In Seychelles there are many outstanding natural and man-made attractions to visit and explore, either on organised excursions with any of the main tour operators, or simply by hiring a car or bicycle to set off on an individual journey of discovery. Throughout the archipelago there is a wide choice of out-of-the-way art galleries and craft shops, old Creole-style plantation houses, scenic viewpoints and natural wonders to enjoy.
Mahé – North Mahé
Any tour of Mahé should include a visit to the spectacular beach of Beau Vallon – one of over 65 fringing the island – and hub of the island’s tourism, with its wide range of fringing hotels and dining facilities. Also to be found here is the site of the long-running excavations for the treasure of the notorious pirate ‘La Buze’, reputed to be worth U.S.$300 million. The trail to Anse Major is among the most picturesque on the island but there are also several other wonderful, guided walks and trails that criss-cross the island.
Then, on to Victoria, one of the tiniest capitals in the world that can be easily walked in less than a day. As may be expected, Victoria has a concentration of museums, monuments and buildings of historical interest. The Roman Catholic Cathedral is an impressive French colonial style building on the north side of the town. It is called the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and has a bell tower with the famous clock that chimes twice on the hour (just in case you didn’t hear it the first time). The renovated Anglican cathedral can found on the corner of Albert Street and Revolution Avenue.
The Seychelles Natural History Museum contains many hidden treasures: there is a collection of shells and dried insects, including some of the biggest beetles in the world. There are also skulls of the now-extinct Seychelles crocodiles as well as collections of artefacts from Seychelles’ colourful history. The National Museum contains many historical artefacts and often has exhibitions on display. Inside, there are grisly reminders of the slave trade: rusting leg irons and braces with ball and chains together with rows of sepia photographs taken of African slaves who were liberated in Seychelles. Also on display are a collection of traditional musical instruments and an interesting history of the local gris gris, or black magic.
Not to be missed is the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke market situated in Market Street, where the normally languid pace of life takes on an almost busy air. This is where local farmers and fishermen ply their wares in a vibrant, colourful atmosphere, especially on Saturday mornings; an ideal time for a visit.
The Botanical Gardens at Mont Fleuri, established a century ago, now cover 6 hectares on the outskirts of Victoria. Guided tours are available and worthwhile and will include the land tortoise pen, the Coco-de-mer tree, the elephant apple tree and the octopus tree (striking when in bloom with its large florescent flowers.) Be sure to visit the aviary and the freshwater pools with colourful water lilies and large-leaved taros.
Central Mahé is home to the International and domestic airports which are only a short distance from the picturesque village of Cascade and its beautiful church. The La Misère road gives access to the west coast via a scenic mountain drive allowing excellent photographic opportunities. The more northerly route of Sans Soucis leads to the viewpoint at Mission Lodge at Sans Soucis, high in the mountains above Victoria where there is a breathtaking view of the island and a lodge where the Queen of England once sat and sipped tea.
The Tea Plantation itself is at Morne Blanc, a few kilometres further along the mountain road and visitors can sometimes taste the assortment of flavoured teas produced at the small tea factory on site at the Tea Tavern. Further on down the steep winding road to the other side of the island, a trip to the beach at Port Launay for swimming and snorkeling is a must.
In Central Mahé is also to be found the Morne Seychellois National Park, covering more than thirty square kilometres and occupying most of the west and central massif of Mahé. Walking through the park will reveal much endemic flora including the insectivorous Seychelles pitcher plant, the wild vanilla orchid and an example of the Wright’s Gardenia.
If you fancy some great horse riding, then Turquoise Horse Trails which is located close to the bottom of the La Misère road on the west coast, offers a wonderful service. Turning right at the same intersection will lead you up to the Ephelia Hotel and to a memorable zip-lining experience.
The East Coast
Just inland from the east coast of Mahé, is situated the splendid Jardin du Roi with its fruit and spice gardens and restaurant, the photogenic Fairyland beach at Anse Royale, as well as the Craft Village and Plantation House at Le Cap.
Close to Victoria, Eden Island is a one stop shop and Seychelles’ only true mall experience. Its great scenic beauty is topped off by a great selection of restaurants, bars, shops and a discotheque.
Mahé is also a stepping-stone to discovering the delights of the Ste. Anne Marine National Park and the neighboring islands of Cerf and Moyenne, which offer excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkeling.
In comparison to the north of Mahé, the south is a pastoral region enjoying a more relaxed pace of life in traditional villages such as Baie Lazare, Bougainville and Takamaka.
The south also features several beautiful and secluded beaches such as Intendance, Takamaka, Anse Soleil, Petit Anse and Anse Bougainville. Here are also the studios of the renowned British artist, Michael Adams at Anse aux Poules Bleues, sculptor Tom Bowers at Santa Maria and Antonio Fhillippin at Baie Lazare. The scenic walk through Val d’Andor will reveal some of Mahé’s most wonderfully untouched countryside dotted with remote hamlets and fruit and vegetable plantations.
Praslin, Seychelles’ second largest island, with its wide selection of hotels, guesthouses and strong tradition of Seychelles hospitality, stands at the forefront of the country’s tourism industry.
Any sightseeing tour of Praslin must include the fabulous Vallée de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is where the magnificent Coco-de-mer, the world largest nut, grows high on ancient palms in a mysterious, primeval forest that features several rare endemic species such as the black parrot. So impressive is this sight that it was believed by General Gordon of Khartoum to be the original site of the Garden of Eden.
Praslin is home to one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful beachesm, Anse Lazio – and several others that are hot contenders such as Cote D’Or and Anse Georgette.
An interesting port of call is at the Giant Clam Farm and Aquarium opposite Praslin’s new airport complex where numerous species of shells, fish and invertebrates can be seen along with the pearl reproduction process.
Praslin boasts a selection of restaurants featuring international as well as Creole cuisine, a charming Casino built in the colonial style and several discotheques. Golfing aficionados may enjoy a round of golf on Lemuria Hotel’s Championship Golf Course.
The surrounding islands of Cousin, Curieuse and Aride offer some of the finest opportunities to discover the riches of Seychelles’ flora and fauna.
Helicopter tours of Mahé and Praslin
A 15/30 minute excursion to explore Mahé from the air is available and scenic flights can be tailored to suit each group’s requirements. Scenic helicopter flights over Praslin or surrounding islands are also possible and can be tailored to suit each group’s requirements.
Seychelles’ fourth largest island receives its visitors mainly by boat at the quaint jetty at La Passe and is a popular destination for holidaymakers wishing for a taste of the traditional.
This is a place where the bicycle and ox-cart are the main modes of transport and where efforts are being made to preserve the traditional customs, architecture and leisurely way of life of this charming island.
La Digue features its own selection of stunning beaches such as Grand Anse, Petit Anse, Anse Cocos,as well as the world’s most photographed beach; the splendid Anse Source d’Argent. There are good opportunities along its west coast where the island’s main hotel and guesthouses are located.
The island contains many splendid examples of Colonial architecture and one place worth a visit is the L’Union Estate where you will find an ancient cemetery containing the remains of the island’s first settlers, a copra factory where coconut products are still refined using traditional methods and a giant tortoise pen. The nearby L’Union boat-building yard is where boats were once built and maintained using traditional methods.
A must is the island tour by ox-cart or bicycle to discover the secrets of the island’s flora and fauna and the stunning examples of olde-worlde Creole architecture. Make sure you include a visit to Belle Vue and Nid Dáigle, the highest point on La Digue, for a truly breath-taking view.
La Digue is home to one of Seychelles’ rarest birds, the Black Paradise Flycatcher to be seen in the ‘Vev’ Special Reserve.
The neighbouring islands of the Sisters, Maryanne and Cocos are excellent venues for snorkelling and diving excursions.
Most restaurants and venues for evening entertainment are situated in the hotels. However, there are a few other restaurants dotted throughout La Digue that offer great international and Creole cuisine.
One of the Seychelles’ most beautiful assets is the wide variety of its islands. Island hopping is a great way to explore the jewels of the Indian Ocean individually.
Each isle has its individual geography and character extending from granite boulders to coral reefs, from untouched forests and bird sanctuaries to private resorts and hideaways.
Out of all of Seychelles’ islands, only 16 have hotels which offer the most luxurious amenities. The variety of its islands sets Seychelles apart from other island destinations and affords the visitor the opportunity to explore and discover the unique features of each island. The islands of Bird and Denis located to the north of Mahé, Frégate to the east and Desroches and Alphonse to the south each offer the visitor diverse and unforgettable island experiences. Those fortunate enough to visit the islands of the far south will be rewarded by the heart-stopping beauty of Cosmoledo, Farquhar and the jewel in Seychelles’ crown, Seychelles second World Heritage Site, Aldabra, with its magnificent lagoon and teeming wildlife.
Island hopping is simple in Seychelles. There are fast ferry services, traditional schooners, domestic flights and even helicopter flights available on a daily basis to many islands.
Day Island-Hopping Tours
Other islands best seen on an organised excursion are the nature reserves of Cousin and Aride. A highly recommended day trip is the tour of Cousin, Cureiuse and St Pierre Islands from Praslin when visitors can discover rare birds, tortoises, turtles and fish all in one excursion. Day trips to Moyenne and Cerf islands from Mahé, or to Grande Sœur and Cocos islands from Praslin and La Digue are also run by most ground operators and usually include snorkeling on the coral reefs and a glass bottom boat ride.
Don’t forget that wherever you are, a rejuvenating trip to a Spa is always just around the corner and is the ideal way to recalibrate mind, body and soul according to the rhythms of nature. Most of the larger hotels have Spas and there are several private spas as well dotted throughout the islands.
Contact a local ground handler for a complete list of excursions they offer and lose yourself in a real Seychelles adventure!