Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (December 5, 2016): top 10 things to see and do in the Seychelles.
The Seychelles are an archipelago of legendary beauty in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Equator and east of Kenya. Its 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a massive underwater plateau, star in countless tropical island fantasies and represent one of the world’s very last frontiers. Once your aircraft descends into the Seychelles International Airport, you know that you have arrived at a place of awe-inspiring scenery, with granitic mountain ranges clad in virgin jungle cascading down to hauntingly beautiful, palm fringed, with sand beaches. The Seychelles beckon discerning travelers to their shores, by offering adventure, romance and luxury resorts in pristine surrounds still untouched by man. Here’s my compilation of what to see and do when visiting these paradise islands.
There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Seychellois attraction in the comments section, or take my poll below!
Victoria, one of the tiniest capitals in the world, can be explored it in a pleasant two-hour stroll. The city is named in honor of the British queen after her coronation. Highlights include the botanical gardens, a replica of London’s Little Ben and the Natural History Museum. The Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, the bustling heart of the capital, is the best place to buy fresh fruits, fish, vegetables and spices. An attractive array of boutiques and shops selling a variety of souvenirs, clothing and local works of art further complement the lively atmosphere that is especially vibrant on Saturday mornings.
- Website: Sir Selwyn Clarke Market
Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated 1150 km (715 miles) southwest of Mahé, is the largest raised coral atoll in the world, comprising more than a dozen islands bordering a lagoon so vast the whole of Mahé could fit inside its perimeter. The atoll’s islands nurture a vast array of both unique flora and fauna as well as the world’s largest population of 150,000 giant tortoises, and its lagoon boasts the most vibrant marine life of the entire archipelago. Strict regulations governing the island’s accessibility are in force to protect its fragile ecosystem although yacht charters are available.
- Website: Aldabra Atoll
What sets Seychelles apart from so many other holiday destinations is its wide variety of islands, each one with its own particular geography, character and history. Experiencing more than one island during your stay is a must and will add a dimension to your holiday experience that you will never forget. Whatever your choice, a regular network of air and sea transport operating out of the principal island of Mahé will cater for most itineraries. Ferry services, domestic flights and even helicopter transfers are also available on a daily basis to many of the islands.
These are the main islands that you need to put on your itinerary when traveling to the Seychelles:
- Mahe is the largest island in size and population, with a dramatic mountainous interior, thick Jurassic forest, and plenty of bays and coves to explore.
- Ringed with exquisite beaches and turquoise waters, Praslin is the Seychelles’ second largest island, with only a handful of villages scattered around its territory.
- La Digue, where time has stood still and life is blissfully serene, features the archipelago’s most iconic beaches and tyey can be enjoyed in (relative) tranquility.
Echoing the grand assortment of people who populate Seychelles, Creole cuisine features the subtleties and nuances of French cooking, the exoticism of Indian dishes and the piquant flavours of the Orient. Grilled fish or octopus coated with a sauce of crushed chillies, ginger and garlic are national favourites as are a variety of delicious curries lovingly prepared with coconut milk and innovative chatinis made from local fruits such as papaya and golden apple. As may be expected, seafood dishes feature predominantly in the local cuisine, appearing alongside the national staple, rice.
- Website: Creole cuisine
Almost all of the Seychelles’ main island Mahe is covered in luxuriant green jungle, where squadrons of fruit bats and tropical birds patrol over rich old growth rainforest that surrounds the 2700ft (822 m) summit of Morne, Mahe’s tallest peak. Hiking along one of the many trails within the Morne Seychellois National Park is a pure delight. Look for tiny frogs hiding in pitcher plants, and the harmless endemic wolf snake basking in patches of sun. The best trail is the one that leads to a platform perched atop the sheer cliff of Morne Blanc, offering one of the finest vistas in the Indian Ocean.
- Website: Morne Blanc trail
The legendary Vallée de Mai, administered by the Seychelles Islands Foundation, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So remarkable that it was once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden, this hauntingly beautiful primeval forest is home to some 6000 Coco-de-mer trees, who produce a rare and mysterious coconut famed for its erotic shape that is considered to be among the botanical wonders of the world. The Vallée boasts six endemic palm species as well as many other indigenous trees and is also the last habitat of the endangered Black Parrot.
- Website: Vallée de Mai
Take a step back in time and visit L’Union Estate on La Digue island, where you can see a traditional copra mill and kiln (kalorifer), watch the antics of the estate’s population of giant land tortoises, stroll around the majestic Plantation House framed by giant granite boulders in landscaped gardens, or go horse back riding. The estate is also home to the cemetery of the original settlers of La Digue and – the main reason to visit it – the most pristine beaches in the Seychelles, the legendary ‘Source d’Argent’, among the most photographed beaches on earth.
- Website: L’Union Estate
Perhaps one of the most alluring characteristics of the Seychelles is the clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean which surround the islands. The stunning topography of expansive reefs, walls, pinnacles, drop offs, wrecks and canyons make for one of the most diverse marine environments around, teeming with both fish and coral life. Sailfish, silvertip, oceanic whitetip and nurse sharks, manta rays and whale sharks are more common around the remoter outer islands – you may even be able to spot the occasional hammerhead shark if you’re lucky!
- Website: diving operators
The beauty of the Seychelles beaches – which IMHO are the finest in the world – is beyond words and the main reason that more and more people visit this Indian Ocean island nation (and keep returning). Exquisite ribbons of powdery-soft white sand are lapped by turquoise waters and backed by jungle clad hills and huge granite boulders sculptured by the elements and time itself. It is not difficult to see why photographers and film makers love to come here. The Seychelles’ most beautiful beaches are Anse Intendance (on Mahe Island), Anse Lazio (Praslin Island) and Anse Source d’Argent (La Digue Island).
- Website: beaches
There’s no shortage of luxury hotels in the Seychelles, but none comes close to North Island, the world’s most exclusive hideaway. The insanely beautiful island has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas overlooking pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters. The island’s lounge and dining areas, scenically located health spa and gym, library and dive centre, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. Keep an eye out for Brutus, the island’s 160-year-old tortoise. The resort was the decor for honeymoon of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
- Hotel website: North Island
- Other accolades: North Island also features in my top 10 lists of world’s most exclusive private island resorts, the world’s best luxury hotels, the world’s most expensive hotels, the most insanely beautiful luxury hotels in the Seychelles, and the world’s best honeymoon resorts.
- Review: read here my review of North Island Seychelles.