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Fregate Island is situated on the edge of the inner group of granite islands that lie at the heart of the far-flung Seychelles archipelago.

Frégate is a refuge for rare wildlife - endangered bird species make their home here, turtles lay their eggs on the sublime beaches, giant Aldabra tortoises wander around, and the elegant white-tailed tropic bird soars above the turquoise ocean. Happily, Frégate also makes a perfect refuge for human beings looking to escape the cares of the modern world for a few days.

But while the relaxing atmosphere of Frégate lends itself to doing nothing, that would be to miss out on the dazzling underwater world that encircles the island. The dive centre at Frégate is an immaculate facility, and diving here is done in very small groups - no more than two guests at a time. There are at least nine dive sites, all within 15 minutes of the dock.

The 1998 El Niño made a virtual wasteland of the once-thriving reefs in the Seychelles. Today, the corals are making a comeback, but do not expect to see the typical flourishing reef system. In spite of this, marine life is still plentiful, incredibly varied, and includes some very unusual species such as the shovel-nose ray (an extraordinary member of the ray family that looks like a shark).

Other sites offer some truly amazing underwater architecture that compensates for the lack of living reef - submerged clusters of enormous granite boulders that provide a habitat for all sorts of creatures: golden moray, catfish, glassfish, nurse shark, manta ray, devil ray, boxfish, bat fish, porcupine fish, eagle ray, green and hawksbill turtles, enormous schools of mackerel and all the usual plethora of tropical fish. Day trips to more distant sites at the beautiful islands of Praslin and La Digue are also possible. In all, this is as painless and as individual as diving gets.

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