The Outer Islands of Seychelles are further away from Africa and are known to be some of the most unspoilt, beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean. While the main beauty of these islands lies in the fact that they're mostly uninhabited and provide the perfect getaway, the islands are also known as some of the best spots for diving and fishing. Fly fishing is extremely famous on the islands, and it provides a diverse range of fish species. Aside from this, the Outer Islands are also famous for diving, wildlife, flora, snorkelling and other such activities.
The Outer Islands of Seychelles are divided into four main groups namely - Amirante Group, Alphonse Group, Farquhar Group and Aldabra Group of Islands. The Southern Coral Islands also form a part of the Outer Islands though they do not fall into the category of any of the four groups. The Islands are mainly coralline cays, reef islands and atolls which are around 10 degrees south of the equator.
Discovered by Vasco De Gama, Amirante Group of Outer Islands are closest to Mahe and include a total of 11 main islands. Out of these 11 islands, Desroches is the biggest and most accessible one. Desroches was included in the list of the top 10 remote destinations in the world and has lived up to the title. The island lies 230 kilometres south-west of Mahe and is a continuous 8 kilometre stretch of white sand beaches, coconut trees and stunning beauty. Also taking up most of the island is the Desroches Island Resort which provides luxury 5-star accommodations to visitors. Aside from providing a luxury experience, the resort also facilitates activities such as windsurfing and kayaking for its guests.
The best thing to do at Desroches is to make the most of some of the best dive sites in the world. Diving and snorkelling is big in this part of Seychelles and Desroches is probably the best place to indulge in the activity. The Desroches Drop is a renowned site amongst divers across the world. The best time to visit Desroches for diving is from November to April.
Other Island & Atolls
Aside from Desroches, Amirante Group of the Outer Islands is home to Poivre Atoll which is its largest atoll. Poivre is made up of three islands - the Poivre, South Island and Florentin and is best known for its deep sea fishing. The Remire Island or Eagle Island, on the other hand, is 15 metre high trees, chalets, and the wide variety of birds. D'Arros Island is also famous for its sky-high 27 metre trees and the sand cays, sea turtle and several seabirds that consider this island their home. Saint Joseph Atoll and the African Banks also form a part of the Amirante group. While the former is made up of 14 islets on the eastern edge and known for the gathering of stingrays, blue mud crabs, lobsters and oysters, the latter is popular due to the fact that it has made its name as a refuge for seabirds.
The Alphonse Group of the Outer Islands consists of mainly two atolls - Alphonse Atoll and St. Francois Atoll. The Alphonse Atoll is a 16 kilometre long stretch of untouched sand. The Atoll that was previously a coconut plantation is now home to the Alphonse Island Resort which provides luxurious stays to all who visit the islands. Aside from this, the Alphonse Group is known for being a refuge to a variety of migratory birds, as well as having the best flying fish in the world. These flying fish range across approximately 60 different species. The fishing experience provided on these atolls is also exclusive as the resort owns the fishing rights and allows only a group of 12 people per week.
Approximately 700 kilometres from Mahe, the Farquhar Island Group was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Joao De Nova. The island group is made up of the Providence Atoll, Farquhar Atoll, St. Pierre Islet and the submerged Wizard Reef. St. Pierre Island remains mostly untouched and hence beautiful making it almost impossible to anchor a boat and is therefore uninhabited. Providence Atoll, on the other hand, is made up of Providence, the Main Island, and Cerf Island. Providence Island also forms the northern tip of Farquhar and is known for its shallow lagoons and the largest gathering of Grey Herons in the world.
Farquhar Atoll consists of nine forested islands that surround a 14 metre deep lagoon which is one of the main attractions. The sand dunes on these islands are also appreciated and reach the height of 10 metres. These islands are mainly famous for the fly fishing and deep sea fishing as well as snorkelling in the lagoon.
The Aldabra Group of the Outer Islands is the most remote group of Islands in the Indian Ocean. These islands are closer to Madagascar than they are to Mahe but are still counted as Seychelles territory. The four main atolls of the group include Astove Atoll, Cosmoledo Atoll, Assumption Atoll and Aldabra Atoll. Astove Atoll is a gem of an island and makes history due to the fact that an actual pirates treasure was found here whereas the Assumption Atoll is famous for 20 metre high sand dunes and limestone boulders.
The Aldabra Atoll is the one that takes everyone's breath away in this island group. Marked as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aldabra Atoll is home to around 100,000 giant tortoises which makes approximately 95% of the world's total giant tortoise population. What makes this place more special is the fact that it is the world's largest raised coral atoll. This uniqueness and the fact that the Aldabra Group is quite literally a safe haven for many flora and faunas make it compulsory for individuals wishing to visit the place to get a special permit.
Travelling to Outer Islands
All island groups can be visited with the use of a boat or a jetty from some nook, though it may be slightly more difficult for certain groups.
Farquhar- since Farquhar has an airstrip, it is possible to fly in a chartered plane. The flight takes around 1 hour 45 minutes from Mahe.
Amirante- Amirante is also equipped with an airstrip at Desroches which makes air travel possible. Individuals wishing to visit Desroches (or Amirante) can also take the jetty which leaves 5 times a week from Mahe.