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Aldabra Atoll Beaches, Seychelles

Far away from other islands, deep in the Indian Ocean, hides the Shangri-la of the marine world, a coral atoll spanning 50 square miles of ocean in isolated paradise, known as the Aldabra Atoll of the Seychelles archipelago. Even the name, Aldabra, sounds magical, and that is exactly how visitors to this massive reef feel when they see the mythical beauty of untouched splendor.

Aldabra Atoll Beach, Seychelles

Aldabra is not a resort location, nor a typical island getaway; it is wholly a nature preserve and conservation area, inhabited by perhaps a dozen researchers in very basic accommodations. There are, however, cruises that can be taken out to Aldabra, and due to the distance, it takes a full 24 hours to reach the atoll, so the length of the trips is often a week or two. This allows enjoyment of the open ocean, and the simply jaw-dropping beauty of Aldabra to be soaked in over time. There is more to see here than one might first expect.

Aldabra Atoll Beach, Seychelles
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Aldabra is composed of four main islands hedging a massive lagoon: Picard, Grande Terre, Malabar and Polymnie. The researchers live on Picard and the island allows only for a few visitors with special permission, so this is not a touristy spot. At 715 miles from the main island of Mahe, the seclusion has both been a great boon to the unspoiled ecosystem here and slightly detrimental. In general, its isolation has allowed the atoll to flourish without fear of fishing nets or large fishing boats coming near. Because of this, the great sea tortoise, extinct in most other areas of the world, lives here in peace, with a population upwards of 100,000. It is still on the endangered species list, however, simply because its habitat is so small.
Visitors are not allowed free reign of the island, but what is available is nonetheless astounding. Scenic vistas of limestone pillars, worn away by time, dominate the entrance to the lagoon, and the sounds of bird calls punctuate the air.
Crab and mollusks are in abundance, and those bird calls belong to a huge array of red-footed boobies, brown noddies, frigate birds and much more. The biggest attraction here, though, is the snorkeling. It is, hands down, the best place in the world for peeking at the marine life.
The huge lagoon empties almost 60% of its volume when the tide pulls out, allowing for impressive current tugs and clearer views of the sea life. Sharks are here, including lemon, tiger and black tipped reef sharks, as well as sea turtles, rays, coral fish, parrot fish and barracuda. Under water, the flashes of light are sunbeams ricocheted off the scales of the schools of fish as they turn suddenly to avoid a fat potato cod fish. It is something like a watery discotheque at times.
The massive tortoises that call this atoll their home can be quite friendly, and some enjoy a scratch on the neck from passing humans. Here, animals tolerate humans well, are even curious of them, or simply ignore them altogether. Beaches here are sandy and might be used for sunbathing, but that is not the focus on this island, which is dedicated to higher pursuits than sheer indulgence, but it is an amazing place to visit if you can, perfect for conservation enthusiasts and snorkelers. You will not find a place like this anywhere else in the world; a forgotten, unspoiled bride of the sea, peacefully alone in her beauty.

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