Day trip to St. Francois from Alphonse

April 21st, 2003 

St. Francois atoll and Bijoutier island are a natural paradise, uninhabited and lost in the Indian Ocean, just half an hour away by rubber boat from Alphonse, in the Seychelles islands. In St. Francois there are no buildings or structures to accommodate tourists, and the beach is dominated by a dense mangrove forest home to coconut crabs, while the huge lagoon is the ideal place for fishing enthusiasts.

hermit crab hermit crab
This early morning, I join a group and several guides, going to the nearby island of St Francois from Alphonse. This will be probably one of the best excursion that I will take during the entire vacation. Although very close to Alphonse (just 30 minutes of fast boat), the environment is very different, with a lot of different wildlife and plants. The above hermit crabs can be found everywhere on this atoll (also in the forest), but I didn't see a single one of them on Alphonse. They are very nice and can go completely out from their shell, used like a mobile home.
Mangrove trees
Mangrove forest

We soon start to cross a mangrove forest.
Crab Crab

Crabs of different sizes and colors live between the woods.

Wearing confortable and appropriate coral-proof shoes, we start to cross the lagoon.
Low tide
Flocks of birds

Photos of St. Francois. The tide is currently low and banks of sand emerge here and there. The bird life is reach and interesting.
Baby shark Giant crab
On the lft, a baby shark swimming in very low water. On the right, a giant crab. The picture was taken from a distance of about 20 meters using a 135mm lens, they are very big, I think like a small or medium-sized dog, unfortunately we run away as soon as I've tried to get closer.
Deserted island adventure St Francois island
The hiking continues along the beach around the island. The water is green-bluish and is very clean and transparent.
St Francois atoll
After a long walk, a snack and a short relax, it is the time to head back to Alphonse. As the tide is very low, the boat cannot come close to the beach to fetch us, so we have to walk for about 10 minutes toward the reef in order to reach deeper waters.
St Francois atoll St Francois island
Low tide Indian Ocean

Looking around while walking to the reef. In the lower-left picture, the other members of the group are walking toward the boat, faintly visible in the center of the picture.
Unhabitated island Unhabitated island
Under a very intense midday sun, we head back to Alphonse. The color of the water is enhanced by a clear sky and a bright light. On the left picture: St. Francois from the distance. On the right: approaching Alphonse.
Once back in my bungalow on Alphonse, I observe a nice green geko walking furtively on the floor of my room. Good! With a friend like this, I will not need the insect repellent anymore!
Beautiful sunset

Observing the sky, I understand that the sunset will be probably very nice today. So I climb my bike and take a short trip to the west coast where I swim a bit while waiting for the proper time. The colors was indeed spectacular, with the sky and the sea filled by magical and surreal hues of blues, yellows, oranges and reds.
Seychelles sunset
The night is arriving and I have to cross the palm forest before it is totally dark, so I quickly leave this beautiful corner of Alphonse Island and head back to my bungalow.

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