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The myth of the Garden of Eden is said to have its origins in the Seychelles. And, whether that's true or not, the islands of the Seychelles certainly look the part, and inspire enough sensual and romantic dreams to make these islands a top honeymoon haven. About 1,600 kilometers/1,000 miles north of Madagascar, this French speaking, 115-island archipelago of dreamy beaches and palm-covered hillsides is even dreamier under the water, where your heart will skip a beat for a different reason. Manta rays, turtles, large grouper and sharks, soft corals and abundant schools of fish patrol over walls, through coral and granite canyons. Whale sharks pass through twice a year, once in August and they're also seen basking beneath the surface from October to January. When not diving, several of the world's top rated beaches, including Anse D'Argent on the island of Praslin, give you plenty of excuse to loll in the shallows and nap with your loved one. Giant tortoises, even more than in the Galápagos, can be found on Fregate, North Island and in Aldabra. But, everywhere you go you'll feel that electric ripple of tropical romance.

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Destination Information

When to go:

Year-round; diving is best April/May and October/November

Marine Life Seasons:

Whale Sharks are common visitors to Seychelles waters between October and April.

When to Get the Best Deals:

April to October.

What to Pack:

3/2 mm wetsuit, insect repellent, sunscreen, sturdy walking shoes that can get wet, DAN card.

Water Temperatures:

Seasonal averages: 26°C/78°F in winter and 30°C/89°F in summer.

Air Temperatures:

Seasonal averages: 27°C/82°F to 29°C/85°F year-round.

Currency:

Seychelles Rupee (SCR). Credit cards are widely accepted.

Visa/Passport Requirements:

Valid passport; check with local immigration office for visa requirements.

Departure Tax:

Included in your airfare.

Immunizations:

None required.

What to Eat:

You'll find lots of seafood, spices, rice and coconuts in the local cuisine, with Indian, Chinese, French and African influences. Try the grilled fish basted with a crushed ginger, chili, and garlic sauce or a spicy coconut curry with octopus. There are a wide variety of tropical fruits to try including jackfruit, avocados, papaya and jamalac - a soft skinned, cone-shaped fruit that tastes like apple.

What to Drink:

Seybrew and Ecu are the locally brewed beers and Coco d' Amour is the well-known creamy coconut liqueur. There are local alcoholic brews, like toddy and calou, made from coconut sap, but you're not likely to find them on restaurant or bar menus. The locally bottled mineral water is Eau de Val Riche.

Top Adventures/Shopping/Culture:

Hike through the Valle de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the famed coco de mer palm is found; Anse d'Argent, perhaps the most beautiful beach in the world on La Digue; see the Giant tortoises on Fregate Island or Aldabra; birdwatching.

Custom and Culture:

These islands have attracted people from the four corners of the earth, with each of them contributing to today's vibrant multi-ethnic culture.

Top Festivals/Events:

Subios Underwater Festival, October; Festival Kreol, October; Seychelles Sailing Cup, January.

Electricity and Internet:

The voltage is 220 to 240 volts/50 Hz; Internet is available at the hotels and resorts.

Drink the water?

Safe in most developed areas.

Language:

Creole, French and English. Italian and German spoken in some areas.

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Amazing Marine Life

Clownfish:

Several species are found sheltering among the tentacles of an anemone.

Sea Turtle:

Hawksbill turtles can be found swimming in leisurely fashion or napping under ledges on most reefs

Whale Shark:

While the "whale" reference in its name refers to its mammoth size (up to 12 meters/40 feet), this spotted goliath is actually the world's largest fish.

Moray Eel:

Most often found in holes, caves, and wrecks, moray eels sometimes venture out so divers can see their entire snakelike length.

Napoleon Wrasse:

Colorful, large and friendly, these big wrasse are always a thrill to encounter.

Nudibranchs:

A long list of nudibranchs inhabit these waters, including the Spanish dancer.

Lionfish:

Striking in appearance with orange-and-black stripes and frilly venemous spines, these fish remind one more of a tiger than a lion.

African Pygmy Angelfish:

Found off the island of Astove, sighting this rare fish will give you big bragging rights.

Sharks:

Several species inhabit the Seychelles: silvertips, grey reefs and nurse sharks.

Longnose Hawkfish:

Look closely in the sea fans to find the longnose hawkfish hiding in the branches.

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Top Dive Spots

Shark Bank:

Shark Bank is a unique shallow area midway between Mahe and Silhouette Island. Granite gullies and boulders protect a resident population of reef fish and invertebrates, with schools of yellow snapper and big-eyes visiting regularly. The site is open to current and attracts schooling jacks, barracuda, stingrays and reef sharks and whale sharks in season.

Ennerdale Wreck:

This British Fleet Auxiliary tanker foundered in 1970 on the Ennerdale Rocks. The vessel's stern protects a wide range of reef fish, schools of yellow snappers, brown morays, scorpionfish and a multitude of invertebrates. Pelagic visitors include eagle rays, stingrays, reef sharks and whale sharks in season.

Brissare Rocks:

This remote granite rock formation shelters schools of yellow snappers and a multitude of reef fish. This is also the home of some of the largest brown morays in the area as well as a host of invertebrates. Currents attract schooling pelagics, stingrays, hawksbill turtles, reef sharks and whale sharks in season.

L'Ilot:

This site's topography features grooved gullies, large granite boulders, archways, and swim-throughs heavily encrusted with soft corals. Located in a regular current stream, the site boasts prolific fish and invertebrate life, with visits from schools of big-eyes, turtles, sharks and whale sharks. Also a good night dive.

Grouper Point:

Dramatic granite boulders hard coral formations at this site drop to a sandy bottom at 18-27 meters/60-90 feet, sheltering reef fish, groupers, occasional moray eels and hawksbill turtles. Also watch for reef sharks, jacks and whale sharks during the season.

Dredger:

This wreck was purposely sunk by the local divers association, becoming a haven for marine life, including a wealth of invertebrates and large black groupers. Pelagic visitors include marlin and wahoo.

Twin Barges Wreck:

These two wrecks, purposely sunk at the foot of the Corsair Reef by the local divers association, are heavily encrusted with hard corals, fan corals and sponges. They are the residence of a flotilla of a dozen lionfish as well as shelter for a wealth of marine life and invertebrates. Although a slightly deeper dive, it is a favorite night dive site.

Bay Ternay Marine Park:

This site features hard coral formations, reef fish, moray eels, anemones and other invertebrates, hawksbill turtles, and schools of jacks and gill raker mackerel. Be aware of the Marine Park Regulations for divers.

Aquarium:

This reef is comprised of two huge coral bommies flanked by large low-lying patchwork reefs, and is, as the name suggests, home to an abundance of reef fish. Look for the large carpet anemone at the top of one of the bommies, with its attendant Seychelles clown fish.

Chuckles:

Almost at the North Western end of Beau Vallon Bay, this granite reef is incised with gullies with an adjoining granite boulder field. Subject to regular current streams, the rocks are heavily encrusted with soft corals and fan corals. The steep-sided gullies shelter a lots of reef fish and invertebrate life. Also a good night dive.

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