Cerf: An Oasis of Tranquility
Just four kilometres away from the coast of Mahé, ten minutes by boat, is a pleasant contrast to the main island. Experience the blissful seclusion and Robinson Crusoe-feeling of Cerf. The name Cerf comes from the ship “Le Cerf”, which the French landed on the island in 1756 to take possession of it. Various coins that have been discovered on the island led some to believe that there was buried pirate treasure here, but so far this has never been found.
This tiny island lies in the middle of the Sainte Anne Marine Park, and is surrounded by an enchanting underwater world and a rejuvenating coral reef. The highest point on this small land mass reaches 108 metres, while the island offers little in terms of infrastructure or residential buildings, with the few that there are being distributed on the flat areas of the west and north-east coasts.
Most of the approximately 100 residents of Cerf work on Mahé, and travel over by boat every day. The journey is quick, taking just 5 to 7 minutes. For tourists, the hotels on Cerf offer a taxi boat (lagoon taxi). Depending on your chosen hotel, these transfers can be relatively flexible.
The landing point at the hotel l’Habitation extends far into the sea, with the sea that surrounds it being extremely flat. Here, various crates are also delivered for the small island community, and it is the island’s only real meeting point, where locals come to talk. There is, however, another small pier at the northern end of Takamaka beach, near to the Cerf Island Resort.
Fans of nature and tranquillity seekers will certainly find that on this island, which possesses no roads or shops, and provides the ideal place to relax and enjoy nature in its purest form. The few accommodations available to guests don’t disturb the family atmosphere of the 1 x 1.5 km island in any way. Even at the weekend when locals arrive on Cerf, everything runs a few clicks slower, with relaxed picnics under the trees or Creole barbeques on the beach or snorkellers taking to the shallow water. There are also welcoming arrangements for day visitors, who can enjoy spa treatments or a delicious meal in one of the island’s three beach restaurants. Furthermore, you can simply relax or go for a walk before finding a spot on one of the beautiful beaches to sunbathe.
At low tide, it is even possible to walk all the way around the island along the beach. There are also two somewhat overgrown jungle trails that criss-cross the island lengthways and longways. The short hike across the island is worthwhile, as Cerf is home to some rare plant and animal species. There is a small fruit bat colony on the island, as well as a population of rare miniature chameleons and a significant number of giant tortoises. Crossing the jungle from east to west only takes about 45 minutes due to the island’s small size, but this walk is nevertheless exciting and rich in discovery.
Cerf is also home to a unique snorkelling trail, accessible from the beach, which leads past four well-marked snorkelling spots, one of which even features the rare “black corals”. The guiding buoys are each mounted where there is a particularly beautiful coral, and where there is more likely to be a wealth of colourful fish compared with other locations inside the reef. The small “buoy road” is around 100 metres away from the beach, and runs parallel, ensuring easy conditions even for absolute beginners to snorkelling. At night, the pier itself is illuminated, ensuring its own special attraction: the night aquarium. Looking out from the bridge into the shallow water you can discover turtles, small rays, and countless colourful fish. Equipped with a little bread, you can quickly attract numerous colourful fish to your location and enjoy the small natural spectacle. On Cerf Island there is also a small church (St. James’), a cemetery, and a helicopter landing pad with stunning views of much of the Seychelles. Finally, the natural, free-of-charge sunsets here are also spectacular.
Cerf Island once had a thriving coconut industry, much of which is still visible today in the form of lush palm groves. Numerous other tropical plants cover the island as well, which is also home to fruit bats and giant tortoises. Around 60 metres off the southern coast of Cerf is the tiny, uninhabited Île Cachée, which can be reached by wading through the water at low tide. From this side of the island, you can see more privately-owned islands such as the Ile Anonyme, which have beautiful beaches to offer, a fact which attracts weekend visitors. If you decide on a multi-day stay on Cerf, you can also benefit from boat trips to the neighbouring islands of the Sainte Anne Marine National Park.
In conclusion, Cerf Island offers beauty and magic, and is ideal for those longing for relaxation amidst nature, without wanting to be too far from the rest of the world.