Seychelles, spread over 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, most of them uninhabited, is mostly known for its unspoiled beaches and a wide array of fabulous resorts for the ultimate romantic getaway. But a 10-day visit to the three main islands of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue made it perfectly clear: Seychelles offers the best of all worlds, an ideal vacation for beach bums, thrill-seekers, families, and history buffs alike. Here are some of the best things to see and do in Seychelles.
A quaint little town
Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, is one of the smallest capital cities in the world. As such, it also holds a miniature clock tower – a replica of Little Ben, close to Victoria Station in London, and a tribute to the Queen of England, the town’s namesake. Equally small is the covered market, Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market, with its numerous stalls of exotic fruits, fresh seafood, and spices, alongside the second floor of souvenirs and rainbow-colored clothes and accessories.
The market is surrounded by narrow and bustling streets, with interesting architecture ranging from the only Hindu temple in Seychelles to the colonial National Museum of History. Close by, make sure not to miss out on the Cooperative des Artisans and the Esplanade, where you can stock up on souvenirs.
The jungle-clad islands of Seychelles are the perfect backdrop for some fabulous hikes. Early risers can beat the scorching sun and high humidity to be rewarded with some of the world’s most beautiful vistas. Whether you brave the summit of Sainte Anne Island, where the new Club Med is located, take on the Morne Blanc trail or discover the hidden Rock Pool (Ros Sodyer) in the South of Mahé, close to Takamaka Beach, you are in for quite an adventure and some world-class panoramas.
On the outskirts of Victoria, visit the century-old Botanical Gardens, hosting a wide collection of exotic and endemic plants and beautifully maintained tropical gardens. Another must-see is the famous spice garden Le Jardin Du Roi, inspired by the 18th-century gardens planted by the French to promote the colonies’ spice trade. You can wander the gardens, get up close and personal with some Aldabra giant turtles, and have a refreshing lemonade with coconut cream at the café.
On Praslin Island, don’t miss out on the Vallée de Mai, a nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the coco de mer and other endemic palms, as well as the Seychelles black parrot. The spectacular valley was once considered the true site of the Biblical Garden of Eden, and during the day, you can walk here for hours on paths surrounded by lush vegetation.
The most famous beach in Seychelles is the much-photographed Anse Source d’Argent on the island of La Digue, known for its crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, and granite boulders dotting the picturesque coastline. To visit, you would have to pay an entry fee (115 rupees) to Union Estate. You can also say hello to more giant tortoises, buy vanilla oil from a wayside shed or visit a cemetery from colonial times. Just as beautiful and much more pristine is Anse Cocos, this year’s finalist in the Kiwi.com World Championship of Beaches.
On Mahé, don’t miss Beau Vallon Beach in the North or the spectacular Anse Intendance in the South. Note that all beaches in Seychelles are public, so you can also visit Petite Anse, for example, the beautiful beach of the Four Seasons Resort, though you will have to park your car outside and schlep all the way down and back up again.
Arts and Crafts
The Craft Village Domaine de Val des Près has attractions highlighting Seychelles’ Creole heritage: Gran Kaz Plantation House was built around 1870 and preserves the original feel and furniture; La Kaz Rosa is a typical 20th-century working-class home; the property has 12 craft workshops hosting local artisans; and the Maison de Coco is a house built of coconut products, where you can shop for gifts made of coconut.
History with a view
One of the best vantage points in all Seychelles, Mission Lodge offers spectacular sea and mountain views from the shaded gazebo where Queen Elizabeth II once sat for tea. But it’s not just the panorama. Now on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, the site holds the ruins of Venn’s Town, namely the foundations of five buildings from the 19th century – a missionary school for the children of freed slaves, the dormitories, a laundry room, a kitchen, and the bathrooms. It is considered one of the most historically and culturally meaningful sites in Seychelles.
Just a 15-minute boat ride from Praslin, Curieuse Island is home to more than 300 Aldabra giant tortoises. Add to that the unspoiled beaches, palm trees, granite boulders, and excellent snorkeling, and you have the recipe for a wonderful day trip.
Del Place is a fabulous beach restaurant in Mahé, just minutes away from the Constance Ephelia Resort. The local Creole cuisine is simply delicious, with excellent starters and fresh seafood, and the location is to die for. On La Digue, Fish Trap was another culinary hit, with excellent cocktails, good vibes throughout the day, a great location right on the beach, and some good Creole specialties.
Seychelles is a paradise for thrill-seekers, from sailing and diving to rock climbing, ziplining, and horseback riding. There are many places where you can rent a speedboat, or you can join a deep-water fishing expedition, and one thing you definitely shouldn’t miss is the crystal kayaks on La Digue.
A word about COVIC-19: while it is true that Israel Health Ministry issued a travel warning for Seychelles, the country has NOT been added to the ‘red list’ requiring special permission to travel from Israel and quarantine upon return. In Seychelles, wearing face masks in public is mandatory, there is a nightly curfew from 11 PM, and good travel insurance (COVID-19 coverage included) is highly recommended.
The author was a guest of the Seychelles Tourism Board and Air Seychelles.