From beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts to nature-based activities and a rich cultural scene, the Seychelles’ main island beckons to be explored
Landing at Seychelles International Airport, on the nation’s largest island, Mahé, makes for one of the great arrivals in modern leisure travel. The descent over the luminous Indian Ocean, the sight of white-sand beaches and deep green tropical forest, the scent of vanilla and coconut when the plane door opens.
Capital city Victoria blends the bustling feel of a trading post with the orderly charm of a former colony – brightly-coloured fruit and fish markets amid courthouses and clock towers. Less-populated corners demand and reward exploration too, from national parks filled with strange, beautiful flora to secluded coves that once lured explorers and pirates. There’s treasure all over this island.
Housed in a historic colonial mansion, Marie Antoinette is a popular dining spot for both Seychellois and travellers. Originally opened in the 70s, it’s one of the oldest and most famous restaurants on Mahé and offers rustic charm and authentic local dishes. The freshly caught seafood is sumptuous and daring diners should try the fruit bat curry – just make sure you request it one day in advance.
Situated on the wrap-around balcony of Pineapple Boutique, Veranda Café is run two British expats who have lived in the Seychelles for years. Go here for their delicious brownies and carrot cake (the salads, pastas and freshly squeezed juices are good, too).
If tasty Thai cuisine and gorgeous sea views of Anse Intendance tickle your fancy then Banyan Tree Resort’s Saffron is where to go. Chefs at this award-winning restaurant are known for their mouth-watering traditional dishes
SeyTe Tea Factory
Locals recommend that you leave early to see how tea is made at this working facility on the lush slopes of Morne Blanc, which is best appreciated in the cool morning mist. There you’ll be taken through the whole process, from drying to packing – and to drinking, of course.
The endangered jellyfish tree, the carnivorous pitcher plant, and other natural wonders of the Seychelles grow inside this century-old national monument. Just 10 minutes south of Victoria it’s a whole other world, rich in fruits and spices and populated by native bats and tortoises.
Natural History Museum, Victoria
This archipelago has a storied past that goes back much further than the first British and French explorers. Here in the heart of the capital you’ll be taken right back to the beginning through maps and exhibits that outline the origins of the Seychelles’ unique geology and abundance of mysterious plants and animals.
The Seychelles Golf Club, situated on the south-eastern coast of Mahé, is a challenging nine-hole course. It’s built on an old coconut plantation, is the only one of its kind on the island and visitors are welcome
THE BEST BEACHES
Occupying one of the quieter spots on Mahé’s spectacular south-west coast, this kilometre-long stretch of white sand is home to a single property – The Banyan Tree Resort. Well-known and famously beautiful, the beach still promises a sense of discovery, as you follow a trail through the jungle to emerge on the edge of the sparkling Indian Ocean.
Port Lunay National Park
Sublimely comfortable home to the Constance Ephelia resort, this horseshoe-shaped slice of paradise is part of a protected marine reserve. This means an offshore galaxy of hyper-colourful fish and coral, perfect for swimming, snorkelling, or viewing through the floor of a glass-bottomed boat.
Next to Kempinski Seychelles Resort, you’ll come across this exquisite half-moon bay engulfed by lush vegetation. Despite being a public beach, it’s rarely crowded and in addition to its turquoise waters and striking granite boulders it offers many shady spots.
WHERE TO SHOP
Born in Mauritius, raised in the Seychelles and trained in the high-fashion scenes of England, France and Italy, local designer Karine Dupouy runs her own Kankan label from this flagship boutique in Victoria’s central business district. Her style tends toward a blend of quality and comfort, producing elegant women’s clothing that looks and feels great on holiday.
An eye-popping carnival of brightly coloured fruits and fabrics, powerfully perfumed by native herbs and spices, this vibrant local institution lets you mix with friendly islanders as you browse for sarongs, coconut oil, tamarind, and other Seychelles souvenirs. Saturday is the busiest, most festive time to shop, and it’s best to go early in the morning.
Domaine de Val des Près
Tucked into an idyllic bay on the east coast of the island in Anse aux Pins is a craft village with a cluster of Creole-style huts that serve as showcases and selling points for local artisans. These include the merchants of Maison du Coco, well-known for crafting unique gifts from coconuts, as well as expert makers of jewellery and batik clothing.
Island hop to Praslin and La Digue
Mahé, of course, is just one of more than 100 islands in the Seychelles archipelago, and various tour packages can whisk you to neighbouring enclaves by boat or helicopter. Praslin is home to the otherworldly UNESCO World Heritage site at Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, while nearby La Digue is best explored in a walking tour with Robert Agnes of Sunny Trail Guide, who will lead you to remote and pristine beaches. You can also visit the island’s popular Vanilla Plantation and Coconut Oil Factory.
Charter a private catamaran
To get the best of the island’s gorgeous surrounding waters – teeming with marine life and blanketed by coral reefs – charter a boat out for the day (or night) and spend some private time swimming, snorkelling, or just floating out there on the ocean.
Go on a reef safari
Set sail from Victoria harbour in a semi-submersible boat that will take you below the waves to explore the coral world below. You’ll also get a chance to feed the fish and snorkel among them at your leisure.
Twitchers will be in their element when holidaying in the Seychelles as rare species of birds can be found there. Find the bare-legged Scops Owl or Syer that almost became extinct at the Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé
WHERE TO STAY
JA Enchanted Island Resort
A short speedboat ride from Mahé on the tiny, jewel-like Round Island, this exclusive resort offers a range of villas clustered around its famous panoramic Bounty Restaurant terrace and Castaway cocktail bar.
AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa
Just off the magnificent Grand Anse Beach, this renowned luxury resort offers health and beauty treatments and gourmet Seychellois cuisine in its own manicured enclave between lush forest and azure water.
Kempinski Seychelles Resort
Besides flanking the beautiful Baie Lazare, this five-star hotel offers an array of excellent dining options, superb service, a spa, a kids’ club and a comprehensive daily activity programme for the whole family including surf lessons.
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