A tale of two Hiltons
Discover the charming contrast between the archipelago’s sibling Hilton escapes
FROM JET TO JETTY
“There’s nothing on this island that will kill you.” This wasn’t an answer to a question I’d asked, or even thought about, but now I was suddenly curious. Surely a falling coconut could do some serious damage? My guided tour of Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa had essentially been a leisurely spin around the fertile complex in a golf buggy, but this was an abrupt and dramatic tangent. “Well, you might see a hairy caterpillar… you don’t want to touch that.” On reflection, it wasn’t such a strange comment. This was Silhouette Island, a half- hour boat ride, 20km from Mahé, the foremost island of the 115-member island cluster and the home of Silhouette National Park, spanning 93 percent of the landmass – a lump of earth so verdant that its 751-metre ceiling, Mont Dauban, is barely accessible without a gang of chainsaws Save the ferocious caterpillar, this might be the safest tropical island playground on offer. Despite trekking to a few corners of the island reserve, and discovering (among a multitude of other things) secluded coves, shy lizards and wonderfully serene pathways, it turned out the prickly yellowish critter didn’t make
an appearance during my stay – but the advice soon came in handy when I encountered my first shark. After a lavish buffet breakfast at Café Dauban I was fully unpacked and strolling back out of the resort across the lagoon walkway to catch a boat around the island and explore the views below the surface. The 20km-square island is maintained and monitored to a meticulous degree. The local ecologists could readily list the number of house cats and giant tortoises, with a clear idea of what feathered friends would be lurking among the palms. But the Indian Ocean is a different beast. Plunging below, the near transparent waters around Silhouette are home to multitude of sea life so dense, varied and vivid that it’s like an audition day for the next Finding Nemo movie. Or like an aquatic version of Hitchcock’s Birds, minus the horror. The two whitetip sharks were utterly nonchalant at my arrival, weaving their way around the topographic granite floor below, though I made sure not to extend any digits in its general direction. Because you just can’t be too sure. Within two short hours, I’d been acquainted with shoals of darting fish, trio of sea turtles, a bobbing family of squid, I thought I’d seen it all. But a pair of eagle rays the size of some flattened out Mini Coopers glided past our boat as we ambled back to the jetty.