Pirates, Paradise & Paddle Boarding

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Written by Nathan & Ivan van Vuuren

 Pirates, Paradise & Paddle Boarding

 The 3 ingredients that caught my attention the moment I heard about an opportunity to visit National Geographic’s no.1 rated Beach destination in the world. 

It all came rather suddenly. My uncle, who is a very generous man and has done quite well in business, invited me to come and stay with him on his remote island and explore the Seychelles for a week.

I quickly jumped on Google to see what I could find regarding Stand up paddle boarding in this unique part of the world. To my surprise, this was rather unchartered waters as far as SUP goes and I knew, that a once in a lifetime adventure and dream lay in front of me. 

Now for a 10-year-old surf grom that was born in Hawaii, and has spent the last 5 years enduring freezing Cape Town waters, the most exciting part was packing my suitcase and getting ready for the trip that lay ahead. No wetsuits, no booties- Instead contents of chocolates, cereal, Vuarnet sunglasses and a spare leash being main essentials on the list. 

Departing from Cape Town airport, the next seven hours would no doubt allow plenty of time to sit back and imagine what lay ahead. The Seychelles’ geographical location and its physical features made it an ideal hideaway for pirates. In the 17th Century, the pirates came with their loot and for a time lay siege to the sun, sand and sea. The history of Seychelles is so fantastical that it could have been used as story-line for a children’s book. Tales of pirates and treasure that have been hidden on these islands over the years is what makes any kids imagination come alive. Imagine finding the  £150 million treasure of notorious pirate, Oliver “The Mouth” le Vasseur, said to be hidden on one of these islands. Imagine how many surfboards I could buy! No sooner had my imagination drifted off than we landed with a thud on a tiny airstrip alongside the oceans edge. Disembarking off the plane onto a hot air strip, tradewinds blowing through my hair and smiles from the locals made me realize I was officially in the Seychelles. 

Now for most tourists arriving on a tropical island for the first time, the mode of transport to their hotel would be a key factor in deciding which would be their hotel of choice- As I loaded my board and gear onto my uncles Catamaran, appropriately named “Sunshine”, it was time to start the motors and head across to our final destination, a semi uninhabited Island and home away from home. A lone house, situated directly over the turquoise blue water, surrounded by reefs, jungle and sandy beaches.

Without delay, fins were inserted, leash attached and it was time to hit the water. The Republic of Seychelles comprises of 115 islands. It represents an archipelago of legendary beauty that extends from between 4 and 10 degrees south of the equator.  Of these 115 islands, 41 constitute the oldest mid-oceanic granite islands on earth while a further 74 form the low-lying coral atolls and reef islands of the Outer Islands. Beauty that surpasses anything I have ever seen.  Standing up and paddling over reefs of this nature is what makes the sport of SUP so amazing. To be able to witness rays, fish, and sea life that movies are made of, up close and personal. 

With an annual average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, consistent warm weather in the day and at night made escaping the Cape’s winter cold fronts that much more enjoyable. Shorts and Tank tops were the order of the day. All I could say the whole time is, “This is the life!!”

Now there is one unique thing about spending time on a remote island where there are no roads, no cars and few people. Firstly there are no fast-foods. No ice cream. No 7/11’s and when you do run out of something important there is definitely no jumping in a car and shooting down to your local store. After all the water time and hungry munchies, the day soon arrived when it was time to restock on supplies. Gale force South East trade winds were up and howling so a perfect time to tackle the raging open ocean and visit the local market. Colors, characters and all sorts of unique island tastes were up for the taking. Inspired by its grand diversity of cultural influences, ethnic diversity with racial harmony remain the mainstays of today’s vibrant Creole nation.

Practically every nation on earth has been represented in this melting pot of cultures, each one contributing its special influence to today’s vibrant yet tranquil society. Local Seychellois people are friendly, and walking around the market I sure felt like royalty as I was greeted with smiles and handshakes from people of all ages. 

Back on our island, the winds were slowing down and after being taught by my new local friend how to survive on coconuts, it was time to head out and explore. Loading up the surf kayak, SUP in tow, and enough supplies to last a few hours. From flat-water adventure to small wave riding, each stroke presented a breathtaking bay with different features and scenery. Low lying trees over the ocean, ancient ruins, palm trees and rock formations out of this world.

After 7 days of non-stop paddling and exploring, my arms were eventually wasted and it was time to head back to school and brave the remainder of winter in Cape Town.  As I buckled up and prepared for the journey home, I realize that I may not have found the Pirates treasure, but the new friendships and memories I made were priceless and a SUP dream vacation in Paradise would be etched in my memory forever.

 

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