Marine conservation vacations in the Seychelles
The Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago 1,500km off the coast of mainland Africa, is one of those fairytale utopias that people pin postcards of above their desks: the dream. Golden sandy beaches fringed with palm trees, deep blue waters rich in colourful marine life, a laidback tropical vibe.
And it’s nice to know that, for once, there’s not a great deal of trouble in paradise. Many of the archipelago’s uninhabited islands are dedicated nature reserves. The Seychelles is a world leader in protecting threatened species, including the Seychelles black parrot – the national bird – giant tortoises, and vast colonies of seabirds. But it’s what’s under the water, populating the reefs of hard and soft coral that ring the islands, that is perhaps most special of all.
Efforts to reverse the effects of coral bleaching, spear-gunning and dynamite fishing (long-banned) have been remarkably successful in the Seychelles, in conjunction with the work of environmentalists and conservation volunteers looking to do something out of the ordinary and worthwhile on their vacations. There are some 1,000 species of fish recorded in these waters, along with rays, sharks and turtles. But there’s still a great deal left to be done.
Marine conservation vacations in the Seychelles are based on North Island in the group of islands known as the Granitic Seychelles. A coconut plantation until the 1970s, North Island is now a shining example of what’s called the ‘Noah’s Ark’ concept of conservation, whereby invasive and intrusive species such as rats, pigs and lantana weed have been gradually eradicated. Indigenous species of bird and trees, including the coco-de-mer palm, have been reintroduced, while also keeping the water as clean as possible. North Island is a living laboratory of biodiversity, and very productive one at that. Rats that threaten ground-nesting birds have been completely removed, and hawksbill and green turtles are appearing on the beaches in ever greater numbers.
If you'd like to chat about Seychelles or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
What does a marine conservation vacation in the Seychelles entail?
What you’ll be doingThe work of conservation volunteers and resident environmentalists here are designed to assist with proposals to make North Island an Ecological Marine Reserve. On any given day your tasks might include marking and monitoring giant tortoises, terrapins and sea turtles, and patrolling beaches to monitor movement patterns – sounds hellish, right? You’ll also be helping to control the spread of alien flora, and rehabilitate native flora, and if you have a talent for underwater photography it’s worth pointing out as it may be put to good use here.
Marine conservation vacations can last from four to 12 weeks, going up in increments of two. While this is obviously an idyllic location to spend a few months, make no mistake that these are working vacations and you’ll be on the clock six days a week, assisting with conservation and research on an award-winning project.
You’ll stay in a shared, comfortable eco house with fans alongside permanent residents of the project. Meals are included, and you can expect a delicious seafood and creole diet. These trips are aimed at people aged from 18 all the way up to 70+, and you’ll want to be reasonably fit, as you will be walking around 5km each day over varying terrain and gradients. They suit proactive people capable of working on their own or in small teams. Local residents in the Seychelles often speak English, but if you can get by in French, too, that will be of help.
The working day ends at around 4pm, leaving you plenty of time to socialise either in the staff bar, on the beach or in the sea; if you love stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or scuba diving you’ll be in heaven here. Nearby islands such as Praslin and La Digue can also be explored easily by boat. These vacations are a fantastic way to make friends and valuable links for the future with likeminded people.
When to volunteer in the Seychelles
Volunteer vacations operate every month of the year. The climate in the Seychelles tends to be humid, but pretty stable, averaging 24-30°C. The wettest months are between November and March and the most popular times to visit are between May and November, when you get the cooling trade winds.
A trip of a lifetime...living your own wildlife documentary and being surrounded with kind honest people.
- Louise Banks
“A trip of a lifetime, would advise anyone looking at this to just book now, you won’t be disappointed, the project is set up and very well run, everyone is very accommodating, happy and helpful. I could talk for hours about all my experiences and still have stories to tell. Amazing, you will never experience anything like this anywhere else, clean air, clear night skies filled with stars, standing on a beach without another person, sun rises and sunsets, living your own wildlife documentary and being surrounded with kind honest people.” – Louise Banks in a review of her marine conservation vacation in the Seychelles
More about Seychelles
The best time to visit the Seychelles is generally between April and October with plenty of things to do in the Seychelles around this time of year including conservation projects, island hopping and fishing.
Let our Seychelles travel guide lead you bare-footed over a bone white sand beach as clear blue Indian Ocean waves lap against the shore and lumbering giant tortoise exhibit one of the best ways to make the most of your time, doing as little as possible as slowly as possible.