Ten reasons to visit Seychelles
By Glynn Burridge
Seychelles’ natural beauty has fascinated travellers for centuries but this archipelago of 115 islands, many of which still slumber in their original, pristine state, offers great diversity besides.
1. Beaching it
Seychelles provides an unparalleled experience of sun, sea & sand with many strands regularly topping world lists.
One favourite is Anse Lazio on Praslin Island, where sapphire waters and silver sands conspire to present a timeless dreamscape to sun- worshippers. Following close behind is La Digue’s Anse Source D’argent with its dappled turquoise waters and background of granite sentinels. The main island Mahé, has 65 beaches of its own. Topping the list is Anse Intendance with its two-kilometre strand and impressive breakers; Carana beach with its lazy swells; Beau Vallon, which is more touristy and very much the place to see and be seen and south Mahé’s Anse Royale, the locals’ favourite. Every island has its signature beach and always check the surroundings for a beachside restaurant for that feet-in-the-sand dining experience.
2. Tying the knot, island-style
Prince Harry and Kate Middleton’s choice of Seychelles for their honeymoon catapulted the islands to fame as ultimate honeymoon destination. With such fabled natural beauty, it’s difficult to imagine a more perfect locale for weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries or impromptu romantic breaks. Seychelles is one place where beauty and year-round tropical warmth ensure that love is always in the air. After you’ve visited the Mission Lodge viewing platform with its fabulous views of west Mahé, (where Queen Elizabeth 11 once had tea) why not share a scuba dive into our limpid, fish-rich waters or a canoe into the turquoise shallows on your very own adventure ā deux? Don’t forget that Seychelles has some of the best sunsets you can imagine and if you go down to a solitary beach like Mahé’s Grand Anse you can enjoy it with precious few people around and then top it all off with a romantic dinner for two at Del Place’s Restaurant (facebook/Deplace Bar and Restaurant) with its enticing menu and bewitching panorama of an inland lagoon surrounded by a horseshoe of picture-postcard islets.
3. Going Botanical
Seychelles is a veritable Noah’s Ark and home to a spectacular array of flora & fauna including some of the world’s rarest species. Don’t miss a trip to one of Seychelles’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the incredible Vallée de Mai (www.sif.sc) on Praslin, where the world heaviest nut, the coco-de-mer, shaped like a woman’s pelvis, grows on ancient palms in a hidden valley. Back on Mahé, the Botanical Gardens (www.bcgi.org) on the outskirts of the capital, Victoria, offers a bite-sized experience of Seychelles’ natural world and an impressive collection of endemic palms, the famous cannonball tree, an old orchid garden and the famous coco-de-mer. For nature lovers, there is a network of walks and trails criss-crossing the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue where it is always advisable to take a guide and avoid the midday sun. Boat trips to island sanctuaries such as Curieuse, (www. Seychelles.org>inner islands>curieuse) Moyenne, (www.seychelles.travel/en/discover/the-islands/) Aride (www.arideisland.com) and Cousin (www.cousinisland.net) are also a must.
4. Down the gastronomy trail
French cuisine was brought to the islands by the first settlers and later added to by English colonists and influences from immigrants from India and China, making Creole cuisine a melting pot of cultures. Enjoy a diverse Creole menu at Auberge Chez Plume (www.anseboileau.com) where the specialities are ginger crab and filet au capitaine in passionfruit sauce. You might even wish to try the fruit bat terrine accompanied by a great south African white wine. Top drawer, fine-dining is available at La Grande Maison (www.Lgmssey.com), a totally refurbished old plantation house with wonderful gardens and an ambiance to match. Here, favourites include freshly cut palm heart salad with truffles and curry leaves; red snapper fillet with green mousseline, basil and combats and tuna and foie gras, all complemented by a selection of fine rums and choice imported wines. Make sure to try the local fare at a night bazaar and taste freshly grilled fish, cassava chips, boudin or blood sausage, washed down with bacca, a local fermentation. Seychelles also has excellent take-aways where you can find fine, traditional food at attractive prices.
5. Getting wet
They say God made Seychelles with sailors in mind, and viewing these islands from the ocean in the same way as the early explorers, is difficult to beat. Start with a trip to Praslin or La Digue on the fast catamaran, Cat Cocos (www.catcocos.com) and enjoy the sublime panoramas and even sightings of dolphins and the odd whale.
Excursions are available from the main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue to surrounding islands for swimming, snorkelling and beach BBQs. For the more adventurous, there are great thrills to be had on deep sea-fishing or diving expeditions where you will be amazed by the rich marine life. On one dive, no less than 800 different species were spotted including turtle, several species of ray, grouper, parrot fish, hump-head wrasse and a dizzying array of coral reef fish. Companies such as Silhouette Cruises (www.seychelles-cruises.com) also offer spectacular sunset cruises with different options to suit your programme.
6. On the town
Seychelles’ capital, Victoria, (www.seychelles.org) is easily walked in half a day. Start with an early morning visit to its traditional market and your finger on the pulse of the Seychellois Creole way of life. Here you will find locals doing their weekly shopping for vegetables, fruits, spices, condiments, and of course a wide array of fish, fresh from the sea. Nearby, is the impressive Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. Discover hidden art galleries like the one in Market Street where you can view an array of paintings by local artists and also silk screens, colourful pareos and tropical shirts with island motifs. You will also come across museums (particularly the Museum of Natural History) souvenir shops, retail outlets and a choice of bistros, bars and restaurants to keep you hydrated on your meanderings into this Creole nation’s throbbing heart.
7. Rejuvenate mind, body & soul
For those who are looking for the perfect pampering experience, the spas in Seychelles are beautifully crafted to rejuvenate body, mind and soul. Seychelles’ gentle, protective and naturally welcoming environment that has changed so little over so many years, makes it an ideal place in which to relax and rejuvenate amid surroundings of astounding natural beauty.
For today’s weary traveller, fatigued from the stresses and strains of an unrelenting modern lifestyle, the Seychelles spa experience represents a powerful antidote offering soothing treatments designed to melt away the stresses and strains of modern living, energise the weary body and nurture the soul.
Whether nestling in dreamy, mountain-side pavilions overlooking the ocean or occupying the stylish niches of 5-star resorts, Seychelles’ spas offer natural elegance and refinement in pristine surroundings promising the ultimate voyage of personal transformation and total recalibration of mind, body and soul.
For holistic treatments and relaxing yoga sessions the Station at Sans Souci is the perfect place to restore balance and energy in the hills of Mahé, surrounded by the natural beauty of tropical forests and tranquillity.
8. Island Hopping
Island hopping around the Seychelles archipelago, introduces you to the incredible diversity of these islands. Like members of a family, each island is different and has its own distinct character and story to tell. Seychelles has 41 tall granitic islands and 74 very contrasting low-lying sand cays, reef islands and shimmering atolls. While accommodation ranges from rustic lodges to exclusive hotels, they all enjoy the common denominator of adventure in the form of fishing, world-class swimming, snorkelling and diving, trekking, cruising and nature watching.
A network of air and sea connections places these islands within easy reach, with excursions by local operators offering the chance of day trips to the closer islands where you can enjoy nature walks, swimming, snorkelling and traditional Creole food
9. Outer Island Adventures
Nothing puts you in touch with adventure and the grand diversity of this archipelago like a visit to the Outer Islands. Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are the principal islands, each with their own satellites, but there are many others to enjoy as well. In contrast to the mountainous Inner Islands, Bird (www.birdislandseychelles.com) and Denis Islands (www.denisisland.com) to the north are flat coral island outposts offering wild nature at its finest while Frégate (www.fregate.com) to the east and the Outer Islands of Desroches (m.fourseasonsdesroches) and Alphonse (www.alphonse-island.com) are the ultimate remote tropical getaways. These islands represent the other side of the coin of the Seychelles experience: wilder, more remote and definitely off the beaten track.
10. Adventure tourism
Although this segment is still in its infancy, there are unforgettable adventures to be had and a new activity that blends beautifully with the stunning Seychelles backdrop is horse riding, now available thanks to Mahé Island’s Torquoise Horse Trails.
The turquoise team operate a neatly-arranged, professionally-operated stables on Mahé’s west coast with a string of gorgeous Appaloosa horses. Services include riding lessons, countryside treks, riding on glorious Grand Anse beach, romantic picnics for couples in picturesque settings complete with Champagne and canapes, wedding celebrations and photoshoots, and even swimming with a horse in the ocean. (www.turquoisehorsetrails.com)
With years of adventure sports experience behind them SMAC Adventures has established a rock climbing, zipline and abseiling facility within the Ephelia resort on Mahe’s north west coast.
Built to International standards and certified by an international firm of structural engineers, the team has created a series of 80 and 120m aerial ziplines suspended both within and above a beautiful, pristine forest canopy, allowing the adventurer the opportunity to sail through the vegetation almost within touching distance on an exhilarating ride. They also provide a sensational rock climbing experience on an 18-metre granite cliff face in a controlled, safe environment which allows you to have a feel of mountaineering but without the danger. Bookings can be made via the Ephelia Resort. (www.smacadventures.com)
For exhaustive information on the above, download the official tourism app ‘Seychelles Travel Guide’ which is also available offline and visit the official tourism website: www.seychelles.travel.