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Discovering Seychelles

Beach of Seychelles

The picture perfect Seychelles is a haven for holiday seekers. Imagine laying on a warm white powder sand and feeling the cool breeze caressing you. Huge granite rocks of different sizes and shapes on your right and a coconut tree bending over the seashore on your left while the gentle lapping of the waves gradually carries you to a more and more relaxed state. This fantastic sensation is what you can expect, all while discovering THE SEYCHELLES.

This fabulous archipelago is not just about beaches but also about unspoiled nature, marine treasures, endemic animals and plants, postcard scenery, unique culture and a distinctive cuisine.

Cocktail in the Indian Ocean

Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands scattered over the Indian Ocean. Among these 115 islands, 41 forms parts of the Inner Islands and 74 of the Outer Islands. The Seychelles is about 1,600 km east of Kenya and covers an area of 459 km². Teeming with pristine white beaches, giant granite boulders, and a blue azure lagoon makes the archipelago a legendary beauty.

The Seychelles comprises of 3 main islands, notably: Mahé, La Digue and Praslin Island.

History

Before the 17th century, the Seychelles remains inhabited and was mostly used by pirates to hide their treasures. In the 18th century the governor of Mauritius, Mahe de la Bourbonnais sent Lazare Picault to explore and chart the islands northeast of Madagascar.

The French were the first to colonize the Seychelles but in the early 19th century the Britain took control of the Seychelles.

On June 29, 1976 the Seychelles became an independent republic within the Commonwealth with Sir James Mancham as its President and Albert René as Prime Minister.

Culture & Religion

Seychelles has developed a unique culture by the blending of different races and nationalities of people residing in the archipelago.

The official languages are the Seychellois Creole, French and English.

Roman Catholic is the dominant religion, however other religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Chinese are also practice in the island.

Seychellois are known for their hospitality and friendliness.

All while discovering Seychelles you will notice that Mahé, Praslin and La Digue Island are real bijou of the Indian Ocean.

Mahé Island

Mahé is the most developed and largest island of Seychelles. Home to the capital city Victoria, Mahé has a population of around 80,000 citizens, consisting of more than 90% of Seychelles population. With 60 stunning beaches, waterfalls, jungle, mountain walks and striking viewpoints, Mahé has evolved into a main tourist destination. Mahé is famous for its vibrant atmosphere, Creole architecture and market.

Praslin Island

Praslin is a delight for beach lovers, a piece of paradise on earth. Commonly listed among the best beaches in the world, Praslin beaches and lush tropical forest will leave you speechless. Being the second largest island of the Seychelles, Praslin has a population of merely 6,500 citizens. The island has also an 18 hole championship golf course. Get ready to discover the endemic Coco De Mer and other rare species. Praslin is considered to be a ‘MUST visit destination’.

La Digue Island

La Digue famous beaches never fail to impress, the perfect laid-back location. It is the smallest of the 3 main islands and has a population of only 2,000 persons. La Digue iconic beaches and landscape will take your breath away. There are a handful of taxis and local bus services, however, the best way to discover la Digue is by bicycle.

Beaches & National Park

Seychelles and its beaches are of unmatched beauty, here is a list of those amazing beaches:

Anse Source d’Argent

Iconic Anse Source d'Argent

Perhaps the most beautiful beach you will set eyes upon. Anse Source d’Argent is the star of the Seychelles, with its naturally sculptured granite boulders and crystal clear turquoise waters, Anse Source d’argent is spectacular. Situated on La Digue Island, the famous beach is probably the most photographed and has appeared in many films.

 Anze Lazio

Anse Lazio, Seychelles

 Situated in the northwest of Praslin Island, Anse Lazio is adorned by white powder-fine sand, lapis lazuli waters backed by scenic granite boulders. Anse Lazio deserves its reputation, a real gem of the Indian Ocean. Recently voted the 6th best beach in the world by TripAdvisors.

 Anse Georgette

Anse Georgette, Seychelles

Again, one of the riches of Seychelles, Anse Georgette situated on Praslin is an outstanding beach. Powder soft sand, incredible palm trees and blue turquoise water make the beach an unforgettable souvenir of Seychelles. Considered the second best beach in Praslin Island after Anse Lazio, Anse Georgette is a truly jaw-dropping beach.

 Anse Intendance

Anse Intendance, Seychelles

 Anse Intendance in Southern Mahé is the perfect location to lay your surfing materials. With high waves, Anse Intendance presents the ideal conditions for surfing. An amazing beach with imposing granite formation and beautiful scenery. Rank among the best beaches in the Indian Ocean, Anse Intendance is a true postcard image.

 National Park

Vallée de Mai National Park

Vallee de Mai Seychelles

An untouched vestige of natural palm forest preserved since years. Designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, Vallée de Mai is highly recommended. Almost conserved to its original state, the national park has no match. Resting on the granitic island of Praslin, Vallée de Mai covers an area of 19.5 ha and is a sanctuary largely unchanged since prehistoric times.

Vallée de Mai is home to the famous Coco de mer only found in Praslin and Curieuse Island and to five endemic palm trees. Unique for its wildlife, the National Park has rare species of bird such as the black parrot.

 Interesting facts about the Seychelles

  1. The gorgeous Seychelles was at a time a pirate hideout. Rumors are that the infamous pirate Olivier Levasseur hid a treasure of great value in the Seychelles Island.
  2. The heaviest land tortoise, Esmeralda, resides on the Bird Island.
  3. The endemic Coco de mer produces the heaviest and largest seed in the world.
  4. Victoria, the capital of Seychelles is the smallest capital in the world and can be explored in a day on foot.
  5. Rarest bird species can be spotted in Seychelles.
  6. Prince William and his wife spent their honeymoon in the Seychelles.
  7. The republic was uninhabited until the 18th century

Seychelles Africa

Map-of-the-Seychelles

Map of the Seychelles

Where is Seychelles?

Have you ever wondered what tasted Africa but one class above? Well, take your map point just an iota below the equator some 1500 km to the southeastern coast of the African continent. Congratulations. You’ve just spotted the Seychelles islands.

The Seychelles islands have the perfect geographic location to shame any other tropical island. Its geographical location makes of this insular state without contest one of the pearls of the Indian Ocean, with one of the most preserved fauna and flora of the whole world.

You may be asking yourself what makes the Seychelles so distinct from the rest of Africa. Well, the answer is everything.

Seychelles Demography

To begin with, with a population of only 90,024 (2014), the Seychelles is demographically the smallest of all the African states.

Out of its 155 islands, the archipelago of 459 square kilometers has about 90% of its population staying on the island of Mahé which is home to the capital city Victoria. La Digue and Praslin accommodate for the rest of the inhabitants.The other remaining islands are uninhabited or declared nature reserve.

The population density of the Seychelles is therefore very small. You will find it astonishing that the vast majority of its soft sandy beaches are almost unfrequented giving the sensation of lost paradise.

Seychelles-Granite-blocks

Seychelles Granite blocks

The islands of the Seychelles are either of granitic or coral origins. As a matter of fact, the Seychelles granitic islands are considered the oldest and hardest granite in the world.

A walk on the beaches will reveal enormous blocks of granite,that when coupled with the azure of the sea and the green of the flora, increase your sensation of ecstasy.

Seychelles history

Tower-Cloc- in-Vicotria--Mahé

Tower Clock in Vicotria- Mahé

Seychelles has the typical historical blueprint as the majority of islands in the Indian Ocean.

Situated on the travel route of merchants of the past European  golden era, Seychelles was a transit point between Africa and Asia. It is of no wonder that Seychelles saw itself first colonised by the French in 1756 when a stone was laid by Captain Nicolas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s Minister of Finance.The British later contested control over the island.

State-House-Victoria-Seychelles

State House Victoria Seychelles

The buildings and infrastructures are perfect vestiges of its past colonial era. The State house and the district tower clock both situated in Victoria are perfect example.

Seychelles Culture

The colonial past can also be traced in Seychelles culture which is a mix of French and African (Creole) influences. Although having French and English as official languages, Seychellois Creole (Kreol), a creole language derived from French and African tongues, is the native language.  English and French are also commonly used. English remains the language of government and commerce.

The Seychellois are beautiful people with the majority of the population being racially mixed which is the same as the surrounding islands of La Réunion, Mauritius, Mayotte and Rodrigues.

Seychellois-boy-carrying-a-coco-fesses

Seychellois boy carrying a coco fesses

Seychellois are well mannered and polite people. They are very warm welcoming to visitors and will without hesitation invite you to share their meal.

Seychelles food

Gastronomy is one of the major aspects of your visit to the Seychelles. If you are a ‘fin’ gourmet, you will find restaurants which will do nothing except arouse your taste buds. You will find whatever type of food you are looking for in the Seychelles- even Chinese food, since the Chinese make up about 1% of the population. Inner Indian Ocean islands have their own type of cuisine which is distinctive from the rest of the African continent. Seychellois cuisine is not to be excluded from the custom.

Seychellois-food
Seychellois food

Its cuisine is a unique mélange of Indian, African and French food. Hot and spicy food is generally preferred. Fish is ubiquitous in the Seychelles kitchen. Freshly caught it is savored grilled, with rice and eggplant or pumpkin puree. Hot pepper sauce, which is part of the Seychelles habits is to be eaten with moderation! Specialities of the Seychelles are the “ladob”, shark chutney, “bourgeoise grille” and the famous “kat-katbanane”. For dessert, enjoy the many tropical fruits.

 

Seychelles accommodation

The most fascinating fact about the Seychelles is that regardless of nationality of the visitor, no visas are required for entry. This makes the Seychelles a unique travel destination.

Unlike some African countries Seychelles enjoys amazing peace. Peace and tranquility is what every traveler research for their holiday trips. And this is exactly what the Seychelles has to offer to you. Seychelles has the lowest criminality level of Africa. Personal safety is a major factor to take into consideration while planning your holiday. One of the best tips while choosing your holiday destination is to choose the safest place for you and your family.

There is a wide range of hotels you can choose from when planning your trip. From 5 star hotels to villas or guest houses, chose whatever location you prefer. From the slow motion life of Victoria, to time freezed sea coasts and mountain foots. The Seychelles offers you accommodation according to your budget.

Seychelles Islands nature reserves

Seychelles is home to several national parks and nature reserves.

At Mahé, the highlight of the Seychelles archipelago is protected by the Morne Seychellois National Park.

At Praslin National Park, Vallée de Mai is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

National-Park-Coco-De-Mer-.-Praslin-,-Seychelles

National Park- Coco De Mer. Praslin, Seychelles

This site, unique to the Seychelles, has a forest of Coco de Mer, also called coco fesses. The fins of these coconuts shade several rare plants and many birds.

At La Digue, the reserve hosts in a lush tropical vegetation an endemic species of bird called the “red collared widow-bird.”

Several islands are located in the immediate vicinity of Mahé or Praslin. Sainte-Anne and Cerf Island are next to Mahé. Cousin, Cousine and Curieuse are close to Praslin.

In these small islands, nature rules, and marine parks are home to a beautiful underwater world. Silhouette, Bird Island, Denis Island and Fregate are islands near Mahé worth seeing.

These are small paradise where hotels are scarce and the beaches paradisiacal.

Live on these pristine islands of Seychelles giant tortoises. These animals are the endemic emblem of the island. Through your visit, do not try to disturb their routine.

Seychellois-dancing-at-night-fall

Seychellois dancing at night fall

At nightfall, the music of Seychelles launches its rhythms in hotels inviting you to dance in a friendly atmosphere, in these extraordinary islands.

Are you under the spell of a trip to the Seychelles?

Seychellois’ Culture

Seychelles-Culture

You have a lot yet to discover about the Seychelles Islands. For those willing to spend their holidays in a hotel or villa in the Seychelles, here are is what you need to know about the island.

The melting pot of the many different types of people who settled the islands makes up the colourful culture of the Seychelles. In the 17th century pirates and corsairs have been using  the Seychelles as a sanctuary to the French settlers and their dependents who established the archipelago’s spice and coconut plantations, from the Tamil and Chinese merchants who set up the region’s first small businesses to the British colonials who altered the Seychelles economically.

Each batch of new residents contributed uniquely to the notable blend of language, music, arts and religion that portrays the Seychelles. Seychellois culture mirrors the traditions of all the different races and nationalities that settled the archipelago, including the Islamic mariners, the French settlers, the British colonials, the Tamil and Chinese traders, and the African slaves.

Seychellois Creole

Creole refer to those native to the country of whichever ancestry. The majority of people living in the Seychelles are Creole. They are mainly of African and Malagasy origin. However, today it also includes people of mixed African, Malagasy, Indian, Chinese, French and British origins.

Seychellois Creoles

Seychellois Children

Africans and Malagasy were brought as slaves to work on sugar and coffee plantations. These slaves were the last to be introduced to the Indian Ocean.Their origins lie in East Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Madagascar.

Creol Seychellois is one of the official language of the Seychelles. Creole has been developed from the French dialects of the original settlers. Its vocabulary is mostly French, with a few Malagasy, Bantu, English, and Hindi words. Most Seychellois can speak and understand French although English is their principal languages.

Religions And Beliefs

Practically all the inhabitants of Seychelles are Christian. More than 90 percent are Roman Catholic. Like other Africans, many Seychellois Christians still follow traditional religious practices. These may include magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. It is a common practice to consult a local fortune-teller known as a bonhomme de bois or a bonne femme de bois and to use charms known as gris-gris to harm one’s enemies.

Magic in the Seychelles

Many Seychellois continue to believe in witchery, magic and sorcery. Shamans known bonom di bwa (from the French “bonhomme de bois” or “man of the woods”) are frequently consulted to provide supernatural guidance for solving everyday problems. African slaves brought over their traditions of gris-gris or black magic. In some ways, this Seychellois folk tradition is very similar to Haitian culture. The Seychellois believe in ghosts, and if someone dies in their families they regularly keep watch over the coffin in case the wandering soul turned into a “dandotia” or zombie.

Music in the Seychelles

The Seychelles has developed very typical musical traditions, which have made fans all around the world. African influences dominate, particularly in the moutia and sega music that is often accompanied by dance.

Sega Dancing

Sega Dancing

The Moutya dance was the typical dance back in the times of slavery. It is a slow, achingly erotic dance that is usually performed to the beat of a single drum. Moutya songs are, in fact, prayers that the early slaves adapted into work songs. Moutya was once seen as so rebellious that the British colonial authorities banned it.

In contrast, sega is a musical dance with a more Calypso-like rhythm. Sega is popular in many of the West Indian islands, including Mauritius and Réunion. The one rule of sega dancing is that the feet must never leave the ground. It is usually executed by swaying of the hips and moving the arms and hands.

The music of the Seychelles is diverse. The folk music of the islands incorporates multiple influences in a syncretic fashion, including African rhythms, aesthetic and instrumentation—such as the zez and the bom (known in Brazil as berimbau), European contredanse, polka and mazurka, French folk and pop, sega from Mauritius and Réunion, taarab, soukous and other pan-African genres, and Polynesian, Indian and Arcadian music. A complex form of percussion music called contombley is popular.

The Flag Symbolism

Seychelles Flag

Seychelles Flag

The Seychelois’ flag consists of wedges or rays emanating from the lower left corner. The colors are yellow, red, white, and green, with a blue wedge at the upper left. The flag symbolising the ocean, the link to Africa, and the multicolored nature of the population is proudly raised on the 29th of June, on thir independence day. The government that gained power through a coup in 1977 had Marxist inclinations and used rhetoric fitting that ideology. The country has used a national rhetoric of development and the innovative spirit, especially in regard to the development of the outer islands.

Seychelles Food & Drink

The favourite dish is curry and rice, which may be eaten two or three times a day. The curry may be either fish based or meat based. Coconut milk is often used in the curries. Some even consume curries comprising of both meat and fish.  Seychelles proposes a delicious cuisine with a blend of flavours that is definitely a feast to the taste buds. A typical drink is palm wine, fermented sap tapped from coconut palm fronds. And you will also have the chance to taste the famous Aphrodite endemic to the island- the Coco De Mer.

Coco D'amour- Alcoholic Drink made from Coco de Mer

Coco D’amour- Alcoholic Drink made from Coco de Mer

The Seychellois Creole cuisine merges an array of cooking styles, including English, French, Chinese, and Indian. Creole cooking is rich, tasty, hot, and spicy. Its fusion of fruit, fish, fresh vegetables, and spices is a pure bliss in the mouth. Basic ingredients include pork, chicken, fish, octopus, and shellfish. Coconut milk makes a good sauce for seafood meals.

Seychellois Cuisine

Seychellois Cuisine

Fish is served in severak ways: grilled on firewood, curried, in boullions or soups and even as steak. Turtle meat is called “Seychelles beef” and it is very famous on the island. People also enjoy salads and fruit desserts of mango, papaya, breadfruit, and pineapple which are tropical fruits available during specific seasons on the island. Locally made alcoholic beverages include palm wine(calou) and Bacca which is a powerful sugarcane liquor drunk on ceremonial occasions.

Festivals and Celebrations

Festivities Seychelles

The national day is celebrated on 18th June to commemorate the adoption of the constitution in 1993. On the 5th of June Liberation Day is celebrated in commemoration of the 1977 coup and on the 29th of June Independence Day is observed. Labor Day is on the 1st May and New Year is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd January. Christian holidays that are also public holidays include All Saints Day (1st November), Immaculate Conception (8th December) and Christmas Day (25th December).