Lying 1,000 miles off Africa’s east coast, between 240 and 600 miles north of the equator in the Indian Ocean, the 115 islands that comprise the Republic of Seychelles are among the most isolated in the world. Arab traders first sailed to the Seychelles around 800 A.D. Phoenician, Polynesian, Chinese, and European explorers followed, but it wasn’t until the 1700s that French colonists settled on the larger islands. Today, the population of the entire country numbers only 84,000, and it represents a rich commingling of French, British, Indian, Middle Eastern, and African culture. The French influence remains prominent; Creole is commonly spoken along with English.
While coral atolls make up most of the 72 low-lying Outer Islands, the majority of the Inner Islands, the largest of which consist of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue, are geological wonders of twisted granite, mountainous and lush with tropical forests that support species of birds found nowhere else on Earth. Giant tortoises inhabit some of the Seychelles, nesting on the fine, white-sand beaches fronted with exquisitely beautiful coral reefs and azure seas that make a Seychelles yacht charter vacation unique and enriching.
Cruising in Mahe
The Seychelles are situated in a balmy, relatively calm swath of the Indian Ocean covering approximately 150,000 square miles, though a Seychelles charter vacation focuses on the main Inner Islands, all of which are close together, making for easy passages between them. In this part of the world, the annual monsoon influences the weather and wind directions. The northwest monsoon begins in November, ushering in northwesterly winds and more rain than typically falls from May through October, when the winds shift more to the southeast beginning in April. Regardless of the season, wind velocities average 10 to 20 knots and the temperature ranges from 82°F to 86°F.
Wind-driven currents switch direction with the seasonal winds and are typically just over one knot. However, in certain locations, such as in narrow channels between islands, the current can be much stronger. The tidal range runs from 4.5 to 5.9 feet. Like the wind-driven currents, tidal currents can be swift in narrow channels. A Seychelles cruising vacation is well within the reach of captains confident in basic coastal navigation.
A Seychelles yacht charter unfolds in an exotic, less-traveled part of the world, which is what makes cruising the Seychelles so appealing. Small, secluded coves fringed with majestic palms set back from pristine white-sand beaches indent many of the islands, and just offshore are coral reefs resplendent in hues of brown, orange, green, and blue. Half of the Seychelles is set aside as a natural preserve to protect the rare birds – the Seychelles bulbul, black parrot, and fruit pigeon, to name a few – and giant tortoises that live nowhere else but in the Pacific’s Galapagos Islands. The natural wonders are enough to make any Seychelles yacht cruising vacation memorable. The seaside resorts, boutiques, and fine restaurants found on some of the Inner Islands add a dash of luxury to the Seychelles experience.