The coastlines of the Seychelles island of Mahé is dotted with a vast array of beaches, each one perfectly unique. Most beaches that we saw were virtually empty except for the odd local having a casual stroll through the shallows. We even stumbled across the occasional beach party where smiling locals danced around a smoking barbecue.
I wanted to make the most of Mahé and find its unique gems. Fortunately, our cabin had a few little booklets on some of the best places to visit in the Seychelles. There's hardly anything online so this really was a God-send. The top 10 beaches on the island differed from book to book but after studying the pictures, I decided which I'd like to see.
I was drawn to Anse Royale which is located on the East of the island, just over a mountain from where we were staying. I liked the sound of this beach because it's meant to be good for snorkelling.
Introducing Anse Royale - The Most Beautiful Beach I'd Ever Seen!
When we entered the district of Anse Royale, we struggled to find the right beach. There are beaches everywhere so how do you know which one is the one you're looking for? They're not signposted. It's also worth noting that the tide dramatically changes the landscape. When we first went to Anse Royale, the tide was quite far in, swallowing up whole segments of beach and lapping against the rocks beside the road.
We came to an area where there were many cars parked by the side of the road. We saw there was a beach nearby and took a gamble that this was the right place. We pulled up.
When I got out of the car, I was immediately blown away by the beach. The beach itself was quite small - mainly because the tide was in, but the water was a beautiful vibrant blue colour, hues of cyan and turquoise here and there. Along the beach were giant granite boulders, signature to the Seychelles. Finally, there was the little islet - the most spectacular sighting of all, in my opinion. The islet was made from a jumble of granite boulders with palm trees growing from the top. Behind the islet, waves crashed over a reef which acts as a barrier to keep the beach safe from strong currents and dangerous sharks.
I've been to a lot of beaches but this has got to be the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen.
A panorama of Anse Royale from the carpark. Just look at the colour of the water!
Aerial view of Anse Royale beach
What struck me most about this beach was that it was so different to any beach I'd seen before. I'm used to endless stretches of sand. In terms of sand, this wasn't the most impressive I'd seen but it was the little details of this beach that blew me away.
We put our towels down to the very end of the beach, near all the boulders. Where the beach ended, it almost felt like you were in your own island. The land turned into rocks, smooth boulders curving round the cyan waters. Atop of the boulders were dense clusters of palm trees, some looming over the edge. The ocean beneath was very shallow, you could tell just by looking at it. You could see every detail under the water from above - the sea really was that clear. If you were lucky, you could even see little fish moving beneath the waves.
When I lay down on the sand, I realised that the beach was alive with white crabs. Everywhere you looked, a little critter was scuttling across the golden grains or popping in and out of its hole.
Aerial view of the edge of Anse Royale Beach. This is, in my opinion, the best section of the beach.
Incredible First Snorkelling Experience at Anse Royale
I didn't lay on the beach for long; the ocean was calling to me! I splashed into the shallows, relishing the warmth of the water. I'm not a fan of icy seas! Like I suspected, the water was pretty shallow and I ventured fairly far out. I put on my snorkel mask and looked for fish.
I found the odd fish here or there but I felt like I wasn't swimming in a prime fish area. There was nothing but sand, the odd rock and some seaweed below me. I needed to find the corral. I suppose I was just in the middle of the swimming area, where there were several other people. If you want to find the good stuff, you need to venture to the very edges of the beach - or so I'd heard.
My luck turned. I was not expecting it at all. I was just happily swimming, enjoying being in the water, when a large creature swam in front of me. It was wide and flat with a long tail and I knew immediately that it was some kind of ray. I knew what manta rays looked like so this had to be a stingray. It swam elegantly through the shallow water, flapping its disk-shaped body. The creature was black with many white spots on its body.
I was so excited. I swam after the stingray but after not so long, I lost it. I stood up in the water and saw a man in the water, excitedly pointing to the water in front of him. He kept gesturing to me to come and see and started imitating the movements of the stingray. I swam over and caught a glimpse of the fish swimming away.
My first glimpse of the stingray!
Snorkelling at Anse Royale beach
I got out of the water and went to dry off on my towel. The beach was so beautiful that I wanted to take Droney out for a spin but I'd never taken him up in a public place before. I was summing up the courage to get him when suddenly I noticed something in the sky - another drone! Sure enough, a couple were standing on one of the boulders, flying their drone. What were the chances of that? I don't think they're that common.
It gave me confidence that there was no problem flying it but I thought it would be strange to whip out my drone immediately after them. After a lot of umming and arring over the situation, I just 'YOLO'd' it and took Droney for a spin. I was in awe of my footage. Sometimes you just have to forget about what others might think and do the things that you enjoy.
Feeling satisfied with the footage that I'd obtained, it was time to have another swim. This time, we swam around some of the boulders jutting out into the sea and the sealife was much better. There was an adorable little white fish with black stripes that wouldn't leave us alone. It wasn't camera-shy either. We spent quite some time with our new little buddy before the sun started to set and we decided to leave.
After having an amazing day at Anse Royale beach, I knew I'd be back! What I didn't realise was that my subsequent visits would be even more spectacular than my initial visit.
Sunset at Anse Royale beach
The Best Place to Snorkel on Anse Royale Beach
As I expected would be the case, we went back to Anse Royale beach repeatedly. This holiday was the perfect opportunity to unwind and relax, and what better way to do that than on the beach? Plus, snorkelling is addictive! I knew I hadn't seen all the fish there was to see at this location yet and there was still more to explore.
On our second visit, we embraced snorkelling. We swam fairly far out, to some rocks in the water - you can actually see the rocks in the picture below, so not quite at the little islet. We saw countless fish species, most of which I do not know the name for. We saw angel fish, parrot fish, lion fish (these are poisonous, eek!), sea urchins, sea cucumbers and many more. It was fantastic! I love seeing all the different fish.
The rocks in the foreground are where we snorkelled. The marine life here was spectacular!
Aerial view of the waters just off from Anse Royale. Those were the rocks we snorkelled round!
Aerial view of the waters just off from Anse Royale. Can you spot Lewis snorkelling?
My Experience Swimming With Stingrays
On our third visit, we decided to venture even further to the edges of the beach. Clambering over many boulders, we found a very secluded area with a tiny stretch of sand and lots of beached seaweed. It was perfect because clearly not many people knew about this area, and sometimes I like my own space.
We decided to take the drone up and do more shots of ourselves with it. The water was incredibly shallow, and you can wade really far out. I was just expecting the drone to shoot me swimming and splashing through the water but to my luck, I stumbled across a stingray! The water was so clear that you could see the stingray clearly from the drone. I followed the critter round for quite some time, only to be joined by another stingray. I decided to swim alongside them and got the GoPro out for some underwater snaps. I got quite close to the animals. At the time, I forgot that stingrays actually did have stings, so maybe I was a little foolish getting so close to their tails. These particular stingrays are called spotted eagle rays and their stings are very close to their butts, not halfway down the tails like some have. This makes them safer than other species, but you still need to be careful.
Me wading through the water alongside a majestic stingray
The stingray - taken with a wide-angle GoPro. I can't believe how close it was!
The three days I spent at Anse Royale beach are some of my favourite moments that I experienced in the Seychelles. The beach was peaceful, especially the outer reaches of it. At times it felt like we were on a private beach.
The water was warm and when we visited in the afternoons it was relatively shallow. We found ourselves wading as far out as the collection of huge granite boulders just before the islet.
My favourite thing about the beach was the sea-life. I was blown away by the colourful array of fish that I encountered. There really was a healthy, thriving ecosystem just off this beach.
And of course I couldn't ever forget the stingrays! Swimming alongside them is hands-down one of my favourite travel experiences to date, especially because the experience was completely natural and didn't cause the stingrays any distress. I was just swimming, doing my thing, whilst they did theirs. That is how it should be.
If you'd like to read more experiences from my time in the Seychelles, click here.