Lush. It’s the first word that comes to my mind when I step into the tropical heat of Mahe Island in Seychelles. There is green stuff, EVERYWHERE. It’s no wonder that travel in the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of East Africa, is a bucket list adventure for many travelers.
Travel in Seychelles
On our way to the villa, my taxi ride is spent imagining the dinosaurs that would seem to be right at home in this Jurassic Park-like scenery. This thought is interrupted when we begin crossing Morne Seychelloise National Park, which divides the island’s commercial east side from the wilder west side.
I perk up when our taxi driver tells us Seychelles’ number one rule: “Take it easy. The secret to life in Seychelles is avoiding stress.”
When we arrive at the villa, I start to understand what he means. If I could wake up to THIS view every day, there would be no reason for me to be stressed.
Just when I am about to get used to this incredible view, sunset comes, and with it, the birds. I don’t need to tell you that the sunsets are those kind that make you want to grab a stranger just to be able to enjoy such a beautiful thing with someone, but the sounds of the hundreds of birds singing is absolutely mesmerizing.
It takes a few seconds to understand what exactly we are looking at, but then the furry face and unmistakable wings tell us that there are bats in the Seychelles. BIG BATS.
Giant Tortoises in Seychelles
Another big thing in the Seychelles are tortoises. Seychelles is the only other place in the world besides Galapagos where giant tortoises still live. Later, we’re lucky to have some pretty close interactions with six of these buddies lounging in our hotel’s garden. It’s safe to say they steal our hearts. It’s a shame they grow so big or they would be wonderful pets.
What to See and Do in the Seychelles
When day dawns, our first mission is to explore Mahe. Seychelles’ biggest island, and home of its capital, Victoria. Mahe is often considered the “least” charming of the Seychelloise islands, as it perhaps lacks that 5-star luxury you are more likely to get in a private island resort.
But if you dislike all-inclusive resorts and want to be more adventurous and self cater like we did, I personally recommend making Mahe your base for any trip to Seychelles, at least for a couple of days.
Mahe has gorgeous beaches, some of its more pristine ones on the western and southern coasts, like Anse A la Mouche and Anse Interdance, as well as the Port Launey and Baie Ternay Marine Parks in the North West.
Sea lovers, divers and serial-snorkelers will have plenty to feast their eyes on underwater. Make sure you bring your own mask and snorkel though, as renting opportunities are limited, and you can pretty much buy these only in Victoria, without any guarantee of quality.
If lounging on the beach all day doesn’t cut it for you, you could dedicate a whole day to beach hopping along the coast. With warm and shallow waters, it’s a pleasure just to walk in the water and observe the greenery all around you.
If you don’t like the beach, first of all you might want to reconsider your holiday planning, but Seychelles can offer you plenty of other options to keep yourself entertained.
You can visit the cute little Tea Factory, which is nested inside the Morne Seychelloise National Park, and in which 15 people produce flavored tea for local consumption only. With a ceremonial fee of 2 Euros, a local worker will take you around the factory, where you can watch the actual tea processing (plant nerd alert) and you can get all your souvenirs sorted by buying plenty of delicious tea in their makeshift shop just outside.
Le Jardin du Roi, Spice Garden
If you’re a foodie like me, I also highly recommend le Jardin du Roi, Spice Garden. This spice plantation/restaurant/tourist attraction is a beautiful place to spend a few hours seeing all kinds of spices and exotic plants. Between my “ohhhh” and “wowww” and “look at this” I even manage to sell it to my travel partner, who I am pretty sure secretly enjoyed the whole experience.
The National Park also offers plenty of hiking routes. We were advised to do the Copolia one, as it is guarded and you are less likely to get lost (or robbed). The one-hour ascent is totally worth getting soaked in sweat for (tropical heat, you know), as you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the islands and the capital Victoria from above. But please be careful where you step; pay attention to wet foliage or risk falling on your behind and getting it bruised.
Victoria itself is nothing special, so don’t count on spending too much time there. It is useful to stock on food and change currency (it is always better to pay in local rupees, euros are widely accepted but it is a little bit of a rip off), and I definitely recommend buying some fresh mangos and bananas at the Victoria Market, in the central square.
Besides the fresh fruit and mango juice, in general do not expect food to be the highlight of your trip. Fish is the staple, and there is nothing much besides that. Local Creole cuisine is not bad, but I have no shame in saying that we did have a fair share of homemade pasta and peanut butter toasts on our stay there.
Praslin and La Digue
You will need to go to Victoria to travel to other islands in the archipelago. We only had time to visit Praslin and La Digue, which are the second and third biggest islands, but many others are worth a trip, like Curiouse, where giant turtles roam free, or Bird Island, a bird sanctuary which is guaranteed to exceed any nature lovers’ expectations.
These two islands are just wonderful. Visiting them will make it very clear why they are a top choice destination for honeymooners. You can only explore La Digue by bike, so we rented one and rode across a vanilla plantation to reach Anse Source D’Argent.
Anse Source D’Argent
You know when you open a travel magazine and they show you these picture perfect stretches of white sand, palms stretching towards turquoise waters and all that? Well Anse Source D’Argent is the real deal. For a moment I thought I had died and ended up in sea-lover paradise.
It was so beautiful that it does not matter how much I blabber about it on here, you can really only understand by setting foot on those velvet smooth sands.
When it was time to leave, I grudgingly jumped on my bike, waved goodbye to the colorful fish and made my way to the port where we were going to catch a boat to Praslin.
Praslin is slightly bigger, and universally famous for two things: 1) hosting the only remaining pristine forest of coco de mer, a very sexy butt-shaped palm species, and 2) Anse Lazio, allegedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Vallee de Mai
Both are definitely worth a visit. I loved the Vallee de Mai, and you really have the feeling of being far from civilization and completely immersed in nature. The Coco de Mer palms are absolutely gigantic; it is really a special sight. Anse Lazio is also very nice, but because there is no reef, expect much wilder waters than in La Digue.
Visiting the Seychelles
When all was said and done, what I really took away from this holiday is that Seychelles is much more than just a honeymoon paradise. The scenery is surely breathtaking, as are the sunsets and the beach. Five-star resorts are everywhere to be enjoyed, affording luxury comforts.
But there is so much to be enjoyed on Seychelles. Hiking, nature, water sports and local culture are all there to be explored, and I would highly recommend making the most out of all of these experiences. This does not exclude the possibility of ending each day cuddling each other, sipping a glass of wine and listening to the waves. It is a holiday in Seychelles after all.
If You Go to Seychelles:
- Day trips can be pricey, so plan that in your budget, but if you are tight on time like we were, you can combine La Digue and Praslin in one day, buying a ticket with Cat Cocos catamaran company.
- If you visit Seychelles, do rent a car (we did it via our hotel). Buses are there (at least in Mahe), but are unreliable and don’t cover the whole island. For Praslin, the same advice applies. You won’t be able to use a car on La Digue or any of the other smaller islands. Bikes are the best option there, and are definitely a great way to discover the unspoilt beauty of these islands
- Bring your own snorkelling equipment
- Food can be expensive, even in local grocery shops
- Do bring mosquito repellent, and the strong kind. especially when hiking or visiting any garden or plantation. Better cover yourself with it!
- There are no dangerous animals or insects on land, so do not panic when you see the spiders
Author Bio: Nicoletta Pavese is a 26-year-old, Italian, sea lover, and travel fanatic. She has lived a big chunk of her life in and out of planes, moving from Milan to London, Paris,and many more destinations. Her carry-on is always ready to go. Traveling is Nicole’s passion and her blog My Carry On Life captures her attempt to (slowly) fulfil her dream of seeing the world, one trip at a time. At the moment, she lives and works in Switzerland, loving her job as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist, but starting to get that familiar feeling of itchy feet that nudges her forward towards a new destination. Who know where the wind will blow….