Where to begin with Bird Island… if you need to switch off, relax and re-energise then a retreat to Bird Island is the place for you.
With just 24 minimalistic, yet characteristic chalets, 18 free roaming Aldabra giant tortoises and an uncountable number of birds you will well and truly think you have arrived in paradise. The paradise that existed long before the grand 5 star hotels and before a time where you needed every possible electronic device in one in your pocket! Bird Island is pretty much back to basics but with enough benefits to not be too disconnected with the world (there is wifi).
Bird Island is the most northerly lying island of the Seychelles. The island has a population of 37 and a handful of volunteers. It is 100km from Mahé and takes around 30 minutes to arrive by a twin-otter plane. The arrival to Bird is one of the most breath-taking moments we have had in the Seychelles. Firstly, you realise just how small it is, with 5km of white coral sand beach around its perimeter. Then you see the grass runaway, very short grass runway may I add. But the crystal waters and perfect white sand just shout out heaven! Upon landing we were greeted by the manager and volunteers of the island and after a quick introductory talk, shown to our chalets. The chalets are very cute; they each have a little veranda usually with a friendly Noddy bird sat on the fence. The rooms have very comfy four poster beds with a much needed mosquito net and a small seating area. Even though the other chalets seem quite close, the shutters on the windows open in a way that you do not see into another chalet at all and buildings themselves are staggered so when sat outside on the deckchairs again you are not overlooked! It is a given on the island that people are there for peace and relaxation and so there was definitely no issue of noise!
I was told before we went to the island that the food was good but that there would be no/bad vegetarian options. This was not true at all, for every meal there was one or two vegetarian options out of the three or four given. The food was incredible! For those that know us well, you will know we like our food and we were not disappointed; we could even have seconds! The staff and volunteers were lovely, very friendly and we could not fault the waitresses at all. Just remember to sit at the same table and to bring the flask from your room down to each meal to get fresh cold water!
We had a tour of the island from the island’s conservationist Roby. He gave us so much information and in such a fun way. We were introduced to many of the island’s birds. Like Aride Island, the birds on Bird Island nest on the ground as there are no predators here. During certain times of the year the have 1 million Sooty Terns retreat to the island. They are also very lucky to have nesting Hawksbill and Green turtles too (we will have to go back to see the hatchlings). The island is famous for Esmerelda, a giant land tortoise weighing 300kg and thought to be 200 years old. We came across Esmerelda in some undergrowth one day but unfortunately he was too well hidden to get a snap. No, I did not do a typo, Esmerelda is a he! Esmereldo as some of the islanders call him.
We stayed for two nights on the island and managed to watch some fantastic sunsets, walk a lap of the island, snorkel in different spots seeing many colourful fish, a turtle and a shark (possibly a juvenile black tip reef shark). We met some lovely people, wonderful birds and managed to switch off completely!
We cannot wait to go again!