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Scuba Diving in the Seychelles

CREDIT: Polly Polly Philipson

Start planning your next dive trip! Today you will learn about diving in the Seychelles.

PART 1: OVERVIEW OF SCUBA DIVING IN THE SEYCHELLES

The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 idyllic islands that entices visitors with tropical, white sands, turquoise water, and some seriously good scuba diving. 41 mid-oceanic granite islands make up the Inner Islands - these are some of the oldest on earth and are simply stunning. The Outer Islands consist of 74 exotic coral atolls and beautiful sand cays, offering divers unlimited exploratory experiences on pristine reef systems.

Located in the West Indian Ocean, the Seychelles lies 1600km off the east coast of Kenya, Africa; the country sits between 4-10 degrees south of the equator. The main island of Mahé, at the center of the Inner Islands, is home to some of the Seychelles best beaches and the hub of tourism, travel, and culture. Praslin and La Digue are two smaller, but popular, central islands. The official languages are Seychellois Creole, English, and French.

On the larger granite islands, lush green forests meet the warm equatorial waters; the pristine natural beauty is breathtaking. The pro-active government has protected over 50% of the country as National Parks and Reserves, and scenic guided walking tours are an interesting activity. The Seychelles has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aldabra - the world's largest raised coral atoll; and Vallée de Mai, on Praslin, which is home to the famous Coco-de-mer nut. Conservation efforts of endemic flora and fauna are exceptional, and many rare species exist on the islands.

A year round destination, the Seychelles do not experience any extreme weather changes, as they predominantly lie outside the cyclone belt. The lighter trade winds blow through the islands during November-May; the seas are fairly calm at this time and the diving is good. The rainiest months are December-February, creating a hot and humid climate until April. June-October is the coolest season; stronger winds make the sea more challenging for diving conditions, although the northern part of Mahé is generally unaffected.

The air temperature hovers between 24-32 Celsius, depending on the time of year. Water temperature ranges from 25-29 Celsius, with July being the coolest month. Long 3mm wetsuits offer suitable thermal protection against the deeper thermoclines. The underwater visibility is best during the calmer months from November to May.

PART 2: DIVE SOTES, MARINE LIFE & ENVIRONMENT IN THE SEYCHELLES

The diverse scuba diving in the Seychelles ranges from exquisite coral reefs to wall dives; granite rock formations to wrecks. Drift diving is common due to the stronger currents that occur in the southern islands. The coral is healthy and abundant, with gigantic gorgonian fans and barrel sponges decorating the reefs. Marine life is prolific - divers can see everything from huge whale sharks and manta rays, to colonies of green sea turtles, and rare macro life.

The Inner Islands are part of a shallow plateau; average underwater depths are between 8-30 meters, and conditions are perfect for certification training and fun diving. The Outer Islands have dramatic drop offs, giving more experienced divers the opportunity to go 40 meters as recreational level divers.

The northwest dive sites of Mahé are dive-able for the majority of the year, and best during March to December. Grouper Point is at the east tip of the Bay Ternay Marine Park and a favorite with divers. The depth ranges from 6-30 meters; large granite boulders are decorated by hard coral formations, leading down to the sandy bottom. Reef fish, grouper, eels, and turtles are commonly sighted, with reef sharks and schooling pelagic occasionally visiting the area. Whale sharks can be seen during the Whale Shark season. Willy's Rocks/Bay is another great site for congregating whale sharks.

The northeast dive sites of Mahé are only accessible during the months of December-March. The sites in this area are suitable for all levels of divers with average depths of 15 meters. Schooling pelagic, reef sharks, turtles, and whale sharks are seen in this area, as well as all the amazing reef fish and invertebrates. Good sites are Beacon Island and Cheedle Rocks.

The purposely sunk selection of wrecks that are located in this area are the Twin Barges, Dredger, and Aldebaran. Depths on the wrecks range from 14-35 meters. Corals and sponges have covered these artificial reefs, and a wide diversity of invertebrates is found on them. Larger pelagic fish are often seen around the wrecks, and black grouper and lionfish are fairly territorial. Ennerdale Wreck is further out, between Mahé and Praslin, and is a British fleet auxiliary tanker. Sitting between 18-30 meters, she is a hive of activity; attracting eagle rays, stingrays, reef sharks, and other pelagic schooling fish.

Long distance dive sites are generally only visited by the land-based dive centers in calmer seas conditions. These sites are most suited to experienced divers, due to the deeper depths and stronger currents. Dramatic granite boulders create interesting gullies and swim throughs; steep walls drop off to sandy bottoms; beautiful hard and soft coral formations provide shelter for reef fish. Barracuda, jacks, and other pelagic fish are common for divers to see. A variety of sharks, turtles, and rays are also frequently attracted to this area. Great sites are Shark Bank, Trois Bancs, and Conception Arena.

PART 3: DIVE SHOPS, AIRPORTS & LOGISTICS OF DIVING IN THE SEYCHELLES

The Seychelles has 10 land based PADI dive centers - they range from PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centers to PADI Dive Resorts. Many charter boat operators will offer scuba diving packages, as registered PADI Dive Boats. The Outer Islands are serviced by a selection of scuba diving liveaboard operators too. Mahé Island and Silhouette Island have the only recompression chambers in the Seychelles.

PADI 5 Star Dive Resort, Big Blue Divers, is based at Beau Vallon Bay on Mahé Island. Owner-instructors Gilly and Elizabeth have a team of professional and friendly Seychellois staff. PADI courses from beginner to Dive master (including specialties) can be taught in English, German, French, and Dutch. Small dive groups ensure personal service and high quality attention. Two custom dive boats operate daily-guided diving and snorkeling trips, to both the Inner and Outer Islands; the closest site is 15 minutes by boat, and the furthest is 40 minutes.

Octopus Diver is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort, voted as one of the world's top 100 scuba diving clubs by German dive magazine Unterwasser. Located at Cote d'Or, on Praslin Island, the Curieuse Marine Park is right on their doorstep. This French-owned resort employs a team of passionate and fun Seychellois and international staff. PADI courses from beginner to Assistant Instructor are offered, with nitrox and specialty courses available. Two speedboats cater for the daily-guided diving trips, which are mainly small groups of divers, selected on experience level.

Dive Seychelles Underwater Centre is a PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Resort on Beau Vallon Bay, Mahé Island. Founded in 1976, this is the longest running dive resort in the Seychelles, and they have been instrumental in many of the conservation and research efforts over the years. Owners David and Glynis have a great team of multi-lingual instructors and staff, and David is the Chairman of the Marine Conservation Society. They offer all the PADI courses and run daily-guided boat diving and snorkeling from their 3 custom dive boats. Nitrox is available.

Air Seychelles, Condor, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Kenya Airways, and Qatar Airways all fly into the Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) in Mahé. Air Seychelles offers frequent island hopping flights between Mahé and Praslin. They also service some of the smaller islands such as Bird, Denis, Desroches, and Alphonse Islands. Zil Air is a helicopter charter company that operates transfers and scenic excursions. Taxis, tour buses, and rental vehicles are available on Mahé and Praslin. La Digue has a few taxis and bicycle hire is popular. Ferries travel between Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue.

Written by Polly Philipson
WHY DO DIVERS JOIN DAN?

DAN members have a passion for the water, a quest for knowledge and love of community. They love being part of something bigger. You can join nearly 500,000 divers worldwide and experience valuable benefits to make you a safer, smarter diver.

Divers Alert Network (DAN) is the world’s most recognised and respected dive safety organisation comprised of dive professionals and medical experts dedicated to supporting divers. Through research, medical services, educational programs and global response initiatives

For over 20-years, DAN has created an extensive network capable of providing divers around the world with vital services. Everyday divers rely upon DAN for dive safety information and health guidance. They know that in event of emergency, we’ll be there for them - no matter where adventure takes them.

For over 20-years DAN has been helping divers and we will continue to cultivate a culture of dive safety! Join DAN today and be part of the largest dive safety community.

THREE REASONS WHY PEOPLE JOIN DAN?

CALL & ASSIST


Most divers realise that diving is an adventure sport that may result in injuries as such they want the peace of mind that, in case of a diving emergency, there is a 24-hour hotline to call with membership benefits for the medical services they will need.

COST SAVING

DAN membership is not expensive by most standards. Diving medical advice is offered free of charge and is available 24/7/365. Membership benefits are secondary to any primary medical insurance and include diving medical and travel related cover that are also extremely affordable and very competitive. DAN members also have access to discounts on safety and educational materials.

CULTURE OF CARE

Many divers like being part of an organisation that is so obviously committed towards their safety. Apart from being available as a diving emergency and diving-medical-information line, DAN is always actively campaigning for safety, initiating and supporting safety initiatives, and finding practical ways to make diving safer and more enjoyable.

DAN is a very personal organisation. Callers quickly learn that DAN is not an “institution”; it is a living and vibrant organisation. In many ways, DAN members feel that they are becoming part of a “family” who look out for one another “divers helping divers” as we always like to say.

So, many divers just seem to like the idea of being part of something worthwhile and they are willing to give up some of their discretionary income to be a part of it.

That being said, it is also common knowledge that DAN offers top-rated services and has an exceptional network of experienced diving medical professionals. One call to the DAN hotline and divers find themselves talking to a professional diving doctor who “speaks their language”. This is truly something special. With access to so many likeminded people, DAN is able to arrange evacuation by land, sea or sky if required and help injured divers gain access to specialised medical treatment facilities such as recompression chambers.

In a nutshell! DAN members help support a 24-hour hotline. This hotline offers access to specialists trained in diving medicine and is freely available to members with a diving-related query. The DAN hotline can be called 24/7/365 by a member worldwide in the event of a dive emergency. DAN membership subscription contributes towards the 24-hour emergency and information line. The emergency and diving-medical-information line is freely available to DAN members. So members can call for medical advice on any topic to do with diving or ask to be referred to a health professional knowledgeable in diving medicine.

SO WHY JOIN DAN?

When you support DAN, you support the organisation’s ongoing efforts to reduce dive injuries and improve first response and medical treatment. One hundred percent of DAN’s profits are reinvested in research, medical services and programs that make diving safer for all divers. As a diver, you need DAN and DAN needs you.

DAN offers comprehensive plans that provide protection and peace-of-mind in the event of a dive accident for far less than the cost of an unplanned event.

DAN’s dive accident cover plans are recognised worldwide providing secondary coverage of up to R800,000 and paying 100% of eligible expenses.

DAN DIVE COVER VS. MEDICAL INSURANCE

It is true that some medical insurance include cover for diving injuries. However, divers who have tried to go this route soon discover that it is not easy to work with a medical insurance when trying to organise an emergency evacuation for a diving injury. That is simply not the time to discover that your medical insurance is not able to assist you in getting the most appropriate treatment or advice. Their convenient 0800 toll-free number doesn’t work in Zanzibar and even in South Africa, working your way through a multi-prompt menu from a cell phone is not what you need in a crisis. Also, getting documented authorisations takes time and nearly all private emergency service providers now insist on a written Guarantee of Payment (GOP) before responding. That is not surprising given that most aeromedical evacuations in Africa come in at R200 000 or more and even evacuations by ambulance approach R20 000 plus when advanced life support services are involved. Evacuations are costly. Recompression, on the other hand, is not that expensive in Africa. In the rest of the World, it may set you back about R100 000, but in South Africa the cost is usually under R20 000 unless multiple treatments are needed. However, if evacuation and hospitalisation are called for, the costs can be very high.

As a DAN member, all these concerns disappear. One number and you have all the help and cover you need for a diving emergency. The travel and medical benefits are an added bonus, but don’t tear up your medical insurance card just yet. So, should a diver have a medical insurance or be a DAN member? A diver should have both!

WHAT DO YOU RECEIVE WHEN YOU JOIN DAN?

  • Medical Dive Accident - Up to R800,000
  • Cover Evacuation - Real Expenses
  • Assistance International Non-Diving - Up to R800,000
  • Cover Personal Liability - Up to R2,000,000
  • Depth Limit - 40 meters
  • Cover for freedivers & spearfishermen

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