Tailor-Made Holiday

Cruise the Coralline Seychelles

Explore the remote and unique Aldabra Atoll

18 days

from £11,725pp (excluding flights)

Journey to the forgotten island of Aldabra, known as the 'Galapagos of Africa'. Beginning in Mahe, cruise southeast, island-hopping along this fascinating archipelago. Rich in wildlife in the skies, on land and beneath the waves, this idyllic ocean environment is packed with opportunities. Dive, snorkel and explore on land, using the MV Maya's Dugong as a floating base.

  • Journey to the paradisiac coral atoll of Aldabra, home to giant tortoises and wonderful birdlife
  • Dive or snorkel off some of the greatest underwater sites of the Indian Ocean
  • Set foot on captivating desert islands, home to phenomenal seabird populations
  • Share the experience with just a handful of others aboard the MV Maya's Dugong

ALDABRA

Renowned for its birdlife and thriving population of giant tortoises, this isolated island paradise is the second largest coral atoll in the word. The focal point of the trip, the island is renowned for its wonderful birdlife and large population of giant tortoises. Stay here for three days, exploring below the waves and stepping ashore in search of wildlife. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected area, this fragile ecosystem is accessible only to a few.

THE VOYAGE

On the way too and from Aldabra - the most southwesterly point of the trip - the MV Maya's Dugong will stop off at a number of the small islands that make up the Seychelles Archipelago. These include Silhouette, Desroches, Alphonse, Cosmoledo, Astove and Assumption. Although this ocean voyage covers a vast distance, venturing to the fringes of this desert-island nation, only two days are spent crossing empty seas. By island-hopping from one fascinating atoll to another, have the chance to explore remote, sand-fringed islands – lost amidst the expanse of the Indian Ocean.

DIVING

Beauty exists both above and below the ocean surface, in this mesmerising part of the world. Dive beneath the waves and explore the reefs, sandbanks and channels and lagoons that decorate the edges of these island paradises. The dive schedule will be flexible and relaxed, with time split between diving and other activities. But each island offers its own possibilities – combined they present some of the best diving in the Indian Ocean.

Rich underwater landscapes litter the world beneath the waves, whilst a myriad of colourful marine species flit through the warm waters. The reefs of Cosmoledo are spectacular in their unspoilt vastness, Aldabra’s main channel offers fantastic drift diving possibilities, shoals of butterfly fish shimmer beyond the coralline sands of Assumption, hammerhead sharks and sea turtles cruise past the pristine coral walls below Astove and menacing barracuda stalk the Gorgonian fan corals of Alphonse.

Those wishing to dive will be required to have a PADI Open Water Diver qualification, or equivalent certification, prior to the trip. This course can be completed at numerous locations in the UK and requires no diving experience. On the other hand, snorkelling is available to all.

SNORKELLING

For those who do not wish to dive, snorkelling excursions will be available. The trip’s flexible nature means that the group can easily be split, allowing some to dive whilst others snorkel. And with the abundance of natural beauty beneath the waves, there is much to be seen close to the surface. Snorkelling sites will often differ from the diving locations, showcasing marine life and coral formations at a more accessible depth.

ISLAND VISITS

As well as diving and snorkelling in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, step ashore and explore a number of the islands that litter this scattered archipelago:

  • Land on Silhouette and wander amongst the endangered plant and animal species, including the Seychelles sheat-tailed bat.
  • Experience deserted solitude on the uninhabited atoll of Cosmoledo, rivalling Aldabra for birdlife. Visit the last breeding site for brown boobies and spot rare Madagascar white-eyes.
  • Discover the eerie sailors’ graves and bleached turtle bones that scatter the shores of Astove, before watching Caspian terns dive in a shallow lagoon.
  • Visit the giant tortoises of Aldabra and marvel at the endemic birdlife, including the rare Aldabra rail. Stop at the Aldabra Research Station, explore the mangrove forests and experience the second largest colony of frigatebirds in the world.

THE SHIP

The MV Maya's Dugong is a 40-metre expeditionary vessel unlike any other in Seychelles, with exceptionally high fuel capacity offering the opportunity for long-distance cruises. Both efficient and economical, it boasts large deck space and modern equipment to handle a wide range of tasks on the open sea. 

Originally built as a research vessel by the Canadian government, the Maya's Dugong was completely retro-fitted in the early 2000s as a private yacht, before being overhauled once again in 2009 to accommodate charters and cabin cruise voyages. 

It now serves as an oceanographic and expedition cruising vessel throughout the Indian Ocean, an ideal platform for discovering the islands' most exciting and hard-to-reach places. With just seven spacious air-conditioned guest cabins, each with an en-suite bathroom, the ship is small and exclusive.

WHY WE LIKE IT

This trip offers extraordinary adventure cruising in an area of the world unknown to many. Combining subaquatic exploration with fantastic on-land experiences, it uncovers the many forms of beauty that decorate the Seychelles’ most remote atolls. Dive amongst pristine corals, walk beside giant tortoises and hear the cries of swirling frigatebirds – all whilst cruising through a tropical paradise in comfort.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 11725 £ 750

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Doha

Day 2

Fly Doha to Mahe


The largest island in the Seychelles Archipelago, Mahe is home to the nation's capital, Victoria, as well as the majority of the population. Named after the former French governor of nearby Mauritius, this beautiful beach-fringed island is the entry point for any trip to the Seychelles. It is also a destination in its own right, with marine national parks protecting its southern and western shores.


You will be staying at Carana Beach Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

This morning you are transferred from the hotel to the port at Inter-Island Quay, where you are welc


Embarkation
Transfer to the port and embark. Set sail for Desroches Island.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 4

Visit Desroches Island in the Amirantes
Continue southwest, passing between the Amirante Islands. This group of sand cays and coral atolls were discovered by the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Low lying and littered with reefs, they sit in clear waters of varying depths.

Visit the largest of these islands, Desroches, which lies to the east of the other islands. This coconut-palm-covered atoll is fringed by a drying reef, whilst the menacing Shark Rocks lie to its north. A deep channel leads into the island's tranquil lagoon, allowing safe passage through the treacherous reef.

Explore ashore, walking across coralline beaches into the native vegetation that carpets the island's interior. Tall hardwood trees survive beside shady coconut palms. The immaculate beaches are popular with nesting turtles, with both green and hawksbill turtles frequenting these shores. The island - much like the rest of the Amirantes - is renowned for its lack of endemic land fauna. The only known endemic species is the Delosia ornate cockroach.

In the waters of the lagoon, dive or snorkel amongst the rich, reef-protected waters. Numerous dive sites surround the island, ranging in difficulty. Protected from commercial fishing, these waters teem with life. Spot sleeping stingrays, roaming turtles, nurse sharks and shoals of tropical fish.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 5

Visit Alphonse Island
Enter the Alphonse Group, which lies around 90 kilometres to the southwest of the Amirantes. This small group of islands consist of just Alphonse Island, St. Francois and Bijoutier, with only the first of these inhabited. A small conservation centre has been established here by the Island Conservation Society, in order to help conserve this fragile ecosystem.

Landings will be possible at both Alphonse and The Alphonse Group is remarkable for its migratory bird species, thanks to its isolation. A colony of tropical shearwaters breed here, whilst there are large numbers of crab plovers, Saunder's terns, whimbrels and ruddy turnstones. Rare sociable lapwings, red knots, tufted ducks and common chiffchaffs have all also been sighted here - most for the first time in the Seychelles.

Shaped like an arrowhead, Alphonse Island is decorated with trails of white foam. The diving and snorkelling in these remote waters is remarkable, with the beaches popular nesting sites for turtles. The reefs are used as foraging grounds, ensuring that hawksbill turtles and green turtles are commonly spotted.

Lying on the very outer edge of the Seychelles Archipelago, the Alphonse Group is made up of two coral atolls, the largest of which forms Alphonse Island. It is isolated amidst the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, with the closest island more than 80 kilometres away.

Alphonse Island is the only inhabited island. Shaped like an arrowhead, it is decorated with trails of white foam. The diving and snorkelling in these remote waters is remarkable, with the beaches popular nesting sites for turtles. The reefs are used as foraging grounds, ensuring that hawksbill turtles and green turtles are commonly spotted.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 6

At Sea
Spend the day at sea, crossing the empty ocean that lies between the Alphonse Group and Cosmoledo, the nearest island in the Aldabra Group. Have time to relax and chat with other members of the group.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 7

First Day Visiting Cosmoledo
Arrive at the Cosmoledo Atoll, which sits on the eastern edge of the Aldabra Group. This incredibly remote and rarely visited atoll rivals Aldabra in terms of isolation, coral formations and birdlife. It is made up of 19 uninhabited islands, as well as many other small islets - all ringing a shallow turquoise lagoon.

Set foot on the western island of Menai, which is covered with areas of tall mangrove and home to a deserted settlement. Land birds the Madagascar white-eye, souimanga sunbird and Madagascar turtle dove are all endemic, whilst lizards found here include the Bouton's snake-eyed skink and the Madagascar banded lizard.

Enormous seabird colonies can also be found on the atoll, including populations of red-footed boobies, masked boobies and sooty terns. It remains the last breeding site for brown boobies in the region, whilst a small number of great frigatebirds still breed here.

Dive and snorkel in the waters surrounding the atoll, as well as the central lagoon. The corals here are more intact than almost anywhere else in the Indian Ocean, thanks to the atoll's remote location. The marine life is rich and varied, with the shallow waters of the lagoon an excellent place to spot young turtles.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 8

Second Day Visiting Cosmoledo
Spend a further day diving and snorkelling off the pristine coral reefs that surround the Cosmoledo Atoll.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 9

First Day Visiting Aldabra
Arrive at this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site, an uninhabited coral atoll that accounts for almost one third of the landmass of the Seychelles. This tropical wilderness remains largely unexplored and sees only a handful of visitors each year. Home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises, it is rich in endemic plants and birds.

Regarded as one of the world's greatest natural wonders, Aldabra is the second largest coral atoll on the planet. Four islands encircle a central lagoon that contains numerous smaller islets. The landscape is varied, featuring coral formations, undercut limestone cliffs, sand dunes and sediment beds. The thick, coastal shrub pemphis dots much of the atoll, whilst mangroves border the lagoon and seagrass meadows coat the interior.

Step ashore and explore this fantastic landscape, in the company of a national park ranger. It is littered with wonderful flora, curious wildlife and whirling birdlife. As well as the endemic giant tortoises, the atoll is also home to the world's largest land crab, the coconut crab. Lizards, bats and butterflies thrive in this isolated environment.

The birdlife is fantastic, with last surviving flightless bird of the Indian Ocean, the Aldabra rail, found only on the atoll. Visit the Aldabra Research Station and the mangrove forests, as well as booby and frigatebird colonies. The second largest frigatebird colony in the world can be found here, whilst endemic land birds include Aldabra drongos, Aldabra fodies and Madagascar sacred ibises.

Diving opportunities off Aldabra are numerous. Drift dive the main channels, or dive and snorkel in the lagoon, between the mangroves and off the coral reefs. The beaches are one of the most important green turtle breeding sites in the world, with the surrounding waters rich in turtles. Due to the absence of humans, both marine and terrestrial life is unafraid of visitors. The underwater fauna is varied and stunning, with hundreds of species seen in the undisturbed waters.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 10

Second Day Visiting Aldabra
Spend a further day diving, snorkelling and spotting the giant tortoises that roam this vast coral atoll.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 11

Third Day Visiting Aldabra
Have a final chance to explore the mangrove forests, visit sea bird colonies and spot turtles in the shallow waters of the lagoon.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 12

Assumption
Head south from Aldabra to the smaller island of Assumption. Still recovering from destructive guano mining, this beautiful island no longer has the biodiversity of neighbouring Aldabra.

However, the marine life escaped largely unscathed, meaning that the diving and snorkelling is superb. An arcing sand bank forms one side of the island, beyond which lies one of the most colourful and diverse reefs in the region. In these vibrant waters, spot numerous species, including snappers, butterfly fish angelfish.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 13

Visit Astove Island
Arrive at Cosmoledo's sister island of Astove, which is renowned as one of the best diving sites in the Indian Ocean and remarkable for its peculiar structure. A treacherous reef encircles the island, but drops sharply away after as little as 250 metres.

These sheer coral walls offer fantastic diving and snorkelling opportunities. Hundreds of species of tropical fish can be seen flitting between the coral formations, whilst green turtles are commonly spotted. The reef's bloody past can also be seen, with anchors from wrecked ships decorating the ocean floor.

The island also has a remarkable history, having become home to a colony of shipwrecked slaves in the mid-18th century. Numerous attempts to recapture them failed, with many greed-filled slavers meeting their deserved ends upon the protective reefs.

Eventually, the slaves were evacuated and the island remained largely uninhabited, until a British adventurer, Mark Veevers-Carter, made it his home in the 1960s. However, he survived just a few years and the island was soon abandoned once more.

Step ashore to visit the Veevers-Carter house, an old chapel and other abandoned buildings - all seemingly out of place on this remote coral atoll. Walk across the tranquil landscape to the central lagoon, where it is possible to see Caspian terns diving for fish.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 14

Sail from Astove to Bijoutier.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 15

Visit Bijoutier
Cruise back via the Alphonse Group, this time stopping at Bijoutier - only accessible at high tide. The miniscule Bijoutier is encircled by white-sand beaches that merge into purple reefs. The waters here are especially clear, with unspoilt coral decorating the ocean floor - forests of tall Gorgonian fans litter the reefs. The marine life is also spectacular, with barracudas, stingrays, moray eels, sharks and tuna all regular visitors.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 16

Visit St. Joseph Atoll
Stop at St. Joseph Atoll, part of the Amirantes Islands. Once home to a coconut plantation, this tiny island is now a nature reserve, owned and managed by the Save Our Seas Foundation. Uninhabited and protected, this beautiful atoll is home to numerous wedge-tailed shearwaters.


You will be staying at MV Maya's Dugong, full board

Day 17

Disembark.

Fly Mahe to Doha

Day 18

Fly Doha to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Carana Beach Hotel

Carana Beach Hotel

Carana Beach has been designed to accentuate the wild nature of this unique location, with the view from each of its 40 chalets spilling out onto striking blue seas framed by lush jungle, massive granite pillars and white-sand beach....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Seychelles

Bridget Cohen, Travel Expert

"Bridget had a great knowledge of the areas being looked at and given I have spent time in both countries, it required someone who completely understood the type of camps preferred."

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Illona Cross, Travel Expert

"Illona was quite simply brilliant. She listened and carefully noted what we thought we wanted, made suggestions and came up with an itinerary which suited us down to the ground."

"Excellent personal service; well-informed local knowledge; dependable outcome; quality of experience."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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