With its pristine white sands and lush greenery, it’s no wonder this magical destination attracted a record number of over 200,000 visitors last year. Delving into the delights and charms of Seychelles on an island-hopping retreat reveals why this is the perfect place to do everything – or nothing at all. A thousand miles from their nearest neighbour, the world’s most ancient ocean islands were little-known to mankind until the late 18th century. Today, Seychelles is renowned for its unspoilt beauty and the abundance of plant and animal life that still flourishes undisturbed here, sheltered from modern life, commercialisation, and overdevelopment.
Seychelles comprises 115 islands in total, and island hopping by boat, plane, or helicopter allows you to get a true sense of their diversity. Nature trails wind their way through the ancient forest towards granite peaks and hidden coves harbour secrets discovered by few travellers, if any. The islands are home to protected species, including rare birds and turtles, and a colourful host of tropical fish swim just beneath the surface of the cobalt-blue waters of the Indian Ocean. With the powder-soft white sand between your toes, it can be easy to associate a holiday in Seychelles with little more than sun, sea and some of the world’s most famous beaches. But the islands also present a rare opportunity to swim alongside 40-foot long whale sharks, try deep-sea fishing for marlin or sailfish, or skim the ocean’s surface on water skis or by catamaran.
Back on dry land, exploring the old-world colonial charm of La Digue island by bike or ox cart is an experience never to be forgotten. In contrast, the island of Praslin is home to an 18-hole golf course with breathtaking ocean views. The main island of Mahé is your base from which to explore the rest of the islands. With its lush countryside and picturesque villages, you may be tempted to linger here for a while. But there’s so much more to see. Each island has its own character.
Getting around the islands is easy, as there are frequent charter flights into Mahé International airport, which also offers a full service for private aircraft. You won’t need a visa or – unique for tropical islands – any vaccinations before you travel.
Whilst Seychelles is famously a magical destination for romantic getaways, they also offer plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy. There are plenty of natural attractions and distractions – none more impressive than the glowing sunset which marks the end of every evening.
The main island is home to the only international airport in the Seychelles and Victoria’s tiny capital. With its lush countryside and over 65 beaches, there’s plenty to explore here. In North Mahé, you’ll find the famous Beau Vallon beach and plenty of hotels, guesthouses and villas. At the same time, South Mahé’s green countryside and pretty rural villages are perfect for hiking or biking.
Victoria has managed to retain much of its original charm, with interesting historical and architectural sights. It’s also the place to find shops, boutiques and a bustling market.
From Mahé, the closest islands are Silhouette (30km), North (32km), and Praslin (45km). All can be reached by plane or helicopter in less than 20 minutes, and you can also reach Silhouette and Praslin by boat.
The magical Coco de Mer, which grows wild in abundance here and nowhere else, gave Praslin, Seychelles’ second-largest island, “Isle de Palme”.
Intersected by a road that winds sharply through the lush, ancient forest of the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai, Praslin is home to some of Seychelles’ most striking beaches, such as Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, both of which frequently appear on lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Praslin is located 30 miles north-east of Mahé, 15 minutes by plane or 45 minutes on the catamaran ferry. From here, you can visit neighbouring islands and wildlife reserves, including La Digue, Chauve Souris, Curieuse and Cousine.
TK KM (5 miles) from Praslin and close to its satellite islands of Félicité, Marianne and the Sisters Islands, La Digue is the fourth largest island in Seychelles and is famous for its pink granite formations, forest groves, Creole colonial houses and breathtakingly beautiful beaches.
The island has limited car transport, and tourists can hire a traditional ox-cart or bicycle. Time hasn’t completely stood still here, though, and you can find souvenir shops and several banks on the west coast, whilst the east coast is almost untouched. La Digue’s forests contain delicate vanilla orchids, as well as takamaka and Indian almond trees. Seychelles’ black paradise flycatcher, one of the rarest birds on earth, can be found at the Veuve Reserve. Giant land tortoises can be seen at L’Union estate and the landscaped gardens of the majestic Plantation House, the cemetery of the original settlers of La Digue and one of the most beautiful beaches in Seychelles, Anse Source d’Argent, is among the most photographed beaches worldwide. Fishing trips are organised from La Digue and daily boat trips to nearby Coco Island, one of the best spots in Seychelles for snorkelling. Boat trips are also often arranged for barbeques on Curieuse and Sister Islands.
Bird’s most northerly of the Seychelles islands offers visitors a “back to nature” experience amid rare and exotic wildlife. The island’s 24 beachfront bungalows are nearby the gardens of an ancient coconut plantation, a bird sanctuary and a turtle nesting site.
The pristine lost world of Silhouette represents Seychelles at its finest and most elegant. It features a new luxury resort, Labriz Silhouette, boasting 100 rooms and villas, a spa, and no fewer than five restaurants.
Frégate, a granite island, has 16 luxury villas and 7 outstanding beaches, offering a refined yet secluded getaway amongst some of the world’s rarest plants and birds. High-quality restaurants and a wide range of water sports and other activities can be enjoyed on the island.