The Seychelles Islands. For many, a dream come true when it comes to holiday destinations.
The Seychelles Islands are a string of islands in a sparkling Indian Ocean, a thousand miles from anywhere and a stones throw south of the equator. A honeymooners paradise. The list of descriptors could go on and on.
I had the luck to grow up on the Seychelles islands for a part of my youth, and thought I would share my tips on four absolute ‘must see’s’ for your visit.
FOUR THINGS TO DO IN THE SEYCHELLES
- Hit Seychelles beaches
Ok, this was probably not a tremendous surprise. Seychelles has some of the finest beaches in the world. Palm tree sway in the breeze and white sands lead to a turquoise ocean. But even here, there are beaches that stand out.
My two favourites are Anse (meaning bay in the local language, Kreole) Intendance, and Anse Lazio, which regularly features in surveys of the worlds best beaches.
Anse Intendance is located on the Southern end of the main and largest island, Mahe, whilst Anse Lazio is located on the second largest island ofPraslin (prah-len). Both of these beaches should be on the itineraries of any beach connoisseurs trip to the Seychelles, although care should be taken at Anse Intendance as the sea can be a mite rough at certain times of year.An honourable mention should also go to Anse Source D’Argent on the island of La Digue, where incredible granitic rock formations meet sea in an inspiring display of natural art. If you’ve ever seen an advert set on a beach with beautiful rocks in the background, the chances are it would have been filmed here.
- Seychelles Island hopping
The Seychelles is made up of 115 islands, and whilst many of these are uninhabited, getting on a plane or a boat and taking some time to visit them is really worth doing. Each island has its own vibe, from the relative hustle and bustle of the main island, Mahe, to the peace and tranquility that you would find on the most Northerly island, Bird.
The smaller islands, such as Bird and Denis, are classical flat desert island, just a ring of white sandy beach, a few palm trees, some birds, you, and a cocktail. The larger islands, such as Mahe and Praslin, are granitic and more lush, with deep rainforest interiors for exploring and towering peaks for the hardier hikers. There is something here for everyone, from lying on the beach, to exploring the peaks, to trying to spot any of the unique to Seychelles birds.
- Visit Victoria Market
If lying on the beach all day has taken it’s toll upon your soul, and you want to do something a little more active, a visit to the capital city of Victoria (Africa’s smallest capital) is in order.
As well as taking a look at the towns central feature, a miniature clock tower built in 1903, I would recommend taking a stroll around the market, a vibrantly colourful affair where local traders will happily sell you all manner of goods, from locally picked fruit to the catch of the day.
The heady aroma of spice tables will assault your nose as you wander around the tables, imparting a real flavour of the Kreole foods. Mounds of chillies, a key ingredient to all Seychelles cooking, will tempt you. The fish, fresh off the boats that day, is world class and, by Western standards, remarkably cheap. You just can’t beat a freshly caught whole snapper, smothered in Kreole spices and popped on the BBQ, accompanied by some hot off the coals breadfruit. Seychelles cuisine at its best.
- Explore the Vallee de Mai
A trip to the Vallee de Mai, a World Heritage Site on the island of Praslin, is an absolute must. This was thought to be the Garden of Eden when discovered by early explorers, and it’s not hard to see why.
The main attraction is the endemic Coco de Mer (although five other endemic palm trees also exist in this tiny valley), a giant palm tree, famed for having the largest nut in the world. The nut, which only grows on the female of the plant, has a striking resemblance to a human females nether regions. They take seven years to germinate, and countless more to turn into the giants which line the valley, the only place in the world where they can be found. Wandering around these giant palms, with a side project of attempting to spot the Seychelles Black Parrot (another endemic species), is tonic for the soul.
These, therefore, were my four things to do in the Seychelles. They are far from a cheap destination, but the reward of having staggering beaches almost to yourself as you watch the sun set through an evening cocktail may be entirely worth it. If you do visit, try to avoid the rainy season, between around November and February and take plenty of sun cream, because these islands get hot!