Shut your eyes and think of paradise… Have you got the image in your head? Chances are you’re dreaming up the Seychelles – an idyllic blend of magnificent beaches with powder-white sands, teeming waters and lush landscapes. Scattered across the glittering Indian Ocean like jewels off the coast of Madagascar, this 115-island archipelago promises sugar-soft beaches, bordered by jungle-clad peaks and filled with a plethora of birdlife. The largest islands, Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, boast beautiful beach resorts that give way to technicolour reefs and an underwater safari beneath the waves. You can island hop for more stunning scenery than your heart can handle, set sail on a cove-cruising catamaran, and dine on some of the most delectable seafood to ever grace your lips. We’re not surprised it’s where royals and celebs alike go for an escape.
Begin your journey in the mountainous isle of Mahé – easily the largest and most populated landmass in the archipelago. Before soaking up the sun on its fine collection of pristine beaches, make a beeline for the Morne Seychellois National Park first, it’s the jewel in Mahé’s gold-encrusted crown. Enigmatic mangrove forests, picturesque hiking trails and the country’s highest mountain make up this interior attraction, which covers over a fifth of the island. Next on the list is Praslin Island, a slow-paced gem home to the legendary (and UNESCO-listed) Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. Here you can marvel at primeval palms and black parrots. And if wildlife is really your thing, the Seychelles is home to some incredible rarities, like Giant Aldabra tortoises on Curieuse and the endangered hawksbill sea turtle, not to mention 250 bird species, numerous geckos and the miniature sooglossid frog. For an unrivalled marine encounter discover the corals of Aldabra, the largest raised coral atoll on the planet.
Eat and Drink
Fiery chillies and freshly-caught seafood are the heart of Seychellois cuisine. Fish lovers can have their dishes roasted, grilled, fried, wrapped in banana leaves or even curried, accompanied by a hearty serving of vegetables and deliciously fluffy long-grain rice. There are quite a few unusual foods too – from shark chutney to bat meat – in fact fruit bat soup is one of the nations’ favourites. Don’t worry if the idea of bat doesn’t do it for you though, the inhabitants have plenty of other delicacies too, such as breadfruit, caramelised bananas and coconut tart for dessert. Wash them down with a glass of Ecu beer and you’ll feel truly authentic. Dig in at one of Mahé’s many restaurants – we love the Veranda Café and The Maharajas, both of which have received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Where to Stay
As you may have already realised by now, the Seychelles is a glittering multi-island paradise. For the ultimate Castaway experience, we love Desroches for a romantic hideaway. This tiny isle – just three miles long – boasts a deep emerald interior, complemented by pure white sands that meander through water so clear you may as well be in a swimming pool. It’s not only home to one of the Top 10 Remote Hotels of the World (according to Forbes), but it’s bordered by 14 incredible dive sites and is perfect for a touch of jungle cycling. Well, if it’s good enough for Prince William and Kate...
The Seychelles take beaches to a whole new level. They’re so much more than just powder-soft sands and lapping turquoise waves – the best are framed by timeworn granite boulders like Anse Source d'Argent, home to a plethora of avifauna like Bird Island or peppered with the waxy green leaves of takamaka trees on Anse Takamaka. And then there are those that act as a gateway to the ocean and the marine gems hidden beneath its surface… Anse Major, Anse Boileau and Anse Aux Pins on Mahé are all perfect for snorkelling straight from the beach.
Seychelles like a Local
For a local, off-the-beaten-track experience, head for the islands north of Mahé: they’re small and mostly unexplored by tourists. These secret gems offer the perfect opportunity for you to experience local culture and meet some of the country’s inhabitants – a warm people who will welcome you with open arms.