Imagine you are planning to take a vacation to a place serene and beautiful so that you can relax but you also want to go to a place where you can do something adventurous. Carry on reading, you have landed on a gold mine here. Seychelles (pronounced Sea-Shells), a group of 100-odd islands lying in the Indian Ocean, is the perfect place which offers an amalgamation of adventure and peace.
If you search on world map, you will find Seychelles to be a tiny dot, just below the equator in the Indian Ocean. And this tiny little dot is 4 and half hours away from India. Yes, you read it correctly, it is that close to India. Air Seychelles operates direct flights from Mumbai to Mahe and it takes only 4.5 hours to reach the island nation.
Mahe, the capital city, is the largest island of Seychelles and has one of the smallest runways in the world. Also, the views from the top are worth stealing that window seat in the aircraft. I mean, seriously, how pretty can an airport get! It is the first point of contact of falling in love with pristine islands.
And if you fall in love with Mahe Airport, you will just drool over what Praslin airport has to offer. The domestic airport is just as amazing as the international one, and is accessible by the tiny Twin Otter aircraft, which is an experience in itself.
Another reason to love Seychelles is the hassle free Visa process. Seychelles is a visa free country, which means, you don’t require to apply for visa to enter Seychelles. All you need to do is provide confirmed return ticket and proof of accommodation, and you will be granted permit for up to 30 days. Isn’t that just amazing?
Why visit Seychelles?
For a country that offers you a wide variety of breathtaking places, you will be spoilt for choices and “What to See & What not to See” will be a question. So to ease out things for you, here is the answer to the above question.
It is a no-brainer. An island nation which doesn’t boast its coastal beauty would not classify to be an island nation. Jokes aside, the beaches of Seychelles were a different world altogether. Both of us are beach bums and we love being at the beaches, and Seychelles didn’t disappoint us. Locally known as “Anse” (French for a small bay), one can find an Anse all over the periphery of the islands. We visited quite a few of them and just fell in love with them. Here’s a brief about the ones we really loved to be at.
Anse Source D’Argent
As per the internet, this is the World’s Most Photographed Beach. Well, we’ll let the pictures do the talking for you.
Located inside the L’Union Estate on La Digue Island, the dazzling white sands of the beach are lapped by turquoise blue waters and backed by granite boulders and coconut palms.
Each and every inch of this part of the island is Instagram worthy, and we leave it to your imagination to capture the mesmerising beauty of this beach.
Location: L’Union Estate, La Digue
Entry Fee: SCR 115/- per person, valid for entire day.
Located on the Northern tip of Praslin, it is the most famous beach in Seychelles and apparently among the world’s most beautiful beaches. Bordered with giant Takamaka and Coconut trees and huge granite boulders frame its emerald waters. The pink sands add to the beauty of the beach.
One of Seychelles’ longest beaches stretching 3 km long, Anse Volbert is the main tourist beach of Praslin. It is a hive of water sports and activities with restaurants, boutiques and hotels lined up on the shores.
The sea is usually calm and is ideal for relaxing swim or take up watersports like canoeing, scuba and snorkelling. You can also find lot of tour operators with lot of options to visit the satellite islands through a boat excursion. We highly recommend Sagittarius Taxi Boat Services if you are looking for a one-day excursion.
Anse Beau Vallon
The most popular beach is Mahe, it is known for an upbeat vibes and night markets on Wednesday nights. We enjoyed it even more since our stay at Mahe was on Beau Vallon and we had direct access to the beach through our hotel. It is very well known for snorkelling and spotting some rare sea creatures like the Hawkbill Turtle.
One of the lesser known beaches in Mahe, the beach boasts of lush green trees, huge granite boulders and stunning landscapes that makes you want to just park your car and absorb the tranquillity of the place.
Yes, you have read it right. Seychelles is home to beautiful forests and nature reserves spread across all of its islands. These nature reserves form an important part of the ecology of the islands, as they provide home to the endemic species and maintain the monsoon cycles on the islands. Here are some of our favourite forests of Seychelles
Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve
One of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Seychelles, Vallee de Mai is a nature reserve that constitutes of a unique ecosystem where native species, both animals and vegetation, co-exist.
The 20 hectares reserve is the home to Coco de Mer Palm trees, an endemic variety of palm that grows only in Praslin Islands. The palms are known for its seed, the heaviest seed in the world, and are perhaps the most photographed seeds in the world owing to its resemblance to human buttocks. These seeds can be purchased as a souvenir, however the sale is restricted and it requires fair amount of paperwork to carry them over the shores. Also, these seeds can cost you from EUR 200-600, so we leave it at your wisdom.
Location: Vallee de Mai, Praslin
Visiting Hours: Everyday from 8:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Entry Fee: SCR 350/- , guided tours starting from EUR 10 per person
Estimated time to visit: 45 mins to 1.5 hours
Just a few meters away from the Vallee de Mai reserve, stands a lesser known but equally impressive Fond Ferdinand Reserve. The reserve also boasts great flora and fauna, but more importantly offers lovely views of the surrounding areas from the top.
When making the visit to the reserve, it is mandatory to have a guided tour through the reserve. Tours start 3 times a day, at 9.30, 11.30 & 13.30, each lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. There are many trails in the reserve, easy to medium grade, which takes anywhere between 2 to 4 hours.
An island where you get to experience slow motion in real time. Yes, Curieuse Island is the home to the Giant Aldabra Tortoises. Since its relocation in 1978 from Aldabra, Curieuse Island has been the at the forefront of conservation of Giant Tortoises. You can interact with about 300 Giant Tortoises roaming on the island.
On the southern part of the island is a mangrove swamp that is traversed by a walkway for park visitors. The island is also known for coco de mer palms, giant takamaka trees and several bird species, such as the rare Seychelles black Parrot. The trail was the best part of the island, and then we got greeted by a lovely host at the end.
Location: Curieuse Island
How to reach: Rent a boat from Praslin
Entry Fee: SCR 100/- Per Person
Myriad Marine Life
There’s no doubt that marine life thriving in the turquoise-emerald waters of Seychelles is one of the best we have seen thus far. A wide variety of colorful fishes, turtles, rays and sharks are found in these calm waters.
Scuba Dive, snorkel or go on a fishing trip, you will be enthralled to see the life beneath the ocean, so lovely you just can’t take your eyes off the beauty present at your behest.
For all you food lovers out there, if you love trying out something new, Creole Cuisine is the one which will not disappoint you at all. We got the chance to enjoy typical Creole lunch at one of the oldest restaurants in Mahe, Marie Antoinette , and we are so happy we didn’t miss out on this blast of flavors.
Apart from the local flavors, you get a wide variety of continental flavors and a lot of Indian options, if you are the one who does not like to experiment with the taste buds. The Copper Pot & Maharajas, are two of the finest restaurants serving Indian food. Restaurant Bravo, on Eden Island in Mahe serves lovely continental delicacies with a twist of their own (Do try their Square Pizza).
And to top it all, we found two best alcohol brews in Seychelles. One is Seybrew, the local beer which is ultra smooth and refreshingly soothing. It is one of the best beers we had till date. The other is the Takamaka Rum, the rum whose tagline says, “Rum made from the Seychelles.” A rum that is extremely delicious, and is one that definitely make Old Monk fans to switch Brand Loyalties. Best part of it, you can witness the entire distillation process at the Takamaka Rum Distillery in Mahe, and indulge in tasting sessions there.
Playful & Personable People
The people of Seychelles, are by far the best set of locals we have encountered in all our travels and trips. Always greeting you with a ear to ear smile, they are playful, cheerful and always ready to help you out. They welcome you with open arms and are the warmest of the hosts, the kind you would love to spend time with.
So, Seychelles has beautiful beaches, mind-boggling nature reserves, a diversified marine life, excellent flavors in food and friendliest people. Just the perfect ingredients you require for the recipe of your ideal vacation. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, book your tickets and fly off to Seychelles, a paradise hidden somewhere in the Indian Ocean.