MAHÉ ISLAND – THE SEYCHELLES

EXPLORING MAHÉ ISLAND

With our few days in the Seychelles we had a wonderful time exploring Mahé Island and its tropical beaches, great hikes and stunning sunsets.

The Seychelles are islands that dreams are made of. Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and lush jungles. Who wouldn’t you want to visit? We had just started 18 months of travels and were soon to be visiting Madagascar. After realising that the Seychelles was far more budget friendly than we imagined, we squeezed in a short 4 night visit. After all, the Seychelles were right next door! We found reasonable flights from Paris to Mahé and then onto Madagascar.

To keep our budget in line, we based ourselves on Mahé Island, finding a fabulous guest house in the Beau Vallon area – Rowsvilla Guest House. This spacious apartment had a fully self contained kitchen, giving us everything we needed to self cater. Located just 200m from the white sand of Beau Vallon beach, we spent most of our first full day exploring the area and floating around the beach. The sunset that evening was beautiful.

Beau Vallon Sunset - Mahé Island

Our plans for exploring Mahé Island were simple – snorkelling/diving with the hope of spotting whale sharks. We had read that it was the perfect time of year to see the worlds biggest fish. And that Dive Seychelles Underwater Centre operated whale shark spotting trips. However, after speaking with staff at the dive centre, we learnt not only had this predominantly tourist funded programme ceased a year or two earlier but sadly, the whale sharks just hadn’t shown up. None had been spotted that season at all. Not even one! The wind and the currents had changed and as a result, there was less plankton near Mahé. There was a chance of spotting them around the outer islands, but sadly, we didn’t have the budget for that. We were gutted!

But there was no point in sulking. It’s not like there weren’t other awesome things to keep us busy for a couple days. So we started to look at the alternative options, with hikes and quiet beaches at the top of our list.

Chris on Beau Vallon Beach

Beau Vallon beach was a little too ‘busy’ for us. So we opted to hike the Anse Major Trail to its namesake beach, on the recommendation of a friend. We felt this would be more to our liking as it was a little off track and therefore far less busy. As we didn’t have a car, we caught a local bus from the main road in Beau Vallon, to the Danzil bus stop (the last stop). This cost next to nothing and was super easy! We then walked up a steepish road to the trailhead.

Anse Major Trail Map - Mahé Island
Click on map to for an interactive map of the Anse Major Trail from AllTrails.com

It was a relatively easy and well-marked hike from there. We passed loads of birdlife which we loved. Our favourites were numerous colourful Red (Madagascar) Fody, Seychelles Blue Pigeon and a couple of elusive Seychelles Sunbirds.

There were some beautiful views along the way. And, plenty of great places to enjoy a scenic drinks break or a picnic lunch.

Anse Major Trail - Mahé Island

Even though we started the hike early, we were still amazed that the secluded beach was deserted. There was only one other person there when we arrived. Exactly what we were hoping for. Over our two to three hour stay, only two other couples arrived at the beach. We would have stayed longer, but we could see clouds building and rain was well and truly on its way!

Deserted Anse Major Beach - Mahé Island

That evening as we strolled along Beau Vallon beach, we made a very sporadic decision to book a 1/2 day snorkelling trip to St Annes Marine Park and Île aux Cerfs (Cerf Island) for the following day. Thankfully, as we headed off early in the morning, the volatile weather was perfect. The boat trip itself was lovely, zipping across the pristine turquoise water and catching some rays.

St Annes Marine Park - Mahé Island

We were both looking forward to donning the snorkelling gear and seeing what the underwater side of Seychelles had to offer. Well, we shouldn’t have bothered. It was truly terrible. The coral was dead and completely bleached. As as result, there was minimal fish life to see. To add insult to injury, the visibility was pretty poor too. We don’t know if we’d just been dumped in a particularly bad spot or if the majority of this marine reserve was in the same condition. Either way, that was the lowlight of the day.

We have since read that the Seychelles reefs suffered badly by the 1998 El Nino. Sea surface temperatures have risen around the Indian Ocean. And it’s estimated that 90% of the coral reefs in the archipelago are bleached. But far more recently, after the last El Nino in 2016, coral coverage dropped from 50% to 5% on the reefs according to CNN. We guess our rare sporadic decision backfired to some degree. It really was sad to see the reefs in such a state.

Once out of the water the boat took us around to Île aux Cerfs. Things above the water were far prettier. And we were happy to have some time to swim in the turquoise waters.

Île aux Cerfs - Mahé Island

This is how we had both envisioned the Seychelles. Palm fringed white sandy beaches, crystal clear tropical water and blue skies. This area was truely beautiful.

Crystal clear waters of Île aux Cerfs - Mahé Island

After a mixed bag of a day, we enjoyed a few beers on our balcony, looking forward to our final full day in Mahé.

Our plan was to visit Morne Seychellois National Park, to hike the Capolia Trail for some great views over Mahé Island. But we woke to a grey gloomy day with low clouds covering the island and imminent rain. Sadly, we knew it wasn’t worth hiking anywhere when the visibility was bad. So disappointing given it was our last full day in Seychelles, but c’est la vie. It did give us time to plan for our last minute trip to Ethiopia, only a day away. This trip was replacing our planned trip to Madagascar, which we had to postpone. Air Seychelles had cancelled our flight due to an outbreak of the plague, only a week prior to our visit! What were the chances? We did eventually make it to Madagascar, just a year later!

On our final morning, we woke up early and despite the cloudy overcast conditions, made a final quick visit to Morne Seychelleois National Park. As the clouds cleared a bit, we found a few beautiful viewpoints.

Anse Major Hike Mahé Island

On our hike back to the bus stop, we found a little more wildlife. As well more of the endemic Seychelles Blue Pigeon we heard some rustling in the nearby foliage and were surprised when a little Tenrec popped out.

After returning to our Guest House, we took our pre-arranged transfer to the airport and said goodbye to Mahé Island. Having had a taste of what the Seychelles has to offer, we definitely want to return one day and see a bit more. Visiting the islands of Praslin and La Digue are certainly appealing and had we had a little more time, we would have factored a visit to these islands into our trip.

Remember visiting the Seychelles doesn’t have to break the bank, checkout our budget saving tips on how to explore The Seychelles on a budget HERE.


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