Scuba Diving Seychelles
Seychelles offers diverse and impressive diving opportunities, still a vast amount of virgin reef still to be explored.
Seychelles is an archipelago nation of 155 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 930 miles east of mainland Africa and northeast of the island of Madagascar.
The Inner Islands which are mostly granitic, cluster mainly around the principal islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, forming the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles, as well as the centre of its tourism industry. Together they are home to the majority of Seychelles’ accommodation facilities as well almost the entire population of the archipelago.
There are 43 Inner islands in total, 41 granitic and 2 coralline. The Outer Islands are those situated beyond the Seychelles plateau. They comprise 72 low-lying sand cays and atolls lying anywhere between 230km and 1150km from Mahé. Less visited than their granitic cousins due to their relative remoteness, these pristine miniature worlds, some little more than sand spits or lonely rocky outcrops, offer untouched habitats for many species of wildlife.
SCUBA DIVING SEYCHELLES
With 115 islands scattered across the Indian Ocean between 4° and 10° south of the Equator, Seychelles offers diverse and impressive diving opportunities. The Inner Islands, remains of a submerged mountain range, rest on a shallow plateau with prolific marine life and excellent PADI diving facilities available to access a multitude of dive sites. The Outer Islands to the south of the archipelago are all coralline or sand cays and mainly uninhabited, presenting the experienced diver with excellent opportunities to explore where few have gone before.
With 43 Inner Islands to choose from, variety is the order of the day. All of these northerly islands offer impressive granite reef locations where the sculptured rocks can be covered with soft corals and sponges, and fish life is prolific, due to the archipelago’s isolation and also strict conservation rules.
Wreck dives are available in some areas but only the islands to the south have wall dives, drop-off dives and drift diving opportunities as well. Outer Island diving is rich and varied, featuring everything from mini-walls and canyons to migrating Manta Rays, numerous wreck sites and some of the finest Gorgonian fans in the Indian Ocean.
Diving on Aldabra’s terraced walls is dramatic and Green Turtles are common both in water and on their habitual pilgrimages up the beach to nest. The Inner Islands’ marine life reveals an abundance of fish even on shallow inshore reefs and features different types of Butterfly fish and Angel fish, Soldier fish, Squirrel fish and Sweepers among many others. The island reefs are also havens for many invertebrates including Octopus, Spiny Lobster and a plethora of Nudibranchs, such as the Spanish Dancer.
Sites with regular current flows support fan corals and colourful tree coral formations while more remote sites shelter the larger fish species, such as the Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Grouper, Reef Sharks and Ribbon-tailed Stingrays.
Most spectacular are the plankton-eating Whale Sharks found all year around the Inner Islands, with peak sightings in August, and October through January. Marine life around the relatively isolated Outer Islands tends to be even more prolific, with frequent sightings of many of the larger grouper species, particularly the spotted Potato Bass as well as Grey Reef, Silver Tip, Nurse Sharks and the occasional Hammerhead Shark.
DIVE SEASON: Diving is possible all year round but is governed by an island’s position and the prevailing winds. Generally speaking, the best conditions for both the Inner and Outer Islands are in the calm periods, April-May and October-November, when the water temperature can rise to 29º C/ 84 F’ and offers excellent (up to 30 metres / 90+ feet) visibility. In December and January, the north-west winds blow but conditions remain much the same as in the calm periods, with the exception of greater surface movement and some localised turbidity. From May to September the winds are stronger and blow south-easterly. Visibility and temperature may thus drop during August with water temperatures of around 25°C / 80 F’. A wet suit of at least 4mm is necessary.
Unlike the Inner Islands, some of the more southerly Outer Islands are close to the cyclone belt, and during these months they can experience extremely rough conditions on occasion. A 4mm shorty wetsuit is the minimum protection recommended for the Outer Islands. Islands with big drop-offs and walls often have marked thermo-clines with temperatures ranging from 19 to 27ºC / 82 F’and a full suit is an advantage for most divers.
VISIBILITY: Seychelles has a wealth of underwater flora, and marine life along the Red Sea. Sea life is abundant with a variety of hard and soft corals. The waters have an average visibility of 20–30 meters or 60 feet to 90 feet.
WATER TEMPERATURE: 19-28 C/66-82 F offers year round diving.
WEATHER: The periods of calm between the trades produce fairly warm and wind-free conditions throughout April and also in October. Conditions for swimming, snorkelling and especially diving are superb during April/May and October/November when the water temperature sometimes reaches 29ºC and visibility is often 30 m plus / 90 + feet.
SKILL LEVEL: All skill levels are available. Dive depths vary, ranging from 8 to 20 metres for inshore sites and up to depths of 40 metres for dives offshore.
MARINE LIFE: The Inner Islands’ marine life reveals an abundance of fish even on shallow inshore reefs and features different types of Butterfly fish and Angel fish, Soldier fish, Squirrel fish and Sweepers among many others. The island reefs are also havens for many invertebrates including Octopus, Spiny Lobster and a plethora of Nudibranchs, such as the Spanish Dancer.
Sites with regular current flows support fan corals and colorful tree coral formations while more remote sites shelter the larger fish species, such as the Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Grouper, Reef Sharks and Ribbon-tailed Stingrays. Most spectacular are the plankton-eating Whale Sharks found all year around the Inner Islands, with peak sightings in August, and October through January.
Marine life around the relatively isolated Outer Islands tends to be even more prolific, with frequent sightings of many of the larger grouper species, particularly the spotted Potato Bass as well as Grey Reef, Silver Tip, Nurse Sharks and the occasional Hammerhead Shark.
A number of rare exotics have been identified from this area such as the African Pygmy Angelfish thought to exist only in small numbers at depth off Mauritius and now found regularly in easy diving depths off Astove.
The cartoon-like Yellow Rubber Lipped Sweetlips is another firm favorite while elusive Long-Nosed Hawkfishcan be easily found in most Gorgonian fan areas.
Tips: Divers should bring proof of certification and medical clearance for any medical problem. Most dive centers offer modern dive equipment rental and service facilities. However, repair facilities for divers’ own gear may be limited, subject to availability of specific spare parts.
CLIMATE: As the Seychelles islands are blessed with a year-long warm, tropical climate, it’s always a good time to visit, although different times of year may be better suited to your particular interests. Two opposing trade winds generally govern the weather pattern: the north-westerly trades blow from October to March when wind speeds average from 8 to 12 knots; and the brisker south-easterly trades blow from May to September with winds of between 10 to 20 knots, bringing the cooler and windier conditions ideal for sailing.
LANGUAGE: There are three official languages in Seychelles: Creole (a lilting, French-based patois), English and French. Many Seychellois also speak fluent Italian or German.
ELECTRICITY: Throughout Seychelles the voltage is 220-240 volts AC 50 Hz. Seychelles uses the British standard square three-pin, 13 amp sharp electric plug. Visitors from countries other than the United Kingdom are advised to bring their own adaptors.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The local currency is the Seychelles Rupee (SCR) which is divided into 100 cents. Coins come in 5, 10, 25 cents, and 1 and 5 Rupee denominations. Notes come in 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 Rupee denominations. MasterCard / Access and Visa cards are widely accepted while Diners Club and American Express cards are honoured to a somewhat lesser extent. Such cards may be used for car hire, hotel and restaurant services, for all of which the visitor will be charged in foreign currency. Shops and boutiques accepting credit cards will typically display the relevant card logo on their doors or windows.
GRATUITIES: In Seychelles Most charges (restaurant, hotel, taxis, porters, etc) already include a 5% to 10% service charge or “tip” and so tipping is not obligatory in Seychelles.
However, as a reward for exceptional service, a nominal tip is sure to be warmly received.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Seychelles enjoys modern, efficient communication services. At present, there are two GSM networks in operation, Cable & Wireless and Airtel. Payphones are available in most districts on the Inner Islands while the international roaming agreements in force between Seychelles and an increasing number of countries are always looking to provide more comprehensive services. The offices of internet service providers, internet cafés, postal and courier services are located in or around central Victoria. Among the increasing number of Internet cafés, several may be found in the Beau Vallon area on Mahé, as well as on Praslin and La Digue. Postal services are also available on Praslin and La Digue.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: Irrespective of the nationality of the visitor and his or her family members, there are NO VISA requirements to enter Seychelles. However, the following documents must be shown in order to obtain immigration clearance at the Seychelles International Airport:
A passport valid on the date of entry to and exit from Seychelles
Return or onward ticket
Proof of accommodation; including contact details
Sufficient funds for the duration of the stay
CUSTOMS: Non-Residents: Free import only by persons over 18 years of age:
– 1.5 litres of spirits; and
– 2 bottles of wine: and
– 250ml of eau de cologne; and
– small quantity of perfume; and
– souvenirs not intended for commercial use, up to the value of USD 250.-.
In case of members of a family traveling together, free import is in general only allowed for 2 members. Note: Certificate of registration issued by the Department of Excise is required for import and export of any raw material or finished products of cigarettes, cigars, beedi, or pipe tobacco. The items must be declared upon arrival.
Passengers are required to declare upon arrival valuable personal effects to ensure free export.
– dangerous drugs or narcotic substances;
– pornographic or seditious materials;
– any material ridiculing any religious belief.
– fire arms, ammunition, explosives and weapons;
– pharmaceuticals and medicines, except for personal use;
– goods for commercial or trade purposes, except trade samples;
GETTING THERE: The main international airport is on Mahé. All flights within the Seychelles arrive and depart from Mahé.
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