Sainte Anne Marine National Park: Six Islands for Snorkelling and Diving
If ever there were a picture postcard destination for a snorkelling or diving holiday, you’d go far to beat Sainte Anne Marine National Park. Comprising six idyllic islands surrounded by the Indian Ocean, this is a must for your personalised Seychelles holiday.
Snorkelling and diving in Sainte Anne Marine National Park
Located to the north of Mahe Island in the Seychelles, Sainte Anne Marine National Park is a veritable feast for the senses. Surrounded by vivid reefs jam-packed with colourful fish, sea turtles and vibrant displays of seagrass, these islands are the perfect base for keen snorkelers and scuba divers. Off the coast, you’ll find dive sites that are crying out to be explored and there are underwater adventures suited to both novices and experienced divers.
The park was established in 1973 and was the first official marine national park in the Indian Ocean. Although there’s a huge amount to see under the surface of the water, the highlight is undoubtedly the vast colony of Hawksbill sea turtles, which graze leisurely on the verdant seagrass meadows. There’s an incredible variety of soft and hard corals, and the colours are mind-blowing. The good news is that you can enjoy incredible views and once-in-a-lifetime experiences without a diving certification. If you’ve got a snorkel and a mask handy, you won’t be disappointed with the sights that greet you when you bob your head under the water. Species you can expect to see zipping around the clear waters include reef fish and yellow snapper.
After a day at sea, you can kick back and enjoy incredible vistas of bottlenose dolphins flipping in and out of the water from the golden shores.
Exploring the islands
The islands of Sainte Anne Marine National Park offer visitors an array of experiences. The largest island, Sainte Anne, was colonised by the French in 1770 and is dominated by a grass-covered hill that stands 246 metres tall. Today, the island is home to a luxury hotel and access to beaches is often restricted due to the presence of nesting turtles. The second largest island is Cerf Island. Cerf Island is famed for its traditional Creole restaurant, pristine beaches and shallow, clear, warm waters, which are perfect for snorkelling. Moyenne Island is a privately-owned land mass, which boasts a popular restaurant and an impressive collection of bird species. Long Island is a favourite haunt for tourists, and small but perfectly formed, Ile Cachee, provides access to a well-known dive site, which is accessible only when the northwest trade winds are playing ball.
When to visit
The Seychelles is a year-round destination for divers and those who are keen to snorkel during their stay in paradise. The sea temperature is pleasant throughout the year and the climate is tropical. You can expect the odd downpour during the rainy season, which runs from December to March, but the sun usually follows pretty quickly. The average water temperature is 27-29 degrees.