Indian Ocean islands
Our Anchorages at Indian Ocean islands

Links inside this document: Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Chagos,
Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar.

 

SRI LANKA  

Galle harbour is our only anchorage in Sri Lanka.

Using a shipping agent is mandatory in Sri Lanka. There are at least three
in Galle. We used Tango Shipping, who where helpful and pleasant to deal
with. You will probably be asked for gifts by some of the officials involved.

The harbour has no real facilities for yachts. You use your bow anchor
and take stern lines ashore accross a ricketty floating dock. However, it could
be worse - people in general are nice and the country has much to offer
a tourist.

Se our 2012 reports: Slow Boat to Sri Lanka and The Pearl of the
Indian Ocean
.

 

flag
The flag of Sri Lanka

map
Click on map for a blow up

The MALDIVES (anchorages and cruising notes)
 

We do not usually mention anchoring positions but, as there are few
cruising guides for this area, and finding an anchorage can be difficult,
we are making an exception for the Maldives. Our original observations
are from January to April 2011, with updates from March-April 2012.

Our cruising in the Maldives has been covered in reports
68-69
(2011) and reports 75-77 (2012).

Cruisers may find this story useful: Cruiser's Paradise Lost?

We recommend purchasing the Atlas of the Maldives and Divers and
travellers Maldives Map,
both published by Atoll Editions. They make
planning a lot easier. If you didn't bring them with you, they can be
found at Novelty Bookstore in Male.

C-map is reasonably accurate, sometimes 0.25nm too much to the W,
sometimes 0.25nm too much to the E (strange isn't it?) For an example:
look at the column to the right and click on the third map from the top.
It shows the main pass at Kuredhoo. The red line indicates our actual track.
The circular markers show our initial WP's, taken from the map. The arrows
show the WP's we would use the next time.

Cellphone coverage is excellent (almost) everywhere and the service is
affordable. We also had almost constant access to the internet using a local
mobile internet sim-card on our own dongle, at a very reasonable price.
We used Dhiraagu and paid €10 for 1.6 GB, valid for 30 days (2012).

Because of the good internet coverage, Google Earth is very useful. We have
collected satellite views of all anchorages mentioned below.

Here are two Index-pages of satellite images of two dozen anchorages:

Anchorages NORTH of Male - satellite images.
Anchorages SOUTH of Male - satellite images.


These links above open in new windows, which have "close-buttons".
There are individual links also from each anchorage listed below.

Our anchorages in the Maldives (North to South):

Haa Alifu (North Thiladhunmathee) atoll

  • Uligan, in Ihavandhippolhu sub-atoll in the far north is one of the 4
    ports of entry. Anchor anywhere otside of the reef SW of the village.
    The anchorage is an open roadstead, but well protected from the NE.
    Try finding a light coloured sandy spot among the coral, right in front
    of the new harbour (under construction January-February 2011).
    We stayed here for more than two weeks in February 2011 and had
    a good time. We have never met so friendly officials before anywhere.
    They will come out to your boat and clear you in.
    Diesel and water is available and will be jerry-jugged into your tanks.
    The locals will do all the work for you. See report #68.
    Less than 500 people live on the island and provisioning is limited.
    Good fishing, snorkelling and swimming with big Mantas.
    Cellular coverage was reasonably good.
    Look at a satellite image of Uligan.

Haa Dhaalu (North Thiladhunmathee) atoll

  • Dhonakulhi, better known to cruisers as Island Hideaway, which is
    the name of the resort here. This resort is one of the few which
    welcomes cruisers, but this is because there is a marina also.
    We anchored outside (2012) and did not visit the restaurant, but
    it has been highly recommended by other cruisers. Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Island Hideaway.
  • Khulhudhuffushi, is also a port of entry, just 30 nm south of Uligan.
    You can anchor inside the comercial port (approx. 06°36.5'N; 073°04'E
    puts you at the entrance). In 2011 there was a fee of about 13 USD,
    which was calculated from midnight to midnight, so for our 18-hour stay
    we paid for two days (16:00 PM to 11:00 AM became 16-24 + 00-11)!
    In 2012 this had changed and they charged us only for one day during
    a similar visit.
    The town has 8,000 inhabitants, a bank, ATM, mobile phone operator
    offices etc. 3G cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Khulhudhuffushi.

Shaviani (North Miladhunmadulu) atoll

  • Goidhoo (06°25.7' N, 072°55.08' E), on the edge of a reef in 6 metres,
    sand and coral, just next to the drop-off. Exposed to the NE and SW,
    otherwise with reasonable protection. Lots of fish for supper.
    No village in sight. Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Goidhoo.
  • Dholhiyaddhoo (05°59.50'N; 073°13.35'E). A resort is under
    construction and had yet not opened in March 2012. Anchorage
    coordinates are in 8 metres, sand, in NE corner. Protected from all but
    winds between SE and SW. Some swell may enter over E reef at high
    tide. Good snorkelling near anchorage. No village. Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Dholhiyaddhoo.

Lhaviyani (Faadhippolhu) atoll

  • Kuredhoo island, in front of Kuredu resort, W of their quay at approx.
    05°32.6'N; 073°27.8'E. Lots of space in 5-13 metres of sandy bottom.
    You are "welcome" to visit the island only if you pay 50 USD per person
    (just) for putting your foot ashore (February 2011). Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Kuredhoo.
  • Varihuraa island, (05°18.06'N; 073°29.4'E) on the edge of the reef in
    6m to 20m of sand and coral. A useful anchorage in settled weather.
    Exposed to all winds except N, but I wouldn't like to be there in a strong
    blow even from that direction. Coral dead. No village. Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Varihuraa.

Male Atoll (Kaafu)

  • Makunudhoo (04°32.45'N; 073°24.35'E) is a resort island. We arrived
    around 16:30 and did nor have good visibility trying to find a good spot
    for the anchor. Lots of coral and it gets very shallow in an instant.
    Beware! This is the resort where they said that the manager was not
    available. Obviously we didn't go ashore. Good protection from W via N
    to E. Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Makunudhoo.
  • Merufenfushi. The entrance is in the north at 04°28.6' N, 073°43.9' E.
    (NOTE: The lon has been reported incorrect and should, according to
    this observation, be 073°41.8' E. Proceed with care.)
    Unfortunately the Meeru resort is the most unwelcoming that we have
    experienced. We anchored more than 500m from shore and were chased
    away. We moved to a less protected spot more than 1km from shore.
    It was already too late in the afternoon for eye balling, but with better
    light we could probably have moved closer to the island of Dhiffushi to
    the south, where there is a village and no resort. There are lots of
    shallow coral heads in the lagoon. A very disappointing experience.


    Look at a satellite image of Meerufenfushi.
    Image of Meerufenfushi & Dhiffushi.
  • Thulusdhoo (04°22.6' N, 073°38.8' E) on the eastern edge of North
    Male atoll is the administrative centre of the atoll (excl. Male). A very
    friendly village with a population of 1,250. The harbour is well protected
    from NE to SW and reasonable protection in fair conditions from all
    around the compass. Best protection is close to the village dock, but it is
    possible to anchor in a large area inside the lagoon in 5-8 metres, sand.
    Pos. 04°23.1' N, 073°38.9' E takes you through the outer reef. The
    pass through the inner reef is (2011) marked with two pairs of sticks (red
    and green lights in 2011). Avoid a shallow spot to starboard, just inside
    of the pass. There are shops and two hotels, accomodating surfing
    entusiasts. Two of the best surf spots of the atoll can be found on the
    east side of the island. Water and fuel (in jugs) are available. There is a
    Coca-Cola factory, which is said to be the only one in the world which
    makes Coke from desalinated water. They are also building large vessels
    (up to 30m) from fibreglass. Look for the local guide Hassan
    (nick name Chikaa), whos family owns one of the hotels, but he will
    probably find you first. This was one of our favorite anchorages, a
    welcome change from all the resort islands, where you are not welcome.
    Cellular coverage is good. Photo of the pass is looking NW from inside.

    Look at a satellite image of Thulusdhoo.
  • Hulumale island harbour (entrance at 04°12.'8N; 073°31.7E') is the
    preferred anchorage of Male. Reasonable protection and good holding.
    Lots of local boats, but plenty of space. Ferries leave for Male
    around the clock. Male has a nice atmosphere and provisioning is good.
    Almost any boat work can be done and there is a shipyard where one
    can haul out big boats. However, it is not cheap. 3G coverage.
    Fuel and water can be purchased from barges, that come alongside.
    Click the satellite image in the right hand column for a larger view.
    Look at a satellite image of Hulumale.

South Male Atoll (Kaafu)

  • Velassaru (04°06.9'N; 073°26'E) There is a large area south of the
    resort island, with even depths of around 12m and scattered coral-
    heads. Good protection from N-NE and reasonable protection from
    whole north semi-circle. Safest entrance is from S after circling all of
    the E reef. However, the reef can be crossed from the E with good
    visibility at two spots at least: There is a marker with green light at
    04°06.717'N; 073°26.256'E. Leave this stick a few metres either side,
    depths 3.5-5m, and enter on a course of 305°T. Four cables south
    is (2011) a plastic marker at 04°06.41'N; 073°26.01'E, leave it to port
    and enter on a course of 343°T, depths 8m minimum. There are quite
    a few large bommies in the bay, but most of them have at least 3.5m
    of water above them (even though they look shallower).
    Velassaru Resort is the one, which told us that minimum charge for
    coming ashore was 150 USD per person. See Cruiser's Paradise Lost.
    Cellular coverage.
    Look at a satellite image of Velassaru.
  • Emboodhoofinolhu has a reported anchorage at 04°05.42' N,
    073°31.17' E. We tried to find it one day when there was (only) 17kn
    of NE winds, but found little protection and nothing even resembling
    an anchorage, so apparently this is a spot for calm weather only.
  • Emboodhoo (04°04.9' N, 073°30.5' E) would be well protected from
    NW-NE, but the resort has fenced off a large area S of the island with
    plastic buoys. We couldn't get inside the 30m curve and had to return
    to Velassaru 5nm to the W. Outrageous.

    Look at a satellite image of this area.
  • Guraidhoo (03°53.95' N, 073°27.8' E)
    Look at a satellite image of Guraidhoo.

Vaavu Atoll (Felidhe)

  • Giraa Falhu - just south of Keyodhoo island,
    (03°27.2' N, 073°32.9' E). I found this anchorage using Google
    Earth. There are quite a few coral heads and our buddies on
    s/y Elaine got their anchor fouled and had to free it by diving.
    There is a local harbour on Keyodhoo to the north, which some
    cruisers have reported useful.
    Look at a satellite image of Giraa Falhu and Keyodhoo.

Laamu Atoll (Hadhdhunmathee)

  • Thundudhoshu Finolhu - just south of Vadinolhu pass,
    (02°00.35' N, 073°21.76' E) a very nice spot in settled weather
    With reasonable shelter from the north semicircle.
    We could not find any anchorage in the south of the atoll, in
    the Olhuveli, Hithadhoo, Maamendhoo area.

    Look at a satellite image of this anchorage.

Gaafu Alifu Atoll (North Huvadhoo)

  • Kolamaafushi (00°50.9' N, 073°11.12' E), 3G internet
    Very welcoming people. The anchorage is well protected but
    a swell can build up from the reef entrance in the north.
    It is possible to enter the harbour for complete shelter, but
    we didn't need to, so we did not check the exact depth.
    Look at a satellite image of Kolamaafushi.

  • Dhaandhoo Faru (00°36.69' N, 073°28.01' E)
    A sandy patch 4-10 metres depth, but completely open to
    the west. Some of the best snorkelling anywhere.
    There is a harbour on Dhandhoo where you could probably
    find good shelter. Mobile connection was good.

    Look at a satellite image of this anchorage.
  • Hadahaa, Park Hyatt Resort (00°30.3' N, 073°27.4' E)
    We called in advance and were allowed to pick up a mooring
    provided we would spend a minimum of USD 100 per person.
    Read about the aftermath HERE (link not yet active).
    3G internet, naturally.

    Look at a satellite image of Hadahaa island.

Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll (South Huvadhoo)

  • Boduhuttaa (00°11.9' N, 073°12.9' E), 3G internet.
    The only place we know of in the Maldives with a large area
    of 3-10 metres depths over a sandy bottom. Great place but,
    as with almost all atoll anchorages it is wide open for almost
    180 degrees - in the case of Boduhutta to north.
    Look at a satellite image of this area.

Gnaviani Atoll (Foamullah)

Addu Atoll

  • Gan (approx. 00°41' S, 073°08.8' E), 3G internet.
    We didn't enter the inner basin north of the causeway between
    Gan and Feydhoo, but anchored just outside of the entrance,
    where we found a sandy patch around 10 metres deep (although
    the yacht drifted back over depths nearly 30 metres). It is
    possible, though, to enter the inner basin with care, leaving the
    sticks maybe 5 metres to starboard and keeping your keel along
    the light coloured groove on the bottom. I measured 2.5 metres.
    See photos of the area by clicking the buttons below
    Look at a satellite image of this area.



  • We anchored just north of the first marker, as seen here:



The flag of the Maldives



Click on maps for a blow up


Kuredhoo pass on our version of C-map

hulumale
Hulumale harbour NE of runway. Male is in
the lower left corner of this satellite image.

CHAGOS (anchorages and cruising notes)  
We do not usually mention anchoring positions or way-points, but,
as with the Maldives, we are making an exception for Chagos. Our observations are from April-May 2012.

Salomon Atoll

  • Boddam island (pass: 05°18' S, 072°14.4' E)

Satellite view of Salomon atoll: The position indicated on the image shows the outer waypoint for entering the pass. We went straight from there to 05°18.8' S, 072°14.8' E and had 6m at the lowest, but keep a constant lookout for coralheads.
(Click on image for blow-up). Boddam is the island down in the SW corner. Anchoring is a bit tricky because of all coral heads. If you anchor in 15-20 metres the bottom is less foul. There are several mooring chains around the bommies, left by previous yachts.
If you decide to use one, always dive to check its condition.

satellite

Below is a screen shot of our track in (lower red line).

Do not take any measures from this chart. It has been streched!

Our visit to Chagos has been covered in report 78:
(Chagos - The Forbidden Archipelago)

chart

MAURITIUS  

We made three stops at Mauritius:

  • Tombeau Bay, is a useful anchorage just north of
    Port Louis in case you can't make it to PL before dark.
    There appears to be a no-anchoring area also (cables), but we were OK at 20°06.25' S, 057°30.67' E.
  • Customs dock, Port Louis. Call Port Control on VHF16/14
    Before entering the harbour.
  • Caudan Marina at the Waterfront in Port Louis operates at
    a first come, first serve principle. Tie your lines wherever
    you find a free spot. Water and electricity included in fee.

Above: Port Louis Harbour. Below: Caudan Marina
Click on the photos for larger scale images

Caudan Marina is acually not a "real" marina, just a small basin,
at the top of the photo. The larger basin below is a "cyclone
hole" where it is possible to tie up or anchor free of charge.

Our visit to the Maldives has been covered in report 79
(Last Passage of the Season) and report 80 (Mauritius - A
Melting Pot
) and report 81 (Back in Mauritius), which includes
a description of the marina.

 

REUNION  
  • St Pierre harbour was our only anchorage in Reunion.

Reunion is a French posession.

St Pierre is a pleasant place, and oh so French, so French. Almost
like somewhere on the Riviera between Nice and Cannes.

There are two possible small boat harbours at Reunion, both on the west coast. There doesn't appear to be any suitable anchorages anywhere along the coast although there are anchor-signs on the charts in some spots.

The other harbour is at Port des Galets (usually called Le Port) in the NW corner of the island, and it is very well protected - but somewhat remote from services it seems. If your draft is too deep for St Pierre, however, this is probably your only choice.

The port captain of St Pierre doesn't allow yachts deeper than 2.2 metres into the harbour. There is also a restriction regarding swell conditions. You are not allowed to enter if the swell is more than 2.5 metres. At present, check with Windguru > Africa > Reunion > Ravine Blanche for swell conditions.

Many yachts complain about difficult entrance conditions. However, navigation is very easy with the ranges in place and very good markers - it is a bit tight, but perfectly straight forward. Problem is with the wind, which is normally blowing at 30 knots from astern when you enter into the inner harbour and you have top make a tight u-turn to starboard (fenders on port side). There is not much space (maybe 30 metres wide) so have every dockline and fender ready. There's usually no wind between 8 PM and 8 AM, so an early morning arrival is a good idea. You could arrive in the dark, but it is narrow and the town lights may confuse you. I wouldn't recommend it if you haven't been here before.

The entrance may look frightening from a distance but, following the ranges, there are surprisingly flat surfaces on the track.

We show here a satellite image of Port des Galets also, just to illustrate the excellent shelter and accessibility one can find there.

I had spare parts delivered by UPS from Europe. The shipment took only 4 days (Monday-Friday) and there was a 10% extra charge. UPS delivered straight to the marina, but I do not know if the same applies to deliveries from outside the EU.

Our visit to Reunion has been covered in report #82 (Reunion Island - A Very French Place). There you will find more photos and information about St Pierre Marina.

St Pierre harbour and approach
St Pierre approach on the chart
currently there are 2 green markers
on the inside of the second break water
Port des Galets (or simply 'Le Port')
MADAGASCAR nex  

Minorado Bay was our only anchorage in Madagascar.

Traditionally, few cruising yachts have visited the south coast of Madagascar. A trip from Reunion to South Africa is usually routed at least 100 nm south of Madagascar because of weather reasons.

However, it is possible to break the trip by anchoring in a couple of bays on the south and south-west coast, such as Galions Bay and Minarado Bay. We did not meet any officials and did not clear in to the country officially.

  • Minorado Bay (S entrance: 25°16.9' S, 044°17.3' E). Open to SW, W and NW. We rode out a 45 kn E-ly gale during 3 days, but it was not fun; the waves build up surprisingly high even if you are less than a mile from shore - we broke the anchor chain's snubbing line 5 times! The yacht will also be covered by sand dust. See story HERE. There is a fishing village ashore, maybe seasonal. The people are extremely poor and will come out to ask for anything you can spare. Try to trade for fish and lobster, that's all they have.
  • Other cruisers went to Galion Bay (entrance: 25°09.6' S, 046°45.2' E) on the south coast and Androko Bay (entrance: 25°02.7' S, 044°02' E) about 20 nm north of Minarado Bay, but we did not anchor in those bays.

Our visit to Madagascar is covered by report #83: Reunion to South Africa - Including Surprise Visits to Madagascar and Mozambique


Minorado Bay (click on it)