The Seychelles is an otherworldly archipelago of 115 idyllic islands in the Indian Ocean offering some of the most spectacular natural beauty on earth. Azure waters, pristine white beaches and friendly inhabitants make for a classic honeymoon destination. The three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue are where most of Seychelles’ hotels and guest houses are, however with a number of island resorts dotted around the archipelago the accommodation options are as unique and varied as the backdrop of islands themselves.
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With an extensive network of scheduled plane and ferry services, Island hopping between the 14 islands currently offering accommodation is easy and with so much diversity on offer, knowing how to make the most of your holiday can be quite challenging.
Just a 30 minutes flight from Mahe, Bird Island is the Seychelles’ most northerly island, surrounded by pristine white beaches and crystal blue waters. Located on the edge of the Seychelles Bank, Bird Island offers excellent big game fishing and from May to October, part of the island is home to millions of nesting sooty terns. Year round the island is home to at least 20 other bird species, making it an ornithologist’s heaven. Bird Island is also an important nesting site for turtles and boasts the world’s largest land tortoise, Esmeralda. The island is surrounded by beautiful white sandy beaches and takes a total time of about 30 minutes to walk around. The coral reef offers good snorkelling possibilities.
Cousine Island, with an area of only 25 hectares, is a tiny granite island, situated just 2 km off the west coast of Praslin. The island is a private nature reserve, home to five of Seychelles eleven endemic land birds including the Seychelles magpie robin, Seychelles sunbird, Seychelles fody, Seychelles blue pigeon and the warbler. Seven species of nesting seabirds also live on the island as well as a variety of other endemic flora and fauna. It is also an important breeding site for Hawksbill turtles. As the island’s creatures have no natural predators, they have no fear of humans; making close encounters a common occurrence. With flawless deserted beaches of soft white sand, tall feathery palms dancing in the sea breeze and lush tropical vegetation, Cousine is a small haven, ensuring that visitors discover a degree of privacy almost impossible to find in today’s hectic world. If you seek complete tranquillity, solace and peace, then Cousine Island is simply as close as you will ever get.
Accessible from Mahe by a 20-minute private helicopter transfer, North Island is regarded as one of the Seychelles’ most fertile islands and has a rich biodiversity. Endangered flora and fauna have been re-introduced to help preserve some of the Seychelles’ most precious endemic species. The beautiful beaches are separated by dramatic rock formations on each end of this granite island and the “barefoot luxury Robinson Crusoe” lodge is a sanctuary for guests who seek an unspoiled tropical haven of peace and tranquillity.
Located south east of Praslin, Round Island is a small private island that can be reached by boat from La Digue or Praslin in 10 minutes or by a 20 minute helicopter flight from Mahe. The interior of this lush granite isle has an abundance of tropical vegetation and the island is dedicated to protecting the island’s well-preserved biodiversity and indigenous species.
Mahe Island, with an area of 150 square kilometres, is the largest island of the Seychelles. It is the international gateway to the Seychelles and is home to ‘Africa’s Smallest Capital’ Victoria. Victoria’s most famous landmark is a mini replica of Big Ben, which was unveiled in 1901 to commemorate the Seychelles becoming a crown colony in its own right, separate from Mauritius. There are many great drives around the island, as the roads cut across and through the mountains, offering some wonderful panoramic views and for walkers and nature lovers a visit to the Morne Seychellois Park is a must. Covering an area of 3,045 hectares (one fifth of Mahe) it has many different trails that can be explored on half or full day excursions.
There are only a few small villages strewn across the island, whose population of about five thousand earn their living as fishermen, farmers or by catering for visitors to the island. The main attraction of Praslin is the National Park or “Vallée de Mai”, which is home to a prehistoric rainforest of huge trees that dominates the landscape. The “Coco-de-Mer” coconut is famous for its large size, and infamous because of its striking similarity to the female genitalia! Large, “Dali-esque” granite formations decorate almost every beach on the island. The 8000-year-old coral reefs, populated by fantastically coloured reef fish, make the island a Mecca for snorkelers and divers. The unique beauty of its reef world cannot be found on dry land, but is almost equalled by the beauty of the island’s spectacular, solitary beaches.
One of the most charming islands in the Seychelles, La Digue has a population of just 2,000 and a relaxed way of life with the traditional modes of transport of ox-cart and bicycle still being used instead of cars. There are a number of beautiful beaches boasting stretches of white sand, turquoise blue lagoons and stunning granite boulders including Anse Source d’Argent, which is believed to be the most photographed beach in the world. Visit L’Union, an abandoned coconut estate, now home to a community of giant tortoises and the only remaining Copra mill (Copra is oil derived from the dried flesh of a coconut) on the island and search for the paradise flycatcher, one of Seychelles’ endemic bird species still listed as critically endangered, at Veuve Reserve.