic Sports Center, and no experience is necessary. They'll strap you into your harness and you'll be airborne in no time, wind conditions permitting.
Experienced sailors and novices can charter sailboats, yachts and cruisers by the day or week. Charters can be arranged by calling a local charter company or a tour agent. Most companies offer boats with a skipper and crew, as well as 'bareboat' vessels on which you're your own skipper. The best months for cruising are April and October; the worst are January, July and August. Prices start at around €1300 per person for a week-long trip. Contact Dream Yacht Charter.
Snorkelling is a popular activity in the Seychelles. All islands have phenomenal snorkelling spots right offshore, but it's also well worth taking an organised snorkelling day trip to more remote islets, such as sensational St-Pierre Islet and Île Coco. It's not a bad idea to bring your own gear.
The sheltered lagoons provide safe havens for swimming and snorkelling. The Ste-Anne and Port Launay Marine National Parks are firm favourites in the waters around Mahé. In September and October you have a chance to snorkel respectfully alongside whale sharks. Around Praslin, try just off Anse Lazio and Anse Volbert beaches, or take a boat trip from Anse Volbert to Curieuse Island or St Pierre Islet. Close to La Digue, the submerged granite boulders around Cocos, Grande Soeur and Marianne islands teem with fish life.