La Digue is an idyllic island for dreamers. The perfect place to escape stress, take the time to laze around, to let your thoughts wander at the rhythm of the waves, lying on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
La Digue in a nutshell
This small island of 10 km² is home to 2,800 inhabitants, making it the third-most populous and the fourth largest area in Seychelles.
The first Diguois
They were French settlers who arrived in 1789. They earned a living by making coral lime (obtained by coral calcination), copra (a paste made with coconut), and cultivated vanilla.
Unfortunately, scientists have pointed out that they are responsible for the decline of coastal coral reefs.
The tranquility of the island
Another joy on La Digue is that there are no private cars and everyone rides a bike! One can rent them easily, so no stress. It is an excellent return to peace and tranquility in the package of a charming authentic village. There is a supermarket, a few small clothing or souvenir shops, and many hotel restaurants along the shore.
Despite those touristic buildings, the seaside isn’t distorted, and when one approaches by boat, we hardly notice them as they blend into the surroundings.
To finish off the idyllic island image, at night, everything is silent. Except on rainy nights when the frogs mingle and go to party!
The main activity for vacationers on the island is lazing on the beach with a refreshing cocktail of fresh fruit — the ideal picture one can see everywhere.
But La Digue offers more than that
To fully discover the surroundings, I suggest a few hikes and a visit to the Domaine de l’Union, the central point of the economic life of La Digue.
My personal opinion:
😍 Do not miss
😃 Go if you have time
😐 Not very interesting
😭 Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it
😍 Let’s start with some pictures of the village
😍 Tour of the Union Estate
What we discovered there:
- The first cemetery of La Digue
- The traditional production of copra
- The old plantation house
- Coconut and vanilla plantations
- Aldabra giant tortoise enclosure
The continuity of tradition
The estate is still in operation and continues its activities with respect for tradition. Therefore, it would make for a more interesting visit to go on a weekday to observe the traditional way of making copra and have it explained by the employees. Unfortunately, we only got this information on Saturday morning, when we were in front of the ticket office. We were, however, fortunate. A caretaker we met on the farm was kind enough to explain to us in detail the process and demonstrated the technique used to open a coconut. So our visit turned out to be perfect after all.
The first cemetery of La Digue
At the entrance to the estate is a cemetery. It’s the first cemetery of La Digue, the Mellon family’s private one. Mrs. Louise Mellon, née Desjardins, one of the first settlers of La Digue at the beginning of the 18th Century, was the first owner of the Union.
The cemetery also houses the graves of her sons, friends, and relatives. Her descendants still live at La Digue now.
A little further, we arrived at the place of manufacture of the copra.
The traditional copra-making workshop
To begin with: what is copra?
It is simply the white flesh of the dehydrated coconut.
How do you get it?
The coconut is removed from its shell and then opened. Its pulp is removed to be dried in a large wood-fired oven for a few days.
The shells recovered previously are also used to feed the fire.
As for the sprigs inside the fruit, they were used as kindling to light the fire or as a sponge.
The wood-fired oven
And what do we do with this copra?
Mainly used to make coconut oil, the paste thus obtained is then crushed using a round stone grindstone pulled by an ox.
Seven coconuts will produce 1 kg of copra, which will become 650 g of coconut oil.
The plantation house
It is one of the oldest residences in Seychelles and was then the home of a wealthy Mauritian family.
It was built in colonial architecture; large windows and a balcony all around protected by a roof overhang to allow air circulation inside the house.
Its structure is made of precious wood, and it is covered with palm leaves.
The coconut and vanilla plantation, a legacy of the first settlers
When the estate is open, you can walk among the coconut and vanilla plantations. These cultures were the primary industry of La Digue during its colonization and are still significant trades for the island.
Aldabra giant tortoises
Since 1974, these tortoises, which are among the largest in the world, have been protected by the Seychelles law Wild Animals and Birds Protection.
Unfortunately, they are locked in a small enclosure and could not enjoy the park that surrounded them!
We finished the tour of the reserve by bike to the path that leads to the long-awaited beach. We left our bicycles in the parking lot provided for this purpose and hopped off towards the turquoise-blue ocean.
😍 The Anse Source D’Argent beach
I had you daydreaming by saying it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the world; those were not empty words. This beach is the one that appears in countless advertisements, films, magazines, and brochures — and which always leaves us lost in reverie and honestly a little jealous.
It is on the very selective lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is, in any case, the most photographed and appears in many advertisements.
What makes it sublime and unique are, among other things, the granite rock formations all along the coast. Their gray hue contrasts with the brighter tones of the sea and the vegetation.
We still find here the desire of the Seychellois to preserve the charm of their natural spaces and let us discover unforgettable sites.
Little information on access to the beach
The main promenade to the beach passes through the park of the Union Estate which is chargeable. But it is possible to get there by the coast taking a small path to the right of the entrance. All Seychelles coastlines are public and therefore accessible.
The path to reach the coast is shaded, and we passed two small cafes offering fresh fruit cocktails.
What surprised me a lot is the beauty of the colors. Even in changing weather, they remain vibrant. I admit that a blue sky makes them more profound, but I also really liked the atmosphere that reigned when ominous clouds lined up above us.
Despite the many tourists who take this trail, the place has been preserved. Nature has remained the same. Even the cafes built for the visitors are quaint and blend in with the surroundings. Everything is clean, and nothing distracts the eyes from the spectacle before us.
Hiking on La Digue Island
As avid hikers, we took advantage of our three days to explore the island. There is a hike for every fancy, from the seaside to the island’s summit, Belle Vue Mountain.
😍 Climbing Belle Vue Mountain – Le Nid d’Aigle
The loop is approximately 1 km long and climbs to 319 m, the island’s highest point. Like many other walks in Seychelles, the magnificent view from the peak is to be earned.
We walked from our accommodation, and if I had to describe the hike in a few words, I would say: “It’s a lot of climbing!”
Besides, we were warned. At the beginning of the ascent, a sign says that reaching the top is a challenge. At first, the thought of a one-kilometer hike as a challenge made us smirk. But we changed our mind shortly after when we started to climb the few dozen stair steps that launched us onto the trail. Under the heat, it was indeed demanding!
However, a small path that winds through the ferns and the forest quickly replaced the stairs. It leads to the open part of the ridge from which there is a panoramic view of the surroundings.
At the top, we stayed for a long time enjoying the scenery. As we knew that the weather would not be that good in the afternoon, we wanted to make the most of the rare rays of sun that we had the past few days.
The giant centipede, which can reach 20 cm (7.9 in), is an entirely harmless endemic species. We didn’t get too close, however.
😃 The natural reserve, la Réserve Veuve
It is the last refuge of the paradise flycatcher of Seychelles, a variety of rare and endemic birds.
In French, the bird is called “la veuve,” “widow” in English. The name comes from the male’s shiny deep blue plumage and black tail formed by two long feathers reminiscent of a widower’s outfit. Their length is about 20 cm to which one must add the 30-cm long tail feathers.
The females, on the other hand, are smaller and reddish-brown with pale underparts. Their size ranges between 16 and 18 cm.
These birds were first discovered in 1860 on Praslin, but it was not until the 1960s that their decline was noted. Indeed, they need insects and rich vegetation to survive, things that have disappeared over the years due to deforestation and cultivation.
It is to save the species that the reserve was created in 1982, which these very territorial birds have adopted.
We were super happy to see a male with its particular tail, as they often stay in the tops of the giant trees during the day.
The palm spider
One can find palm spiders everywhere. Its name comes from the design of its web.
And I must admit that it was our biggest fear during our runs in the forest. Their enormous webs blocked off the little-used paths, and we were afraid to come face-to-face with one of them and its builder. On the other hand, even if they are impressive, they are not poisonous.
They are essential for the paradise flycatcher.
Why? Quite simply because the bird, an insectivore, happily helps itself when insects are trapped in their webs! An actual pantry for them.
😍 Anse Fourmi
We took our bikes to Anse Fourmi, which is at one end of the road that circles the island. A small circuit of 6 km.
Despite them, the excursion was straightforward and since there were very few cars, it was lovely.
There is nothing special to discover, but the hike was made enjoyable by the road that runs along the ocean, which allowed us to admire the turquoise-blue sea. We almost forgot the few short climbs that punctuate the journey!
To finish on a good mark, we picnicked at another beach on our way back.
Looking around, it dawned on me that even though Anse Source d’Argent beach is world-renowned, all the beaches we have discovered are equally as magnificent in their natural particularity.
😍 La pointe Anse Cocos
I believe this is the most epic hike we have been on. I still laugh every time I picture the faces we had at the end of it!
We arrived at La Digue in torrential rain to paint the picture for you. Water surrounded our house by late afternoon — eight inches at most — but we felt a bit like Robinson Crusoe.
The next day, the same deluge. We didn’t mind and decided to discover Pointe Anse Cocos.
This morning was about to become an unforgettable memory!
What is excellent in these latitudes is that it is still hot despite the downpour. So we left without our rain gear. Within a minute, we were soaked but happy to be on our way to explore the island.
We started our expedition from the village, but it is possible to reach Grande Anse beach by bike and continue on foot to Pointe Anse Cocos.
We thus skirted Grande Anse, Petite Anse, and Anse Cocos before reaching our destination.
The crucial moment of this excursion was this. We found ourselves in front of a flooded path, in what looked like a mangrove swamp, of which we could not see the bottom. The decision was this one: turn back and forget about our goal, or take our courage in both hands and bravely cross its “swamps” with mid-calf water.
A big fright launched me into a frantic sprint. My husband, without a word, started running after me. It wasn’t until we were out of breath at the first reassuring beach that I explained to him what had happened — nothing in fact — and that had us laughing uncontrollably.
Of course, we proudly moved forward. And we did not regret it because once we passed this first passage, the way was again more or less practicable, and we wondered why we had hesitated so much. Maybe it’s the crabs roaming around!
It was on our return that things turned sour. At one point, confident, I entered the swamp when I felt something brush against my leg…
I still laugh whenever I imagine our faces!
The hike, however, is terrific. As the weather was not good, we were not able to enjoy a little swim after our walk. But if you go there in good weather, you absolutely need to include it in your day.
😭 Anse Marron
If you plan to come to La Digue and have time to spare, it is recommended to do this famously complicated hike with a guide. Part of it is on the rocks, and I think it’s easy to lose sight of the way and find yourself in dangerous passages.
Make sure you book your guided tour before coming.
La Digue is the most authentic and the most relaxing, inhabited Seychelles island. It is due to its small size and the fact that there are very few cars. I loved getting on my bike to go around, do my shopping, or visit a restaurant. The distances are short, there are no big climbs, and everything is calm. Only one slight downside, the roads are not well-lit at night and we were glad to have our headlamps.