Seychelles – La digue – The island that time forgot

Read my Mahe island experience here – Mahe Island experience

Now for the La digue experience:

I checked out of Hilltop hotel in the morning at 8 AM, Albaste picked me up from the hotel and dropped me off at the Cat cocos ferry point. After I got the boarding pass, I checked in my luggage. The ferry was late by an hour and it was too hot to wait around and there was not much shade around. The Cat cocos ferry had 3 types of seating arrangement. The seats were classified into economy class, business class and upper deck with spray proof. I have not looked into the business class to check out how they look. But I felt it would be way too hot to sit at the upper deck. I had booked into the economy class seats and I noticed most of the passengers had booked in this. The journey to la digue was uneventful and took about 1.30 hours with a stopover at Praslin where the passengers to Praslin would disembark and those to la digue would stay on.

We reached la digue by about 12.00 PM. I had booked my stay at Pension fidele which is a budget accommodation in Anse Reunion area in La digue. The owner of the guesthouse told me that she would send me an electric cart to pick me up. I went out of the jetty and found the electric cart waiting. Within minutes I was in the guesthouse. Anse reunion is situated close to the jetty and is the busiest area in La digue with the most shops, restaurants and guest houses. La digue is a laid back island and the main transportation to get from one place to another is bicycles. There are few electric carts and vans which are mostly used to transfer people from accommodation to jetty and vice versa. I checked into the guesthouse and Josette the guest house owner gave me a bicycle that I could ride around in la digue.

la digue bicycle
My mode of transportation in la digue

My first stop in la digue would definitely have to be the most famous Anse Source d’ argent which has repute for the worlds most photographed beach. To get access to this beach, one would have to go through the Le union estate. I read that there was another entrance to the beach just before the estate, so one does not have to go through the estate and pay the entrance fee, but I thought as this is my first time I’ll go through the estate. The estate has a boat building yard, vanilla plantations, tortoise enclosure which may be having over 20 tortoises, and of course eventually the famous source d argent beach.

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Anse source de argent beach

The beach was in low tide the time I checked and all the corals were exposed and sea weed dispersed through the beach. It did not paint that pretty picture to live up to its hype. I thought the beaches at Mahe looked better. But this beach definitely has some unique aspects. The granite boulders were more pinkish than black as in other beaches. Overall it is a good beach. I met Nevis here who is one of the tour operators who take customers out to Coco island snorkeling trips. I was looking lost and wide eyed trying to find my way to the beach as it was a huge stretch. I think I initially ended up at the reunion beach thinking if it was anse source d argent, but wondering where were all the boulders I saw in the pics. Nevis asked if I needed help and guided me to the right beach. We strolled along the source d argent and spent a couple of hours yapping. He told me how coco island is not what it used to be and corals were bleached after El nino. There were couple of shacks on the beach that sold fresh fruit salad and fruit juices , but they were closed due to Christmas day. The waters were crystal clear and I could see big batfish swimming so close to the shore. I spent a few hours on this beach and returned back to the guesthouse.

at fish at source d argent
Bat fish swimming close to the shore of Anse source d argent

On day2 in La digue I took a ferry for a day trip to Praslin. Praslin can be reached in around 15 minutes by ferry from Ladigue. I had booked the ticket to Praslin from the cat cocos office in the entrance of la passe jetty. But when I went into the jetty I found that another ferry company, the Inter island ferry,  sell their tickets inside the jetty, almost near the area of boarding. The inter island ferry plies only between Praslin to La digue and vice versa. The inter island ferry “Cat Rose” Inter island ferry tickets are bit cheaper than the “Cat cocos” tickets and they are more often on time than Cat Cocos.

On Praslin I had initially planned to travel around the island by public bus transportation, but it was raining heavily, so when Colin the cabbie who was in the jetty at that moment asked if I needed a taxi I changed my mind to go by cab instead of the bus. Colin first dropped me off at the Vallee de mai. Vallee de mai is a UNESCO heritage park which houses the trees that produces the largest nut in the world, the famous Coco-de-mer. The Coco-de-mer looks like an over grown coconut in the trees, but when the husk is removed, it reveals its unique shape, another reason which makes Seychelles so popular. The park has a free guide at 9 AM who would go around with you for 45 minutes explaining the various palm trees at the park and the history of the Coco de mer.

Vallee de mai
Vallee de mai

Coco de mer on the trees

The coco de mer on the trees. They look like overgrown coconuts on the tree

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The coco-de-mer with its husk removed

There were lots of interesting facts mentioned by the guide on the Coco-de-mer. There are apparently male and female nuts which has its own characteristic shape. A Coco-de-mer tree takes more than 25 years to mature and bear fruit. It is not known if the tree is a male or female coco-de-mer until it bears fruit. The male trees grow taller than the female trees so that pollination is more effective. The pollen from the male settles in the female and if it settles on the “correct” spot, the female nut fertilizes after which it falls to the ground and gives rise to a new coco-de-mer tree. If the pollen from the male does not settle on the right spot on the female, the fruit would just fall to the ground and disintegrate. Interesting indeed!. There were also various other palms growing in the reserve which could have been a delight to any botanist or nature lover. Though it was raining we did not have to use the umbrella because the vast leaves of the palms acted as umbrellas for us. We were not lucky to spot the black parrot which is supposed to be indigenous to the reserve. The guide then left us to trek for the rest of the distance to the view point and then back down. There are 3 trekking trails in the park. We took the trekking trail which takes the least amount of time which takes about 1 hour to reach back the starting point.

The view point of Vallee de mai

At the entrance of the park there is a café where I had a banana milkshake and called Colin to pick me up. But Colin was busy with another errand, so he sent another driver. It appears that in Seychelles all the cabbies know each other and would always arrange some alternative to make sure the customer is not affected. Such was the case in this Praslin trip. I got sent another cab driver whose name I forgot. He was to drop me off at Anse Lazio beach.

I have heard so much about the Anse Lazio beach. The day I went to Anse Lazio, the sea there was rough. This again did not live up to its hype according to me and I felt the beaches at Mahe was better. There were sea weeds around and it was too windy. There were people swimming near the shore and I noticed the shark net. This net was installed after the 2 ghastly fatal shark attacks in this beach during August 2011. Thankfully there were no further attacks. The shark net was found way close to the shore which allows very less swimming space, so I wondered if people would be able to swim freely in case there were more tourists. I spent about few hours here and had lunch at the restaurant on the beach. The lunch was surrounded by flies as it was open air.

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Anse Lazio beach
sharknet at anse lazio
The sharknet at Anse source d argent

After lunch, I called Colin again who sent another cabbie this time since he was still on errand. Colin is working for raffles and runs errands for them. During his free time he manages other clients. His friend dropped me off at Anse volbert . The sea was very calm at this beach. There were lots of boats anchored here. These boats offers day trips to nearby Curieuse,Cousin and St.Pierre islands. There were lots of tour operators found along the length of the beach and many souvenir shops on the main road. I did some swimming here. This sea was very calm and the beach was flat. Even kids were swimming happily here. There was some hustle and bustle on this beach and one can see this is a lively beach by Seychelles standards. I spent a few hours here and I called Colin. This time he came around and dropped me off at the Jetty.

That night Nevis invited me to the party at Tarosa. The locals party here during the weekends to the beats of Seychellois music. To me the Seychellois music sounded like a fusion of reggae, jazz, pop and a bit of folk. All the young “who is who” of the island comes here during the weekend night. Typically 11 PM is when the party begins and goes on till wee hours in the morn. I was amused to find the “Cat Rose” ticket owner I met in the morning at the jetty shaking a leg here. Half the locals I saw on the roads during the day were here in the night. It is a good place to gel with the locals. However it rained again and it was too windy and chilly that night , so apparently the crowd was not at its peak best and everyone left pretty early.

The next day I had pre –booked an island hopping day trip to Cocos-felicite –Sister island. This is supposed to include island hopping to 3 islands with barbecue lunch on sister island with swimming and snorkeling in between. In the Morning I met Jonathan the guide for the Cocos-felicite-sister island trip at the Maki shop in la digue. The weather seemed to be ok in the morning. Others on the boat were a 4 member Chinese family, 4 member French family and a 3 member Italian family. The ride was very bumpy. Our first stop was the Coco island. Clouds started looming ahead. During the snorkeling I observe most pf the corals have bleached just like how Nevis had mentioned. There were the usual coral fishes , but I felt they were lesser than found in the St. Anne marine park. The sea started getting rough and I had difficulty getting back to the boat. Jonathan threw me a line and I grabbed it and pulled myself to the boat. It began raining more heavily and we proceeded to the Felicite island. The rain became more intense so Jonathan decided to call it quits and headed in full speed back to the island jetty. I was disappointed that I could not visit sister island where I heard the snorkeling is the much better than cocos island. I cycled back to the guesthouse from the jetty.

Coco island
Coco island on a stormy day
snorkeling
Snorkeling at Cocos – note the bleached corals and very few fishes only

After couple of hours the rain stopped. I thought I would go for a walk around the island. I walked past the jetty , la domain orangerie which is the most expensive hotel in the island. Then past this there was a huge graveyard with graves well decorated with flowers. The Seychellois people sure know how to take care of their dead!. As I walked I found more serene parts of the island like pataran village, Anse gaulettes which were away from the hustle and bustle of Anse reunion. On the way I found a lone land tortoise roaming freely. I plucked some leaves from the shrubs nearby and rushed to it. It happily ate whatever I fed it from my hand.

feeding tortoise in la digue
Feeding a wild tortoise in la digue

I found myself getting extremely thirsty as I had forgotten to bring drinking water. As I reached Anse gaulettes I came across a hotel Le Relax which had restaurant in the front of the hotel. I thought I could buy bottled water from that hotel. I asked the man sitting on a couch in the restaurant who obliged and got me a bottle of water. He turns out to be Praveen Dared, the owner of the Le Relax chain of hotels in Seychelles. Le Relax has got 1 hotel in Mahe , 2 hotels in Praslin, 3 hotels in La digue. The newest hotel at La digue Le Relax Luxury lodge have got 6 exclusive villas. The manager of Le Relax took me around a tour of the hotel and showed me one of the Villa where incidentally the president of Seychelles James Michel stayed for a night. This luxury lodge has opened up just very recently, just a couple of weeks before I visited. The restaurant at Le Relax offers cuisines from all over India including south Indian, and pure vegetarian dishes as well. Praveen being a vegetarian himself had a tough time initially to find vegetarian food in Seychelles. Keeping this in mind his restaurant also serves variety of vegetarian dishes and indian cuisine predominantly, but continental is served as well. I bid goodbye to the nice staff at le relax and I wondered if I could continue my walk to Grande Anse or head back to the guest house. I was told that it will be difficult to walk to Grand anse and recommended to cycle there. I decided not to make the double trip and I walked back from Anse gaulette to my guest house.

On the final day at La digue the rains poured. I had planned a day trip to Praslin to take an island hopping trip to Cousin-Curieuse-St.pierre islands, the rain offered no respite in the morning and I had called up Bruno who I had arranged to take me out for the Cousin-Curieuse trip and he said that the Cousin island reported that it is closed due to bad weather. So I was stuck at the guesthouse in the morning. There was a few hours break of rain in the noon, during which I cycled to Anse source d argent for a last look at the most photographed beach in the world. I swam in the waters, It was shallow and full of corals, I spotted a hermit crab and chased a few fishes. Not bad!. Then I headed to the shack called Fruit cabana on the beach for a tall glass of passion fruit juice. After couple of hours, it started raining. The 2 lovely shack guys who loved Jamaican music offered me shelter under their shack. After a couple of hours the pouring rains turned to a drizzle and I rushed away to the guesthouse on my bicycle. On the way I stopped at Gregoires supermarket to stock up on some snacks as it was past lunchtime , so less of restaurants were opens and I was so hungry and the rains may prevent me from eating out. The rains continued through the rest of the day.

Anse source d argent
Anse source d argent

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A Hermit crab in source d argent beach

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Anse source d argent under water

shack on the beach
The shack on the beach selling fruit salad and fresh fruit juices
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The view of the beach from the shack
My tall glass of passion fruit juice
My tall glass of passion fruit juice

This was my last night in La digue. The next day morning I took the ferry back to Mahe to board my flight. The ferry back to Mahe involved a change of ferry at Praslin. So passengers to Mahe disembark at Praslin and transfer to another ferry which heads out the Mahe.

Read about important advice , contact numbers costs here – Advice,Contacts and Cost

7 thoughts on “Seychelles – La digue – The island that time forgot

  1. Thanks, this was a great read. Just a quick question- we’re also thinking of a couple of days in Pension Fidele. Does it have a bus stop close by? We’re relying entirely on public transport so this is important for us
    Thanks!

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    1. The most common means of transport in la digue island is cycles. There are no buses in the islands. There are buggies that are privately run , by hotels. Most of the locals and even tourists go around the island by bicycle. Pension fidele is quite close to the boat jetty. The jetty can be reached within 5 mins of cycling, or 15 mins walk.

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