The Seychelles is a country of islands, an archipelago scattered over 400,000 sq. miles in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Equator, off the east coast of Africa. It is renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful beach destinations, with pristine sand as pure and soft as one could desire, crystal clear, turquoise waters, surrounded by emerald green rainforests, picturesque mountains, incredible rock formations and spectacular coral reefs. And the icing on the cake- it has a warm climate year-round.
Although there are 115 islands, most are completely uninhabited. There are three main tourist destinations, all with spectacular beaches and each with a distinct character and attractions of their own – Mahé, the largest island is the country’s cultural and economic center and the location of the international airport and the capital, Victoria. It is often used as a base for island hopping; Praslin has a lush tropical forest, home to rare species of birds and animals; and La Digue, a very laid-back, tranquil island where everyone – residents and tourists – seems to be on a bicycle. Other visitors stay on one of the more remote islands which offer exclusivity, privacy and luxury. These include North Island, Denis, Fregate and Desroches.
Although many people come to the Seychelles for the beaches, there is also a great diversity of wildlife, including colorful birds and giant tortoises, and many species found nowhere else on earth. There is also a fascinating mix of cultures – of African, European and Asian origin –which can be experienced today in the local art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture.
Regions of Seychelles
You will rarely see another person during your stay on North Island, one of the Seychelles’ private islands, where guests can experience the ultimate in “barefoot luxury”, indulgence, and exclusivity – so exclusive that both celebrities (George and Amal Clooney) and royalty (Prince William and Kate) have chosen to honeymoon here.
But there is a lot more to North Island than just privacy and sublime accommodations. It has some of the softest and most pristine beaches in the world, enticing visitors away from their “presidential” villas complete with a cinema, private plunge pool, and butler, or the spa and gym, to enjoy one of many activities available in the warm, turquoise Indian Ocean – swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling, as well as birding, sea kayaking, bicycling, boating, or fly-fishing. There are also 100 year old giants who are attracted to the beaches as well- endangered and very large tortoises who emerge from the ocean to nest, a rare treat for those who here at the right time of year.
Mahé is the Seychelles’ largest, most developed, and most populated island – about 90% of the country lives here. It is also where visitors first meet paradise, at the international airport, as well as one of the world’s smallest capitals, Victoria, offering “urban” activities, including museums, cultural institutes, colorful markets, a tea factory and art galleries.
If there is any place in the tranquil archipelago that could be called busy, it’s Mahé, but busy is a relative term. It is still laid-back, quiet and peaceful, and those venturing out from the city will soon see it is also lovely. It has spectacular scenery – a dramatic backdrop of huge granite peaks towering more than 3200ft, covered with lush tropical rainforest.
With over 60 beautiful beaches, hidden secluded coves, waterfalls, jungles, mountains, stunning views, activities from the depths of the sea to the granite peaks, and small towns with colorful Creole culture, there is something for everyone –from the “city life” of Victoria to a private Robinson Crusoe experience.
Praslin is the second largest island in the Seychelles archipelago. It is also one of the most beautiful – a magnificent blend of picture postcard tropical beaches and lush jungle, once mistaken by early explorers as the Garden of Eden! The center of the island is still a primeval forest, now the Valee-de-Mai nature preserve, with geckos, tree frogs, chameleons, the rare black parrot and fruit pigeon, vanilla orchards and the legendary Coco-de-Mer palm, unique to the Seychelles.
Praslin’s stunning, palm-fringed beaches – with soft, white sand, impressive giant boulders, and surrounded by rainforests – are often on many Top Ten lists of best beaches in the world, including well-known Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, but don’t ignore the island’s “less popular” beaches. They may actually have more to offer with fewer tourists and tranquil secluded cloves, with equally warm turquoise waters and breathtaking views.
The island also has a championship golf course and a casino, but few come for those chips. Praslin attracts visitors from around the world to its perfect blend of sun, sand, scenery and sea.
As soon as you step off the ferry and onto La Digue Island you start to slow down and relax. There is something very different and very special about this island. You won’t see large hotels with hundreds of rooms, golf courses, casinos, or even an airport. And there are virtually no cars, as the main form of transport here are bicycles, and oxcart.
One of the main reasons to come here is to get away from crowds, noise, motorized anything, and clocks. Visitors have many words to describe it, all meaning the same thing- tranquil, serene, peaceful, laid-back, relaxing, timeless, etc. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do here, it’s just at a different pace.
Nearly everyone explores by bicycle, a leisurely self-guided tour of jungles, colonial houses, plantations and a historical cemetery, as well as one of the many wonderful beaches, some so remote and deserted you will, for as long as you like, feel stranded in paradise.
When you fly over Fregate Island on your helicopter transport, the first thing you will notice is how much of the island is wild – covered by emerald green forests and pure white sand. There is nature all around. The only people on the island are either living or working at the only place to stay here, Fregate Island Private Lodge, tucked away among the trees or scattered on granite peaks. One of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, it’s really not a lodge at all, but a magnificent luxury property consisting of 16 private residences, each with its own infinity pool, Jacuzzi, dining pavilion, beach buggy and personal butler.
The Island has 7 beaches – one of which, Anse Victoria, is renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. But one of the main “attractions” of the island is the lush ancient forests just beyond the lavish villas, with animals that exist here and nowhere else, like in the Galapagos, evolving in isolation. In fact, the Seychelles are the only other place where giant tortoises roam free. There is also a sanctuary that is home to more than 100 species of colorful tropical birds.
Fregate is sublime luxury surrounded by a natural world that has been evolving for centuries. Today, much of this magnificent private island has been protected, to help it remain this way, without sacrificing any elegance or indulgence.