With its coconut palms and magnificent white sands, La Digue is the epitome of laidback.
La Digue, with its dramatic, sculptured granite rocks and exquisite, secluded beaches, is a laid-back, inviting island in the sun. It lies 50km northeast of Mahé, 4km east of Praslin and is the fourth largest of the granitic islands. The island is about 6km long, a little more than 3km wide, and rises up to 333m at Nid d’Aigles, ‘Eagles Nest’, the highest peak.
The 10km2, island is almost completely encircled by coral reef and has no natural harbour. A jetty was built at La Passe on the west coast and a breakwater has been constructed to provide more shelter, particularly during the northwest monsoons.
Marion Dufresne, in his ship La Digue, made the first recorded discovery of this picturesque island in 1768, and the French took formal possession of it in 1771. Amid the lush vegetation, streams and swamps, the worst thing the early settlers had to contend with was the crocodiles, and they were soon eradicated along with the tortoises. The birdlife managed to cling on to a precarious existence, and the rare black paradise flycatcher is still present in low, but increasing numbers.
Gone are the days of the quiet life when there were traditional wooden Creole houses, ox-carts, fishing, boat-building and a simple lifestyle. Over the years there has been increasing development and the 3,000 residents are now mainly involved in tourism activities. There has been a great expansion in self-catering, guesthouse and small hotel accommodation. When the ferries arrive, it is rather congested at the jetty though you can be assured of a warm welcome and plenty of offers for bicycle hire.
Getting to La Digue
There is no airport but Zil Air provides helicopter services to the island from Mahé, Praslin or any of the nearby islands. The helipad is located near L’Union Estate.
The usual route is to take Cat Cocos from Mahé via Praslin, which takes about 90 minutes, and a return trip costs approximately €118 in economy class and €138 in business class. There are only one or two of these direct crossings scheduled each day and reservations may be made here.
Throughout the day, there are easy connections from Praslin to La Digue with one of the Cat Rose’s ferries. This crossing takes less than 30 minutes and a return ticket costs approximately €28. For details on times, see page 128.
Boats of various descriptions may also be chartered in Mahé to make your own voyage of discovery to La Digue.