The Seychelles Islands
cluster of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of eastern
Africa was a British colony from 1812 to 1976, when they gained
The Seychelles are located not far from Mauritius, Madagascar and
Zanzibar and are close to being a classic tropical paradise - more
so than their South Pacific or even Caribbean rivals - with crystal waters, brilliant
white sands, lush vegetation, perfectly contrasting granite outcrops
and coral atolls. Throw in friendly locals, a few passable sights
such as the Spice Garden Plantation, the lush and buzzing Valle
de Mai nature park, classy cuisine, the supreme comfort of
a chic luxury beach hotel for newly-weds or the simply rich with
a touch of exotic Africana and you're in a glorious, tranquil seaside
heaven, save for the occasional questionable level of service.
Only those with fat wallets, little desire for physical activity
outside the bedroom and limited cultural interest need apply, though
for honeymoon couples the place works like a wet dream.
Nightlife? Nope, post-dinner action mainly involves getting plastered
and chasing the (new) ball-and-chain around the beach/bedroom.
average tourist holiday to these islands is about one week and
consists of a few days on each of the three main islands: International
flight to Mahé - light plane
to Praslin - ferry to La
Digue; then out via ferry to Praslin and light plane back
to Mahé, sayonara.
Opinions differ of course, but generally La Digue, the smallest
and least developed of the three is the chosen one, the
greatest Seychelles hit, while Praslin is the most costly.
Very experienced travellers expecting dramatic
cultural stimulation, exotic wilderness or totally empty
paradise beaches are likely to be disappointed, particularly if
they have travelled long-haul to get there.
down to a brilliant beach environment not dissimilar to the best
of the Caribbean or Hawaii and you won't go home disgruntled.
pleasant lowish-cost week-long vacation might go like this: two
nights based on/near Mahé's Beau Vallon beach while exploring
the island; one night passing thru Praslin; three nights on La Digue;
the last night back on Mahé.
A quote from our favourite writer, AA Gill of the Sunday Times in 2008:
'The beaches are the best in the world. We can argue about this, but I'd win. The sand is white and fine; the sea that iridescent, butterfly-wing blue that you only get on atolls and a temperature that's like being peed on by somebody you love. There is little that stings or bites; there are no indigenous Marxist guerrillas or fundamentalist terrorists. The polyglot mix of people makes it very uncliquey, even allowing for the fact that they were once French. And the islands have always made a living from looking out to sea, not looking in each other's windows.'
Seychelles are more or less a year round destination but perhaps
the best months are around April and October, though it's humid
November to March is the rainy season but rains are short, the seas
are calm and it's hot and humid, so these months are OK too.
Worst months are July-September due to the south-east trade winds
bringing less clear, rough seas, beach debris and a lot of visitors
but it's sunny, dry and pleasantly cool.
Windsurfing and sailing are usually best at the beginning and end
of the windy May-October period, while diving is best March-May.
Temperatures range from low 20'sC (70'sF) to low 30'sC (90F), which
is perfect, it's the humidity that can get uncomfortable when it
heads over 75%, which is commonplace.
Lazio, Praslin island
Although it's often voted as the world's best beach by many travel
publications, Anse Lazio's development is still limited to a handful
of small hotels and family-run restaurants and rarely busy. Like its buddies on
Mahé and La Digue islands Anse Lazio sports strategically
placed lumps of pinkly interesting granite to accent the dazzling sand and turquoise
sea and useful hanging palm fronds acting as natural parasols.
Lazio is encircled by a fish-friendly reef making swimming and snorkelling
particularly hypnotic and agreeable, while on shore a little restaurant offers succulent fruits de mer.
Lazio is popular with yachties but roadies can also share the pleasure by taking the ribbon of concrete out to the far north-west of Praslin.
from watersports Praslin island also offers tourists gentle hikes
through Vallée de Mai nature
park, a delightful World Heritage slice of evocative jungle known
for the unique coco de mer,
a coconut shape like a woman's buttocks - and the world's largest
seed - though few men are going to be excited by the latter factoid.
The Vallée is not far from the beach and the pleasant coast
road is good for biking.
Anse Georgette is another terrific
beach on Praslin.
Source d'Argent, La Digue island
This sensational beach comprises the obligatory powder sand and
gently shelving turquoise water backed by monstrous granite outcrops
and lolling palm trees; it's also is one of the world's most photographed
beaches and quite heavily visited.
Situated on La Digue, the third largest, least developed and most
popular of the Seychelles islands, Anse Source d'Argent's waters
are calm, reef-protected and excellent for snorkelling or swimming;
footwear is advisable due to lurking coral chunks; modest surfing
is possible off Grand Soeur beach.
Grand Anse is another one of several
excellent beaches on this island, leading to Petit
Anse and Anse Cocos if you want
total solitude but some walking will be required so bring decent
shoes or walking sandals.
La Digue island. Click to see more Seychelles Pictures.
Souris (Mouse Island), east coast of Mahé
Mahé is the first island you're likely to land on and doesn't
offer the best beaches but Ile Souris is a classic, cool sand, warm
water and hot rocks - pristine and unspoilt with very limited development.
This tiny island is within swimming distance of another lovely beach
Anse Royale, Mahé's longest.
The tiny town of Victoria on Mahé is the capital of the Seychelles
and offers a modest market, but merits little time.
Accessed via Praslin Island, Cousin Island is about bird watching,
not flopping into glassy waters for a post-prandial paddle. With
a quarter of a million avians including shearwaters, noddies, fairy
terns and Seychelles warblers on a tiny island no more than half
a mile across this is a screeching, flapping, peckpecking sight
to delight any bored beach goer, let alone serious twitchers.
Costs: this is a pricey destination, even if you do crash at a guest house
rather than in a luxury hotel. Double rooms will generally cost
$100+ per night. Changing hard currency into rupees on the black
gets a favourable rate but most establishments require payment in
dollars or euros.
Cuisine: dishes are a fine, subtle fusion of Indian, African, Chinese, Arab and European, while the Sechelles speciality is bat curry.
240v, 3 flat pin British style plugs.
English and French.
not required; an onward plane ticket and sometimes reserved
accommodation gets the average traveller a one month visitor's permit.
The most impressive critters in the Seychelles are undoubtedly the
giant Aldabra tortoises found on many islands though the big guys
on La Digue and Praslin are particularly accessible. Turtles nest
on various islands e.g. Cousin, Aldabra, Silhouette, as do large
colonies of birds e.g. Bird, Aride, Aldabra and Cousin Island, see
Many reefs have become bleached of colour but the waters are warm,
clear, generally calm and fish plentiful and kaleidoscopic, so snorkelling
Scuba divers tend to prefer Mauritius to the Seychelles, particularly
for the prices, but manta rays, turtles, dolphins and monster whale
sharks do make appearances from time to time in the Seychelles (around
December). Good dive centres can be found on Beau Vallon beach,
pharmacies are rare and medicines may be difficult to acquire so
bring everything you may need with you.
Mosquitoes, as usual, are the snake in this beach-front Eden and
though they don't carry malaria they can be troublesome. Take the
usual precautions; read our anti-mozzie
pages for a reminder.
buses are common, costing just a few rupees while reasonable taxis
can be found too. Bikes are the way to go perhaps on Praslin and
definitely on La Digue.
Between islands it's pricey flights and cheap ferries. Most travellers
fly from Mahé to Praslin then ferry to La Digue and the do
the same to return.
there are direct flights from London to the Seychelles and indirect
flights from just about anywhere but the cheapest departure point
is probably South Africa's Johannesburg or neighbouring Mauritius.
The bigger international flights land on Mahé's Seychelles
International Airport and some on Praslin Island Airport
while there are another twelve small island airstrips for light
planes and helicopters.
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