The Seychelles is often marketed with its sublime white sandy beaches adorned with gigantic granite rocks, its luxurious beachfront hotels, but that’s not all, there’s so much more to discover! The Seychelles islands enjoy a unique tropical atmosphere and are amongst the most pristine natural islands of the world while most of them are still uninhabited.
The archipelago is full of nature reserves, both on land and under water and visitors can enjoy their splendour all year round. Other reserves such as Bird Island become more animated during the winter period when nearly a million migratory birds drift in the archipelago. There is also a multitude of wild nature hiking trails in Seychelles. On the sea side, it is the same story with colourful living coral reefs and most divers have encounters with whale sharks or giant tortoises in their natural habitat.
If you love nature and animals, you will not miss the two natural sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage; Aldabra Atoll and the May Valley Nature Reserve and its giant palm alleys protecting the famous Seychelles sea coco and the endemic Black Parrot.
The Seychelles: another world? Eden Garden?
Once upon a time, many were convinced that the Seychelles archipelago was the Garden of Eden. A tropical paradise with palm trees, lovely islands, hundreds of kilometres of pristine beaches, numerous tropical fruits including the sea coconut and a marine biodiversity. The palm tree as the tree of knowledge and the sea coco “the forbidden fruit”. This archipelago is full of stories, myths, pirate tales and their hidden treasures, it’s up to you to discover!
The Seychelles archipelago consists of about 115 scattered islands. Some are of coral origin with beaches on all sides, other larger islands offer misty tropical forests and their most beautiful beaches remain easily accessible. The Granite Islands are remnants of hollow mountains that were found in the middle of the Indian Ocean when India moved away from Africa.
Visit the islands
Nearly fifty islands and islets are easily accessible with domestic flights and ferry shuttles. Even if all these islands are bordered by divine beaches, you must do your research to find your own magical island. Some islands are private, others are completely uninhabited and many have their own luxury accommodation, like Le Domaine de La Réserve Hotel on Praslin.
Many tourists decide to stay on Mahe (the largest island of the archipelago) for its many attractions and facilities, but you can also choose to stay on a private island for the duration of your stay, or better combine two, three or more islands. The clearly tropical climate shines on all the islands which are grouped in relation to their geographical position.
If you love hiking, Mahé and its primary forests would be a great starting point to discover the Seychelles’ fabulous ecosystem. The highest point of the archipelago is on Mahé, in a beautiful natural park, Le Morne Seychellois. The islands Praslin and Curieuse are also well known for their trails crossing wild forests.
Scuba-divers lovers will be delighted with the countless natural marine parks that the Seychelles has to offer. Snorkelling in shallow waters along many beaches of the large islands, but the show is much more colourful in the marine reserves like that of Saint Anne or Port Launay. To combine these two activities you can try the quite intense hike of Anse Major, which borders the Morne Seychellois reserve northwest of Mahé, also accessible by boat and offering magnificent coastal views on foot. The hike ends on a deserted beach where you will have more chance of crossing wild animals than vacationers.
Praslin Island is a wonder of nature located just 50 minutes by boat or 15 minutes by plane from Mahé. The island is covered with a flourishing flora and a quite particular climate. Nearly half of the total area of Praslin is classified as World Heritage at UNESCO. Leaving the coastal regions, you will discover the true beauty of this tropical island. Book a whole day to visit the May Valley. This primary forest has many surprises for its visitors. You will discover the largest gathering of palm trees in the archipelago, and some endemic species, including the famous Black Parrot of the Seychelles.
Curieuse is another surprising island that lies right next to Praslin. But the beauty of Curieuse lies beneath the surrounding waters, notably the immense national marine park. This area is under the preservation of local authorities, but you can practice scuba diving and even snorkeling, provided you do not touch the corals. The park is home to a radiant aquatic biodiversity of life, but it is also very fragile. You will discover sea turtles, many species of fish, eels and crustaceans in crystal clear water.
On Mahé, Praslin, La Digue or the other islands, you will feel the peaceful rhythm of Seychellois life. Here days are long and we mix very easily with the lively lifestyle of the Seychellois. To discover the culture of the country, head to Victoria, the capital city situated to the north of Mahé. The city is the main supply point of the archipelago, and it becomes very busy during the day where locals meet, especially near the central market. Victoria brings together the vast majority of public and private institutions as well as being the administrative centre of the country. Victoria is also one of the smallest capitals in the world, and one can easily cross the city on foot or on a bicycle.
The Seychellois population is the fruit of a harmonious mix between African, European and Asian traditions. So do not hesitate to take stroll along the streets of the capital, you’ll see the traditions, cultural values and the very colourful architectures of the island.
There are hundreds and hundreds of beaches in the Seychelles, enjoy! But also take the time to see the inner beauty of the islands. These places are much less documented than beaches, but are also pleasant to visit!