What would you do if you had a whole island? Well, Brendon Grimshaw certainly knew the best way to utilize it!
The history of Moyenne island in the Seychelles
Mr Grimshaw bought Moyenne island for only £8,000 over 50 years ago! What a bargain! The island was a true deserted paradise – tall palm trees all around and beaches to make your dreams come true. He made sure that over 16,000 trees are planted, and thus expanded the four typical tree species on the island. In addition, he was smart enough to plant pawpaw – this was the way to attract many birds from the neighbouring islands! When you visit Moyenne nowadays, you’ll see that indeed many different birds enjoy it as their habitat.
However, it’s not the birds or the trees that you’ll fall in love with – it’s the giant tortoises! Brendon Grimshaw gathered over 100 tortoises which even today roam freely around Moyenne island. This is honestly the best part – he didn’t keep them in cages and truly protected them – unfortunately, you won’t see any giant tortoises to roam freely on any other island in the Seychelles.
Later on, many people offered Grimshaw to buy this island from him (some offers were over $50 million!), but, knowing human nature, he stubbornly refused and didn’t want to risk some large hotel chain to destroy his dream. And thank goodness he didn’t sell it! Nowadays Moyenne island is declared a national park, one of the smallest national parks in the world. Grimshaw’s dream lives on!
Where is Moyenne island
The island is one of the 100+ islands in the Seychelles! Moyenne is very close to Mahe (the main island of the Seychelles) – only about 5 km away. It is part of Ste Anne Marine National Park. It has the signature turquoise waters of the Seychelles and even a few beaches that you can enjoy while you’re there. We did spend some time on the beach right next to the island’s only restaurant.
How to visit Moyenne island
As there are no hotels on the island, the only way to visit it is by doing a day trip (or hiring a boat, if you’re more adventurous!). We had a day trip from Beau Vallon (Mahe island), there are a few stands there that will offer this. The cost is about 90-100 euros, but make sure you bargain yourself a better deal! Our tour included Eden island, the fisheries, snorkeling and Moyenne island, so it’s quite worth it (and twice as cheap as a trip to La Digue & Praslin, even though they are spectacular!). This tour also includes lunch as there is a restaurant on Moyenne. True, it’s definitely not a 5-star one, but provided you’ve just snorkeled around Ste Anne Marine National Park, you’ll definitely need some subsistence!
The entrance fee to Moyenne is only 10 euros, which is pretty cheap for the prices in the Seychelles. There is one main path that will take you all around the island, but be careful and bring comfy shoes – there’s usually a bit of mud and part of the path is a bit steep. I was wearing flip flops and I honestly regretted that I didn’t know to bring sneakers!
The giant tortoises in Moyenne island
“Please respect the Tortoises. They are probably older than you!” – this is one of the signs that will greet you on Moyenne 🙂 And, indeed, they are believed to live up to 180 years! So, yes, some of these tortoises have surely been pet by Grimshaw himself. The truth is that these lovely creatures have no natural enemies, so they usually die of old age. The second most common cause of death is unfortunately falling coconuts 🙁 We even saw an empty shell and it looked very curious!
While walking around this lovely island, you might hear some very strange and scary noises. Rest assured, these are NOT ghosts (see below). The truth is that the tortoises are at fault – they do make some very weird noises, especially if they’re happy or if… well.. if they’re reproducing. So don’t worry about the noises – they’re just happy to see you (one way or another)!
You might ask: “Can I pet the tortoises??” Well, no one is going to stop you! We did pet them (I couldn’t resist, they are so lovely!), but please – be careful and be very very gentle with them! They are giant indeed, but we still have an obligation to preserve them.
The Pirate Treasure
What? Pirate treasure on a lovely island? Oh, yeah! During exploration of the island, two graves with rocks around them were found, and people believe that these were two pirates! Legend has it that these two pirates buried a treasure somewhere around. Many people have tried to find it, but no luck so far. Maybe you’ll be the lucky one? Who knows!
Well, as Grimshaw was so attached to the island, he and his father are also buried there. But really, no one else can explain these unmarked graves 😛
Who’s coming with me to find it??