Travellers to Seychelles often wonder which islands they should include on their itinerary. After having been there, I can safely say that all three of the country’s main public islands – Mahe, Praslin and La Digue - are must-visit destinations. We almost left La Digue out of our itinerary and I can see now that it would have been a huge mistake.
Named after the ship of an early explorer, La Digue is the fourth largest and third most populated island in Seychelles. Spanning approximately 10 km, it has a population of around 3 000 people. This quaint, picturesque town with world-famous beaches, French colonial architecture and a laid-back island lifestyle will take you back in time and charm you.
We visited La Digue on a day trip from Praslin Island.
There is no airport in La Digue, only a helipad. The most popular way to travel there is by ferry, though.
We boarded a ferry to La Digue Island from the Cat Rose jetty in Baie St Anne on Praslin Island. It was a short but scenic 15 minute ride. If you are travelling from Mahe, you will need to get to Praslin first then proceed to La Digue.
There are several ways to get around La Digue. Until recently, there were no motor vehicles on the island and the main modes of transport were ox carts and bicycles. Now you will see a few taxis and modified vans on the main road, which can be pre-booked. You can also book a golf cart with a driver for a day tour of the island.
Most people rent bicycles near the jetty to get around. However, we chose to walk in order to see more along the way.
Our destination was L’Union Estate, one of the main attractions in La Digue. Originally a colonial coconut and vanilla plantation, it is now a national heritage site and home to a world-famous beach. Once you get there, pay the entrance fee and enter the estate.
A leisurely walk through palm-tree lined pathways and past coconut and vanilla plantations will take you to Anse Source d’Argent, one of the most photographed beaches in the world. More like a series of beaches, it is world-renowned for its stunning scenery and has been featured in countless movies and advertisements. Huge granite boulders, powdery white sand and clear turquoise waters combine to form a unique landscape, ideal for snorkeling, swimming or relaxing.
During low tide, you can walk around the rocks and explore the different coves. Walk through the rain forest behind the beaches right to the end to find more secluded spots.
There are a few stalls on the beach selling fruit drinks. I had a freshly plucked coconut.
One of the most popular activities at Anse Source d’Argent is kayaking in 100% transparent kayaks. You can see the vibrant marine life in the clear, shallow waters while enjoying panoramic views of the coastline and the granite rock formations, on a Robinson Crusoe tour.
If you’re lucky enough to be there in the evening, then Anse Source d’Argent is also a great location for sunset watching, as the sky transforms to shades of pink, purple, red and orange.
We saw many giant Aldabra tortoises in Seychelles but the biggest collection was at L’Union Estate. They are kept in a huge enclosure surrounding a 750 million year old granite monolith known as the Giant Union Rock. There were leaves at hand to feed them. We even saw a mating pair there and they were loud!
Once the home of a Mauritian family who worked on the estate, the Plantation House is one of the oldest French colonial houses on the island. The wooden house has a thatched roof and now houses a museum showcasing furniture from the colonial era as well as a small art gallery.
This is where coconuts were converted to coconut oil. The process involved removing the husks and flesh, then drying the flesh in a wood-fired kiln and milling it in an ox-operated mill to produce coconut oil.
There are two restaurants at L’Union Estate – Old Pier Cafe and Lanbousir. We ate at the latter – a small Creole restaurant near the beach, and thoroughly enjoyed the fresh seafood dishes. The prices were also quite reasonable considering that it is in a prime tourist area.
On entering the estate, you will see a small cemetery where some of the island’s first inhabitants are buried. Among them are the Mellon family from Reunion and a group of political refugees from present-day Reunion who were exiled to La Digue in the 18th century. One of them was Bertrand Guilhemet who was exiled after attempting to assassinate Napoleon Bonaparte.
The estate also has a farm area and some kiosks selling spices and souvenirs.
This small, but scenic nature reserve in the middle of the island has several walking trails. It is also one of the last few places in the world where you can see the rare black paradise flycatcher bird.
La Digue has other beautiful beaches like Grand Anse, Anse Severe and Anse Cocos, which are also worth visiting.
Hire a golf cart for the day to take you around the island. They charge around SCR 2000.
Our day was over too soon and it was time to head back to Praslin. La Digue was one of the most unique places we’ve ever visited and we plan to stay there for a few days on our next trip to Seychelles.