Semi-Sub Seychelles: an extraordinary experience of the underwater world

Semi-Sub Seychelles: an extraordinary experience of the underwater world

Seychelles has earned a justifiably excellent reputation as one of the world’s finest tourism destinations on account of its serenely beautiful and pristine environment, jealously protected over many decades to ensure that its sustainability remains intact for future generations of locals and tourists alike.

One added dimension of the Seychelles holiday experience is that of its many wonders beneath the waves: vibrant marine life; vast seascapes and coral formations that, until now, have only been accessible to divers and snorkellers, who are nonetheless limited in terms of what they can hope to see in a single dive or sortie.

Today, thanks to the recent arrival of a gleaming, new, semi-submersible capable of taking passengers on longer and more varied excursions, the many secrets and magnificence of the ocean are available to a wider audience with no need for complicated equipment, crowded diving boats and tight dive schedules.

Nine-and-a-half metres in length by two-and-a-half metres in width and powered by a 57Hp Yanmar engine, Semi-sub Seychelles is manufactured by Agena Marin in Croatia and licensed to carry 12 passengers and 2 crew, with an operating distance usually within 2 miles from shore.

SemiSUBMARINE 12 PAX is designed and built in conformity with the requirements of the „C“design category. The „C“ design category relates to boats operating in coastal waters and large bays and lakes with winds to Force 6, up to 27 knots and significant seas 2,1 m high.

According to owner Roy Assaf, security always comes first and because the experience he offers is ideally suited to families and persons of all ages, he goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure that this delightful experience is also safe and secure.

Firstly, the operations centre and boat location, conveniently situated at Eden Island facing the Ste Anne Marine National Park has been chosen to make embarkation easily accessible to all irrespective of age and physical condition. We ask the clients to keep their shoes on to reduce the risk of slipping. Handrails are everywhere on the boat, including on the staircase that leads to the underwater cabin. Meanwhile, the inside cabin is made entirely from fibreglass and has no furniture in it making it convenient to disinfect all contact surfaces and glass panels for each and every trip. Life jackets are offered to children before each expedition.

As a former diver, my own experience aboard the Semi-sub, which as its name suggests, rests half-in and half-out of the water and does not totally submerge, was a revelation. My adventure began at the Eden Island quay where I was cordially received by the operations team who explained the nature of the one-hour expedition and the safety features aboard the vessel. Once all the 12 passengers were assembled we proceeded to the semi-sub and took our positions on deck for the preliminary cruise to the viewing point, a mile or so into the Ste. Anne National Park. Emitting only a dull hum, the sub then made its way out to sea and to the awaiting adventure.

Arriving at the selected viewing point for that day, we were then invited to take our seats via a staircase leading down to the air-conditioned, underwater observatory 1.5 metres below with seating opposite the glass viewing panels that suddenly allowed an extravagant view of the ocean floor.

Children giggled excitedly at the sight that now greeted them: fiery-coloured reef fish pirouetting playfully about a coral head while a shoal of larger fish were clearly visible in the distance. Suddenly, the form of a Platax or Batfish appeared right against the porthole, its gentle eyes bulging with curiosity at the sight of passengers staring back at him.

“Mummy!” cried one child, clearly overcome with excitement, “I think it wants to join us inside!”

The Platax and some accompanying friends kept company with us for much of the trip, joined occasionally by other species of coral fish, all clearly visible as if in some moving aquarium while the dark shapes of larger fish (and apparently sometimes even turtles) could be seen milling in the background.

With cameras happily clicking and video cameras whirring to capture this underwater extravaganza, we moved from site to site, each one possessing its own surprises and delights, reminding me that, as a diver, one could never hope to cover this much terrain and take in so much diversity on one single dive. In the sub, one can easily navigate from place to place while the crew on deck keep watch for any schools of dolphins that might be out for a morning stroll. The crew even have a customised fish chart to illustrate exactly what fish you are seeing.

It is precisely this type of versatility that makes the Semi-sub experience a winner via its ability to insulate its passengers from the elements and from the hassles that inevitably accompany even the most routine dives, while allowing them to view, from the safety of their cabin, a huge variety of underwater spectacles.

An ideal adventure for those waiting for a flight connection or with an extra hour on their hands in their day’s programme, Semi-sub ticks all the boxes for a memorable day out for all the family on the ocean.

You simply can’t beat that!