Sailing cruises in Seychelles © STB
With most islands lying outside the cyclone belt, Seychelles offers year round sailing in calm waters.
There is no better way to enjoy a dazzling array of islands than by cruising its pristine waters and exploring the extraordinary bounty of Seychelles at your own pace.
International and local charter companies provide a wide selection of specialized craft, both skippered and bareboat.
Be sure to get the necessary permissions prior to landing on the various islands.
Sailing around Inner Islands
Enjoy the experience of a lifetime sailing the Seychelles’ Inner Islands, where safe moorings and easy sailing distances will open up a world of diversity and breathtaking natural beauty.
Cruise the waters around magical Mahé, Seychelles’ largest island and home to the main port and capital, Victoria. The island offers memorable sailing opportunities with 44 miles of scenic coastline that features safe anchorages, over 65 beaches and a host of secret coves and romantic hideaways. Ste Anne marine park lies just off Mahé’s eastern coast.
Only a few hours sailing northeast from Mahé (23 miles) will bring you past the twin island gems of Cousin and Cousine and to the island of Praslin, where the gentle unhurried pace of life is an attraction in itself.
Less than 4 miles southeast from Praslin’s Baie Ste Anne jetty, La Digue is the island where time stands still, with heart-stopping beauty and time-honoured tradition nestled inside 9 miles of coastline.
Then set sail towards Denis and Bird, those coralline jewels of the northern waters, or even solitary Frégate, which was once the haunt of pirates, to the east.
Sailing around Outer Islands
Journey to Seychelles’ sparkling OuterIslands, where precious few have gone before and where you can rise to the challenges of longer sailing distances and few, if any, of the numerous amenities found around the InnerIslands. Here is where true adventure lies, amid the azure world of the open ocean and the turquoise of remote lagoons.
In the Outer Islands that lie between 130 miles and 630 miles from Mahé, navigating is more difficult due to the presence of low-lying coral reefs and other hazards. The mooring grounds of many Outer Islands are less sheltered and the waters between them less frequently sailed.
Current legislation mandates that all yachts visiting the Outer Islands are of the higher specification ‘Over 60 miles’ class and that they are supplied with Captain and appropriate crew. The charter companies can advise which of their yachts are equipped to visit these areas.
Fringing reefs and shallows make navigation a full-time occupation and currently only crewed charters are offered in the Outer Islands. Anchorages tend to be better during the south-east trades (May to September) or during the calmer transition months (April and October), although each island may have its own particular configuration for favourable moorings depending on the season.
One of the most fascinating natural places on earth, and one of Seychelles’ two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, can only be reached by sea: Aldabra. The Aldabra group is 630 miles south-west of Mahé and consists of 3 atolls, Aldabra itself, Cosmoledo and Astove plus the raised limestone platform island of Assumption. Only Assumption and Aldabra carry skeleton staff whilst both Cosmoledo and Astove are at present uninhabited.
This area is very seasonal with the best times to visit being the transition periods of March/April and again October/November. Often the best way to visit this area is to charter a plane and fly to the airstrip at Assumption and meet up with a charter yacht.
For the continued protection of its unique biodiversity, special permission is required by all visitors to Aldabra.
Access and Fees
While you are free to explore most of Seychelles’ waters at will, there are a few limitations which are often meant to help preserve the unique and fragile environment so that all can enjoy it today and in the years to come.
Access to the ecologically sensitive Marine Parks and Reserve areas are managed by various conservation organizations and requires either permission, and/or payment of a landing or entry fee, and mooring fee for overnight mooring. Simply arrive and anchor in the marked zones and the marine park officials will come out and visit the yacht to collect the required fees.
The Marine Parks and Reserves areas are: Aride, Cousin, Curieuse Marine National Park, ïle Cocos Marine National Park, Ste. Anne Marine National Park and St. Pierre. Entrance fees start from Euro 10 per person. Overnight mooring fees start from Euro 10 per yacht.
Some islands are privately owned or managed, therefore access is controlled by the owners. Islands that fall into this category are: Anonyme, Bird, Chauvre Souris, Cousine, D’Arros and St.Joseph Atoll, Denis, Félicité, Frégate, Grande Soeur, Petite Soeur, Moyenne, North, Round Island off Mahé and Round Island off Praslin. Please contact the island management for permissions. Landing fees start from Euro 10 per person.
The following islands are under the management of the Island Development Company (IDC): AlphonseIsland, Bijoutier, Coëtivy, Desroches, Farquhar, Poivre Atoll, Platte, Providence Atoll, Remire, Silhouette and St. François. Please contact IDC for permission to access. Landing fees start from Euro 20 per person.
See pictures from Seychelles cruising/ sailing:
-- cruises to Seychelles
Entry and Exit Formalities
PortVictoria on Mahé is the only official port of entry and exit of the Seychelles. Locally chartered yachts that will sail within Seychelles are not subject to entry and exit formalities.
However, all vessels arriving from a foreign country or departing Seychelles must call at Port Victoria to carry out all customs, health, immigration, port and security formalities.
The islands of Assumption, Farquhar and/or Desroches may be substituted as alternative entry or exit ports, but this is a very costly option, as all officials concerned will have to be flown out from Mahé at the requesting vessel’s own expense.
Water and Refuelling Facilities
Water and refuelling facilities are available on the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue.
Throughout Seychelles the ocean is subject to currents with speeds of 0.5 up to 1.5 knots that develop with the trade winds.
The effects of the tides are more noticeable within the InnerIslands than the ocean currents and are generally less than a knot, increasing to up to 2 knots in channels between islands or close to underwater ridges.
Tides are semi-diurnal and asymmetrical with about 6 hours between high tide and low tide. The tidal range around the InnerIslands can get as high as 2 metres at spring tides and as low as 0.9 metres at neaps. Tides give rise to currents that can be strong in the channels leading to lagoons, which may empty completely at low tide.
There are two opposing wind patterns in Seychelles, blowing seasonally either north-westerly (December to March) or south-easterly (May to September).
In general, the north-westerly winds strengthen at daybreak, however, it is relatively weak with average wind speeds of 5-10 knots and reaches its peak strength in January. The north-westerly trades often have intermittent rain squalls and stronger winds during the period December to March. These are sometimes associated with the presence of tropical cyclones over the south-west Indian Ocean. Remember that all but Seychelles’ most southerly islands lie well outside the cyclone belt.
In comparison, the south-easterly trades are drier and tend to blow more consistently throughout the day and into the night, reaching its peak in July/August. Average wind speeds during the period June to September are 10-15 knots, with occasional gusts exceeding 30 knots, normally associated with surges in the trade winds.
In the months of April and November there are calm and sometimes windless periods when the trade winds change direction. These light and variable wind periods are accompanied by calm seas and clear waters.
Source: Seychelles Tourism Board
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