One minute I’m swimming past sunshine yellow banana rays, Phoebe the turtle and friendly black-tipped sharks, and the next I’m rescuing marooned honeymooners on Coco Island.
I like to think of it as the trip where I saved lives. OK, so they might have made it off the atoll without my heroic efforts, but their marriage would most certainly have started on a rockier note.
Félicité, a private island in the Seychelles, is a multi-sensory playground with more than 1,000 species of fish – perfect for water babies like me whose friends have become accustomed to me disappearing into the sea for hours. (They used to send out search warrants; now they settle into their sun loungers and order another frozen latte.)
But while I couldn’t get enough of the life aquatic – stairs at the Six Senses Zil Pasyon resort’s Koko Bar lead you directly to an underwater wonder world – it’s safe to say that for one unlucky couple, the love affair with the ocean was not mutual. But at least they have a good story to dine out on.
Life is all about balance – especially if you don’t want to spend it with a belly that looks like a breadfruit – so after a breakfast of pillowy pâtisseries and smashed avocado with chilli butter, it was time to counter the calories with a swim to Coco Island. I’d spied Nigel in the bay, but wanted to try and spot one of his larger cousins. Nigel is the resort’s resident black tipped shark – please try to keep up.
As I thrashed through the water, becoming acquainted with bat-faced stingrays, orange-spotted emperors, periwinkle coloured surgeons and psychedelic parrotfish, it became apparent that one holidaymaker had taken her wedding diet a tad far, with her teeny frame and spaghetti arms – she’d definitely not succumbed to the charms of the deliriously buttery breakfast buns – struggling to contend with the tempestuous tides. I’m surprised she even had the energy to wave, but as I got closer to the islet, I could indeed see four arms flailing.
The loved-up couple had taken a two-seater kayak for a romantic rowing expedition a deux, but not before popping a camera into a lifejacket, because nothing tells the world you’re more in love than selfies of you tackling the high seas together.
They’d made it to Coco Island, but were unable to launch their kayak back into the sea. With a forceful shore break, it was all about timing and facing the elements full on. I briefly contemplated swimming the one kilometre back to shore to find reinforcements before my Baywatch instincts kicked in along with the realisation that it would be quicker to attempt a solo rescue.
The kayak was waterlogged and heavy and the pair pretty much stood frozen, watching as I dragged it to what looked like a safe entry point. Their ineptitude was coupled with their desperation to save their camera chock-full of honeymoon pics. It was down to me to commandeer them onto the kayak and wait for a lull in the waves before shoving them back out. The break between sets were short-lived but eventually I seized the moment and yelled: “NOW!”
The timing could not have been worse. A four-footer emerged out of nowhere and I closed my eyes thinking there was no way in hell they’d make it through the crest. But something kicked in – flashes of an annulled marriage? – as miraculously, oars pulling a hundred miles an hour, they made it through.
Other than a sheepish “thank you” and a “yes, we thought you must be South African or Australian,” there was no offer of a drink, let alone a hefty reward when we met up again on terra firma. But I’d already been more than adequately compensated upon my return leg with the sighting of a magnificent reef shark, who shimmered elegantly below me, flicking its tail in a virtual high five. Respect.