From beaches to mountains, this archipelago has it all
Anse Major is perhaps Seychelles’s most beautiful beach. Clean, pristine and not too touristy, perhaps because it is a whopping one-hour walk away from the nearest bus stop. Like most secluded beaches, Anse Major can be reached only by foot or boat.
The little hike isn’t strenuous at all, and once you reach, you have the whole day to recuperate. The sands here are powder soft and white, and the waters a dazzling sapphire. There’s a little lagoon that can seem like your private spot. Spend the day snoozing on the beach, occasionally wading in the water for a quick bout of snorkelling or a leisurely swim. This is not a place you can explore in just a day. So book into any of the Hotels in Mahe and plan your stay well in advance.
Seychelles is made up of flora and fauna so rare and well-preserved, that it’s almost like stepping into the Jurassic age. The shrubbery here is particularly wild, making a walk through the forests an adventure. The pitcher plants can be tricky, but the sight of rare orchids over impossibly fresh mountain streams is a delight! The islands of Mahe, Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Cousin, Curieuse and Bird Island all offer varied experiences. Each one, however, guarantees breathtaking views. Surf the list of Seychelles Hotels. There are countless options in different ranges. You will surely find your pick that falls well in your budget.
Seychelles is home to 12 endemic bird species, seven of which are found on the main island of Mahe. These include the incredibly rare Seychelles scops-owl and Seychelles white-eye. Look out for the Seychelles kestrel on church spires and telephone poles. The Coco de Mer forest in Praslin is home to the Black Parrot. If you’re staying at the Lemuria Reort look for the yellow bittern and black-crowned night heron on their golf course. Seychelles has several protected national parks, and if that’s not enough, there’s Bird Island. It is home to dozens of species, but earns its name thanks to the Sooty Terns, which breed here from March to October.
Turtles are fast becoming the most endangered species on the planet, making certain destinations like the Seychelles huge draws for tourists interested in natural history. Between October and January, the islands of Praslin, Coco and Felicite are crowded by turtles and tourists in equal numbers. Hawksbill turtles wander up to the beach to lay their eggs and by January, the little hatchlings make an unsteady but sure trip to the sea. For a rarer sight, visit between June and September for a glimpse of the green turtle.
Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, is famous for being the world’s smallest capital city, making a stroll through it very satisfying. Walk past the Big Ben replica – the clock tower is one of the city’s most striking features. But it’s on weekends that the little town truly livens up. That’s when the markets burst with colour from fresh catch, fruits, vegetables, live food counters and mounds of spices. You can choose your own fish, fire it up with chillies and sign up for an authentic Creole barbecue. This is also where you pick up souvenirs – local handicrafts, curios and little parcels of spice. Take a look at the list of Hotels in Victoria. It does not matter whether you are looking for a resort and spa where you can get rejuvenated or you are looking for a simple stay within your budget. There are good alternatives for all here.
One of the most populated stretches in Seychelles is the Beau Vallon beach. The bay is popular with tourists and locals, and a prime spot for snorkelling and diving, thanks to its coral reefs and crystal clear waters. But it’s the sunset that’s the big draw here – as the sun dips low in the horizon, it disappears behind a rocky outcrop, spilling out remnants of colour and light over the water. The beach is lined with food stalls, cafes and restaurants and, on Wednesdays, there’s even a lively night market.
Early explorers tagged this reserve on the island of Prasline as the Garden of Eden, because they’d never seen anything quite like it. There were the coco de mer palm trees and their massive seeds that resemble human anatomy. The otherworldliness of it all prompted a British general in the 19th century to announce the reserve as the genuine Garden of Eden. The unfortunate coco de mer was deemed the forbidden fruit thanks to its aphrodisiac quality. But it isn’t just the gigantic trees and seeds that are mesmerising. The reserve is also home to a range of endemic birds, the world’s smallest tree frog and the wolf snake, usually benign to the reserve’s many visitors. Check out the list of hotels in Praslin Island. Compare their rates and facilities before finalising your stay.
A large number of tourists at Seychelles head there purely for the diving. The waters are clear, with beautiful coral reefs and an excellent marine conservation programme is making sure they stay that way. Most importantly, the waters here are home to grey sting rays and a host of colourful tropical fish. The big draw is the whale shark. As per records, Seychelles is where the whale was first spotted. Today, most dive sites organise perfectly safe dives for you to interact with the gentle giants.
The Seychelles is made up of 115 islands, most of which are uninhabited. This prompts the hiring of a boat, a cooler full of beer and an entire day to find the most secluded beach. But you won’t need a day. Maximum 15 minutes. Leave the hustle and bustle of Mahe and Praslin behind you and head to the tiny, palm-fringed islands of Bird Island, Denis and Fregate. They have endless stretches of beach, crystal clear waters, colourful coral reefs and deep silence. If the seclusion bothers you, head to the islands with the best water sports and activity centres for a spot of scuba diving or fishing. There are number of Hotels in Bird Island. You can book into them in advance through online booking options.
Food on the islands is typically the fare from the sea, but centuries of being colonised and filled with immigrants from different countries has created a delicious hodge-podge Creole cuisine in Seychelles. There are 10 types of chillies on the islands, so most local dishes tend to be in the fiery side. But then there is also an abundance of fruits to temper it. There is a variety of seafood on offer. The braver among you might want to try the rousettes, or fruit bat. The meat tastes like venison. To finish off, ladle a bit of ladob, a creamy and lush dessert made of ripe plantain and sweet potatoes. Go through the list of Praslin Hotels. See what each has to offer and how much they are charging. Then finalise on the best option.
What do you bring back from Seychelles besides a great tan and fabulous memories? You might be tempted to bring back a coco de mer seed, but there’s a pretty hefty export fee tagged to that. Instead try vanilla pods – they’re aplenty and heady.