Imagine an arrowhead-shaped, coral island perched in the middle of the warm Indian Ocean, carpeted in coconut palms and inhabited by giant tortoises and thousands of seabirds. That idyllic island is real and it is called Alphonse.
Belonging to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, the Alphonse Group comprises Alphonse Atoll, Bijoutier Island and St Francois Atoll, all lying around 250 miles from Victoria, the Seychelles capital, and seven degrees south of the Equator. A one-hour flight from Mahe takes you there.
The long established and family-friendly Alphonse Island Lodge is the only resort in the group and a change of management over the past few years has resulted in many improvements. The main building now contains the reception, lounge with snooker table, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and spa offering excellent massages. The recently added Beach Bar is set on a white sand beach and provides the perfect base from which to view splendid tropical sunsets (a mojito or Seybrew sundowner in hand if desired).
There are 22 private A-frame Beach Bungalows, each with a generous seafront plot and en suite bathroom, outside shower, air conditioning and fan. If more space is required, a further five open-plan Beach Suites offer ample room, modern décor, two showers (inside and outside) and large private plunge pools. From November 2019 there will be two four-bedroom villas, each with a large pool and plenty of living space, perfect for families or large groups of friends.
Much of the fruit and vegetables used in the restaurant are grown in their on-site organic garden. As you ride your complimentary bicycle around the sandy trails you might come across one of the island’s 60 giant Aldabra tortoises. Should you stop to photograph and find it advancing on you, don’t be alarmed: it only wants a pat on the head and a scratch of its neck.
Many visitors come to Alphonse for world-class fly fishing on extensive tidal flats but also for blue water fishing in the deep sea. Others come to snorkel and dive on the healthy coral reefs, frequented by turtles and filled with hundreds of fish species. The island has fully equipped angling and diving operations and a fleet of sleek, fast boats, are also available to take you snorkelling, dolphin watching and island hopping.
There’s a floodlit tennis court and SUP boards, pedalos and kayaks to use, and you can join guided nature walks to monitor green and hawksbill turtles, explore the tidal flats and spot some of the 130+ species of birds recorded there.
A unique activity recently developed at Alphonse is Sailfish Snorkelling. The fast pelagic predators are enticed to the rear of the boat using hook-less lures, at which time snorkellers drop into the water and watch as the fast fish speed underneath them: an exhilarating experience.
Alphonse also invented the Flats Lunch (see our main picture). Resort staff place chairs and parasols on a small tidal sand bank and conjure up a delicious buffet of salads and fish. Lunch finishes when the water laps at your ankles, at which time you board your boat and head off for another activity or back to the island, often accompanied by a pod of spinner dolphins.
Whatever you come to Alphonse to do – or if you are there just to relax – you will leave having had a marvellously memorable time in one of the world’s most beautiful marine environments.
22 A-frame Beach Bungalows, five Beach Suites, two four-bedroom Villas (from November 2019). Swimming pool, spa, reception, main bar, restaurant, beach bar, diving and fishing operations, fleet of boats, kayaks, SUPs, pedalos.
Aldabra giant tortoise
Greater and lesser frigatebirds
Masked, brown and red-footed boobies
Grey and purple herons
Green and hawksbill turtles
Swimming with dolphins and manta rays
Dolphin watching by boat
Guided nature walks
Number of rooms
Book well in advance if you want to bag one of the five Beach Suites, which are really comfortable and spacious and in high demand.
Alphonse is open all year round, but the hottest and wettest months are December to March when the northwest trade winds visit the island.
If you have any queries about this accommodation please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...