Lucky you! Mother Nature was very generous with these 115 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean and has spoiled them rotten. Undeniably, the beaches are the big attraction, and what beaches: exquisite ribbons of white sand lapped by topaz waters and backed by lush hills and big glacis boulders. And nary a crowd in sight.
Which island should you go to? Don’t sweat the decision too much. Be it one of the three main islands of Praslin, La Digue or Mahé - its mountainous interior being home to Morne Seychellois National Park - or any outlying island, you’ll strike gold.
With such a dreamlike setting, the Seychelles is, unsurprisingly, a choice place for a honeymoon. But there’s much more to do than simply cracking open a bottle of champagne with the loved one in a luxurious hotel. Having earned a reputation as a paradigm of ecotourism, the Seychelles is a top spot to watch birds and giant tortoises in their natural habitat. And a vast living world lies just below the turquoise waters, beckoning divers of all levels. When you tire of beaches you can venture inland on jungle trails, indulge in fine dining or enjoy the sublime laid-back tempo.
And time has come to spread the word: yes, this paradise is accessible to us all. On top of ultra-luxurious options, the Seychelles has plenty of quaint, affordable self-catering facilities and guesthouses, often situated on some of the best land. Though it remains an expensive destination, its tourist authorities are now targeting non-millionaires, promoting these economy options. But fear not: mass tourism it will never be.
A wicked seductress, Praslin has lots of temptations: stylish lodgings, high-quality restaurants serving the freshest of fish, tangled velvet jungle, curving hills dropping down to gin-clear seas, gorgeous stretches of silky sand edged with palm trees and a slow-motion ambience. No, you’re not dreaming!
Lying about 45km northeast of Mahé, the second-largest island in the Seychelles falls somewhere between the relative hustle and bustle of Mahé and the sleepiness of La Digue. Like Mahé, Praslin is a granite island, with a ridge of mountains running east–west along the centre. The island is 12km long and 5km across at its widest point. The 5000 inhabitants of Praslin are scattered around the coast in a series of small settlements. The most important from a visitor’s perspective are Anse Volbert (also known as Côte d’Or) and Grande Anse. At the southeast tip of the island is Baie Ste Anne, Praslin’s main port.
Praslin has all you need to decompress and throw your cares to the wind. Prepare yourself for soggy fingers and toes: here you’ll probably spend as much time in the water as out of it. But if playing sardines on the strand ceases to do it for you, there are a few walks, boat excursions to nearby islands famed for their birdlife, scuba diving and snorkelling that will keep you buzzing.
Remember that tropical paradise that appears in countless adverts and glossy travel brochures? Here it’s the real thing, with jade-green waters, lovely bays studded with heart-palpitatingly gorgeous beaches, and green hills cloaked with tangled jungle and tall trees. The coup de grâce (though a bit overhyped for some tastes) is Anse Source d’Argent on the west coast, with its picture-perfect, sea-smoothed glacis rocks. As if that wasn’t enough, La Digue is ideally situated as a springboard to surrounding islands, including Félicité, Grande Sœur and the fairy-tale Île Cocos.
Despite its lush beauty, La Digue has managed to escape the somewhat rampant tourist development that affects Mahé and Praslin, and there’s only one settlement on the island, La Passe. Sure, it’s certainly not undiscovered, and the recent small casino has brought some protest from locals anxious to preserve the island’s traditional way of life. But La Digue has a more laid-back feel than the other main islands, with only one surfaced road and virtually no cars, just the odd ox cart. Time moves at a crawl, the atmosphere is chilled out to the max, and the place is definitely more a back-to-nature than a jet-set-tourist kind of haven, making it possible to find a deserted anse (bay) to commune with your quest for inner peace.
Transport to La Digue is absurdly easy. It’s only about 5km from Praslin, and getting by boat from one island to the other is simplicity itself, so you’ve no excuse not to spend a day or two at the very least on this island.
If money’s any object, La Digue has a growing number of quaint family guesthouses and self-catering apartments in which to rest your head. While hardly glitzy, they usually boast loads of gracious charm.
When it comes to wishing for the archetypal idyllic island, it’s impossible to think past the glorious bays caressed by gorgeously multihued waters (the ones you see in travel mags) of Mahé. To the northeast, a range of granite peaks, including Mahé’s highest point, Morne Seychellois (905m), adds to this vivid panorama.
By far the largest and most developed ofthe Seychelles islands, Mahé (named by the French in honour of the 18th-century governor of Mauritius, Mahé de Labourdonnais) is home to the country’s capital, Victoria, and to about 90% of the Seychelles’ population. Small wonder that it has excellent vacation and adventure opportunities. Best of all, most spots along the coast are easy to reach by bus or car, so travellers have no trouble sampling the full variety of options the are there offers.
There are a number of modes of transport in Seychelles. Seychelles possesses transportation systems which include: 453km of roads (of which 400km are paved), seaports and airports. The country lacks any railways. In terms of sea transport, the main port is Victoria, and Seychelles has no merchant marine. There are fourteen airports in Seychelles, the major ones including Seychelles International Airport and Praslin Island Airport. Of the fourteen airports, six have runways that are paved.
In rural areas, especially on La Digue, a popular way of public transport are ox-carts.