Since I heard of that fossil fish (Latimeria) they found alive in the deep blue of the Comores Islands more than 2 decades ago this dive destination is on my mind. However the chance of catching Malaria and later some political riots kept me away, my travel agent took this area off his program. This year however I made that idea come true. Comoros, Mayotte is far north in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and the east cost of Africa. 11 h flight from Paris on Air Austral via Reunion which is really worth a stop over for at least a week to see the diversity of that beautiful island and it´s nature. Another 2 h got me to Mayotte, both islands still or again belong to France, so the currency is Euro. It´s an island with beautiful nature, plenty of baobab trees, Ylang Ylang and the nearly tame Maki half monkeys you´ll find everywhere around. Tourism is still in it´s first steps. Only a few smaller hotels and restaurants can be found. Few Europeans and even French tourist seem to know this destination. Choose a nice bungalow accommodation with Jardin Maore, a place in a lovely setting right on a sandy beach with it´s own bay. A nice house reef for snorkelling invites right on arrival to have a first look at what´s waiting for you. On my way out I already encountered 13 green turtles feeding on sea grass, a big surprise to find that many around. But you got used to this, nearly every day I counted more than 10 and every week we had around 6 animals nesting at night time on the beach. These turtles did not mind swimmers close to them, only their buddy remora got chased away or went underneath it´s transport vehicle. During low tide you sometimes can´t swim in the bay but have to walk through shallow water to the edge of the house reef. The dive school normally offers 2 dives a day, going to the outer reef in the morning, doing a lagoon dive in the afternoon. Nitrox 32 was for free, maybe to keep European divers in the limits of 40 m max., they use 12 + 15 l steel cylinders. Water was around 26 degrees C, vis on the outer reef had a stunning vis of 30 – 40 m, inside it was sometimes much less due to tide changes or else. For a 10 dive package with your own equipment they charge 340 Euros. Diving at the outer reef was fascinating as we often met schools of dolphins already on our way and twice even had humpbacks with a baby. We went snorkelling with dolphins, they were curious and came real close and two times on safety stop we had similar encounters. Reefs are like Maldives, lots of small colourful reef fish, Fueselliers etc. . Mostly we went down slopes or drop offs to around 40 m where a ledge started after it went down into endless blue. Different to the Maldives we had plenty of huge Gorgonia already in around 20 m, some areas with black coral, fields of pastel coloured soft coral and huge barrel sponges. Pelagics only few, some eagle rays, sharks only way down below us, some barracuda, a school of jacks, big groupers. Some places showed damage due to cyclones (?) running and slopes had partly sand on the hard coral. You could dive your own profile or follow the guide. It was European style diving, 1 hour or 50 bar and you are on the surface. Along the walls we had often a bit of a current, so it was an enjoyable drift dive.
Inside the lagoon I was happy to find amazing good healthy coral growth after El Ninjo, staghorn I couldn´t believe to grow to that size in only a couple of years. There are boulders with breathtaking coral cover of all kinds, only fish sometimes seemed to be rare around.