July 30, 2022
Alphonse Island – Your Pristine Paradise in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles
After almost 2 weeks exploring the 3 main islands of the Seychelles, our family was treated to something very special – a 4 night stay at Alphonse Island. This is a small, private island out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, just over 1.7 square kilometres in size and surrounded by coconut palms and a large barrier reef. From Mahé, you fly an hour south to get here. On arrival, we were met by the team who whisked us off by golfcart to the main area, where the rest of the staff members were waiting for an official, yet fun welcoming. We were introduced to the whole team, including waiters, activity managers, fishing guides, restaurant managers and the general manager of the resort.
Alphonse Island’s lodgings consist of A-Frame beach bungalows spread along a white, palm tree fringed beach, lapped by turquoise waters. There is a large barrier reef surrounding the island, protecting it against waves and strong currents, making it an ideal spot for snorkelling and for kids to play. Most meals are served at tables outside overlooking the ocean.
The food is fresh and beautifully made. There were always a couple of options for guests to choose from, including a fresh fish dish, a meat dish, and a vegetarian option. Being on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Cristina and I always went for the fish and were never disappointed. The team at Alphonse are very proud of the fact that all fish is caught by the staff on their regular fishing excursions. There is also an incredible veggie garden that the chefs make use of for their meal preparation, and so the majority of what is served comes from the island and surrounding ocean.
Alphonse is renowned as a fishing destination and people from around the world flock here to do some of the planet’s best shallow water fly-fishing, with GTs, bonefish and trigger fish being the main targets, all of which are released back into the ocean. For the non-fishermen like ourselves, there was plenty of other activities to keep us busy during our 4-day stay.
Activities are scheduled throughout the day depending on the time of the year, the tides and the weather. In the evenings, the activities team will discuss the various options on offer the following day to see who is interested in what. Some of the activities have a maximum passenger limit, and so if there are certain things you really want to do, it is best to make sure you book early. Some of the activities are included in the rate, whilst others are at an additional fee.
Whilst on the island, we enjoyed a guided cycle trip with one of the conservationists based on Alphonse. This was an interesting experience as we got to learn more about the history of the island, the incredible work being done by the conservation teams, and the work that is still planned for the future. Being so small, it only took about 45 minutes to cycle around the whole island, and there are no hills to worry about. Cycling is actually the best way to get around, and every guest gets their own bike with a basket in the front to carry towels, snorkelling equipment and snacks as needed.
On one afternoon, we did the guided reef snorkel, which was one of the best snorkelling trips I have ever experienced. We took a small boat to the outer reef, and because the tide was pushing all the clear water in from the deep ocean, we could jump in and just float with the current. The water was crystal clear and teeming with fish of all colours and sizes. I took my 4-year-old daughter with me, and we just floated with the current and enjoyed seeing all the fish, corals and turtles. After about 45 minutes, the boat came through to pick us up and take us back to the island for lunch.
One of the highlights of our stay was the Blue Safari activity. Guests head out past the reef to enjoy an ocean safari looking for whales, dolphins, sharks, manta rays and anything else that lives out in the deep ocean. We quickly came across a large pod of spinner dolphins, who enjoyed riding the waves at the front of the boat. After a little while, the skipper told us to get masks and snorkels on so we could jump in and swim with the dolphins. Once everyone was kitted up, he brought us round to the pod again and we all jumped in.
On another day, we headed out to an atoll nearby, in search of the manta rays who frequent these waters because of the good feeding opportunities. We were sceptical of our sighting chances because the sea was a bit choppy but went out anyway and were rewarded with an amazing sighting of a large manta feeding just below the surface!
One of Alphonse’s specialities is their “flats lunch”, where guests head out by boat to a nearby sandbank in the middle of the sea. As you approach, all you see are some blue parasols and chairs seemingly floating in the ocean, but as you get closer, you can see the sand beneath them. The team was there barbecuing fish and meat, which was served with fresh salad and veggies. As the tide starts to rise, the sandbank seemed to disappear, and we were left sitting with our feet in the water.
Our stay at Alphonse was an incredible experience. The food was amazing and fresh, the staff were attentive and friendly, the accommodation was comfortable and private, and the activities and experiences were unique, “once in a lifetime” outings – the real highlight of our trip.
Travelling with kids is always special, but it can also be stressful. Alphonse’s staff members took that stress away. They were so engaging with our 2 kids and often kindly took them to play so Cristina and I could enjoy a quiet lunch or dinner together. At one point, our 4-year-old was behind the bar serving the guests their daily dose of her favourite cocktail…….”water”!
We were sad to head back to Mahé to connect with our flight home. Our almost 3 weeks island hoping around the Seychelles had come to an end, but knowing we will be back made leaving easier, and the incredible memories we made will last till the next visit and beyond.
Written by Shaun Stanley for Luxury Safari Magazine