Trip Report: Island Hopping on Cousine, Curieuse, St. Pierre And The Garden Of Eden

a small white animal in a hole in the ground
***This is part 12 of my “Camels, Bats, and Bloggers” trip report detailing a recent trip to Dubai and Seychelles, with a final stop in Las Vegas to attend the 2014 BAcon conference hosted by BoardingArea***

1. Introduction – Camels, Bats, and Bloggers
2. Emirates Lounge at SFO
3. Emirates First Class San Francisco to Dubai
4. Conrad Dubai
5. Old Dubai, Ski Dubai, and At the Top
6. Emirates Terminal B First Class Lounge at DXB
7. Emirates First Class Dubai to Mahe, Seychelles
8. Four Seasons Seychelles
9. Air Seychelles Economy Class Mahe to Praslin
10. Raffles Praslin Seychelles
11. Island Hopping – La Digue
12. Island Hopping – Praslin, Cousine, Curieuse, St. Pierre
13. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa
14. Emirates Business Class Mahe, Seychelles to Dubai
15. 7-Star Luxury at the Burj Al Arab
16. British Airways Lounge at DXB
17. Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai to Los Angeles via Hong Kong
18. 2014 BAcon Conference in Las Vegas + Mandalay Bay Hotel
19. American Express Centurion Lounge at LAS

Those passing rain showers that I’ve been alluding to in the Seychelles? They passed by every single day, except for the one that we’d be spending on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, with no cover. Just our luck.

Imagine taping sponges all around your body, throwing on a huge wool sweater, and then sitting in the shower for 8 hours. The skies decided to really let it go today, and we were soaked to a level that I’d never experienced before. At least it was a comfortable 75-80 degrees throughout the day, so we weren’t out in the cold shivering our butts off.

Through the hotel we had arranged for an island hopping day-trip that would start at Cousine Island, then take us over to Curieuse Island, and would finish at St. Pierre Island which is known for snorkeling.

Our guide picked us up at the hotel in a twin-engine speedboat, and explained that when it rains it actually calms down the seas. If this was calm, then I’d hate to see angry. It was even more of a roller coaster ride than yesterday’s ferry ride to La Digue, and for those that get seasick you will definitely want to have whatever you need on-hand.

We anchored slightly off-shore at Cousine Island, and were picked up in a smaller boat. The fun part was speeding into shore, catching a final wave, and flying airborne onto the beach like something out of a James Bond movie.

My one piece of advice when visiting Cousine? BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT. If you don’t, you will get absolutely devoured. We lucked out in that everyone else was smarter than us and had brought it. We put on our saddest puppy dog faces and were able to beg others for some.

The group split off into two large groups by language, English and French, and then further into about 3-4 subgroups which were led by guides who lived on the island. They gave us an abbreviated tour since everyone was soaked even under the cover of the trees, but it still ended up being a nice 45 walk around the island which included spotting some pretty darn cute birds.

Unfortunately, heavy rain also meant that it was hard to keep the camera gear dry, hence the lack of pictures from this portion of the trip.

a small white animal in a hole in the ground
a couple of birds sitting on the ground

Bird spotting on Cousine Island

Next stop was Cureiuse Island, where we first stopped for lunch under the cover of a picnic area where several BBQ pits were setup. There were many stations, presumably reserved for each of the different tour operators. Ours cooked up a delicious lunch which included salad, rice, and grilled fish and chicken that had been slathered in a traditional Seychellois Creole marinade that was absolutely delicious. Everyone used this time to dry off, and a giant tortoise came over to hang out with us while we ate.

Normally, we would have walked from here to the other end of the island where the giant tortoises are located, but for today we jumped back in the boat and rode over.

The giant tortoise sanctuary was awesome – hundreds of giant tortoises were just hanging out here. They were in all different states of activity – laying down, standing up, completely in their shell, chilling in the water, and even getting it on! And yes, they mate as slowly as you’d expect.

It was really fun to play with and feed the tortoises and was a unique experience to be so up-close-and-personal with them.

a group of tortoises in the sand
a large turtle walking on grass
two large tortoises on grass
Giant tortoises at Curieuse Island
a group of turtles in a muddy pond
Chilling in the water
two turtles in a puddle of water
Mating season
a couple of turtles eating leaves
Feeding the tortoises fresh leaves

Last stop of the day was St. Pierre Island. Well, to call it an island is a bit of a stretch – it’s basically a rock formation in the middle of the ocean. St. Pierre is extremely picturesque and known as a great spot for snorkeling. It was extremely wavy near here and visibility wasn’t great, so we spent just 30 minutes here before calling it a day.

a small island with trees and rocks in the water
St. Pierre Island

The next day on the way to the airport, we made sure to stop by Vallee de Mai which is a UNESCO heritage site located on Praslin Island. It’s home to the endemic Coco de Mer, and is the alleged location of the Garden of Eden.

Guides were available on-site, and we spent about an hour walking through Vallee de Mai with ours. He provided a lot of information about its history, as well as descriptions of all the unique plants, trees, and fruits inside.

Most interesting things we picked up? The Coco de Mer is the world’s most expensive nut and is typically used in high-end cosmetics. As such, each nut costs tens of thousands of dollars, and can take anywhere from 6-10 years to form. Oh, and there are male and female Coco de Mer trees, which have reproductive organs that look eerily similar to…well I’ll let you bet the judge below.

a sign with a map on it
Vallee de Mai entrance
a man and woman holding a large snake
Learning about the Coco de Mer’s reproductive process
a forest with many trees and rocks
a tree with many fruits on it
Coco de Mer tree
a hole in the dirt
Petrified Coco de Mer tree
a snail on a tree trunk
Watching the snails climb down the tree

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