Visiting The seychelles Islands

The Seychelles were a favourite spot amongst the ancient pirates, with billions in bounty buried. It has always been the beauty, calmness and the slow pace of the islands that attracted visitors. Now in our hi-tech era, when life is more often a rollercoaster ride, visitors seek refuge in the calmness of the Seychelles, to rejuvenate, recharge from the surrounding energy, the greenery and the deep blue sea. Nothing is more relaxing than sailing during your Seychelles holiday; it is mysterious how it can take your mind off things and have you focus on the reality in hand. Whatever you decide to do, have fun doing it. It could be diving, trekking (nature trails,) fishing (deep or trawling), snorkelling.....

40% of Seychelles land areas are designated nature reserves; no other country in the world matches that. There is an obvious fundamental reason for this. The trails are clear paths to a given destination to either see endemic species or spectacular panoramic views. Remember there are no wild animal or poisonous insect in the Seychelles. Have fun visiting our country.

Everybody wants to spend time on a Seychelles beach during the day with the hot sun. This is good since you want to make friends in the office back home envy your tan. After all, you paid a lot of money to get here. But try something else as well. Try to relax with a couple of drinks on the beach in the evening, and chill out to an incredible sunset.

Mahe Island Top

Mahe

Mahe is the biggest granitic islands of the archipelago. It is home to 90%of the population and is the cultural and economic centre of Seychelles. There are many things to see and do on Mahe that do not require a maddening amount of spending but that will still leave one with unforgettable memories of this truly diverse island.

Beaches

Visiting beaches is an inexpensive matter and Mahe boasts enough shoreline to satisfy beach lovers and sun worshippers. This elongated island in the shape of a boot possesses luxuriant bays and rocky headlands fringed with verdant lush vegetation. The most popular beach is the Beau Vallon beach in the northwest, where many touristic facilities are located. Other well known and well frequented beaches include Intendance, Anse Royale and Port Launay.  For those wanting more seclusion, you can explore Anse Marie-Louise, Anse Major and Anse Soleil beaches. These beaches are more remote and are hidden behind giant boulders and in most instances, they are only accessible by foot or by boat.

There are restaurants next to some beaches e.g. Beau Vallon, Anse Royal, Anse Takamaka,  Anse a la Mouche and Anse Solie. Most of the restaurants are affordable but it always makes good sense to check the prices first. There are small shops next to the most popular shores where one can buy beverages and snacks as well.

Make sure to buy or bring water bottles with you to your trip at the seaside given that the sun is merciless on most days and one is at risk of dehydration. Remember to use ample amount of sun block lotion as well.

Watch out for beaches with dangerous underwater currents that makes swimming treacherous. There are usually written signs warning anyone of the danger in these areas. One can also inquire about the swimming conditions with the locals.

Praslin Island Top

Praslin is the second largest granite island in the Seychelles and is home to most of the remaining population. It is located a 45 kilometers to the northeast of Mahé and has characteristic red earth plus stunning beaches. Together with its satellite island Curieuse it is the only natural home of the renowned Coco de Mer.

Beaches

Praslin is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world; Anse Lazio. This crescent shaped stretch of powdery white sands gently sloping to clear turquoise waters has topped travel magazine lists worldwide. Anse Lazio is located in the northwest corner of the island and a short trek on foot is necessary to reach it. Two restaurants are located close to Anse Lazio; they are Bon bon Plume and Le Chevalier.

Other beautiful and famous beaches include Anse Possession, Anse Volbert, Anse Cimitier and  Anse Georgette

Nature trails and sightseeing

In the heart of the island lies the Praslin National Park, most notable for containing the valley prettily named ‘Vallee de Mai’. The Vallee de Mai is a UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 1983 and famous for being the natural habitat of the huge Coco de Mer; the biggest seed in the world.  The Coco de mer or Sea Coconut in English is called so because prior to the discovery of Seychelles, the nut was thought to come from an underwater tree.

The Vallee de Mai trail winds its way through a primeval palm forest and is flanked with giant Coco de Mer palm and other exotic flora. If you are vigilant, you may spot the Seychelles Black Parrot and numerous species of amphibians, arthropods and reptiles. The forest of the Vallee de Mai is virtually untouched by humans and has remained in its original state since prehistoric times.  

Other nature trails include the Glacis Noir, La Plaine Hollandaise and the Pasquiere and Salazi trails.

Another point of interest is the Black Pearl LTD, which is a farm of giant clams and which also grow the Seychelles Black Lip Oyster. The farm and black pearl jewellery shop is located at Amitie.

Boat trips, snorkelling and diving

Visitors can make excursions to nearby Curience, St Pierre, Sister Island, Ille Cocos and Cousin through their hotels or a travel agency. Some agencies have steeper prices than others, so it is important to check the rates carefully.

You will be able to see huge land tortoises roaming free on Curieuse and experience great snorkelling around Sister Island and Ille Cocos. The Curieuse Marine National Park is a great place to observe the marine life.

As for diving enthusiasts, Praslin offers great diving opportunities. Arrange diving trips with your hotel, a tour operator/travel agency or visit one of the numerous dive centres on Praslin.

Diving sites include Whale Rock northwest off the coast of Praslin, which is a good spot to observe stingrays and eagle rays. At the Booby Rock site one can plunge to a depth of 12 to 25 meters and see Napoleon wrasse, turtles and dolphins. Anse Possesion site in the north of Praslin is a reef slop sheltering lionfish, scorpionfish, morays and the young of many other types of reef fish. This site is great for beginners.

Other notable diving sites include Roche and Bas between Praslin and La Digue, Red Point off the North East Curieuse island, Trompeuse Rocks, Booby Rock and Blanchisseuse Rocks.

La Digue Island Top

La Digue is the fourth largest granitic island measuring 10 km² with a population of 2000 people. La Digue is more rustic and is said to be the little gem of Seychelles, where time seemingly flows slower than anywhere else. Apart from its wild and spectacular beaches and vivid green hill sides, La Digue is also renowned for its culture and its eco-tourism. La Digue can be reached by boat and helicopter only.

Beaches

One of the most photographed beaches in the world is the Anse Source D’agent beach, located on the south western side of La Digue. This beach is adorned with spectacular granite boulders and can be accessed through L’Union Estate for a fee. Note that Anse Source D’Argent is the only beach on La Digue that requires a fee.

Grand Anse, Petit Anse and Anse Cocos are on the southeastern side of La Digue. They are less popular but equally stunning. They have to be accessed by bicycle or by walking but they are greatly worth the energy. Other beautiful beaches include Anse Patatran and Anse Severe.

Nature trails and sightseeing

La Digue is home to the rare and critically endangered Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher. This tropical bird is endemic to the Seychelles and breeds exclusively in the La Digue Veuve Nature Reserve. There are about 230 individuals of this species left in the world and most inhabit La Digue, with a smaller population on the nearby island of Marianne. The nature reserve is in the interior of La Digue and there you will be able to observe the black glossy males with their long tails and the females seated on their bowl shaped nest.

A walk to the south of the island will lead you to the entrance of L’Union Estate where you will find the grand L’union rock formation.

The most popular nature trail runs to the heart of La Digue and is called the Belle Vue trail. This smooth climb to the top of La Digue’s highest point will take you to about 330 m above sea level. The trail is a great place to discover the island’s flora and fauna and for a spectacular glimpse of the island from above.  Standing on Nid D’Aigle (the highest point), you will be able to see the lower part of the emerald green hills as it slops to level ground and finally plunges into the vivid blue sea. From the hilltop, you are also able to see the surrounding islands of Felicite, Marianne, Praslin and even Mahe on crystal clear days.

Culture

A fact that makes many visitors to La Digue especially happy is that there are very few motor vehicles on this tiny island. Instead, the main mode of transportation (apart from using one’s tired feet) is by bicycle and ox cart! Once arrived on La Digue, you will notice that most locals and tourist alike are riding bikes while others catch rides on the traditional ox cart.

There are no car rental agencies but there are taxis, albeit they are rare and rather expensive. Bicycle rental businesses, on the other hand, are numerous and located all around the main village of La Passe. Customers ordinarily pay for bikes for a whole day with occasional discounts given if the bicycle is rented for an extended period of time.

Another famous attraction is L’Union Estate situated on the south side of the island. This is a plantation that occupies a third of La Digue’s whole area and features a variety of plants cultivated for food, flavouring as well as for medical purpose.

At the centre of the plantation there is an old colonial house built in the picturesque French island architecture. Pens for the estate’s Giant Tortoises and paddocks for the plantation’s horses are located nearby. The only remaining copra mill in operation is a also located at L’Union Estate and acts as a reminder of La Digue’s agricultural past when the main economic activities on the island was vanilla extraction and copra processing. At L’union Estate visitors are offered a rare glimpse into the the processes the locals employ to turn copra into oil.

One can also explore the colonial era graveyard which is said to be the first cemetery on the island and a boatyard; all of which are located within L’Union Estate’s confines.

Boat trips, snorkelling and diving Top

Mahe Island

The waters around Mahe Island offer great snorkelling and diving opportunities. One of the best snorkelling sites is actually adjacent to the capital Victoria on the East Coast and is known as the St. Anne marine park. The park was set up with the aim of protecting the amazing marine life of the waters around Mahe’s satellite islands of St. Anne and Cerf Island. Destructive fishing techniques such as spear fishing were banned many years ago, thus allowing the marine life to flourish. Snorkelers can swim with brightly coloured angel fish and damsel fish amid corals and sea grass. The expanse of sea surrounding the six small islands in the marine park is barely 2.5 meters in depths in some areas and thus is suitable for snorkelling for the whole family.

Excursions to the St.Anne Marine Park and to the islands within the marine park can be made through your hotel or through a boat trip agency. 

Another major snorkelling site is the Baie Ternay Marine Park on the other side of the island at Port Launay. There you can swim amongst an array of tropical fish including the parrotfish and lionfish. You might even encounter sea turtles, bat fish and rays.

You can also snorkel at Bel Ombre and in the remote bay off Anse Major.

Diving sites are even more plentiful with the most famous being the L’ilot off the northern coast of Mahe and the Ennerdale Wreck close to the nearby island of Mamelle. You can arrange diving excursions with your hotel or you can contact the numerous dive centres around the island. 

The best time to snorkel and to dive in Seychelles is during the months of March to May and October to December when the sea is calmest.

Be careful of sunburn while snorkelling. Make sure to reapply sun block lotion frequently to ensure constant protection. Remember not to walk on the reef and to avoid collecting corals and shells.

Praslin Island

Visitors can take excursions to nearby Curience, St Pierre, Sister Island, Ille Cocos and Cousin through their hotels or a travel agency. Some agencies have steeper prices than others, so it is important to check the rates carefully.

You will be able to see huge land tortoises roaming free on Curieuse and experience great snorkelling around Sister Island and Ille Cocos. The Curieuse Marine National Park is a great place to observe the marine life.

As for diving enthusiasts, Praslin offers great diving opportunities. Arrange diving trips with your hotel, a tour operator/travel agency or visit one of the numerous dive centres on Praslin.

Diving sites include Whale Rock, off the coast of Praslin which is a good spot to observe stingrays and eagle rays. At the Booby Rock site one can plunge to a depth of 12 to 25 meters and see Napoleon wrasse, turtles and dolphins. Anse Possesion site in the north of Praslin is a reef slop sheltering lionfish, scorpionfish, morays and the young of many other types of reef fish. This site is great for beginners.

Other notable diving sites include Roche and Bas between Praslin and La Digue, Red Point off the North East Curieuse island, Trompeuse Rocks, Booby Rock and Blanchisseuse Rocks.

La Digue

La Digue can be used as a hub to travel to and explore the nearby island of Felicite, Marianne and Les Seours.

Snorkelling can be done at Anse Severe in the northeast of La Digue, where the water is calm and marine life is abundant.

There are dive centres on the island that offers to take divers to some of the most spectacular underwater sites in the surrounding area. One very popular site is Ave Maria off the northwestern coast of La Digue, where a series of huge submarine boulders support a colourful array of Stingrays, Spotted Eagle Rays, Napoleon wrasse and reef sharks.

The White Bank site is a little further to the south and features a host of Unicorn fish, Jack, Snappers and Bat-fish. Lobsters and octopus can be seen in the granite crevice and tunnels that adorn the site.

Another gorgeous site is the Coral Garden named as such because of the extensive and coral reef that is the prime focus of this site. The Coral Garden is located inside the Curieuse National Marine Park and close to the island of Praslin.

Other diving sites one can explore includes Channel Rocks, Chimney Rocks, South Felicite and Albatros.