Saint Pierre Islet Things to Do
Day trip to St Pierre (and Curieuse)
One of the most popular day trips from Anse Volbert is to the neighbouring island of Curieuse and the small rocky islet of St Pierre.
The former was a leper colony until 1965 and is now famous for its hundreds of free-roaming giant tortoises and for being the only place in the world, aside from Praslin's Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, where the Coco de Mer tree grows naturally. The latter is a popular snorkelling spot, just off the coast of Praslin, and clearly visible from the beach at Anse Volbert (Cote d'Or).
A third island, Cousin, can also be added for a longer (and more expensive) day trip. We opted just to visit Curieuse and St Pierre.
The day trip includes a BBQ lunch by the beach on Curieuse Island.
You will find local touts on Anse Volbert beach attempting to sign tourists up for this boat trip. We spoke to a few of them, got details of the day's itinerary and noted their prices. Prices were around €60-€65 per person and some of the touts offered to knock €5 per person off the price when we told them we'd go away and think about it.
Ultimately, we booked the trip through our guesthouse (Villa Bananier) and paid €60 per person. We knew (from our discussions with the touts) that we would have to pay a further 200 Rupees (£10) per person in landing fees upon arrival at Curieuse Island.
This review is intended to give an outline to the day trip. I shall write separate reviews for the individual attractions included in the day trip.
We were collected fom our guesthouse at 9:30am and made the short walk to the beach where the boat was waiting. Our boatman was a local youth with dreadlocks concealed under a rastacap. There were six of us on the trip; Emma and I, a young couple from France and a couple from the USA and Spain.
The boat ride to Curieuse took around 15 minutes and we arrived on the beach at Anse St Jose at around 9:50am.
The boatman guided us ashore and walked us up the beach. Here, next to the Doctor's House, we found an official who collected our landing fees and issued us with tickets.
There were also information boards displaying a map of the island and a list of banned activities (fishing, lighting open fires, undertaking motorised watersports, collecting shells and seeds). The boatman showed us where we were on the map and explained how to reach the site of our lunchtime BBQ at Baie Laraie. Basically, we should take the right hand path, keeping heading right at all times, pass the Old Turtle Pond and follow the boardwalks through the mangroves. The boatman told us that the walk would take around 45 minutes and the BBQ would be served from midday.
With this in mind, we had about an hour to kill before we needed to start the cross-island walk.
We began by visiting the Doctor's House. This Creole-style two storey house, with a large verandah on the upper floor, was built by Dr William MacGregor in 1873 – a Scottish doctor who was posted to the island to help treat leprosy victims who were quarantined on Curieuse. The lower floor of the house contains information boards, written in both English and French, detailing the island's history as a leper colony (between 1829-1900 and 1937-1965), the story of Scottish doctor William MacGregor and the island's conservation activities (turtles, tortoises, coco de mer trees and nuts). The upper floor of the house contains further information about the island's native flora and fauna, devoted mainly to the turtles, tortoises, coral reefs and the various plants and flowers that can be seen when walking along the island's trails.
It didn't take us much more than 10 minutes to explore the house, so we returned to Anse St Jose Beach where we enjoyed a relaxing swim in the warm turquoise waters before commencing our walk to Baie Laraie.
Had we known how strenuous the walk to Baie Laraie was, we might have set off earlier. The "Anse St Jose-Baie Laraie Trail" started easily enough – a flat walk through shaded trees, with the occasional sighting of a large tortoise and ruined buildings from the former leper colony. Then we encountered a series of inclines and declines – some quite steep, on rough terrain, and not ideally suited to walking in flip flops. Some of the inclines led to spectacular views, for example over the Old Turtle Pond and Curieuse Causeway, as well as the lovely sandy coastline of Baie Laraie. Large sections of the flat part of the trail were covered with wooden boardwalks, passing through areas of mangrove swamp (although they were bone dry at the time of our visit) and young Coco de Mer trees. There was the occasional information board detailing the local flora. Large crabs and small lizards scurried around beneath and on top of the boardwalks.
As we made the walk towards Baie Laraie, we passed many more people heading in the opposite direction. Their boats had left them at Baie Laraie and they were making the walk to Anse St Jose where they would have lunch in the large BBQ area close to the Doctor's House.
We eventually arrived at Baie Laraie - a nice sandy beach, backed by palm trees and a large grassy area where many of the island's Giant Aldabra Tortoises can be found. There are apparently more than 200 of these giant tortoises on the island; we saw maybe 30 or 40, each one bearing an identification number. It is possible to feed the tortoises.
Shortly after midday, we were invited to make our way to the nearby BBQ area for lunch. In truth, the food was a little disappointing – both in terms of variety and quantity. Our table for six was laid out with bowls of boiled rice and salad, a small plate of fruit (perhaps enough for one piece each) and bottles of Sprite, Coca Cola and mineral water. Plates of grilled fish (the best part of the meal) and BBQ chicken (not so great) were brought over to our table from the grill. Although the food wasn't great, the setting was very nice. We could see not only the giant tortoises from our table, but also the native birdlife, including the bright red Madagascar fody, several of which were flying around the BBQ area looking for food.
With lunch complete, we had time to see more of the giant tortoises and then enjoy a swim in the sea, next to the spectacular granite rocks. Our boat left Curieuse at 2:00pm.
A 15 minute boat ride took us across to the small rocky islet of St Pierre. Our boatman got as close to the island as he could and then we waded through knee deep water to climb ashore and leave our belongings on the rocks.
There wasn't much space on the rocks, but that wasn't a problem as most people simply left their bags and towels there and then entered the water for snorkelling.
The snorkelling here was pretty good, with plenty of colourful fish (which we recognised by sight, if not by name, from our snorkelling experiences in the Maldives), good visibility and relatively calm waters. There were a few other boats at the island and some of the boatmen were feeding the fish, making for particularly good snorkelling spots!
The coral wasn't so impressive and we weren't lucky (!) enough to spot any sharks; the reviews that I had read beforehand suggested that there was a good chance of seeing sharks nearby.
We enjoyed an hour's snorkelling before heading back to Anse Volbert around 3:15pm.
(As a sidenote, a couple of days later we undertook a more impressive snorkelling trip to Ile Cocos and Félicité Island – where the variety of fish was greater and the coral was in better condition).
We arrived back on the beach at Anse Volbert just before 3:30pm.
We would highly recommend this day trip if you are staying on the island of Praslin. Curieuse offers historic sights, great walking and plenty of local flora and fauna (particularly its giant Aldabra tortoises), while St Pierre offers the chance of some good snorkelling. Highly recommended!!Add to your Trip Planner
Feed the fish
If you do not want to snorkel then you can stay on the boat and watch the fish come up to get food from one of the crew.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
0 Hotels in Saint Pierre Islet
Saint Pierre Islet Transportation
You can make arrangements at most of the hotels on Praslin or Mahe to come here for a short stop to snorkel or you can come out for a day of diving.
You will come on a boat from the hotel.Add to your Trip Planner
Saint Pierre Islet Warnings and Dangers
When we were there we did notice that the reefs did not look very healthy and had been affected by coral bleaching.
They said it was caused by the warming effect or El Nino.Related to:
Saint Pierre Islet What to Pack
Luggage and bags: Bring a small backpack or bag with everything you will need for the day.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Wear your swimsuit if you plan to swim, there is no where to change when you get there.
You will also need a towel.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring tissue, insect repellant, and sunscreen
There are mites and mosquitos on these islands and the sun is very bright reflecting off the water and sand.
Photo Equipment: Bring camera and film or memory card. An underwater camera is good to have also.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring your snorkel equipment if you plan to snorkel.
Miscellaneous: Bring bottled water because you will get very thirsty before lunch time.Related to: