Ah, the Seychelles; the shimmering, sparkling Seychelles. Hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful tropical destinations, this archipelago nation of 115 islets, cays and coral atolls pops its granite head above the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean some 1,600 kilometers east of Kenya and mainland Africa. Stable and sun-kissed, it’s become a predictable haven for honeymooners and luxurious resorts, while the rugged inland peaks and the forest-dressed hinterland draw those in walking boots too.
Like its (not-so) near neighbor of Madagascar, the destination is famed for its biodiversity, and you can expect to wander between rare palm blooms, black parrots and colossal tortoises alike. What’s more, the beaches are simply to die for, ranging from the boulder-spotted coves and coast of La Digue to the mangrove-fringed bays of Mahe island and Praslin. Add in a medley of Creole curries and some elegant French colonial style, and you’ve got yourself one darn awesome archipelago to say the least!
Lets explore the best places to visit in the Seychelles:
1. Beau Vallon
Beau Vallon is the Seychelles of the postcards and travel brochures.
Lined with sand so white you’d think it had been painted, dotted with the red-roofed villas of countless resort hotels, and washed over by a sea of such perfect blue, it’s a quintessential image of the tropical Indian Ocean.
It’s also really easily accessed from the capital at Victoria, and comes with countless beaches worth their salt: Anse Major with its cobalt shore; Baie Ternay, where sharks and manta rays flit through the water.
International eateries tout everything from pizza to haute French cuisine, watersports abound, and prices are reasonable to boot.
2. Silhouette Island
Look for the silhouette of Silhouette Island across from the sands of Beau Vallon and Cap Ternay on Mahe and you won’t be disappointed – this great granite rock pokes high above the horizon just 20 miles away.
However, it wasn’t actually named for its profile in the distance, but rather the French minister who discovered it.
It’s the luxurious edge that really counts here, and the beaches.
These come shimmering as white as a pearl, backed by opulent resorts bearing names like Hilton.
And there are hidden coves of black sand too, peppered with boulders and shrouded by packs of palms.
Victoria is a place that balances the responsibilities of a capital with the laid-back obligations of an Indian Ocean half-city.
Small and walkable, this one oozes a sort of Creole Carib vibe that keeps things endearingly slow and chilled out.
Colonial builds fringe the streets with their whitewashed faces and arcades out of New Orleans pop up on the corners.
Colorful market halls bustling with equally colorful tropical fruits and veg; the locals chatter over coffees, and the scents of vanilla and fresh fish emanate from the bazaars.
As the capital, Victoria is also home to the interesting National Museum – definitely worth a visit!
4. Vallee de Mai National Park
Black parrots meet coco de mer palm blooms amidst the verdant reaches of the Vallee de Mai National Park; one of the Seychelles’ most amazing UNESCO reserves and a veritable dream come true for any nature loving traveler in these parts.
Weaving, winding hiking trails follow three main routes around the area that sits in the heart of Praslin, and walkers can keep company with rare creatures like the tiger chameleon and chirping geckos aplenty.
It’s hardly a wonder that the park was once thought to be the literal Garden of Eden, you’ll see!
5. La Digue
Great granite rocks crumble into the azure waves of the Indian Ocean and palms flap left to right in the Trade Winds all around the coast of picture-perfect La Digue.
As the third-largest inhabited island in the Seychelles archipelago, this one often plays second fiddle to the touristic hotspots on Praslin and Mahe.
But it shouldn’t.
Not when the rock-studded sands of Anse Source d’Argent are amongst the country’s most romantic; or the craggy hills of the Veuve Nature Reserve host rare paradise flycatchers and giant tortoises stalk the beachfronts (slowly, mind you).
A whopping 1,100 kilometers south of Victoria, languishing on their own amidst the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, is where travels will discover the islets and cays of the second-largest coral atoll on the planet: Aldabra.
A mind-blowingly beautiful place, this one hosts powdery white sands and chiselled coral and rock formations that look like they’re from another planet.
Way back in 1982, the whole atoll was designated by UNESCO for its rich biodiversity.
That includes the likes of sharks, manta rays, coconut crabs, flying foxes and – last but certainly not least – the giant tortoise (Aldabra has more than 100,000 of these great beasts; the largest number on the planet!).
7. Curieuse Island
Curieuse Island has had its fair share of troubles.
First, French colonists culled the local tortoise.
Then mariners torched the whole rock in a bid to increase their yield of double-bulb coconuts (unique to the Seychelles). Finally, the whole place was designated a leper colony, and went untouched for decades.
Today, the darker days are firmly gone, and Curieuse Island is now one of the top day trip destinations in the archipelago.
Famed for its lush mangroves and rare coco de mer plant, its ochre-hued red soil and the biodiversity of the reefs and underwater habitats that surround it, there’s plenty on the menu for the nature lover.
8. Cousin Island
The stomping ground of the rare Hawksbill turtle, the uber-rare Seychelles warbler, and the Seychelles magpie robin (two of the exotic endemic species of the archipelago), Cousin Island actually started life as a coconut plantation.
Today, the whole granite mass is a protected reserve, controlled under the auspices of international organisations like BirdLife, and drawing in crowds of bird spotters and turtle seekers during the season.
The coast is also fringed with groves of coconut palms and casuarinas, there are eco-lodges and even a smattering of luxurious villas with spas, gyms and infinity pools overlooking the sea.
9. Grand Anse
A wide horseshoe curve of sparkling yellow-white sand that runs for much of the length of Praslin’s west coast, Grand Anse hails in as one of the longest beaches in the entire of the Seychelles.
It’s also nice and close to the runways of Praslin Airport, comes peppered with charming hotels and guesthouses, and fringed by blooms of fragrant hibiscus and frangipani.
The occasional whitewashed yacht dots the sky-blue waters, the Indian Ocean laps softly (making Grand Anse great for swimmers and snorkelers), and there are plenty of water sports outfitters hiding between the palm groves.
What are you waiting for?
10. Baie Lazare
On the southern tip of Mahe island, the enchanting little salt-washed village of Baie Lazare marks the very spot where French mariner Lazare Picault first laid claim to the Seychelles for France, way back in the 1740s.
History is one of the main draws, with the carved Gothic spires and frontispieces of one elegant church dedicated to Francis of Assisi standing as testimony to the European influence.
However, the beaches are true chart-toppers too.
They come in the form of uber-romantic Anse Soleil; its bendy palm trees bowing down to an ocean of perfect blue.
Or they come with boulder-peppered Petite Anse – secluded, quiet and pristine.
11. Morne Seychellois National Park
Mist-topped canopies and chiselled cliffs cascade down from the highlands of northern Mahe island to form the great natural wonders of the Morne Seychellois National Park.
A wild region, it encompasses the panoramic lookouts atop Morne Blanc, endless swathes of coastal mangrove, deep forest tracks and oodles more.
Trekkers are invited to delve into the vast area and navigate through groves of ancient rosewood trees, seeking out Venus fly traps and brilliant white tropical birds, not to mention the age-old remains of some cinnamon factories.
You’ll need good boots for this one folks!
12. Aride Island
Lost on its own between the swells of the Indian Ocean just north of Praslin island, the little speck that is Aride has become something of a focus for conservationists and naturalists in the Seychelles.
Thanks to its resurgent population of interesting seabirds, protected marine reserves and relatively less development over the centuries than the archipelago’s other islets, it remains pretty feral.
You’ll see the occasional bloom of coconut palms left over from the days when it was a plantation, along with rare blue pigeons and magpies, the shimmering sands of Turtle beach, and windblown cliffs to boot.
13. Bird Island
Rising just a couple of meters from the ocean some 100 kilometers north-east of Mahe, Bird Island is not only a far-flung speck on the map of the Seychelles archipelago, but also an untouched and untrodden break from the other tourist-heavy draws here.
It really does live up to its name too, with everything from fairy terns and sooties, common noddies and more flitting through the salt-scented skies.
And it’s not all about looking upwards either, because there are also winding hiking paths and huge giant tortoises to see – Bird Island is actually home to Esmeralda: the single heaviest giant tortoise in the world!
14. Ste Anne National Marine Park
Just a peppering of perfectly-sculpted islands rises from the protected seascapes of the Ste Anne National Marine Park: palm-studded Moyenne Island; the mountainous reaches of the beautiful Ile aux Cerfs; indelibly green Sainte Anne itself.
And while these host luxury hotels and shimmering white beaches, they are certainly not the major pull.
That honor goes to what’s under the water.
SCUBA divers, free divers and boaters all flock to see the patchwork of seagrass meadows and coral reefs, the sharks and multi-colored schools of tropical fish, while others will come in search of the fabled treasure supposedly once buried in the sands!
15. Denis Island
Benefitting from its own tiny airstrip and a far-flung, off-the-beaten-track location on the northern fringes of the Seychelles archipelago, little Denis Island has nurtured something of a more Robinson Crusoe feel that its near compadres.
It’s dressed in a blanket of coconut palms and pretty hardwood takamakas, and is home to turtle sanctuaries and driftwood-dotted beaches of pristine sands.
The remoteness makes for a truly desert island experience, which means you won’t find any roaming internet here as you wander between the ramshackle salt-washed fishing villages and empty bays!