• Snapshots from a Seychelles sailing spree

    A Sunsail charter in the Seychelles is a truly affordable way for South African travellers to spend quality time with friends and family.

    Earlier this year, I joined vibrant PR personality, Allison Foat (aka Cape Town Diva) & my adventure-loving fiancé Mike Fannin, for  a spectacular and sunshiny sailing adventure in the Seychelles. Read on to gain insight into this delightful traverse through paradise.

    A Sunsail charter in the Seychelles is a truly affordable way for South African travellers to spend quality time with friends and family.

    It provides a degree of flexibility, freedom and fun that is suited to most age groups – probably those above age six (who can swim) and under age 96 (unless the travel bug has hit hard in your geriatric years!)

    The Seychelles archipelago is an ideal all-year-round holiday destination in which young and old “kids” alike will be kept endlessly busy perfecting their various water-sports techniques and even helping to skipper the yacht.

    Chillax or take the rudder

    When you book, select a skilled and qualified skipper if you’d prefer to sit back and soak up the island scenery (including a range of gorgeous sunsets); or go for the self-sail option.

    We found that provisioning the boat was seamless – you can either pre-order food, beverages and other supplies via Sunsail website, or stock up at the numerous island stops along the way. There is also a braai onboard the yacht.

    You could also choose to dine out each evening at a local restaurant – indulgence!

    In true island style, ladies are unlikely to need more than a sarong/sundress and slops while, for the guys, a few pairs of shorts and t-shirts – and rubber-soled flat shoes – should do nicely. You really can pack as little as possible and buy anything you’re short of, more or less, en route. See my “Ultimate Seychelles Sailing” packing list by clicking here…

    Sunsail yachts come fully equipped with fresh bed linen and fluffy towels. While they’re set up to fulfill the role of a floating villa or cabin on water, be sure to specify any favourite water-sports toys – from stand-up paddle boards to fishing rods and sea kayaks.

    Bonus: All yachts come with complementary snorkelling gear, which saw our crew going on the ultimate wake-up snorkel the one morning.

    In fact, we stopped at a different island each day to snorkel, stand-up paddle or explore on foot; this combination of being able to chill out or explore when the energy took you made the entire trip great value for money. In fact, you don’t have to be a great “adventure sports” person to enjoy a sailing trip – just make it as relaxing or as active as you want it to be.

    Smooth sailing

    We soon found that the Seychelles inner islands are situated in a rather protected area of the Indian Ocean, providing perfect conditions for easy sailing or cruising. So: when you fly in and climb aboard, you’ll have access to a selection of Seychelles islands that you’d not have experienced by staying at one of the luxury beach resorts situated on main islands, Mahé and Praslin.

    I thought a downside would have been the limited space on board, but our Sunsail catamaran was far more spacious than expected. A tip: Because Sunsail yachts are intended for groups bigger than a couple, holidaymakers can bring down costs by splitting their vessel with friends or another couple. And the beauty of a charter is that you don’t have to be a qualified skipper – or have any aspirations towards becoming one… But my fiancé, Mike Fannin, and I are working towards our SAS Day Skipper licenses (with a view to doing a 2020 yachting regatta), so our work was cut out for us putting in the skippering hours and doing all the fun stuff, too!

    This Seychelles sailing experience provided pure Indian Ocean bliss. The archipelago is famous for its isolation and paradisiacal scenery, consisting of 43 inner islands and 72 outer islands – where the highest peaks make up part of a submerged ancient continent.

    Highlights for Mike and I included diving together at Octopus Divers, Anse Volbert Côte d’Or Praslin; and sailing with Alison to the car-free island of La Digue, with its idyllic and much filmed beaches, to explore on bicycle.

    For those who can’t sit still, this destination is ideal in that the short distances between anchorages allow for significant time to explore, relax or practise those sailing skills. I’m firmly of the belief that what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you – and since returning, I’ve been inspired to work towards completing my skipper’s course through Atlantic Yachting Sail and Power in Langebaan.

    The highlights

    We visited the following seven main islands, each featuring a couple of not-to-miss sights & experiences which I’ve listed below:

    • Mahé – the capital of Victoria (one of the smallest capital cities in the world), with its clock tower, market for fresh fruit, veggies and fish, and abundant Botanical Garden. At the latter, you’ll see the famous Coco de Mer plant, which because of its unsual shape and size is considered a fascinating object and powerful aphrodisiac.

    • Felicite Island – diving & snorkelling in the crystal clear water; a virtual castaway experience when you hike through the deep jungle to the top of the island.

    • La Digue – our bicycle tour around this car-free island; its spectacular beaches, some of which are only accessible on foot, which have been the backdrop for a range of movies and adverts.

    • Praslin – Anse Lazio, a beach that has been voted the best in the world numerous times; Vallee de Mei, a Unesco World Heritage Site featuring five different hiking trails.

    • Chauve Souris – a snorkelling paradise; watch out for the turtles, abundant small fish and black-tipped sharks, which tend to inhabit the shallow coastal waters near coral reefs.

    • Curieuse Island + Marine National Park – this inner island is managed by the Marine Parks Authority of Seychelles, is protected and has not been developed for tourism or industry. See if you can photograph all of the following: the mangrove forests, Aldabra tortoises, green sea turtles, Seychelles black parrot and more Coco de Mer plants. Visitors often comment on the stark contrast between the vibrant foliage and red soil. For the architecturally inclined, don’t miss the large restored colonial villa, “The Doctor’s House”.

    More info
    For more on sailing charters with Sunsail, plus things to do and see en route, go to https://www.sunsail.co.za. NB: Remember you can hire a skipper or sail yourself: to do the latter, evidence of a Day Skipper’s licence is required.