Named after a French explorer, Denis de Trobriant, who formally discovered it in 1773, Denis Island has since become one of the single most perfect examples of balanced eco-conservation and tourism. It is not a granite island as many other islands in the Seychelles archipelago are, but a coral island with lush white powder beaches and such crystal blue, sparkling water that it seems more a dream than an actual physical place. The sapphire sea around Denis is breathtaking, indeed, as is the green, verdant flora of the interior island.
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Denis Island sits in the north of the inner islands, surrounded by the astonishingly beautiful Indian Ocean, and is some 65 miles from the main island of Mahe. It is a very fertile coral islet, full of animals, fish and plants that can be found only in the Seychelles chain – some of which can only be found on Denis Island.
The entirety of the 375-acre island is conserved land, and nature conversationalists continue their work, even as visitors explore the exciting views and beaches. Guided tours of the island’s interior are also available.
The island is privately owned by the Masons, who acquired it in 1999 and have helped unveil it as it is today- a gorgeous Eden floating in the ocean, which offers life to marine animals and restorative seclusion to its visitors.
It opens it arms to all as a resort island, with 25 villas interspersed over the shoreline, so at any time visitor numbers are fairly small. Despite being a small island, it offers a huge variety of activities in which to indulge, with a sparse list including deep sea fishing, snorkeling, diving, windsailing, boating and canoeing.
Deep sea fishing is a large draw here, as the prizes caught are varied and immense. Renowned world-wide by fisherman for its plethora of game fish, you can charter a boat, which comes with a full crew, and take to the deeper oceans to try your luck with snagging a marlin, dorado, sail-fish, barracuda, dog-toothed tuna fish or bonito. Because it is a nature reserve, the animal life is free to mingle with the human visitors, but most creatures stay respectfully distant. Still, you may catch a glimpse of the giant tortoise that makes its home on Denis.
For diving and snorkeling, the entire island sits atop an elevated coral reef, so it is one of the best spots in the world to enjoy the underwater carnival of color and shapes. You can search for slightly larger sights, too, like dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays and turtles. An on-site PADI dive instructor and team are there to help enable you in your quest for underwater marine life. Or, for a land-based adventure, you can go hiking among the lush, tropical forest interior.
Denis Island holds a good amount of personal history, and up until the 1950s, it was a thriving plantation site used for farming copra, or the dried flesh of coconuts. When the bottom fell out of the industry after a good 100-year run, the place was largely abandoned, but some remnants remain, like a small village and the lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1910 and stands today as a monument to a by-gone era. The village is home to the locals who work in the resort; that and the nearby airstrip form the eco-business hub of the island proper.
Denis Island has no designated beach names, and each of the 25 cottages for accommodation here have a private stretch of beach, but every inch of it is sandy perfection, lapped softly by the jade and turquoise sea. This is an island for those seeking solace, for balance with nature and self, and who wish to explore birds and creatures long forgotten anywhere else. This is paradise, and a mind-bending excursion into the best the planet has to offer.