La Digue is the fourth largest granitic island of Seychelles after Mahé, Praslin and Silhouette Island. It only covers an area of 10km squared and it is very easy to get around and explore by bicycle. It is the third most populated island in the Seychelles with a population of 2800 people. Most of the community lives on the west coast around the villages of La Passe. There is no airport on La Digue and the only way to get there is via a ferry from Mahe that stops at Praslin on the way.
La Digue was first sighted by the French in 1742 and was named in 1768. The first inhabitants were French colonists who arrived with their African slaves in 1798. Most of the first inhabitants returned to France but some remained and some of the people who live there today still carry their names. The industry back then consisted of producing coral lime, vanilla plantations and making okra from coconuts. The farming traditions still continue today.
The people of La Digue are referred to as Diguois. The first inhabitants were exiled from Bourbon in France for being a part of a political rebellion. They were meant to go to the East Indies but they sneakily bribed the captain of the ship to take them to Seychelles instead.
There are some amazing experiences to be had on La Digue and here are a few of the best.
Fun Things To Do On La Digue
Rent a Bike
There are only 20 vehicles on La Digue and the best way to get around is by bicycle. Good roads and beachy forested paths will lead you all around the island, it’s a lovely way to discover things for yourself and a great way to explore La Digue. Hiring a bike is easy, almost all guest houses and hotels will arrange a bike rental for you and the cost is around R100 per day but cheaper if you hire for a few days or more. Make sure to travel with a torch for cycling at night and check your brakes and gears before you the deal. Sand can be tough to bike in and you’re going to want them working.
In the past, the main industry of La Digue was farming coconuts. It was all centered around L’Union Estate coconut plantation which is found just south of La Passe. L’Union Estate is a World Heritage site and one of the most popular places on the island. This is partly due to having to go through the estate to get to the famous beach of Anse Source D’Argent.
The estate is full of history and has a huge amount to offer. It is well worth popping on your way to the beach. There is an old French colonial-style Plantation House and a traditional Copra Mill, which is one of the only working copra mills in the Seychelles. While visiting, you can watch and learn about how coconut oil extracted. Within the estate, there is also a colonial graveyard where a lot of the original settlers of La Digue were buried, vanilla plantations, a boatyard, a pen of giant tortoises and a spacious paddock where you can rent horses.
We all know the beaches of the Seychelles are some of the best, in fact, Anse Source D’Argent is listed as one of the best beaches in the world and is found by going through the L’Union Estate. The beach is beautiful but it does get very busy and at high tide, there isn’t much sand to see. In fact, quite a lot of the beaches in La Digue have a similar issue of being a little busy. Lucky you have that bicycle. If you want to find your own slice of paradise then hop on a cycle to the southwest side of the island and spend some time on Petit Anse and Grand Anse. The beaches are covered in white sand, the bluest of seas and palm trees. Remember to take some water and a picnic for your day out as there isn’t much down there, oh and your snorkel gear. The snorkeling from the beach is excellent.
Veuve Natural Reserve is hidden away in the middle of the island. The forested national park is home to the Black Paradise Flycatcher, known as veuve, or widow, to the locals. The forest is the last refuge of the endemic Black Paradise Flycatcher and if you’re lucky enough, you might see this shy creature flying through the Indian almond and takamaka trees. It’s free to get into the park and there are well-marked walking trails that will take you through the forest. You can try and convince a ranger to come with you and they will happily show you around and teach you about the flora and fauna. Fruit bats, moorhens, and some rare terrapin species also call the national reserve home. At the gate is a small Information Centre and it’s worth poking your head inside. It is the only environmental office on La Digue and has a huge amount of information about the island’s unique flora and fauna.
Veuve Nature Reserve is also home to La Digue’s tallest peak, Belle Vue (Eagle’s Nest Mountain) with a summit of more than 300 m (980 ft) above sea level. If you’re feeling active, then a great thing to do is to hike to the summit for sunrise. You’ll have to wake up at around 4 am and undergo a bit of a tiring hike in the dark but it is well worth the amazing view once you’re up there. You can look over the whole island and seeing the sun peak over the sea is something special.
Some of the best snorkeling on La Digue is found at either Anse Sévère or Anse Gaulettes beach, both of which are found on the northern tip of the island. It’s recommended to bring your own snorkeling equipment as the opportunities to hire them on the island are limited. Hop in near the rocks on either of the beaches and swim through the warm blue waters. You’ll see colorful reef fish, eagles rays and the odd turtle.
For the best snorkeling, you are going to have to leave La Digue. Hop on a boat and head out to the gin-clear waters of The Ile Cocos Marine National Park. The marine park is made up of a group of 3 small coral-fringed islands, including Coco Island that are found around 7km north of La Digue, near the northern tip of Felicite Island. The snorkeling here is some of the best in the area and you can hope to see beautiful coral, huge shoals of fish, hawksbill turtles, parrotfish, batfish, triggerfish, surgeonfish, Moorish idols, and angelfish. The marine park is popular with guests from both La Digue and Praslin, and it can get a little crowded. Try to head out early in the morning to avoid them. You can organize visits through your hotel or by booking with a local taxi boat at the jetty. It costs R200 to enter the marine park and do not lose your ticket as rangers often check.
You shouldn’t miss the chance to dive or try to learn while you are in the Seychelles. The diving is known to be some of the best in the world and you’ll want to see it. The deep blue ocean around La Digue and the neighboring islands provide a range of interesting dive sites for divers of all levels. There is only one dive operation on La Digue called Azzura Pro Dive. They do daily dive trips for experienced divers and also offer courses for beginners. The dive sites of Ave Maria, Shark Rock and, conditions permitting, South Marianne include huge boulders, swim-throughs, and dramatic granite slopes. You can hope to see a huge amount of fish species, sharks, rays, and turtles.
Notre Dame Church of La Digue
The Notre Dame Church of La Digue was built in 1853 and is well worth a visit while you’re cycling around the island. It is open to tourists during the day a great time to visit is on Sunday morning when the church is full of a congregation and hymns can be heard from miles away. It is a religious home for the local people of La Digue who are mostly catholic.
Get Involved In The Nightlife
The people of the Seychelles love a good party and it’s well worth getting involved. On Friday night, the place to be is Tarosa. It is just down from the jetty in La Passe and is an open-air restaurant. Every Friday local bands come and perform traditional and modern music. It has a really fun vibe and the cocktails are yummy too.
If you are looking for more of a local vibe, you can head down to the La Digue Community Centre. On weekends the local Diguois call this their party spot. Tourists are always welcome to join in.
It’s a crime no try out the local cuisine when on holiday and the food in the Seychelles is delicious. It is mostly based around fresh seafood and curries, what could be better? Some of the best places to try out are listed below for you.
If you’re looking for some great local food, head to Lanbousier for lunch. It’s just next door to Anse Source d’Argent beach and is a charming little beach-hut style restaurant. It is a perfect option for lunch when you’re at the beach and they serve typical local dishes at a good price.
If you want somewhere a little special for a romantic dinner then La Combova is a good choice and is found on the roof of Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie resort. Sit amongst the stars on the beautifully decked roof-terrace lounge and sip on delicious wine while waiting for your meal to be prepared. The menu is a fusion of Mediterranean with an Asian Creole twist and they use the best ingredients. You might need to book in advance as it’s popular.