Travel

Photo story: The bicycle island of La Digue in the Seychelles

Time and tide lap gently on the sands of this small Seychelles island, resting in the shade of tall palms and teased by calm whirlpools. Life’s clamour slips away until it’s just you, your bike and the trail Monday, 8 April

By Teagan Cunniffe
Photographs By Teagan Cunniffe

Cars are still relative newcomers on the island, yet the local Diguois people and tourists still use bicycles as the main means of transportation around the four-square mile island, where a crescent-shaped, undulating promenade hugs the shore. Cyclists pedal past free-roaming giant tortoises, upmarket hotels, glittering bays and tropical jungle before being halted by a section of wild, rugged coastline on the east coast that can only be accessed on foot.

“Come here!” calls Jules, beckoning us into his traditional creole cafe, which overlooks the sea. Flecks of shell fly through the air with each solid thwack of the machete. He holds out a piece of coconut dripping with juice. “This is for you.” At dusk, Keron offers a different refreshment at Fruita Cabana Bar on Anse Source d’Argent, deftly mixing up cocktails to be sipped as the sun sets.

Early morning commuters gather for conversation in the shade of a tree. Houses here are simple and colourful, and always have at least one bike resting out front. Bikes are left unlocked and untouched — ‘know thy neighbour’ rings true on an island with a population of just 2,800. Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in the Seychelles — a shrine to the Virgin Mary on the northeast coast of the island, tucked into an alcove along the promenade, bears witness to prayers and offerings.

Sheltered paths wind seawards, snaking through natural granite formations. On the southwest coast, a monolithic granite boulder formed more than 750 million years ago towers over an acre of land. As the sun disappears, so do the crowds, leaving the stretches of beach empty once again. Takamaka trees rustle with the sound of fruit bats taking to the skies in low swoops.

Published in the May 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

 

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