The Farquhar Group of Islands belong to the Outer Islands of Seychelles. They are 700 miles south west of Victoria, the capital city on Mahe Island. The Farquhar Group consists of one separate island and two atolls as well as one submerged reef. The group is made up of Farquhar Atoll that has two larger islands and eight small islets, Providence Atoll with two islets, which are Providence Island and Cerf Island, St. Pierre Island and Wizard Reef, which is submerged.
St. Pierre is surrounded with fossil coral cliffs that have been undercut and have many blowholes. Many caverns have been cut by the sea, so there is no fresh water on the atoll. It is almost impossible to access the island by sea, but there is a derelict jetty at a ruined settlement on the northwest coast that can only be accessed by boat in very calm weather.
The Farquhar Group and the Aldabra Group of islands are unusual because they have been submerged and emerged several times over the past tens of thousands of years. The last time they were submerged was about 125,000 years ago.
The Main Islands
The main group forms a long curve that is the eastern side of the atoll with North Island and South Island the largest. The small Manaha islands are between the larger islands. To the south, is Goelettes and on the western side is a small group of islands called Three Islands.
There are two settlements on the group. The main settlement is on North Island and the other is on Providence Island. The group of islands have beautiful lagoons and the atolls provide secure anchorages from stormy seas, but there is no tourist accommodation on the islands. There is an airstrip on North Island that is serviced by charter aircraft from Mahe.
The Farquhar Islands are coralline, which is not very hospitable compared to the granitic islands of Seychelles. They were discovered in 1501 by Joao da Nova, a Portuguese explorer. The group of islands were under British control until 1976 when they became part of Seychelles at the time of independence.
The soil is infertile and there is not much fresh water on Farquhar Atoll, so it was never developed for human use. In spite of this, or maybe because of this, the atolls are a favourite holiday spot for people looking for some extraordinary fly fishing and deep sea fishing. The islands offer an exclusive experience for the few who visit.
The shallow water around the atolls gradually becomes deep, which is why it has some of the best fishing in the country. It is possible to hike around the islands, scuba dive, snorkel and surf along the beaches, but fishing is why most visitors come.
An angler fly fishing from the sand flats has a good chance of catching a bonefish, permit or even a giant trevally. Anglers stand in the water, thigh deep and cast their flies into the crystal clear turquoise sea. Most people visit the islands through a fishing tour package, and some packages include a live-aboard yacht.
How to Visit the Islands?
Anglers who want to enjoy this amazing fishing experience usually book an all-inclusive packaged tour with a travel company that specialises in fishing trips. Charter flights go to Farquhar on Saturdays. Guests arrive the day before or on Saturday morning at the international airport in Mahe. The flight to the island leaves from the domestic terminal and takes one hour and forty five minutes to get to Farquhar Atoll. Then, it is a 15 minute ride by tractor and trailer to the lodge.
The lodge on Farquhar has a main house that is completely air conditioned. It has five, double en suite rooms with plenty of hot water and daily laundry service. There is only accommodation for ten guests at one time.
The dining area is right on the edge of the water and the chef makes both Creole and international dishes for breakfast and dinner. A packed lunch is given to the anglers to take with them, so they need not return to the lodge for lunch. Bottled mineral water and soft drinks are included, and there is a good selection of beer and wine to purchase. Guests can also bring their own bottles.
A Typical Day
Anglers have two fishing sessions per day. In the morning after a quick breakfast they go to the flats for the whole day. They take a packed lunch, but they have the option of returning to the lodge for lunch and a rest before beginning the second fishing session.
Packaged all-inclusive tours are usually for seven nights with six days of fishing. There is a mid-week break when anglers can dive or snorkel the lagoon or simply rest. Each evening, the anglers and guides will plan the next day's fishing. Where they go to fish will depend on the tidal movements and the species they wish to catch.
The guides are world class professionals who speak English. Each one has first aid experience, is a qualified skipper and knows all about fly fishing.
They know where the fish usually go and will lead the guests to the right spot. Some of the species that swim the waters on the flats are bonefish, several trevally species, permit, barracuda, bumphead, parrotfish, triggerfish and milkfish.
The deep sea fish are giant trevally, barracuda, bohar, snapper, grouper, sailfish, wahoo, dogtooth tuna and yellowfin tuna. Whether the flats or in the deep, the guide will explain the correct techniques to catch whichever fish the angler wants.
These remarkable islands are truly secluded and are the home to an abundance of marine life. Anglers from all over the world take advantage of the small lodge and spend a week fishing on the sand flats and deep water for a very exciting time. The unique lagoon on Farquhar Island offers easy access to the countless flats, surf zones and channels that make it one of the most extraordinary fishing experiences in the world