By J. F.
With so many islands here in the Seychelles archipelago to visit, it can be difficult to choose just one. Add the various tour operators and small independent boat charters offering excursions into the mix, and you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Following the recommendation of family and research, I booked through Mason’s Travel and chose the Reef Safari Excursion.
The Reef Safari excursion is perfect for a day away at sea. It seamlessly blends a glass bottom boat experience, snorkelling trip and a visit to the island of Moyenne into one.
My day starts at the Marine Charter Jetty. This is where Mason’s Travel docks its catamaran, Anahita, to pick up passengers.
Before boarding the boat, we are all made to take off our shoes. It almost feels symbolic. Taking off my shoes essentially equals shedding the stress and entering holiday mode.
Anahita leaves the jetty at 9h30 and drifts across the sea at a leisurely pace. I get the chance to stand on the deck to take in the view. We float by Eden island where the bright red rooftops of the villas there provide a burst of colour against the endless tapestry of blue seas.
In the distance, Sainte Anne, the largest island in the marine park, grabs my attention. Its hillsides look impossibly green. The other islands: Ile Moyenne, Ile Ronde, Ile Longue, Ile Cachée and Ile aux Cerf, are not to be outdone though. Each of them have their own particular terrain.
After roughly 20 minutes, we make our first stop in the marine park. With the help of the crew, I hop off Anahita and board the aptly named Reef Safari III glass bottom boat. The glass bottom boat experience does not disappoint. Glimmering sergeant major fish and parrot fish dart among groups of potato coral as well as table corals. I feel awed and humbled by the reef eco-system. Dwelling and spending the majority of my time on land, I easily forget there is a whole, complex, different world in the sea.
We stop at the snorkelling site at around 11h30. If you don’t bring your gear, no worries! The Anahita has masks and flippers for passengers to use. As the snorkelers slip into the sea, the crew on board begins preparation for lunch.
Lunch is served buffet style. It includes delicious grilled fish fillets served with Creole sauce. During lunch, our guide, Francis, entertains the passengers and crew with some guitar-playing and singing. The soulful melodies provide the perfect atmosphere for the meal.
The boat speeds through the waters until we reach a sandbank where we all disembark and make the trek to the island of Moyenne.
Moyenne island is a small, beautiful island which is around 10 hectares in size. It has a fascinating history. It was once owned by an eccentric English lady, Miss Emma Best, who built a house there for stray dogs from Mahé. The island was abandoned for decades before it was later purchased by the late Brendon Grimshaw. When he purchased the island, he set about to transform it with the help of a Seychellois named Rene Lafortune. Together they planted various trees, constructed nature paths and introduced birds on the island.
Arrival on Moyenne
Following a few minutes of rest on arrival, we follow Francis and tackle Moyenne’s nature trail. First stop is the late owner’s house where we meet some friendly giant tortoises. I excitedly try to capture a picture of one. Contrary to popular belief, it moves quite fast. I hardly move fast enough to snap a picture of it as it comes towards me. We feed them and a gentleman working on the island also shows us a smaller one.
Afterwards, we go down a winding trail until we reach the graves of the late owner and that of his father, as well as some unmarked ones. The unmarked graves are said to belong to pirates who concealed treasure on Moyenne.
We continue our hike around the island and stop at various viewpoints. It’s not the easiest of walks due to the steep inclines and declines at some points in the trail. I feel relieved when we reach a small cove and rest and swim for a bit.
After our pause on the beach, we forge ahead on the rest of the trail and head back to the first beach to await the boat to take us back to the catamaran.
It’s with a feeling of both exhaustion and the impression of a day well spent that I leave the enchanting Moyenne island and return back to Mahé and its bustling atmosphere.
If you would like to spend a fun-filled day, ideal for the family and where you get to do 4 activities in 1 (Glass bottom boat; snorkelling, laze on the beach and visiting Moyenne) then book your Reef Safari Excursion with Mason’s Travel: http://masonstravel.com/