Sitting to the south-west of the Maldives, the Seychelles can be somewhat overlooked in favour of its Indian Ocean neighbour, and while it may be the more rough and rugged of the two archipelagos, it can certainly hold its own in terms of luxurious resorts and superb diving. But this African island nation is composed of more than 150 islands, and so pinpointing the best diving in the Seychelles can be a little daunting for first-time visitors. While the diving is superb throughout this remote archipelago, the Coralline Seychelles, or the Outer Islands, are definitely a good place to start your research...
Lying to the south-west of Mahé, the Seychelles' main island, Desroches Island, is located 20 miles east of the Amirantes Bank and is separated from it by a deep channel, known as the Desroches Drop, which plunges down to 1,300 metres.
Diving around Desroches Island allows for incredible wildlife encounters with sailfish, sharks and manta rays, as well as all manner of macro critters. The private-island paradise is encircled by miles of white-sand beaches, which are lapped by clear, turquoise waters. The coral quality is among the best in the country, and there are plenty of pelagic and large reef fish cruising the reefs, including lemon sharks, huge stingrays, eagle rays, nurse sharks, tuna, barracuda and wahoo.
Factor in that, in all likelihood, you will be the only group on the dive site to enjoy the prolific marine life, and it's easy to see why Desroches deserves a mention among the best diving in the Seychelles.
Continuing on south-west from Mahé, after passing Desroches Island and the other Amirante Islands, you will reach two atolls, Alphonse and St. François, which make up the Alphonse Group. The reefs are bathed in impressive coral cover - giant, pristine hard coral colonies and myriad gorgonian fans swaying in the currents - and home to tawny nurse sharks, turtles, sicklefin lemon sharks, bull sharks and reef mantas.
The corals may not be as colourful as those in the Coral Triangle, but there are clouds of anthias and several species of angelfish and butterflyfish swirling around, imparting rainbow hues as they go. Friendly Napoleon wrasses, speedy sailfish and hunting giant trevallies complete the underwater vista and ensure Alphonse Atoll's place among the best diving in the Seychelles.
And continuing even farther in a south-westerly direction will eventually bring you to the remote Aldabra Group - Aldabra Atoll, Assumption Island, Cosmoledo Atoll and Astove Island - and yet more of the best diving in the Seychelles. Closer to the northern tip of Madagascar than to the Seychellois capital of Victoria, the waters surrounding these islands are home to an array of impressive pelagic species and some of the best diving in the Seychelles.
Silvery pelagics - dogtooth tuna, wahoo, dorado and sailfish - flash past your mask as they dart towards clouds of colourful reef fish in search of a snack. Keep an eye on the blue too, as surprise visits from thresher sharks and pods of melon-headed whales are not unheard of. Diving here is as special as it is remote, and it definitely ranks among the best diving in the Seychelles.