La Digue is the smallest of the three inhabited islands that are part of 115 islands that make up the Republic of Seychelles. Crossing between the islands is quite easy since there is a ferry that travels one or more times per day. La Digue’s main source of income is tourism, as it is known for its beautiful beaches, especially Anse Source d’Argent and Grand Anse.
This small island has a population of just 2,800 people, who mostly live in the villages of La Passe and La Réunion. To maintain tranquility, the island does not have cars, only golf carts that are not rented to visitors. As it is quite flat, it is easy to walk on foot or by bicycle.
One of the best bike rides is to L’Union Estate which is in the western part of La Digue. When entering you will have to pay to be able to spend the whole day in the place. This plantation used to be owned by a wealthy family from Mauritius. Now it’s owned by France Albert René, former President of Seychelles. It is advisable to go early to the beach Anse Source D’Argent and then visit the attractions of L’Union Estate.
The colonial house was built in the tropical French colonial style. It has a great terrace that loops around it with entrances on the front and back. Its roof is made of thatched palm with small windows that look out at the top. The furniture is all from the era and has been preserved for tourists to be transported to other times.
The islands of Seychelles are volcanic and it is common to see giant granite stones like those near the house. This mountain was formed 75 million years ago from magma of an active volcano. Today, it serves as home to a community of giant Aldabra land tortoises that are in danger of extinction. These turtles are between 30 and 100 years old and can weigh up to 550 pounds. You should not touch them but you can feed them.
In L’Union Estate you will find a small historical cemetery next to the Indian Ocean. In this place the first inhabitants of La Digue were buried.
Coconut and vainilla
This plantation mainly planted coconut palms that were imported by Europeans two centuries ago. Until the 1980s, coconuts were grown in L’Union Estate for commercial use. You can still see the production but on a smaller scale. Coconut oil, before palm oil became popular, was highly valued. The copra (the dry skin of the coconut) is used to process it.
You can see the rooms where the coconuts are dried and an old mill that is still operated by an ox.
On the way to the beach you will find a vanilla plantation. This plant was brought by French settlers. Unfortunately, there are not many pollinating insects in La Digue and it was necessary to pollinate each flower by hand. Therefore, it took a lot of work to produce the vanilla and after vanillin was invented (synthetic vanilla) the demand fell. Vanilla continues to grow on the island and you can buy it, but you should keep in mind that it is not cheap.
You will also find the Giant Stone of the Union that is 40 meters high and occupies an area of 4,000 square meters. It is estimated to be 700 million years old.
Anse Source D’Argent
As mentioned above, it is better to go to the beach Anse Source D’Argent first and then see what L’Union Estate offers. I usually try to go early to the beach as I am very white, but the suggestion is due to the fact that the beach is quite small. The entire bay measures about 1 kilometer. To get there, you must park your bike and walk along a small sand path between granite rocks and palm trees.
You will find a kiosk that offers tours, in case you want to rent a transparent kayak.
It is said that Anse Source D’Argent is the most photographed beach in the world and it really is a spectacle. It became famous after appearing in films like Emanuelle, Crusoe, and Castaway, as well as Bacardi commercials in the 1990s.
We arrived at about 9 a.m. and it started to fill up about an hour later. Groups arrived to visit the island for the day and seized the beautiful beach. We went in March which is low season, I can not imagine what it would be like in high season between May and October.
There are plants on the edge of the beach that are ideal to leave your belongings on a towel or to hide from the sun. This beach has no waves and has little depth. There is very good visibility, which makes it ideal for snorkeling. It is certainly worth visiting this beach early to enjoy one of the best attractions of Seychelles.