For many, a trip to the Seychelles is firmly on their wish list, and rightly so. There are few holiday destinations as stunningly beautiful. It’s Nature at her most generous with cornflower blue, flawless skies, verdant, richly fragrant hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani adorned countryside, and the palest of shimmering gold sands fringing crystalline waters of exquisite turquoise, aquamarine and emerald hues.
One of the jewels in this magical place is Desroches Island, a pearl in the Indian Ocean, just 5degrees south of the Equator, and 230km southwest of the main island, Mahé. For peace and tranquillity, and the feeling of leaving the stresses and incessant pace of the ‘real world’ far, far, behind, it’s pretty matchless – not only for its remoteness, but its vibe too. Being privately owned, with just a single resort, just 6km long by 1km wide, and one of only two of the Outer Islands to be inhabited, tranquillity and privacy are assured.
Luxurious to a fault – but refreshingly unpretentious, it has a laid back atmosphere where, if you wish to take a leisurely picnic lunch barefoot in just a sarong on the beach, or dress up a little for tropical cocktails and dinner, it’s fine. With a number of gorgeous palm-fringed beaches to choose from, it’s easy to find a secluded corner to enjoy. You can also closet yourself away in one of the luxury villas that are hidden in their own lush gardens, completely free from prying eyes, and make the most of the private pool and amenities there – the perfect place to relax in the sun with your Kindle and enjoy all the best-sellers you’ve not had time to read at home. With views from your deck and pool across the garden to the beach and ocean beyond, it’s easy to while away the hours in uninterrupted peaceful bliss.
Should you want to venture out though, there’s a surprisingly good choice of activities, from turtle watching, fishing and kayaking, to scuba diving, sailing, cycling and more. One of the most enjoyable pastimes was pootling about on our bikes through shady groves when the sun got too hot to lay out in, and heading over to see the giant 100 year old free-ranging tortoises and then on to a secluded cove, where under palm trees rustling in a cooling sea breeze, a fantastic picnic lunch would be ready waiting for us. We also loved spending time with the island’s conservationists, and learning about the indigenous species they are trying to protect, and going on morning patrols to check on the turtle nests and seeing these fascinating creatures feeding just a stone’s throw from the shore.
A must is a sunset cruise on the island’s 54-foot catamaran A’mani. Sip champagne, enjoy delicious canapés and wonder at the sky and sea being transformed into a palette of spectacular reds, pinks and golds.
Both game and off-shore fly fishing are said to be some of the very best in the world here – with many guests arriving for just this purpose, as the Desroches Atoll and neighbouring islands of St Joseph and Poivre boast a prolific abundance and diversity of pelagic and reef fish, nourished by the 1,300m Amirante Trench. The island provides the very best latest fishing equipment for its guests to use –for all levels of experience.
At least one day of scuba diving here is a must, as Desroches has the reputation as being the best scuba diving location in the Seychelles. Because it’s located at the centre of a coral atoll and natural marine sanctuary, it’s blessed with flourishing marine life and multi-coloured coral outcrops, including 14 classified dive sites which offer an array of mesmerising wall dives, tunnels, deep caves, passages and swim troughs. The dive team is highly experienced and even if you’ve never done this sport before, you can join in with one of their certified PADI diving courses.
And for Spa lovers, ‘Escape’ is tucked away on its own secluded beach, offering a range of deeply relaxing treatments. Do enjoy a massage there, it’s wonderfully restorative to take time out and be soothed by this and the sound of the sea.
The accommodation is simply excellent. The villas have been artfully designed so they are unobtrusively tucked away in their own grounds with direct beach access. There is a good choice of accommodation size options for singles couples and families, and each makes the most of the views and outdoor living, with large comfortably furnished airy open deck seating areas or patios. The bedrooms are superb – large, airy and super comfortable. Bathrooms a spacious masterpiece in marble, with free-standing bath tubs and both in and outdoor showers.
Dining at Desroches is a delight. Each night there is a different culinary theme, enabling you to indulge in a host of native and international cuisines, making the most of local ingredients and the abundance of Seychelles seafood, as you would expect. It’s possible to have a private dinner prepared for you in the comfort of your own villa too.
In all, for anyone seeking a luxurious and stunning tropical sanctuary from the craziness of work and family life, Desroches Island is very, very hard to beat.