Legend says that after God finished creating the earth, he had a handful of diamonds left. He decided to scatter these gems just east of Africa and thought “Here, I create something marvelous.” And thus the Seychelles were formed. These diamonds turned into sandy white beaches and more hidden treasures. An archipelago so small that the map has to be zoomed in to find it in the Indian ocean. An archipelago which is existential proof that size doesn’t matter if you have a lot to offer. Seychelles (pronounced say-SHELL), or the Garden of Eden, as it is also called, is considered the most beautiful group of islands to ever exist. Limiting this to just “12 places to visit in Seychelles” was extremely difficult since the whole island is as beautiful as the mythological Garden of Eden.
With over 850 species of fish and over a hundred kinds shells, the island proves as a home to a number of giant tortoises as well. Though humans discovered this island in the early 1600’s, they have been careful and preserved the natural beauty ever since. The island is diverse and fantastic and has people of Indian, African, Portugese and Arab descent and also has it’s own pirates and castaways. Most of the people on the islands speak English, but Creole and other south Indian languages can be heard occasionally. Possibly one of the easiest places to relax, Seychelles also offers deep sea diving and hiking.
The smallest capital in the world, Victoria mixes up the buzz of a capital city and the laid-back nature of a place to kick-back and relax in. The city is so small, that people say that walking around the entire city 3 times takes only an hour.
Do: Walk around the city to see and through the colourful bustling markets filled with local and exotic fruits and vegetables where the scent of vanilla and fresh fish.
See: The only traffic signal in the entire island and the and the great silver town clock, a gift from England in 1903.
A 1000 kms south of Victoria lies the world’s second largest coral atoll in the Indian Ocean. Way back in 1982, the whole atoll was designated by UNESCO for its rich biodiversity. And not for naught. The aquamarine and the sandy white beaches and lagoons are a home to a number of aquatic life: sharks, coconut crabs and manta ray’s, just to name a few. And the world’s second largest colony of giant tortoises (over 100,000) can be found on the island.
Do: Take a walk around the atoll on the shores of the beach, or take a hike on atop the coral and rock formations a little inside the shore.
See: Try to spot the coconut crabs which crawl onto the shore or are washed ashore by the waves. Cruises are available on the island to go all around the atoll. Tourists usually are encouraged to stand on deck to catch a glimpse of the aquatic life which sometimes swim near the top of the sea.
Vallée de Mai National Park
A quick retreat for nature lovers and photographers, this pre-historic forest is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The trail through the forest lasts from 45 minutes (the easy route) or 2 hours.
Do: Explore the jungle or take the two hour long more elaborate hike. The canopy of trees provide a shade and look for the giant coco de mer fruit palm (unique to Seychelles).
See: Try to spot the many species of wizards and rare birds, which exist only in the Seychelles. Moreover, one can also spot the black parrot which is the national bird of Seychelles.
Established in 1968, the island is situated 2 km from Praslin Island, is a respite for birdwatchers and photographers.
Do: Hike up the trails of some of the rare species of animals found only in the Seychelles.
See: Look for some of the resident species of animals including the the Seychelles brush warbler, the wedge-tailed shearwater, Seychelles magpie robin and the Seychelles turtledove. During nesting season, the reserve also serves as breeding grounds for the lesser noddies, fairy terns, and tropic birds.
The russet coloured ground led this island to be called as the Île Rouge. Once a leper colony, this island is accessible only by boat from Praslin Island.
Do: Visit the leper colony and explore the ruins of the leprosarium on the south shore as well as the doctor’s house, a preserved national monument.
See: The island is now home for breeding giant tortoises. It is common to see them walking freely on the sand dunes. The island is also covered with takamaka and casuarina trees and is the only place other than the Vallée de Mai National Park where giant coco de mer fruit palm grown naturally.
The enchanting little village on the southern tip of Mahe is known for it’s historic shore where, way back in the 1740s, French mariner Lazare Picault first laid claim to the Seychelles for France. And thus the name Baie Lazare. (Baie in Afrikaans means “beaucoup” in French which means “a lot” in English. I am not sure how that got added there.)
Do: One of the best places to honeymoon is Baie Lazare. The pristine white beaches and the drooping palm trees make it a wonderful romantic spot and an ideal place for newly-weds to spend time together.
See: The island of Baie Lazare has a rich history. The carved Gothic spires and frontispieces of one elegant church dedicated to Francis of Assisi is a symbol of European influence
This little speck of island just north of the Praslin island has caught the attention of naturalists and conservationists. Due to less human habitation and intervention over the centuries, the island remains less developed than the other islands of the archipelago.
Do: Take a walk around the island. And along the beach. Literally, that’s it. Just relax.
See: Some of the coconut trees from back when the island was a plantation still bloom and along with the glittering sands of Turtle beach, you can also see the rare blue pigeons and magpies.
Ste Anne National Marine Park:
Though it looks like Te Fiti from Moana, and prides itself on luxurious hotels, the real sights are under the water.
Do: Scuba diving, deep sea diving, boat rides.
See: Once you’re under the water, look for the supposed buried treasure and your guide will point out the different kinds of fish and other aquatic animals.
This is it. This is the one. The postcard image all postcard images are designed after. The red roofs of the various villas stand out in stark contrast to the pale white and and the deep blue sea. This place is also easily accessible from the capital city, Victoria.
Do: Try out the international cuisines available at reasonable prices, including French and Indian cuisine.
See: There are a number of water-sports the island offers, including deep sea and scuba diving.
The island which provides a glimpse into the more traditional island lifestyle is the 4th largest in the archipelago. One can find the planet’s most striking beaches here, with granite outcrops lining the shores.
Do: Visit the L’Union Estate where visitors can take a horseback ride and visit the copra factory, vanilla plantation, and several old Creole houses. Locals also advise rock climbing and diving.
See: Take a hike through the La Pass to Grand Anse Trail, which goes through the old French colonial houses, woodlands and marshes to the Grand Anse beach.
Mahe Island boasts to itself as the largest island of the archipelago with lush green forests and mountains. The capital city of Victoria is located on this island.
Do: Visit a few of the 65 beaches including the Beau Vallon beach.
See: Take a local tourist guide and try to explore the forests for exotic flora and fauna.
Seychelles Natural History Museum
The Seychelles Natural History Museum in Victoria is one of the most famous and important tourist attractions on the entire island. It exhibits not only information and history about the island, but also environmental awareness and ways to preserve the nature and heritage.
Do: Take the tour of the exhibition of the flora and fauna and the geological history of the group of islands.
See: The museum itself. 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Monday – Thursday); 8:30 am – 12 noon (Friday, Saturday); Sunday closed.
Seychelles is one of those places on earth that are still in touch with nature. One can discover hundreds of things by choosing an attraction of your interest.