Ready for adventure? We’ve roamed the world’s oceans and lakes to compile this look at eight of our favorite island escapes, from lounging in the palm trees of the South Pacific to paddling with whales in the Bay of Fundy and gazing at grizzlies in Alaska. We’ve also included one escapade that’s so daring, it may never be repeated.
Located 1,500 kilometers off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, midway between the Horn of Africa and Madagascar, the Seychelles are a tantalizing idyll of white sand beaches, ancient granite, lush rainforest, swaying palms and emerald waters. Paddlers exploring the central archipelago’s 32 Inner Islands are spoiled for choice. The spectrum ranges from the main island of Mahé—with 72,000 inhabitants, spectacular foggy forests and a national park around the highest mountain, Morne Seychellois (2,969 feet)—to the tiny atoll of St. Pierre. Just 100 feet across and crowned with palms, the real magic here occurs beyond the beach, where deep currents lure colorful fish of all shapes and sizes to the coral reef and sea turtles glide amid rapt snorkelers.
The islands’ splendor makes them a popular tourist destination, but kayaks offer a passport away from the crowds. Access isolated tropical beaches like Anse Badamier on the national park island of Curieuse, home to hundreds of giant Aldabra tortoises and known as the “very most beautiful beach in the world.”
Explore beyond the world-famous beaches and striking granite boulders of La Digue, paddling into forgotten bays on the island’s far side where local families serve up papaya shakes and Creole curry. Many more islands are uninhabited—nearly 50 percent of the country’s total land area is designated nature re- serve. While you can explore the Seychelles with your own kayaks, it’s hard to beat chartering a yacht with a guide and local skipper. These comfortable sailing vessels are the camper vans of the islands, serving as motherships for kayakers while hitting all the hard-to-reach highlights of the Inner Islands. —Stephan Glocker & Michael Neumann
If you go: There are no readily available sea kayak rentals in the Seychelles. Bring your own boats or spring for Cruises (www.seychelles-cruises.com).
This article was originally published in Adventure Kayak, Volume 16 • Issue 3. Read this issue.