A gorgeous beach destination that mixes a bit of colonial and a slice of cosmopolitan in a refined, laidback style with oodles of rustic charm infused into the delightful blend.
Off the east coast of Africa, located in the Somali Sea segment of the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands, of which 41 inner islands constitute the oldest granite islands on planet Earth, and the remaining 74 are low-lying reef islands. With pristine, powder-white beaches, turquoise inlets fringed with lush green takamakas, imposing granite rocks chiselled by the waves of the Indian Ocean and breathtaking coral atolls, Seychelles is a tropical paradise. A late 18th-century French settlement, Seychelles became a British colony in. 1811, and finally became an independent republic in 1976. An indigenous Creole culture, mixed with its twin colonial legacy, lives on.
The larger granitic inner islands of the Seychelles, especially Mahé, Praslin, and La Diguehave the most developed tourism infrastructure including luxury places to lay your head on. Mahé is home to the small capital, Victoria, the main base for cruise ships ferrying to distant, uninhabited islands of the archipelago and the gorgeous Morne Seychellois National Park that is a biodiversity hotspot with incredible tropical flora and fauna amid its mangroves, dense jungles and hills.
For a feel of the quintessential Seychellois vibe that is vibrant and pleasantly eccentric at once, head over to Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market in Mahe. Also known as the Victoria Market, this is a bustling bazaar bursting with local flavours – souvenir stalls with handcrafted knickknacks and fresh local spices, fruit vendors selling juicy, tropical fruits and fishmongers merchandising their catch of the day.
On Mahe’s northwest coast, Beau Vallon is Mahe’s most popular beach and for good reasons. One of the longest beaches in the Seychelles, it is a delightful blend of golden sand, beautiful scenery and a plethora of water activity options.
For another sparkling beach experience Anse Lazio in Praslin is an all-time top lister with its ivory sand, cerulean waters, granite hills and fabulous on-the-shore dining options. Anse Georgette is a favourite among swimmers and snorkelers for its calm, crystal clear waters and a romantic hotspot for its secluded location. And with its 2-mile stretch of creamy white sand and turquoise blue waters, Grand Anse in tiny La Digue is another stunningly beautiful beach famed for some of the surreal sunset views in the world.
The spice trading past of the island nation can be traced in Le Jardin Du Roi, high in the hills above the beautiful bay of Anse Royal in Mahe. The exotic spice garden is filled with flavours and fragrance of herbs, spices, and medicinal plants. The endemic turtles that roam the aromatic grounds are a delight to watch and do not miss small planter’s house museum to educate yourself in spice history of the island.
Dubbed as a "Garden of Eden" thanks to its secluded and mystical nature, Vallee de Mai in Praslin is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Home to the flagship species of coco de mer, the largest seed in the plant kingdom, it is a well-preserved palm forest of 19.5 hectares that has remained unchanged since prehistoric times.
The kaleidoscopic mélange of the splendid Seychellois topography can even be experienced on an island hopping tour from your base in Mahe or Praslin and you can explore the lush emerald forests, rich biodiversity, mountains,and sparkling shoreline of the outlying group of islands of Seychelles.
Shopping is seldom a priority on a visit to Seychelles. But do fill your travel story of this tropical paradise with a slice of shopping topping and check out the exotic markets, craft outlets and ethnic jewellery stores.
Overlooking the bewitching Eden Marina, the small but delightful Eden Plaza symbolizes advent of elite shopping culture in Seychelles. The elegant wooden building located in Eden island houses nearly 70 stores, including luxury labels such as Yves Rocher and Quiksilver.
Home to some of the world’s best souvenirs, Mahe island is choc-a-bloc with specialty shops with an exotic, locally-produced merchandise such as tea and perfume. The best-known among them is Kenwyn House. A beautifully-restored French colonial home that was built in 1855, Kenwyn House doubles as a historic monument and a duty-free shopping arcade where you can buy South African diamonds and exclusive souvenirs and novelties. The elegant 19th-century wooden house has a charming art gallery and a coffee shop as well.
If you are looking for some of the best specimens of indigenous Creole craft, head over to Yves Souvenir Cachee in Victoria. From natural native essential oils to exquisite shell craft, from handcrafted embroidery to banana-leaf pictures, this souvenir boutique specializes in creating arty products from recyclable materials, resonating with the eco-friendly sustainability ethos Seychelles is striving to establish as a way of life.
Restaurants & Bars
From pub grub to fab dining, Seychelles boasts of an amazing and diverse culinary canvas that salivates and satiates even the most fastidious palates.
Set right on the beautiful Cote D’Or beach, Café des Arts is probably Praslin’s best restaurant with its mouth-slavering seafood and epicurean creations rustled up with the freshest ingredients and served in a refined and classy style. The chic-elegant décor looks especially mesmerizing at night when you can perch yourself on the wooden deck on the beach or on the rooftop deck and indulge in one of the signature delicacies such as octopus gratin with lobster amid the gentle tropical sea breeze. Top up the experience with a craft cocktail and sign off on a sweet note with one of the decadent desserts.
Housed inside a vintage 100-year old wooden building that was declared a national Monument in 2011, Marie Antoinette is where you should head for if you are in search of traditional Seychelles food. Laced with a immaculately-crafted rustic charm, this upscale establishment has been enthralling its patrons from all over the world with the same set of Creole classics since it opened in 1972. Fish curries, tuna steak, eggplant fritters, grilled seafood – there are options galore and if you are a culinarily adventurous soul, try the fruit bat curry.
Located inside the gorgeous Banyan Tree Resort on Mahe, award-winning Saffron whips up gourmet Thai cuisine served in its stunning interiors that ooze a colonial plantation retreat feel. An exotic mosaic of taste and texture is perfected with traditional Thai techniques and ingredients and Chef Renu Homsombat uses years of skill and repertoire to whip up culinary creations such as Roasted Peppered Pork Spare Ribs with Black Pepper & Honey Comb Sauce.
Another gorgeous waterfront location, right on the mesmerising Anse Lazio beach, is Bonbon Plume. The wood-and-thatch on-the-beach establishment is the best place to gorge on Creole specialities with your toes tucked into the powder-white sand. Indulge into the grilled catch of the day, while soaking the spectacular ocean views from the front tables, which you will have to book in advance. It opens only for lunch and remains in perennial demand.
After-dark spots are limited in Seychelles for the nightbirds, but the tropical paradise does boast of a few cool and sophisticated nightspots. The Boardwalk, set on a floating platform, is Eden island’s (and possibly, whole of Seychelles’) best hangout zone with a laidback, yet lively party vibe. A mere 100 metres from the super-yacht pontoon, with splendid views of the Marina from the comfy wicker sofas, this is the ideal spot to mingle with the friendly islanders while sipping some exotic local cocktail poured by the expert bartenders, in accompaniment with mellow music.
Stupendous sunset views, uber cool ambience and topnotch drink – if you nod to all three, head straight off to Gecko Bar & Lounge at the Savoy in Mahe. One of the finest Beau Vallon beach bars, the place has a few aces up its sleeve: signature cocktails, rum-based tinctures and a versatile range of sangrias. The mosaic-tiled décor and upbeat music perfectly complement the lively atmosphere of this ritzy beach-side spot that also offers shisha in various flavours.
Museums & the Arts
Located next to the main post office in Victoria, the Seychelles Natural History Museum not only includes sections on botany, zoology, geology and anthropology but also traces the history of the archipelago. The significant aspects of Seychelles’ natural heritage are showcased through exhibits and dioramas that educate and enlighten locals and tourists about major environmental threats faced by Seychelles with the aim of promoting awareness and conservation efforts. The museum’s resource center contains a wealth of research material.
Located near the Cote D’Or beach in Praslin Island, the privately-owned Praslin Museum leads you deep into Seychellois customs and culture. Start off your museum tour with a refreshing fruit juice or citronella tea and embark on a lively and interactive encounter with indigenous traditions such as dehusking coconuts, grilling and tasting breadfruit, feeding fruit bats and learning to cook Creole cuisine in a fully-functional traditional kitchen housed within the museum. Savour the finest local cuisine paired with palm wine and extend your unique experience by staying a night in this atmospheric museum. During your visit, the friendly museum hosts will be happy to impart their insightful knowledge on endemic and medicinal plants found in Seychelles.
If you want to bring home some art that will remind you of your Seychelles holiday, head over to Michael Adams Paintings Studio in Mahe. The best-known artist in Seychelles, Michael Adams has been living and working in the island nation since 1972 and showcases the fecundity of Seychelles through his vividly-coloured paintings and designs. The wooden plantation house where Michael has lived since 1972 doubles as the studio of Michael and his children, Tristan and Alyssa. Visitors are welcome to see and collect watercolours, silk screens, line blocks, calendars and postcards. Michael has held exhibitions all over the world and have been awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2001 for his services to art in Seychelles.
Chartering a cruise can be the perfect way to experience the amazing sea life of Seychelles. A fantastic fleet of both monohulls and catamaran sailing yachts can set you sail in the turquoise tropical waters amid a perfect weather and anchor in one of the secluded islands, offering safe moorings and breathtaking natural beauty with romantic hideaways and hidden coves. Whisk away in a luxurious custom-designed package with an expert skipper, or for ultimate freedom go for a bareboat experience and skipper it yourself. The Seychelles are an impressive destination for a yacht charter, with gorgeous tropical islands, sandy beaches and imposing granite shed by the relentless waves of the Indian Ocean. They are known for giant palm trees and the famous coco de mer coconuts and turquoise inlets fringed with lush green takamakas shading fine, white sand beaches. These islands deserve the label, “paradise”.
Accessed by boat tours from Praslin, the granitic island of Curieuse is characterized by russet-toned earth and a perfect day trip to watch giant tortoises roaming freely in the sandy coves. The turtles, though intimidating in size, are friendly creatures and allow curious visitors to get fairly close. The sugar-white beaches of Curieuse are fringed with takamaka and casuarina trees and an abundance of the cultural icon of Seychelles – coco de mer palm.
From 1833 to the mid-20th century, Curieuse was a colony for lepers. The homes are in ruins and the doctor’s house, a French colonial building, has been converted into an interesting museum and a visitor’s centre.
A tiny dot off the north coast of Mahe, Moyenne Island is an undiscovered gem with a fascinatingly rich reserve of marine fauna. Board a glass-bottomed boat from Victoria harbour and have a pit stop along the way at Sainte Anne National Marine Park for a fish feeding session before reaching the Moyenne island end explore the astounding coral reef that encircles the tiny 24-acres island. On ground, you can take a friendly walk with the resident turtles, navigating through the palm groves, sunbathe on the ivory sand and enjoy a delectable lunch at the restaurant on the beach.
Though not your numero uno surfing destination because of its shallow continental shelf and inadequate exposure to South-west swell, there are a lot of amazing surf spots in Seychelles to enthrall adventure enthusiasts to hone and test wave-riding skills. The best waves are at Mahe, where you will find most of the registered breaks in the archipelago, and La Digue with the most popular beach break being Grand Anse that can be a highlight of your tropical surf trip in a fun, laidback environment amid stunning scenery.
Dubbed as the quintessential highlight of water sports in Seychelles, scuba diving can create unforgettable underwater memories when you dive deep amid the magical marine marvels in any of the numerous diving hotspots peppered across the archipelago. Brissare Rocks of Beau Vallon, Ennerdale wreck and Aldebaran wreck in Mahe North, Aldabra Atolland Marianne island are some of the best places to get up close and personal with the abundant marine life and the stunning coral reefs. The best time to dive in Seychelles is April, October or November when boats can easily take you through the placid waters to remote spots where you will often dive with sharks and manta rays.
Tee off at one of the two golf courses on the island. The Lemuria Golf Course, perched inside the ultraluxe Constance Lemuria Praslin, is possibly the world’s prettiest 18-hole course and the favourite with vacationers with its challenging yet satisfying links, scintillating views of the ocean and a beautiful onsite beach. The older Seychelles Golf Club (SGC) is a more sedate affair with its delightful 9-hole course lined with palm trees and natural vegetation located close to the airport.
Must Buy Souvenir
The most iconic thing to buy in Seychelles is Coco de Mer – the exotic sea coconuts that are emblematic of this island nation. A rare species of palm tree native to the Seychelles archipelago, coco de mer is stuffed with legend and folklore, besides the exceptionally sized nuts with suggestive form. Beware of counterfeits and ensure proper permit and certification while buying the souvenir, which should come with a holographic sticker to ensure its authenticity.
Beachfront boutiques and villas with private terraces, exclusive plunge pools, water sports and ultramodern facilities, the islands of Seychelles are strewn with splurgy options to indulge in pampered luxury.
Situated on Mahé's east coast, Seychelles International Airport is connected with major airports all over the world. Taxis are the most convenient way to get from the airport to Victoria and other destinations around the island. Taxis can also be found on all three of Seychelles' main islands - though a little less commonly in La Digue.
A pre-loaded SMART card can be an efficient way to get around Mahe and Praslin, and biking around the tiny La Digue is a delightful option. For inter-island transportation, Seychelles' ferry services are very convenient and reliable.
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