Exploring La Digue: sunsets and stingrays

Exploring La Digue: sunsets and stingrays

Although there are 115 islands overall, there are three main islands in the Seychelles: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. La Digue is the smallest, home to only 1800 people, and our first stop on the trip.

I loved this little speck of an island! There are very few cars allowed so most people get around on bikes. There’s no need to ever lock your bike up; one day we left our bikes on the side of the road for over twelve hours while we hiked through the jungle and found them exactly where we’d left them when we got back. It’s just that kind of place.

For the most part, we beach-hopped, swimming and snorkeling all over the island. We also went on a hike through the jungle and to some of the harder to reach beaches with a guide, as that’s the only way to get off the main paths and into the denser parts of the island. Our route took us not only through the trees but also caves, rocks and the ocean, with a significant portion of the walk requiring us to walk through the sea holding our bags above our heads. We saw a rare bird, the paradise flycatcher, of which there are only 250 left in the wild. This hike lead us across the Grand Anse and Anse Coco beaches, which are hard to reach by bike.

We snorkeled on Anse Severe, seeing a ray, many tropical fish and even a tiny shark! Snorkeling and diving are two of my favourite things, along with the ocean in general, so it’s no surprise that we spent hours beneath the sea. It was especially easy to spend hours in the ocean when it was essentially a bath. The crazy humid, mid-thirties air was cooler than the water. We also spent many hours swimming, snorkeling, reading and taking photos on Anse Source D’Argent, often quoted as the world’s most beautiful beach. The Seychelles have these extremely distinctive smooth, rounded rocks on almost all of the beaches, making them stand out not just for the perfect blue water and soft white sand, but also the huge features of the beaches themselves. Source D’Argent has probably the most impressive array of these rocks, hence why it’s so striking. The beach – and the island in general – is lined with bright green, waxy plants that make the whole island so colourful. It is also endlessly awesome how you can snorkel straight off the beach, no boat trip required, and see fish, eels, rays and more. I love this place.

We watched an incredible sunset on both Anse Severe and Anse Source D’Argent, on consecutive nights. The sunset on Source D’Argent was particularly beautiful, made more enjoyable by the photographs I was able to take. Getting into photography has been one of the best things about this year. Part of the reason I love having this blog is to share more of the photos I’ve taken – taking beautiful photos is an art (obviously) and I want people to see the shots I’ve put so much thought into – though, admittedly, the Seychelles is probably one of the world’s most photogenic destinations.

We stayed on this beach for hours, well after everyone else had left, catching every development in the sky. In fact, we stayed for so long that we saw the clear sky full of stars start to emerge. Jake showed me how to do long exposure photography so we played around with the camera some more, capturing the Milky Way and some cute shots of the two of us. These pictures look very romantic, though are probably less so if I admit that we had to hold this position for a full minute to match the exposure time and spent most of the time trying not to laugh while attached to each other’s faces. Nothing says romance like almost head-butting your partner because you’re silent-laughing so violently.

Small islands with amazing sunsets and snorkeling and scenery is my joy. I don’t want to make it sound unreasonably perfect – it was humid as fuck so for the most part we were covered in a delightful blanket of sweat. Hiking and cycling around the island could get tiring really fast when it was in the mid-thirties and you were basically drinking the air. It was essentially peak heat by eight in the morning, so if you can’t take the heat, stay off the Seychelles. There was also the perennial beach holiday problem of sand, everywhere – and I mean everywhere. None of these were major issues, obviously, but it wasn’t all stingrays and coconuts. This is a real island, fairly rough and ready, with the huge spiders and humidity to match.

Another potential downside to the Seychelles is the cost. The Seychelles is known for being expensive. After scoring great flights (another art I’ve been practising) I’d done my research, which matched up well with reality. It’s not cheap – it’s no Lithuania – but it’s no more expensive than a country in Western Europe. One thing that is expensive are the restaurants, with a bowl of pasta often costing £15. Ouch. However, as I’d gleaned from the (limited) blogs and websites in advance, there are also many takeaways that serve fresh, local food for £3. This is completely accurate. Our favourite takeaway on La Digue was called Mi Mum’s, which served a chicken zye zye curry so delicious that between each mouthful I just said “this is so good” in disbelief. I’m not really sure how the economics of this arrangement work – perhaps the owners of the takeaways have never been into one of the restaurants to realise that they could charge many rupees more and still be the cheap food option – but regardless, I’m grateful. Creole cuisine is excellent, especially when available for only a few pounds. Also they deep-fry banana bread here which is the kind of innovation the world needs.

We had a very special time on this tiny island. I was worried that the Seychelles in general might be overly manicured, a load of resorts and nothing else – except for the small local guesthouses I hoped were there because we booked to stay in them – but I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. La Digue is an island full of lush jungle, pristine beaches and amazing wildlife. We saw four stingrays. I was so excited but managed to keep it together enough to give them space – I mean, they aren’t called cuddlerays for a reason.

Three days of magic. Onto to Praslin!

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