La Digue (10,1 km2, about 2000 residents) lies 43km to northeast of Mahe and is a close neighbour to Praslin (6kms). La Digue’s tallest peak culminates at 333 m. La Digue is the fourth largest island in Seychelles, just behind Silhouette, but third island after Praslin, in terms of population.
La Digue was first discovered in 1744 by Lazare Picault. Initially named «L’Île Rouge» because of the red reflections of the granite at sunset it was renamed La Digue the name of a vessel from the explorer Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne’s fleet, sent by the French to explore Seychelles’ granitic islands in 1768. The small village of La Passe is the center of activity on the island. La Digue is accessible by ferry (20 min. from Praslin, Baie Ste Anne jetty) or helicopter. The most popular means of transport are cycling, walking and the typical oxcart. There are very few cars.
La Digue offers some of the best lanscapes of the Seychelles. Every visitor will forever remember Anse Source d’Argent with its lagoon, calm and shalow water set in a spectacular granite boulder garden. La Digue’s gentle way of living is one of the jewels of the island. The second is the ornithological reserve, sheltering 2 rare species: soft water turtle (soupap) and the last couples of «black paradise flycatcher» ( ‘Veuv’ in creol).
For those who cherish nature you will be overwhelmed by the exceptional flora (orchids,vanilla, takamakas, hibiscus, nepenthes etc...). A walk up the summit of Nid d’Aigle is a must. You will see spectacular views of the Ocean and the nearby islands.
Snorkeling lovers will find all they need at Anse Sévère. Deep sea diving remains one of the most popular activities of the island. The satellite islands (Félicité, Marianne, Sisters) of La Digue are ideal places for boat excursions. Do not miss Coco, a magic location.
DISCOVER LA DIGUE
National Heritage Site, National Monument, Eco tourism site.
Administration : Tel (248) 423 42 40
Entrance office: Tel (248) 423 47 70
Entrance daily ticket: 115 SCR (cash, visa, mastercard)
Entrance ticket sale: 07:00 -17:00, after hours access is possible for those who already obtained an entrance ticket earlier that day. On presentation of 3 tickets, the fourth is free of charge. Union Estate is full of things to discover:
- COCONUT PLANTATION Most parts of this tree can be used. Infused, the roots can be used as a diuretic, the trunk for construction, the bark for composting. The leaves for brooms and roofs, the sap is made into an alcoholic drink (calou), the nut contains the water and the white flesh is used in cooking, the shells are used for bbqs, the shredded husks for mattresses and finally the white flesh is made into coprah from which is extracted coconut oil.
- VANILLA PLANTATION Here it is possible to buy both dried vanilla and the essence.
- TORTOISE PEN This is not to be missed, and is at the heart ofll’Union Estate, just in front of a gigantic “granite boulder” considered to be the biggest rock in the Seychelles. There are around 15 giant tortoises waiting for people to feed them their left over fruits.
BOAT YARD Traditionally fishing boats were built from takamaka wood. Traditions are being lost with the passage of time. Technological advances and the time factor also mean that such boats are hardly built anymore and the yard no longer has its “raison d’etre”. However it is still an important part of La Digue history.
- PLANTATION HOUSE This magnificent colonial house with its thatched roof was the setting for the film “Goodbye Emmanuelle”. It houses the newly established “Maison de l’Histoire”. You can visit the house from 08:00 to 16:00.
- TRADITIONAL COPRAH FACTORY Here one can follow the different steps in the production of coprah. The husk is removed from the coconut, then the nut is broken open, the white flesh is removed and dried in a huge kiln fired up with wood and coconut husks. The dried white flesh, called coprah is then milled to produce coconut oil. An ox is used to operate the mill. About 35 kg of coprah and 2hrs of milling produces one pail of coconut oil..
- OLD COLONIAL CEMETERY Here is where the first inhabitants of La Digue were laid to rest. Their names, hardly legible on the headstones due to the passage of time, attest to the French origin of the first settlers of La Digue.
This 300m peak is the highest point of La Digue. It is a 3h return walk and gets its name from rocks at its summit that are in the form of a nest. Although steep, the first part of this trail is easy as it follows the main road. The Restaurant and bar Belle Vue offers you a break to admire the view of the forest below leading into the plain and the sea with Praslin on the horizon. The next part of the trail is steeper but an exceptional view awaits you at the summit where you can discover all the neighbouring islands: Marianne, Felicite, Ile Coco, Sister Islands, Praslin...
National Park Authority, Anse Reunion Tel (248) 278 31 14 - 272 30 84
The reserve is open from Monday to Friday and closed the weekend and public holidays. It offers a 40 to 45 minutes walk on a well maintained path.
Information center opening hours: 08:00-12:00
Open 13:00-16:00. Free guided tour on request.
The Special Reserve was officially opened in 1982 to provide breeding and feeding habitat for the Seychelles Black Paradise Flycatcher, known locally as Vev. It is Seychelles most threatened bird species and is listed as Critically Endangered (World Conservation Union, IUCN).
The male is characterised by black plumage, two long central tail feathers and a blue eye ring and bill. The female and juvenile have a black head, creamy white and chestnut under parts and chestnut upper parts and tail. Breeding can occur throughout the year. Only one egg is laid. The translocation of 23 adult birds to Denis Island was conducted in 2008. The first chick successfully fledged on Denis Island in 2009. Although a recently translocated population on Denis island is slowly increasing, the bulk of thepopulation remain on the island of La Digue, and there are no prospects for any further translocations owing to the lack of suitable islands and the resistance of the La Digue community totranslocations.
COCO ISLAND MARINE PARK
Next to Mariane island, three splendid uninhabitated
islands surrounded by a coral reef form one of the most extraordinary site of the area. Coco island is an underwater paradise and surely one of the best snorkeling spot of the archipelago. Access to the island in 200 SCR - free for children under 12.
ANSE BONNET CARRE
At the south west tip of the island, this heavenly little cove is calm and intimate and is only accessibleon foot.
South east side, it is only accessible by trail from Anse Fourmis or Grand Anse – 30mins. The unspoilt beauty of this beach is really worth the effort, but swimming is dangerous between May and October.
On the East coast, from here & at low tide, you can easily reach Anse Caiman & carry on to Anse Coco.
ANSE LA REUNION
On the north west coast, this long beach has calm waters and is great for a relaxed swim.
This exceptional cove is protected by amazing granite formations but a guide is recommended.
Situated on the north east tip, this beach is perfect for snorkelers and swimmers.
A fantastic beach a bit further than Anse Source d’Argent and far less busy.
Lovely small beach which not very busy, sea always calm and access is very easy, ideal for a gentle swim and R&R.
ANSE SOURCE D’ARGENT
On the south west coast of the island, this beach with its unique beach landscape makes it one of the
most photographed beaches in the world.
You will find this beach behind the boatyard, the sea is always calm and swimming here is great all year round.
Situated on the south east coast, this magnificent beach is the longest of the island. However swimming is dangerous from May to October.
Facing the south east, this beach is reachable only on foot. Unspoilt, isolated and often deserted.