Alphonse Island - A Bucket List Destination
As our specialist, Anton, explains for the keen fishermen or the sun worshippers, Alphonse Island is absolutely the place to visit. Secluded and white sandy beaches and coconut trees as well as the thrill of battling with a Giant Trevally are a temptation for many.
The dream of a private island, where white sandy beaches and coconuts are just part of your day. The crystal clear waters of this remote island in the Seychelles has long been a huge tick on many a fly fishing list, more recently becoming the go-to destination for non-fisher folk too.
For the fishing keen, the day starts by meeting at the boats at the civilised hour of seven and then you are out on the flats of St Francis Island for the day, stalking bonefish, permit, triggers and milkfish while waiting patiently for the giant bow wave in the knee-deep waters that signal the arrival of the giant trevalley, the GTs are the mafia of the reef. My first meeting with these monstrously powerful fish almost brought me to tears when I finally managed to hook my first monster - I learnt, the hard way as a fish over a meter in length destroyed the dream, leaving me with blisters, a broken rod and a snapped line all in the space of 30 seconds. A few choice words that can only be said miles from land, a small temper tantrum and we got on with repairing the broken spirits and gear.
We headed out to deeper waters in the skiff to try our luck and calm the nerves. Poseidon, decided to toy with me, suddenly a pair of 12-foot sailfish danced in the waters below, without thinking about the circumstances, and forgetting the heartbreak of the GT, a quick cast and we had the sailfish turned, a second cast to the pair and one of them took the fly. The next few minutes were complete mayhem, the guide dashed to the front of the boat and helped me feed the remaining line to beast awoken on the end of my line, once we had all the line out, and I had braced myself onto the transom, I now envisaged myself stuck here like ' The Old man and the Sea' a character in Ernest Hemmingway's novel, where a fisherman had hooked more than he could handle and three days later arrived back at shore exhausted with a skeleton of a fish to show for his troubles. What happened was far far worse, after what seemed like 10 minutes but in reality was more like two minutes, the fish dove deep and all I could do was watch my backing peel away into the dark blue waters of the Indian Ocean, dread, despair and disbelief building faster than the line was being stripped out. Suddenly, the line stopped going out and held, as the fish gave me the smallest glimmer of hope that I was going to win the battle. I was wrong. A final surge, and then he was gone. I was left shaking like a leaf, wondering what went wrong.
I looked up, wondering how my day could be such a drama and realised I could be in the office in London; I instantly cheered up!
I stayed on the island as a leisure guest and so did not go fishing every day, the people who did spend the week fishing managed to catch 700 bonefish, all released successfully between 12 flyfisher people - heaven on earth for the fisher folk.
As a leisure guest, I had free reign of the island during the day, more than half of the other guests were out fishing so Gordon, the General Manager, offered to be my dive buddy for the morning. Such is the life on paradise! We dove with sharks and had tuna hunting baitfish all around us for the majority of the dive, a few rays added to the already incredible underwater experience. What struck me most was the pristine nature of the reefs, but that is what happens when you are an hours flight from the nearest populated place. A forest of sea fans meant that I spent ages looking for the macro-fauna, small shrimps and nudibranches appeared as if by magic to the patient eye. Later the marine biologists on the Island took me on a flats walk and opened my eyes further to the delights of the natural world that I had missed on the house reef when snorkelling.
For the sun worshipper, what more could you ask for than a private beach? Take your bike and a few drinks to just get away from it all, escape people, escape life and just recharge those batteries! The protective reef surrounding the island means the waters are calm and gently lapping the edge. Take a kayak, or an SUP and explore. Midway through your stay, join the rest of the Islanders for a sunset drink at the end of the runway and go out for lunch in the most spectacular setting nature could provide, out on a sandbank in the middle of the ocean.
Alphonse Island may have a reputation for its fantastic fishing, and this does shadow the idyllic experience that is offered as such, it is perfect for anyone wanting to escape, and yet at the same time be part of one of the most welcoming teams I have ever met. The focus is on the island and your experience. As the fishermen are out all day, you don't need to stay hidden in your room, like many beach hotels, the Island is your private paradise.
The Seychelles is a year-round destination, with the fishing season being closed in June and July.