Bird Island - Seychelles
Bird Island is situated in the Indian Ocean a little south of the equator, around 1500km off the East African Coast. It's the northernmost island of the Seychelles archipelago - a 115-island 'African Union' member country.
It’s a privately owned, sand-covered, low-lying, almost flat coral island, measuring just 1700m long by no more than 700m wide - a very small speck of land in a very big sea. Bird, as it’s affectionately called, is remote, and if you like remote and are happy with no mod-cons and relatively basic accommodation and facilities, then Bird could be worth a visit.
The turquoise clear waters of the Indian Ocean gently lap the island's pristine beaches
We ‘discovered’ Bird back in 2001 on our third trip to the Seychelles. Our first trip to the islands was in 1998, which was a special ‘one-off’ holiday to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary - we never thought that we would be returning the following year and for so many years after. During our previous trips we’d stayed on both the main island Mahé and the second largest Praslin from where we were able to take day trips to many of the smaller islands, such as La Digue, Aride, Curieuse, Cousin and Cerf. When we returned in 2001 we decided not to be based on one of the larger islands, but to stay on two, similar-sized, but completely different resort islands. We had a week on both. The first was Denis, a luxurious destination (even more-so now) if you want beach holiday comforts. The second was Bird, a conservation island where your stay centres around the life of the island. Bird is informal and very laid-back - it is not a typical Seychelles holiday destination. We knew instantly that we’d return and we did, and continued to do so every year up to 2016. We use to refer to it as our second home. Although the internet is available now it wasn’t at the time, and that, for me when I was working, was an absolute joy because you had no option other than to kick-back and relax. Two weeks on Bird and I’d return to work refreshed and happy. The only decision I had to make each day was whether to walk round the island in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.
Crab Plovers [Dromas ardeola]
You fly to Bird from Mahé. It’s about 95km northwest and takes around 40 minutes in a light aircraft. You stay at Bird Island Lodge, which is no more than a large open-air restaurant and bar come lounge area. There are twenty-four individual, reasonably well-spaced chalets that are spread in a line, ten to the north of the lodge and fourteen to the south. The furthermost chalet at the southern end of the island is number 26 - there is no 13, and number 17 is larger and used by the management - and it’s this particular chalet that we favour even if it's the longest walk to the restaurant and bar! It’s also at completely the opposite end of the island to our favourite spot, which is ’north point’.
At 'north point' you feel as though you're standing at the edge of the world
As its name implies, Bird Island is famous for its birds - white-tailed tropic birds, fairy terns, sooty terns, frigatebirds and red-footed boobies to name just a few, plus its pristine beaches provide nesting sites for both hawksbill and green turtles. My photo gallery contains a dedicated ‘collections’ set for the island's birds, and under my ‘species’ section I have an article on hawksbill turtles.
Hawksbill Turtle [Eretmochelys imbricata] | IUCN Red List 'critically endangered'
However, in respect of the birds it would be remiss of me not to make a specific mention of the famous bird colony where, in the nesting season from around the beginning of April to mid October, up to 700,000 pairs of sooty terns congregate to breed.
And without wanting to forget what is probably considered the island's biggest, and literally largest, attraction I'll end with a photo of a giant tortoise, of which there are around thirty or so that are left to free-range wherever they choose.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise [Aldabrachelys gigantea] | IUCN Red List 'vulnerable'