My Seychelles: the diver

As told to Hannah Ralph

Photography by Luis Davilla/Getty Images

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November 2017

Born and raised in the Seychelles, Dennis Dugasse has been diving in the archipelago’s waters for five years, and instructing for more than three. Here, he spills the secrets of the Seychelles’ best marine life, spots for diving, and the beachside bars you need to know if you want to drink like a diver.

1. Shark Bank

Eight kilometres northwest of my favourite island, Mahé, is Shark Bank where you’ll find massive granite boulders and the largest schools of yellowtail snappers swimming alongside you – sometimes thousands upon thousands at a time. It’s a deep dive of 35 metres, and generally the further out and deeper you dive, the more you’ll see. Look out for barracudas, eagle rays, whale sharks, and whitetip reef sharks, as they’re the most common – just make sure you keep a respectful distance.

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2. La Plage

Home to one of the best dishes on the beachfront, their Creole octopus curry, La Plage restaurant sits right on the sands of Beau Vallon Beach and is perfect for an evening meal looking out across the waves. The veranda running around the outside has a great atmosphere, and while the food is worth a visit, it’s also a superb place for a cocktail at sunset.

  • Discover the unique granite boulders of Anse Source d’Argent © Getty.

    Reveal your source

    As most tourists nab this world-famous beach from morning until noon, head there between late afternoon and evening, when temperatures remain high, the crowds have gone home.

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  • Swim beside Beau Vallon beach’s exquisite coral formations © Getty.

    Reef brief

    This part of the world has conditions perfect for coral growth, with 75 of the Seychelles 115 islands formed entirely of low-lying coral, known as atolls.

    Stay at Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Beach Resort and Casino
  • Head to Vallée de Mai to find the world’s largest nut © Alamy.

    Garden of Eden

    When British General Charles Gordon visited Vallée de Mai in 1881, he declared it the Garden of Eden, even drawing maps showing how the Seychelles conformed to the geography of the biblical paradise.

    Stay at Coco de Mer Hotel and Black Parrot

3. Dragon’s Teeth and Brissaire Rocks

Twin diving sites known for their beautiful coral cover, Dragon’s Teeth and Brissaire Rocks are separated by less than 50 metres and are considered ‘drift dives’, where you’re mostly carried by the water. You can reach the site by boat from Mahé and dive to around 35 metres. Beneath the jagged rocks that jut from the surface (hence the name Dragon’s Teeth) you might come across the endangered humphead wrasse, but definitely lots of coral, and large brown morays.

4. Bazar Labrin

Every Wednesday night, Beau Vallon beach hosts a night market known as the Bazar Labrin, usually lasting from 16.00 until 22.00. It includes everything, from grilled fish BBQs, cocktail stands, take-away food stalls and even a beach bonfire, where if you’re lucky you’ll see the locals dancing the moutia, the traditional dance of the Seychelles.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see the locals dancing the moutia around the bonfire, the traditional dance of the Seychelles.

5. Baie Ternay

Declared one of the Seychelles’ Marine National Parks, Baie Ternay feels like a private beach, but is in fact a very secluded bay surrounded by slopes and only (safely) accessible by boat. This bay is great for diving and snorkelling, full of butterflyfish and angelfish with green turtles often found near the reef.

  • Gaze out across the island from the top of Mission Lodge, Mahé © Alamy.

    Did you know…?

    Once a school for children of former slaves, the ruins at Mission Lodge are a recognised heritage site and reminder of the Seychelles vital role in the abolishment of slavery.

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6. The Boathouse

The place our instructors head to after a long day in the water, The Boathouse serves up Creole buffet style food, cocktails and cold Seybrew larger – the best and cheapest beer on the island. If you can’t find any divers in The Boathouse, then you’ll find us at Diver’s Rock – a spot on Beau Vallon beach near the Blue Sea Divers centre. It’s a special place where all instructors from the different centres come together for a drink on the sand to talk about the day.

7. Praslin Island

The second largest island of the Seychelles, Praslin is a special place, home to the world’s largest nut. The strange-looking coco de mer can only found on Praslin, in the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, on the southern part of the island. The palm forest also hides the rare Seychelles black parrot, our national bird. Curieuse Marine National Park on the north end of the island is where you’ll find the famous Seychelles giant tortoise.

8. La Digue

Not as developed as Mahé or even Praslin, La Digue is a very traditional island, with little noise and absolutely no cars – there are only bicycles and ox carts to get around. It’s got some of the absolute best beaches, particularly Anse Source D’Argent, a beautiful, peaceful beach that I love to visit.

9. Mahé

Mahé is my favourite island, because there is so much more to do. In Victoria, our capital city, you have the Victoria Market, where there’s fresh seafood, and fruits every day. It can get very crowded on Saturdays, so it’s best to go during the week. You’ll also find secret beaches on Mahé, like Anse Major, which can only be discovered after a 40-minute hike. You won’t find many (or any) tourists there, because they simply don’t know it exists.

10. Mission Lodge

For one of the best views in all the Seychelles, you have to head up to the highest point of the island at Mission Lodge. It’s a great historical lookout, where you can see down over the gorgeous ocean and beaches of the west coast. Apparently Queen Elizabeth II once sat and had tea there. It can be a bit of a challenging hike to the lodge, but can be reached pretty easily by the number 14 bus from Victoria.

Dennis is a diving instructor based at Blue Sea Divers

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