Anse Cocos on La Digue island one of the best Seychelles beaches

Anse Cocos on La Digue island one of the best Seychelles beaches. Photo by Tobias Alt.

Holidays in the Seychelles

The Seychelles are the epitome of a 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.

Then there are friendly locals, a few passable sights such as the Spice Garden Plantation, the lush and buzzing Valle de Mai nature park, haut cuisine, chic luxury beach hotels with a touch of exotic Africana and you’re in a glorious, tranquil seaside heaven, save for the occasionally questionable level of service.

Located not far from Mauritius, Madagascar and Zanzibar, only those with deep pockets, little desire for physical activity outside the bedroom or jungle walks and limited cultural interest need apply for a Seychelles holiday. Nightlife? Nope, post-dinner action mainly involves romance and fine wines.

A typical upmarket resort on Mahé island, Kempinski Resort, Seychelles

A typical upmarket resort on Mahé island, Kempinski Resort.

Planning a Seychelles holiday

Praslin island seen from La Digue, Seychelles.

Praslin island seen from La Digue, Seychelles. Photo by Tobi Alt

The average tourist holiday to these islands is about one week and consists of a few days on each of the three main islands: an international flight to Mahé; a light plane flight to Praslin; a ferry to La Digue; a ferry to Praslin; 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 cultural stimulation, exotic wilderness or totally empty paradise beaches are likely to be disappointed, particularly if they have travelled long-haul to get there. Keep expectations down to a brilliant beach environment not dissimilar to the best of the Caribbean or Hawaii and you won’t go home disgruntled.

One 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.

AA Gill on the Seychelles

‘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.’ Courtesy of The Sunday Times

Best seasons

The Seychelles are more or less a year round destination but perhaps the best months are around April and October, though it’s humid at that time.
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.

Best Seychelles Beaches

Anse Lazio, Praslin island

Anse Lazio beach, Praslin island, best Seychelles beaches. Photo by Tobi Alt

Anse Lazio beach, Praslin island. Photo by Tobi Alt

Anse Lazio:

Although it’s often voted as the world’s best beach by many travel publications, the beach’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 white  sand and turquoise sea and useful hanging palm fronds acting as natural parasols.
Lazio beach 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.
Anse 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.

Anse Volbert / Côte d’Or:

Praslin’s primary beach, Anse Volbert,  is lined with hotels and guesthouses but rarely crowded in spite of its gleaming white strand and clear seas good for both swimming and water sports. Out in the bay snorkelling is excellent around Souris island and St Pierre islet.

Apart 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, shaped like a woman’s mid section – and the world’s largest seed (photo below). The Vallée is not far from the beach and the pleasant coast road is good for biking.

Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue island

Anse Source d'Argent, La Digue island, Seychelles. Photo by tobias alt

Anse Source d’Argent, La  Digue island. Photo by Tobi Alt

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 walking will be required so bring decent shoes or walking sandals.

Anse Intendance, southern Mahé

Anse Intendance, Mahé island, Seychelles. Photo Masibogasi

Anse Intendance. Photo Masibogasi.

Intendance beach in southern Mahé offers half a mile of powder white sand and huge breakers. With no reef the waves are sizeable – depending on the season – so Intendance is the place for surfing and sunbathing rather than swimming.

Port Launay

This pretty beach – also a Marine National Park – is on the northwest coast of Mahé. Swimming and snorkelling are excellent, with a wide variety of colourful fish cruising in and around the edges of this bay. The beach is long and wide with white sand and plenty of shady trees. It is popular with picnickers at weekends but during the week tends to be much quieter. Get there by taking the road past Port Glaud, the trip will take about an hour.

Anse à la Mouche & Ile Souris

On the southwest coast of Mahé, Anse à la Mouche is a  wide, calm bay with shallow clear waters. Swimming is safe and suitable for children as the water remains shallow even at high tide, with no strong currents. The trip there takes about half an hour.

Mahé is the first island you’re likely to set foot on and hosts few magnificent beaches but Ile Souris is a beaut, cool sand, warm water and hot rocks, pristine and unspoilt. This tiny island is within swimming distance of another lovely beach Anse Royale, Mahé’s longest.

Main Seychelles islands

1: Mahé island – Capital of Seychelles

The majority of visitors to Seychelles start out on the main island, Mahé, because that’s where most international flights land. Travellers not on luxury honeymoon packages tend to enjoy the convenience, multitude of ‘reasonably’ priced facilities and broad beach of Beau Vallon Bay and get some transport to explore less busy parts of the island – especially the west and northwest coasts – including some fine, empty beaches.

Beau Vallon beach, Seychelles. Photo Hansueli Krapf

Beau Vallon beach, Seychelles. Photo Hansueli Krapf

2: Praslin island

The next step is a flight to Praslin where Seychelles beaches are seriously dreamy, though not significantly better than some of the Caribbean’s finer offerings.
Probably the Seychelles’ #1 tourist attraction apart from sand dotted with granite is Praslin’s Coco de Mer nature park, a lovely tropical walks place humming with wild things, though it’s expensive and won’t deliver anything startlingly new to experienced tropical travellers. Hotels on Praslin tend to be overpriced.

Female Coco de Mer nut, Seychelles. Brocken Inaglory

A quick look at the Seychelles’ shapely and exciting Coco de Mer, aka The Love Nut, the world’s largest seed, found in Praslin island’s Vallée de Mai nature park, not far from the beach. The nut is now protected so don’t plan to take one home. That huge and erotic seed comes generally from female trees while the reciprocal male tool looks unattractively like a spotted dick. The pollination process is still not understood. Photo by  Brocken Inaglory.

3: La Digue island

Grand Anse on La Digue island, Seychelles. Photo by Tobias Alt

Grand Anse on La Digue island, Seychelles. Photo by Tobias Alt

A ferry from Praslin finally delivers travellers to the unanimous favourite Seychelles island, La Digue. Little, relatively undeveloped and hosting some gorgeous beaches, La Digue is tranquil, interesting enough for a few days and bike-friendly, but don’t expect to be alone unless you’re prepared to walk or bike a bit.

A Few Facts

History: This 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 independence.

Costs: this is a pricey destination, even if you do crash at a guest house rather than in a luxury hotel. These are mainly to be found on Praslin island.  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 Seychelles speciality is bat curry.

Electricity: 240v, 3 flat pin British style plugs.

Languages: English and French.

Religion: 98% Christian.

Visas: 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 above.

Cousin Island

Accessed via Praslin Island, Cousin Island is about bird watching, not flopping into glassy waters onSeychelles beaches 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.

Cousin is home to over 300,000 nesting seabirds of seven species including lesser noddies and brown noddies from May to September and other species breeding in different seasons: wedge-tailed shearwaters; white and bridled terns, white-tailed tropicbirds; Audubon’s shearwaters; great and lesser frigate birds.

Marine life

Many reefs have become bleached of colour but the waters are warm, clear, generally calm and fish plentiful and kaleidoscopic, so snorkelling is fine.
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, Mahé.


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.

Getting around Seychelles

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.

Getting to Seychelles

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.