The Amirantes Islands are part of the Outer Island Group of Seychelles. They are atolls and coral islands that were discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1502. They were most likely also known by early Indian and Arab traders. The Amirantes Islands consist of 11 main islands as well as numerous shoals, sand cays and atolls. The total population of the islands is about 100, and the main settlement is on the island of Desroches with a population of 50.
Lady Denison-Pender Shoal is submerged, African Banks is a sand cay and Remire Reef is a drying reef, and all are uninhabited. Remire Island, which is an uplifted sand cay, has a coconut plantation.
African Banks is visited by people with charter yachts, and the island has been exploited by poachers for nesting birds. In 1995, there was one coconut tree, but, other than that, the island is treeless. A derelict automatic lighthouse is at the north-eastern end.
Remire or Eagle Island has trees over 15 metres high. It has a paved airstrip that is 457 metres long. The American, Wendy Veevers-Cater live on the island with her family for some years before it was managed by the Seychelles Island Development Company.
The island has rich deposits of guano that was mined after World War I, but today a few workers live there to keep the island clean and maintain the coconut plantation and the few chalets on the island.
A variety of seabirds including the fairy tern and lesser noddy are seen on the island, but the number of birds has declined over the ears. In the early 1990s, peacocks were introduced to the island. It has been a presidential retreat since the 1980s.
D’Arros or Daros Island is a sand cay and covered with vegetation. Once a thriving coconut plantation, the trees are over 27 metres high and mainly coconut and casuarina. The island is privately owned and has a hotel.
The lagoon is considered one of the most beautiful in the area. The permanent inhabitants of the island are the hotel staff. There is an unpaved airstrip that is 975 meters long. No scheduled flights go to D’Arros, but some flights divert to the airstrip.
There are several colonies of seabirds on the island as well as a small number of giant tortoises. Sea turtles visit the island for nesting every year.
D’Arros Island is being considered as a nature preserve that will be managed by Save Our Seas Foundation in collaboration with the Seychelles’ Ministry of Environment and Energy.
Saint Joseph Atoll
This atoll is on the eastern edge of the Amirantes Bank and has 14 sandy islets. It was also a coconut plantation and had other vegetation as well. The lagoon on Saint Joseph Atoll has a huge population of stingrays as well as giant blue mud crabs that live in the depths of the lagoon and rise to the flats at high tide. There is a large population of bonefish, grouper and lobster. Abundant colourful reef fish are also there. Oysters can be found in large quantities on the coral walls and in the weeds.
Frigate birds have a colony on the island and there are many blue herons, wimbrels, crested terns and plovers.
Desroches Island is the main island of the Amirantes. It has a hotel and a paved airstrip that is 1,372 metres in length and a population of around 50. Desroches is 230 kilometres south west of Mahe, and it takes about 50 minutes to fly there.
The island has eight kilometres of white sand beaches and is covered with coconut trees. It is surrounded by a protective reef that offers excellent scuba diving and snorkelling. Desroches is considered to have one of the best diving reefs in the Seychelles and is also famous for deep sea and fly-fishing.
This is the only island in the Amirantes that offers accommodation. Forbes magazine called Desroches Island one of the Top 10 Remote Destinations in the World. The hotel promises luxury accommodation amidst untouched, natural beauty.
The five star hotel offers suites, retreats and villas on the beach as well as residences with several villas combined. Private pools, decks and attractive natural interior design that harmonise with the natural beauty are some of the amenities offered at the hotel.
Each villa has satellite TV, DVD player, minibar, outdoor showers and baths, two bicycles per suite and much more.
The restaurants use organic local herbs and vegetables as well as fresh local seafood to create gourmet Creole dishes as well as international cuisine. Guests may choose when and where they would like to eat including in-villa dining or on the beach.
The spa offers Ayurvedic massage, Shiastu massage, Swedish massage as well as other beauty and health treatments. They offer couples massage and special massage for pregnant women.
This atoll is one of the first places coconuts were grown for commercial use in the Seychelles. It also has a beautiful lagoon and excellent deep-sea fishing.
Many seabirds including blue heron, greater frigate birds, Chinese heron, fodys and whimbrels, fairy terns and lesser noddies live on the island. Green and hawksbill sea turtles also nest on the island.
Other Islands and Cays
Etoile Cay is a circular coral cay that is uninhabited. It has only low bushes and grass with steep sandy beaches surrounding the cay. Boats can easily land on this cay during calm weather.
Boudeuse Cay is a sandstone platform island and the westernmost island in the Amirantes. It has no trees, but it has a small beach and is considered one of the most unspoiled islands because it has not been cultivated by humans. It has heavy breakers even when the weather is calm, so it is difficult to land on this cay.
Marie Louise Island is at the southern end of the Amirantes chain and is a low sandy coral cay. It has a settlement of agricultural workers and beach fishermen. It is not easy to land a boat on this cay.
Ile Desnoeufs is the southernmost island in the chain and has a central depression instead of a lagoon. The nesting birds are exploited on this island during the season. There are no inhabitants at other times.