Back in early 2008, my father invested in a timeshare opportunity to partially purchase a property in The Seychelles, on a new man-made island, called Eden Island. The small, man-made island is attached to the main island of Seychelles - Mahe´ - via a double carriage bridge and the surroundings are the deep, blue sea, rain forest flora, and mostly village style homes, painted brightly but all slightly dilapidated. The archipelago has a rural, vibes setting and the native people speak Creole´, a mixture of ancient language from native Islanders and French (because of French colonisation). The people are friendly and the island is beautiful and teeming with life, colour and has an abundance of amazing sea food; often infused with Indian curry flavours.
The flight from South Africa starts usually between 1am and 4am, so the one downside about this journey is that you fly at really weird times of the day. Luckily it's only a 4 hour flight from where I live. Seychelles is 2 hours ahead of South Africa, so when we arrive we get our bags and drive to the house and nap until about midday and pack out all our stuff.
The airport is tiny. Seriously small. In fact the landing strip is so small that you can only see water on the left and right when you touch down, no land is visible, so overtime we land I tend to forget this and I have a mini heart attack because I assume that we are about to land in the middle of the Indian Ocean. When you walk into the airport you go straight to security clearance and once you're though you get your luggage in the next room and exit the building. There is a tiny duty free section as well, so the airport is more like a building with three huge rooms.
We always make sure to make a stop at the local market which runs on Saturdays. It's a large space filled with local exotic fruit, fish, spices and meats on the ground level and curios, sarongs, clothes and bathing suits on the upper floor. Prices are low and the energy is high; the Creole natives are such friendly people and most of them can speak English (varying from fluent to broken language). I love all of the fresh fruit on the island, and I buy coconuts whenever I can - coconuts in your local supermarket just aren't the same, because the real island ones aren't GMO's and they are as fresh as it gets.
Everyone who contributed to the timeshare property also bought a shared boat. We take it out a few kilometres to Cerf (pronounced surf) Island and we anchor to snorkel. The water is bright blue and the fish, rays, and eels are abundant and occasionally a small white or black tipped reef shark. Packing a cold picnic on the boat is essential, as we snorkel for a long time and then have lunch on the boat while touring the boat around the island. A few years ago el niño bleached most of the colour from the coral reefs, but each year we go there it regains more and more colour, and my guess is that the colour should have fully returned by now. Parrot fish are abundant throughout all of the coral reefs, and you get the most amazing colour combinations underwater.
Most days we spend at the beach, lazing around on towels, drinking icy cocktails and swimming in the warm Indian Ocean waves. There are a large number of beaches that have great snorkelling spots almost the minute you step off shore, so we like to do a lot of fish viewing and coral spotting (and flailing around in flippers when water leaks into our goggles). I have spotted many unusual fish an dI see something new every time I go there. From trumpetfish, sea turtles, and schools blue spotted eagle rays to triggerfish, clownfish and parrot fish. I have even seen cuttlefish, eels (every specie of eel under the sun) and sea snakes. I remember kicking off shore once and being inches away from stepping on a deadly stone fish. After I regained my composure and realised how lucky I was to have missed it, I nudged it away into the deep blue sea with the end of my long flipper.
We definitely have our favourite beaches on the island. We love Beau Vallon because it is the busiest, most tourist aimed beach. There is a resort with a swimming pool, which we sneak into after having a cocktail at the bar and fruit sellers are always there with coconuts and fresh local varieties. On Wednesday the beach also hosts a market with curios and local food, which we have been going to the last two times we were there. Anse Soleil (meaning sunny beach) is also a regular stop, and having a seafood lunch at the little café is a tradition for us (if you're feeling adventurous, fruit bat is also on the menu). Sunset beach is a must go to, and has beautiful palms floating over the back part of the beach, so you can lie in the shade and still appreciate the warm weather and views. Sunset beach also has a resort, and we visit the restaurant for drinks there after a long relaxing day. Anse Royale (meaning royal beach) is another place that we like to stop by. Fresh coconuts at the back of the beach are just waiting to be cracked open, and if you're lucky you may catch a glimpse of the occasional turtle nesting site; or even of babies hatching. There is a café on the beach and although it isn't a great snorkelling spot (no reef = no fish) this beach is perfect for swimming.
Eden Island has over the years built a shopping centre, Gym, tennis court, beaches and restaurants. Every afternoon I like to go to the gym and then dip in the pool afterwards to cool down. The shopping centre is really great and has a few bikini and beach shops - which are definitely necessary. Sometimes I like to take our kayaks and push off from our jetty and do a round robbin of the island, sometimes if you're lucky you'll spot a sea turtle swimming next to or under you (yes it does happen). There is even a Spar (south african popular supermarket) there so I never have to give up my love of SA food, while still having local dishes available: basically I can have fish for lunch and a South African barbeque for dinner... Oh, and there's an ice-cream shop, which is dangerously close to my house, but closer to the gym, so I can work off the cheat meal(s).
Overall the island life is definitely for me, I always enjoy going and I will probably be in Seychelles next year again for 2 weeks, and then I'll do an extensive travel blog diary. If you are looking for a relaxing, yet culturally enlightening experience, this Archipelago should be number 1 on your list because it is still so uncomercialized, so you get the true local experience of the island, not the over priced tourist version.
Hope you enjoyed the post, and until next time
-The Traveling Oyster xx