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Mahe, Seychelles

12 Suggested Cruising Program

November to April

A Seychelles sailing itinerary takes you into a sailor's paradise. The marine preserves on islands populated with diverse and rare species of birds, lizards, and turtles in the Seychelles are exotic and intriguing. The plant life is varied too, from the coco-de-mer palms with huge double coconuts to the pitcher plants, gardenias, and orchids that grow on the mountain slopes. Passages combine a mix of open-water sailing in fair winds and short hops between adjacent islands for snorkeling and scuba diving on the coral reefs or simply relaxing on one of the many white-sand beaches. Although the Inner Islands of the Seychelles are mostly undeveloped, some are home to seaside resorts and small settlements, providing plenty to do ashore as well as aboard your luxury yacht.

Day 1: St. Anne Marie National Park

Head for Vallée de Mai in Baie Ste Anne, a valley protected by UNESCO with an enchanting path that winds through the enormous palm leaves of the famous coco de mer. Wherever you look, the foliage seems to go on and on. Spend the night anchoring in Baie Ste Anne.

Day 2: La Digue Island

Sail to La Digue, possibly the most beautiful island in the Seychelles. Anchor in Petite or Grande Anse, on La Digue's south-east coast. It's the third largest inhabited island, but isn't overrun with tourists. The island is car-free and locals use ox and cart. Get around by bike and explore winding trails under tall palm trees, houses with palm-thatched roofs, copra factories, fine white sand beaches and large polished rocks.

Day 3: Union State

Visit the Union Estate, where vanilla is grown, harvested and produced. Visit Veuve Special Reserve (open Monday to Friday), which protects the Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher on La Digue, as well as the Seychelles Sunbird, Bulbul and Terrapins.

Day 4: Marianne and Félicité Islets

Sail around the isles of Marianne and Félicité and anchor on the west coast of Grande Soeur for lunch. Experience the unforgettable snorkeling at Coco Island, just 7km north of La Digue, which is made of large rocks with strange regular stripes carved by the sea. The area has large arborescent corals where thousands of tropical fish swim in front of narrow breaks and dark caverns. Make for Curieuse and anchor for the night in Laraie Bay, on the east coast, for the night..

Day 5: Curieuse Island

Sail onto Curieuse and stop in Anse san José. Say hello to the Aldabra giant tortoises at Curieuse, a protected island and bio-reserve. Take a 45-minute walk into mangrove and "coco fesse" trees, which leads you to the other side of the island, where there is a nice beach and small but interesting museum. Head to St. Pierre islet, a mass of rounded rocks crowned with a clump of tall palms swaying gently in the wind. This is typical and superb Seychelles scenery, photographed on countless occasions and printed a million times in tourism magazines. It's also an excellent spot for snorkeling with magnificent underwater scenery. Go back to Baie Laraie for the night.

Day 6: Aride Island

Make for Aride Island, which is under the supervision of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation and a conservation area. Follow narrow paths through the dense vegetation, which leads to the rocky barrier in the north where you get a great view of the whole island. It's a haven for a wide variety of seabirds, unique vegetation and rare land birds. The ten species of breeding seabird include the rare roseate tern and the red tailed tropicbird. It's home to the world's largest colony of lesser noddy, with more than 200,000 couples nesting there. More than 300 species of fish have been identified in Aride coral reef and you may see some hawksbill turtles come to the surface. Go back to Baie Ste Anne to fill up with water.

Day 7: Eden Island Marina

Anchor for the night in Eden Island Marina, off Mahé, near the capital of Victoria. Explore the capital and visit the intricately decorated Hindu temple.

Day 8: Sandy Anse Takamaka

Explore the renowned market place in the morning, which gives a great opportunity for fresh provisioning. Sail down Mahé, and on the southern tip you'll find the sandy Anse Takamaka and Anse Intendance beaches. Anchor in Baie Lazare for the night.

Day 9: Thérèse island

Sail along the Mahé coast to Thérèse island and Port Launay marine park, limited to the south east by the Pointe de l'Escalier, a geological phenomenon of flat layers of rock that appear like a giant stairway to the sea.

Day 10: Silhouette Island

Head north of Mahé to Silhouette Island, which is a protected area with healthy coral and a popular spot with divers. Anchor in at La Passe and explore the white sand beaches and the Mount Dauban above the rainforest. For the night, head to Anse Cimetière, Ste Anne Marine Park, on the south coast.

Day 11: Ile Moyenne

Spend the morning snorkeling north-east of Ile Moyenne and then sail to Curieuse in the late morning. Anchor in Baie Laraie.

Day 12: Cousin Island

Sail to Cousin Island, which is a nature reserve and bird sanctuary with rare species and an important breeding site for Hawksbill turtles. This small island, just 800 meters in diameter, can be visited from Monday to Friday in the mornings. During the season of south-easterly winds, the island is a nesting site for 80,000 breeding pairs of lesser noddies. Go back to Baie Ste Anne for checkout at 5:00pm.

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