This article is meant to be all the information you will need for scuba diving Seychelles! There’s a myriad of places that are a worth at least one visit, but the Seychelles are worthy of dozens. Everything about this tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean just screams delight – from the climate, barely touched nature, flora and fauna, unique and interesting culture, to the fascinating depths of the ocean. Its warm waters are host to remarkable types of marine life, underwater sights that aren’t easily forgotten – like peculiar coral reefs – and even sunken ships from a bygone era.
A little about the Seychelles
The Seychelles are comprised of 115 islands that span a distance of over 1100 kilometers. It’s an archipelago off the coast of East Africa, that’s divided in two main geographical groups – the inner and outer islands. Because of its location just south of the equator (4 to 10 degrees south) it has warm temperatures for both air and water, making them a prime location for diving.
The inner islands are made up of 41 granite islands while the outer islands are made up of 74 coral atolls and islands, and they are further divided into five groups.
The main islands where the tourism and scuba diving industry is located are the three inner islands Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. These islands offer a vast array of choices both for divers and non-divers alike, even though they aren’t the only places worthwhile if you have an interest in Seychelles scuba diving. The main island of Mahé is a central hub for all things culture, tourism, and travel, while the other two islands are smaller – but not unpopular. The main languages of the Seychelles are English, French, and the native Seychellois Creole.
Guide to Scuba Diving Seychelles
The Seychelles offer possibilities for diving throughout the entire year, and for beginners and experienced divers alike – the dive sites range in depth from 8m to 30m, meaning that this is also an ideal place to learn scuba diving if you’ve never dived before.
The climate may be warm and calm the entire year, but the ideal months for diving are from March through May, and from September through November. During these months the visibility can reach an astonishing 30m and the temperatures can reach 29°C (84°F) that together make for a pleasant and relaxed diving experience. Because the water itself is also calmer during these months the dive boats can reach the more remote sites, where it’s possible to have an encounter with mega fauna such as sharks and manta rays – sites like these can be especially good for experienced divers.
During the months in-between – June through August – stronger winds are brought by the south-east monsoon that make the more remote areas practically unreachable, or at least much more difficult to reach. The temperatures also drop do 25°C (77°F), and these cooler water are filled with nutrient rich planktons which significantly drop visibility. The bright side to that is that the nutrient rich planktons encourage the appearance of the rare whale shark that is a treat to see – they reach a staggering length of 10m – so the chance of snorkeling or diving with these magnificent creates is increased during this season.
The other parts of the year the seas are calm too, but the rainiest months are December to February. There aren’t any extreme weather changes, mostly because the Seychelles are predominantly outside cyclone belt. The northern trade winds blow through the islands from November to May, so when the climate is generally hot and humid, which does not have a negative effect on diving. This is also the time when visibility can reach up to 30m.
Marine life and Corals
Due to its geographical location in the Western Indian Ocean, the waters around the Seychelles teem with all kinds of marine life. The number of different species of coral and reef fish is second only to the Indo-Pacific area, it has many more unique types of marine life than the Caribbean and even the Read seas. Also, the waters near the islands have exposed rocks and underwater pinnacle with are covered with corals, and they are considered an interesting sight. They are a pleasure for divers and tourists but generally pose a hazard for shipping because countless ships have been lost to the sea over the centuries.
The islands, atolls, and coral islets attract marine life of all shapes and sizes. There are many of them to list, but here are several notable examples:
Going to the Seychelles is one things but getting to the scuba diving locations is another. Thankfully, scuba diving Seychelles locations are easily reached from the many islands, and a good number of them are near the three main inner islands. There are several dive schools that organize dive trips throughout the whole year, and there are plenty of places to dive.
Scuba locations in Mahe
L’ilot – to the north-eastern end of the Beau Vallon bay is the tiny islet of L’ilot. It’s an incredibly small granite island which has two coconut trees on top of it, and hosts a wealth of marine life in the surrounding waters. Its maximum depth is 30m, and is an ideal night dive if the weather conditions are right. Its walls are covered in coral and it’s possible to find crayfish in them. The islet is teeming with all kinds of flora and fauna and is a popular choice for divers.
Wrecks around Mahé – sunken ships are a popular diving attraction, and there are four such fantastic sites around Mahé – all equally interesting. The four are The Twin Barges, the Dredger, and the Aldebaran. The ships were sunk for diving purposes and that’s why the three wrecks are quickly reached by a boat ride – fifteen minutes with a boat from Beau Vallon. Marine life is teeming is every place, and the Aldebaran is considered the most intact. However, its maximum depth is 40m and is considered a dive for more advanced divers.
Brissare rocks – Another tiny site, Brissare rocks is a pure delight to dive in, because the marine life there is unmatched. There are lots of rays to see, alongside many types of turtles, and even nurse sharks. Brissare rocks is a must-see site, but it’s an isolated spot for strong currents. Make sure to avoid touching the fire coral in the area, that while beautiful, can sting if not careful. It’s 5k north of Mahé and is reachable by boat.
Baie Ternay Marine Park – a spectacular site located near the island, this site offers an option for divers of all experience levels. It’s available throughout the whole year, and it’s easily reached by boat from Beau Vallon. It has warm temperatures and a depth of 23m, and it features a reef with corals of outstanding quality, and plenty of colorful fish alongside seahorses, morays, octopi, and hawksbill turtles. In the deeper areas you can sometimes find groupers, sharks, and the seasonal whale sharks, so to say that Baie Ternay Marine Park is a must-see is an understatement.
Chuckles Rocks – located on the northern end of Beau Vallon Bay, this site is considered among the best on Mahé. Boasting warm waters all year round, the best months for diving here is April – May, and October – November. Chuckles Rocks features a single granite massif deeply cut with gullies with an adjacent granite boulder field, and the rocks are heavily encrusted with soft and fan corals. All kinds of fauna populate this site, like scorpion fish, the Seychell clownfish, eels, morays, lobsters, and even the seasonal whale sharks from August to October.
Thérèse Island – located off the west coast of Mahé, this site is recommended for advanced divers only. It has a depth of 20m but currents are always present, making it difficult for beginners to dive. Generally considered a challenge, this site consists of granite reef and coral formations, and a warm temperature of around 29°C (84°F). Occasionally, the current picks up schooling pelagics, stingrays, and reef sharks, making this site a peculiar diving choice.
St. Pierre – the perfect beginner’s spot, because this is the most likely location you’ll be taken to if you want to learn scuba diving. The two diving schools Octopus and White Tip organize diving trips to this location by boat, and it’s just a couple of minutes ride. It has a maximum depth of 10m, and while it is beginner friendly, experienced divers might want to visit, because the spot is beautiful nonetheless. As everywhere with the Seychelles, marine life is everywhere, and turtles and reef sharks make a regular appearance.
South Marianne Island – without a doubt the most beautiful diving spot from Praslin, South Marianne Island is an advanced dive site that has a maximum depth of around 25m, and is not that easy to navigate in. The underwater topography is extraordinary – with underground pinnacles to swim through and huge rock foundations adorning the spot, it makes for a wonderful diving experience.
White Bank – an interesting diving spot near Praslin, White Bank is well suited for beginners. It’s reachable for several locations by boat, such as Baie Sante Anne, La Digue, and Anse Volbert, White Bank offers a calm diving experience with warm waters and high visibility – up to 30m – while it’s average depth is 20m. Divers can explore some impressive granite rocks and coral covered reefs that just teem with marine life. A plethora of colorful fish can be found here, like the bat fish, parrotfish, napoleon wrasses, as well as turtles, reef sharks, and stings.
Aldabra – one of the most important sites in the Seychelles in general, Aldabra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected natural reserve. It’s the world largest raised coral that’s been described as ‘one of the wonders of the world’ by Sir David Attenborough. Because of its remoteness, it’s been largely untouched by man, and it sports a practically unmatched amount of marine life. From endangered green turtles and Hawksbill, to the now-returning Dugongs, Aldabra has plenty to offer in underwater fauna. To dive in Aldabra you have to be approved by the Seychelles Islands Foundation, and there is no tourist accommodation on Aldabra so the easiest way to organize a dive is with liveaboard dive trips.
Dive Shops in Seychelles
The Seychelles has 10 land based PADI dive centers and they range from PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centers to PADI Dive Resorts. There are many charter boat operators that offer scuba diving packages as registered PADI dive boats. This counts for the Inner and Outer Islands. There is also a recompression chamber on Silhouette Island – a quick 15 minute flight from Mahé. There are plenty of available live-aboards that offer services all across the islands.
PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, Big Blue Divers is based at Beau Vallon on Mahé Island and they offer PADI courses from beginner to dive master (including special courses) and all are available on English, German, French, and Dutch. Two custom dive boats operate daily guided diving and snorkeling trips, to both the Inner and Outer Islands.
Octopus Diver is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort. It’s located on Cote d’Or on Praslin Island, and they offer PADI courses from beginner to Assistant Instructor, along with some specialty courses. They have two speedboats for daily guided diving trips, organized for different experience levels.
Dive Seychelles Underwater Center is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort on Beau Vallon Bay on Mahé Island. The longest running dive resort in the Seychelles, they’ve been instrumental in the conservation and research efforts over the years. They offer all of the PADI courses, and run daily guided boat diving and snorkeling from their 3 custom dive boats.
Airlines that operate in the Seychelles
Air Seychelles, Condor, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Kenya Airways, and Qatar Airways all fly into the Seychelles National Airport (SEZ) in Mahé. Also, Air Seychelles offers island hopping flights between Mahé and Praslin, as well as some of the smaller islands such as Bird, Dennis, Desroches, and Alphonse Islands. There is also a helicopter charter company – Zil Air – that transfers and scenic excursions. Transport such as buses, taxis, and rental vehicles are also available on Mahé and Praslin, and bicycle rental is popular as well. Ferries also travel between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.
The Seychelles are among the top 10 diving destinations in the world and offer a true year round diving opportunity. The waters are warm and clear, visibility is excellent, and is perfect spot for many photo and video opportunities. All kinds of people from various parts of the world embark on diving adventures on this tiny, but wondrous island nation, and few have returned unsatisfied. It may not be the honeymoon destination its neighbor the Maldives is, but any and every chance to visit the Seychelles guarantees a time well spent, especially for diving and snorkeling.