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Made up of 115 islands and just north of Madagascar, the Seychelles is a paradise-like destination in the Indian Ocean. I was lucky enough to visit four of the islands during a magical six night trip through the archipelago.
With its palm fringed beaches and jungles, Praslin is a must-visit destination on a trip to the Seychelles.
What to do
Vallée de Mai
Unique to the Seychelles, the Coco de Mer holds the impressive title of the world’s largest nut. Despite the name, it doesn’t hail from the sea and can be seen to its full record breaking glory at the Vallée de Mai national park, where I headed as soon as I arrived in Praslin. Although it’s possible to explore the Vallée de Mai by yourself, I’d recommend a guided tour. My guide pointed out tiny green geckos feasting on the trees’ nectar as we wound our way through the untouched palm forest.
I spent the afternoon relaxing and paddling at Anse Lazio, one of the Seychelles’ most idyllic beaches. Fringed by palms, the spacious beach never felt crowded. The water was so clear I could watch shoals of fish swim by without needing a snorkel and mask.
Where to stay
Coco de Mer Hotel & Black Parrot Suites
Set in 200 acres of natural beauty, the Coco de Mer hotel has an immediate boutique feel. I stayed in a superior room which had a huge terrace and an inviting bathtub. Just 10 steps from the beach, the hotel also has two pools, one freshwater and an infinity saltwater pool on a jetty jutting out over the ocean. The staff were so welcoming and greeted me with complementary juice as soon as I arrived.
Whether you want to watch the sunset with a cocktail, lie on a hammock watching angel fish swim beneath or use one of the free paddleboards to explore the bay, the Coco de Mer has plenty to entertain everyone from couples to young children. I especially loved stargazing from the beach and watching tiny crabs emerge from the sand as darkness fell.
Just a short ferry ride from Praslin, I took a day trip to this gorgeous island although you could also stay at a guesthouse there.
What to do
Crystal Clear Kayak
Anse Source D’Argent is one of the world’s most photographed beaches and with its striking granite formations, white sand and transparent water, it’s not hard to see why. I found the best way to enjoy it was on a Crystal Clear Kayak tour. We set off in see-through kayaks, getting incredible access to corals teeming with baby fish and panoramic views of Source D’Argent.
Our guide also took us to some completely secluded beaches and even gave us a crash course in Robinson Crusoe island survival. I’m not sure I’d be surviving very long with my coconut opening technique but luckily for me the tour leader was on hand with one he prepared earlier.
Sadly, Seychelles are on the frontline of climate change and much of the islands’ coral was damaged in El Nino. This tour really offers an insight into how the Seychelles have been impacted and emphasises how urgently the world needs to act.
Pedaler Velo Bike Tour
La Digue offers island life at its most relaxed and there’s no better way to get around than by pedal bike. I opted to join a bike tour which was a fantastic way to learn more about the island’s culture and history. My guide was also able to take me to the perfect spot to watch the sunset, the ideal beach bar for a local cocktail and I even got to meet the island’s giant tortoises. The tour can be tailored to any group and is very safe for children, as there are barely any cars on the island.
Old Pier Cafe
For lunch, I headed to a local restaurant to sample Seychellois cuisine. At The Old Pier Cafe, I sat with my feet in the sand and enjoyed a islands delicacy, octopus curry, washed down with a local Seybrew.
It might not be the real life Crusoe experience but the Hilton Labriz hotel on Silhouette Island is a reflection of how Robinson might have lived if he had stumbled across a luxury resort when his ship wrecked. A short ferry ride from the mainland, the Hilton Labriz is the only hotel on mystical Silhouette island and feels like paradise as soon as you set foot on the jetty. I stayed in a garden pool sanctuary villa which came with a private pool, huge garden and a jacuzzi sized bath.
The Labriz resort has several restaurants for guests but I chose to eat at the buffet at Cafe Dauban. There was a huge variety of dishes on offer and I especially loved the local Creole food. In an extra special touch, the hotel even serves fresh coconuts as part of its breakfast buffet. I spent the day relaxing on one of the huge loungers on the private beach and swimming in the pool before hiking to enjoy a cliff-top view.
Guests can also rent bikes, watersports equipment and play tennis while kids will love the tortoise sanctuary. Although I would definitely recommend staying in a pool villa, all the rooms are just a few steps from the beach, and the hotel’s main pool has incredible sea views.
I ended my trip by returning to the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago, home of the capital city, Victoria.
What to do
White Sands Tours Kayak and 4X4 tour
Although beaches might be first on the list for many tourists visiting the Seychelles, the islands have an incredibly diverse ecosystem. On this spectacular tour, I kayaked through Mahe’s undisturbed mangroves and explored the forest by 4×4. We also visited a few wilder beaches which would have been tricky to access by foot. My guide was extremely knowledgeable about the islands’ history and I even got a glimpse of a sea turtle nest.
Le Jardin du Roi
A hilltop spice plantation with breathtaking views of Mahe, the Jardin Du Roi was the perfect lunch stop. The restaurant uses the garden’s own spices to flavour the food and I loved watching the island’s fruit bats soar overhead as I ate.
Takamaka Rum Distillery
Started in 2000 by a father and son, the Takamaka Rum Distillery had modest beginnings and the entrepreneurial pair even used their back garden swimming pool as a cooling tower when they first started. While the swimming pool technique is long a thing of the past, the family’s passion was still evident when I visited.
I joined a fascinating distillery tour before a rum tasting where we got to sample all of Takamaka’s range. Although the spiced rum was delicious, my favourite was the Koko (coconut flavoured) which can be mixed with pineapple juice to make a tasty cheat’s Pina Colada!
One of the world’s smallest capital cities, Victoria can easily be explored in one morning or afternoon. I headed straight to the market and picked up some fresh mangos and Seychelles spices. I also visited the capital’s Hindu Temple and cathedral to learn more about the island’s religious diversity.
Where to stay
Kempinski Seychelles Resort, Baie Lazare
The gorgeous Kempinski hotel has a huge beach stretching across a secluded bay and an Olympic sized swimming pool. I stayed in a sea view room which had a balcony with stunning views overlooking the beach. Kempinski has several restaurants for guests and my favourite was the casual beach shack where I enjoyed freshly caught fish and a Mai Tai made with Takamaka. On my second evening I ate at the L’Indochine, a fine dining restaurant with exciting Asian fusion cuisine.
I spent the afternoon sunbathing and swimming on the hotel’s beach but it also offers watersports, guided hikes and hilltop yoga! Shaded by trees, Kempinski’s beach is perfect for children as it’s so sheltered and has ample hammocks and swings. The staff were so welcoming and always happy to give me recommendations during my stay.
Eden Bleu Hotel
On my first night on Mahe island, I stayed at the Eden Bleu hotel. Just a 15 minute drive from the airport, the hotel was the perfect place to recuperate after a 13 hour journey from the UK. I stayed in a Luxury Marina view room, which had a huge terrace overlooking the water and hills. I loved spending the afternoon by the hotel’s infinity pool, gazing out over the marina, and also went for a wander at the Eden Mall next door. The hotel also offers a delicious early breakfast buffet for guests who need to catch an early flight.
Esther Marshall was a guest of Visit Seychelles.
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