Seychelles: Best Nature Reserves in the World

30th Jul 2018

Sailing in the Seychelles offers an exotic paradise that fully deserves the description ‘unique’. Quite simply, it’s home to plants and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else, such as the black parrot and coco-de-mer.

The archipelago of 115 islands forms two groups, the inner and outer islands, and include the only ocean granitic islands in the world. It’s impossible to describe the Seychelles with words alone and photos of the islands are often used to illustrate the concept of ‘paradise’, with its soft white sand beaches, vivid green forest canopies, deep cobalt seas and a colorful, vibrant underwater world. Its beaches are consistently voted in top 10 lists across the internet for good reason.

The Seychelles is at the core of Dream Yacht Charter, as it’s where our journey to become the world’s leading yacht charter company began in 2000. It was the location of the company’s first base, offering just a handful of yachts. Our founder Loïc Bonnet recognized very early on its potential as an up-and-coming sailing destination. We also offer seven yacht vacation packages ranging from 4 days to 11 days across Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette. 

Balancing tourism with nature

There is only one mindset to come and sail the Seychelles’ awesome landscapes and that’s with conservation top of mind with “leave no trace” sailing. These low lying islands have a delicate ecosystem and while they rely on tourism development, the Seychelles recognizes the fragility of its environment. The islands are striving to set up conservation foundations to protect their natural assets so that the islands can be enjoyed for generations to come.

The best of the Seychelles’ nature reserves

Home to some of the best nature reserves in the world, you can’t sail the Seychelles and not visit these places!

1. Cousin National Park

Just 2km from Mahé, this island protects the Seychelles warblers and giant tortoises. Previously a coconut plantation, it’s now a nesting site for the magpie robin, tropic birds, lesser and greater noddy and the hawksbill turtle.

Cousin National Park started a restoration programme to save the warbler, with the end goal to have 5,000 of them living on the islands.

It’s not just birds that live there though. When you visit, see if you can spot lizards, reptiles and land invertebrates such as crabs, millipedes and termites roaming around.

2. Aride Island National Reserve

15km from Praslin, you can see sooty terns, fairy terns, tropic birds, geckos and exotic flowers at Aride Island; one of the best nature reserves in the world. 

The mission statement of the island is to “…promote conservation and restoration of island ecosystems, sustainable development of islands, and awareness of their vulnerability and vital importance to the planet’s biodiversity.”

Of the 18 species of native birds that breed on the island, five of them are only found in the Seychelles.

Open Monday toFriday, weekend appointments can be arranged with the island manager. It’s often closed May to September because of the strong swell. Entry fee is $50 per person

3. Curieuse Marine National Park

2km from Praslin, Curieuse Marine National Park is home to the curious and friendly Aldabra Giant Tortoise, where a lot of turtle conservation work takes place.

You can also see the Coco De Mer tree, an indigenous species, visit the mangrove swamp with its boardwalk or see the nesting sea turtles. 

While this protected island is popular for day trips, it hasn’t been developed for tourism or industry, meaning there aren’t any nearby hotels or restaurants. However, you can moor there overnight for $12, and park admission costs around $15 per person.

4. Sainte Anne Marine National Park

Off the Mahé coast lies Sainte Anne Marine, one of the best nature reserves in the world. Located across six islands, it’s also hailed as one of the best places to snorkel in the Seychelles. 

You’ll find a variety of coral, tropical fish, turtles and dolphins. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see baby sharks and stingrays! Alternatively, you can experience ultimate relaxation just by floating in the crystal clear waters.

5. Ile Coco Marine National Park

Another of the best spots to snorkel in the Seychelles, head to Ile Cocos Marine National Park and sail three islets (Ile Cocos, Ile La Fouche and Ilot Plate) for a true deserted island experience with granitic outcrops topped with vegetation. 

Featuring on many promotional brochures, the azure waters and captivating coral reefs draw in thousands of tourists to the country each year. 

To enter, park fees are $15 per person and $12 for overnight mooring.

6. Silhouette National Park

20km from Mahé, this is the largest marine park in the Seychelles and one of the best nature reserves in the world.

Popular for its healthy coral reef, giant tortoises and trails to Mount Dauban’s peak through rainforest, a vacation to the Seychelles isn’t complete without a trip to Silhouette National Park

Opened in 2010, it’s the third largest island of the inner granitic group of the Seychelles’ archipelago – 93% of which has been designated as protected areas.

Home to the Seychelles’ sheath-tailed bats and other threatened animal and plant species; you’ll also get to enjoy plenty of snorkeling opportunities, including at Etienne Rocks, Fusilier Bank, Lascars and Grand Barbe.

7. Baie Ternay Marine National Park

5km from Beau Vallon, at Baie Ternay Marine National Park you can spot whale sharks feasting on rich plankton, turtles and moray eels so have your snorkel gear at the ready. 

The quiet, sandy beach provides the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind – you can also shelter under the Takamaka trees. If you’re feeling active, then head to the nearby Greater Morne Seychellois National Park for a hike.

To enter the park, it will cost you around $15 per person and $12 for  mooring fees.

Mooring fees in the Seychelles

No night sailing is allowed in the Seychelles and you’ll find designated mooring zones in the marine parks. The fees to enter the park and moor overnight vary from park to park – between $20-$50 per person and around $10-15 for overnight mooring.

In the inner islands, you’ll find mooring buoys off the coast of Mahé and Praslin and some nearby islands. You are not allowed to drop anchor on the coral but the bottom is sandy in most anchorages, so this is easily avoided. Stay alert when sailing remote islands and check the water marker to avoid coral damage.

Investigate if you need permission to land on any of the islands in your planned itinerary before you set out. Some islands are private and you need advance permission, such as Bird, Cousine and Felicite. Cousine Island is eco-designed and carefully manages its conservation by protecting nesting sea turtles, indigenous trees and Aldabra Giant Tortoises, and encourages guests to take part in their protection program. Entry fees are around $50 per person.

If you want to sail the outer islands, you will need to contact the Island Development Company for permission for some of them, including the conservation centers at Silhouette, Alphonse, Desroches and Farquhar.

Find out more

To visit some of the best nature reserves in the world, get in touch with us today. We offer bareboat charters in the Seychelles and you can hire a skipper too. Alternatively, we also offer by the cabin charters and crewed charters.

For vacation inspiration, head on over to our blog.