Its past is rich and varied, having been colonized by French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne in 1768, who subsequently renamed it in honor of his ship, “La Curieuse”, and serving as a leper colony for over a century. Today, Curieuse is a designated Marine National Park, playing a vital role in carrying out several coral restoration projects and serving as a breeding ground for the majestic Giant Aldabra tortoises.
Discover the island’s hidden treasures as you wander through lush mangrove swamps, bask in the sun on pristine beaches, and stumble upon the remnants of the haunting leprosarium. Witness the awe-inspiring sight of the majestic Giant Aldabra tortoises, some of which are over a century old and roam freely on the island.
And if you’re planning a day trip to this paradise, use this guide to help you make the most of your visit to this island, peppered with iconic coco-de-mer trees.
Map of Curieuse Island
Before delving into the details of this stunning destination, we want to ensure that you have all the necessary information at your fingertips. Our map features everything from the best beaches to the most popular attractions and tour operators, making it the perfect planning tool for your upcoming adventure.
So, let’s dive into the wonders of Curieuse Island and start mapping out your dream vacation!
Flora & Fauna
Despite the fact that fire and erosion over many years have destroyed much of the vegetation on Curieuse, the island still boasts rich endemic flora and fauna.
At the top of the list of natural wonders is the breathtaking Coco de Mer palm tree. The island is home to one of the world’s two natural forests of the iconic tree, with the other being Vallée de Mai on Praslin. This magnificent species produces the largest and heaviest seeds in the world and draws plenty of attention due to its suggestive shape.
Surrounding the Coco de Mer, you’ll find Curieuse’s seemingly endless thick and rich mangroves. The awe-inspiring ecosystem is a sanctuary for six out of Seychelles’ seven native mangrove species and provides crucial habitat for a diverse array of animals.
Speaking of animals, the real highlight of Curieuse is its fascinating wildlife. And no presence on the island is more striking than the 300-strong colony of Aldabra giant tortoises that roam freely around it. In addition, Curieuse’s pristine beaches are a crucial nesting ground for sea turtles that return each year to lay their eggs, providing a mesmerizing spectacle of nature in action.
And for bird lovers, the island is also the exclusive habitat of the Seychelles Black Parrot, one of the rarest endemic birds in the world and the national bird of Seychelles. While it breeds on Praslin, Curieuse is the only other place in the world where you can catch a glimpse of this elusive bird in its natural habitat.
Tip: In order to discover Curieuse’s rare flora and fauna, follow the island’s guided trails, visit the Giant Tortoise Farm, or opt for a snorkeling trip!
What to See on Curieuse
Giant Tortoise Farm
As soon as you set foot on Curieuse, you will be greeted by a sight straight out of a fairy tale – Giant tortoises ambling about the Ranger’s Station at Laraie Bay. These gentle giants are the crown jewel of the island, boasting the second-largest population of their kind in the Seychelles archipelago, second only to the world-renowned Aldabra World Heritage Site.
But they haven’t always thrived on this island.
Curieuse’s love affair with these incredible creatures began in 1975 when 95 individuals were carefully relocated to Curieuse from Aldabra in a daring effort to protect them from extinction. Since then, their population has flourished, and the island now serves as a vital sanctuary for the unique species.
The tortoise nursery, in particular, plays a crucial role in nurturing them until they reach the age of five, at which point they are released into the wild to continue their journey. The wardens of the farm will show you around the pens, sharing fascinating insights into the tortoises’ behavior and habits.
Leper Colony Ruins
Take a step back in time and uncover the chilling history of Curieuse, which served as a leper colony from 1829 to 1965. The first inhabitants were African slaves, abandoned on isolated islands in the Indian Ocean, who were brought to the island in a desperate effort to contain the spread of the disease.
Today, the remnants of this turbulent past can still be seen in the ruins of the stone cottages and shelters that line the shore at Anse St. José. These haunting structures, camouflaged on the edge of the tree line, boast a rustic charm that belies their tragic history. With their wobbly appearance, crooked doors, and windows, these buildings stand as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of hope in the face of adversity.
The Doctor’s House
Another significant reminder of its past awaits – the Doctor’s House. A marvel of Creole colonial architecture, this single-story building was built in 1873 as the residence of Dr. William MacGregor, the Scottish Medical Officer in charge of the leper colony.
Today, the Doctor’s House has been transformed into an educational center and a museum, offering visitors a captivating insight into the intricate history of the island while also showcasing the island’s natural splendor through the works of local artists.
Hikes on Curieuse Island
A paradise for hiking enthusiasts, Curieuse is full of natural treasures and the best way to discover them is by following its two designated trails.
Upon arrival at Baie Laraie, typically where the boat from Praslin disembarks, the path leads past the Giant Tortoise Farm and over rocky terrain to a mangrove forest. At the crossroads, turning right will take you to the stunning Anse Badamier beach in the island’s north, while the left path leads to the beautiful Anse St. José beach.
Hike to Anse Badamier
The trail to Anse Badamier winds up a gentle slope and typically takes around 45 minutes to complete. Along the way, you’ll be treated to a stunning display of colors as the red earth of the hillside contrasts with the lush green foliage and the black granite boulders.
The real treasure, however, is the beach that awaits you at the end of the trail.
Anse Badamier is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Seychelles, thanks to its tranquil turquoise waters, swaying palm trees, and granite boulders scattered throughout the bay. The overall effect is nothing short of breathtaking, and well worth the hike.
Hike to Anse St José
As you make your way toward Anse St. José, you’ll find yourself enveloped in a dense and captivating mangrove forest. But thanks to a sturdy wooden boardwalk built on pilings, you can access the swamp even during high tide.
As you near the beach, the landscape takes on a hauntingly beautiful quality, with the ruins of the leper colony and the Doctor’s House blending seamlessly into the surroundings. Despite the somber backdrop, however, Anse St. José itself is a true paradise, with sparkling waters and golden sand that make for an unforgettable beach experience.
Hike to Mont Curieuse (172m)
For a truly challenging adventure, follow the rugged rocky trail from Anse St. José to the summit of Curieuse Island.
The path is unmarked and treacherous, so be prepared for a few scrapes and bruises along the way. In fact, you may even need to wield a sturdy stick to clear a path through the dense foliage that blankets the trail. But trust us when we say that the panoramic 360-degree views from the top of Mount Caiman, the island’s highest point, are more than worth the effort!
St. Pierre Island
Snorkeling around Curieuse & St Pierre Islet
No visit to Curieuse Island is complete without experiencing its wondrous underwater world. The island is a designated National Marine Park, and as such, its priceless coral reefs are carefully safeguarded and rejuvenated.
For an unforgettable snorkeling experience make your way to Coral Garden (also known as Pointe Rouge) on the eastern coast. Here, you’ll be dazzled by the diverse and colorful marine life that calls the reef home. And keep your eyes peeled, as you may even be lucky enough to encounter a majestic sea turtle up close and personal!
Another fantastic snorkeling spot is the tiny islet of Saint Pierre, located just a 15-minute boat ride from Curieuse (and only 5 minutes from Praslin). This tiny slice of paradise, spanning just 0.1km², features a scattering of granite rocks jutting out of the crystal-clear waters, a smattering of swaying palm trees, and an array of white-tailed tropical birds. The glassy waters surrounding the islet, while sometimes a little choppy, are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
How to Get to Curieuse FROM PRASLIN
The easiest way to get to Curieuse Island is by booking an island hopping and snorkeling trip day trip from Praslin. With several departures available daily, you can easily arrange the tour through your accommodation or local tour operators. Alternatively, you can book the tour online for added convenience. If you’re staying on La Digue or Mahé, organized day tours are also available, but be aware that the prices for these ones are higher.
The tour package typically includes convenient hotel pick-up and drop-off, landing and entry fees for the islands, a guided tour of Curieuse Island, and snorkeling the reef off the neighboring islet of St. Pierre. The tour prices are based on the group size, with rates starting at $100 per person for a 10-person group. For a more personalized and enjoyable trip, prefer a small group tour of up to six or four people.
If you’re visiting from Praslin, opt for a tour that includes in the itinerary a trip to Cousin Island, which is a safe refuge for countless birds!
— ORGANIZED TOURS —
Where to Stay on Curieuse Island
Due to its status as a protected nature reserve, overnight accommodation is not available on Curieuse Island.
However, the nearby island of Praslin, which is typically the starting point for tours to Curieuse, offers a variety of excellent lodging options. Whether you prefer luxury resorts or budget-friendly guesthouses, you’re sure to find the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the stunning natural beauty of Seychelles.
Constance Lemuria is a tranquil resort located on Praslin’s northwest coast, surrounded by tropical gardens and three gorgeous beaches. The resort offers a range of activities such as an 18-hole championship golf course, a spa, and four restaurants with stunning views. Guests have access to the world-famous Anse Georgette beach and the opportunity to witness turtles laying their eggs with the help of the resort’s turtle experts.
Indulge in the epitome of luxury on Praslin Island at Chateau de Feuilles. Positioned on a hill, this intimate boutique hotel presents nine opulent rooms and suites, adorned with one-of-a-kind art pieces and offering breathtaking views of the ocean. The hotel’s helipad adds a touch of glamour to guests’ arrival, and on weekends, they can relish in the seclusion of Grande Soeur, one of Seychelles’ most stunning islands, which is entirely reserved for the hotel’s guests.
For budget-friendly beachfront accommodation on Amitie Beach, Seashell Beach Villa is a top pick. With its perfect location, guests can enjoy serenity and seclusion while being close to the beach. The villa has eight well-appointed rooms and a fully equipped kitchen, enabling guests to prepare meals according to their preferences.
Curieuse Island is a treasure trove of natural wonders that caters to nature lovers of all kinds, whether you’re into snorkeling, hiking, giant tortoises, or simply intrigued by its diverse ecosystem.
So, pack your snorkeling gear, hiking shoes, and camera, and set sail for this extraordinary destination!