Scenic flights and helicopter flips
The best way of orientating yourself and appreciating the island’s forested slopes, elegant peaks and incredible beaches is to take to the sky in a helicopter. The bird’s eye view is magnificent – this really is the flight of a lifetime. You can see the popular beaches, the tiny secluded coves and the water is so clear that you can pick out the reefs of the Marine Parks, turtles and even the odd whale shark. Even Mahé, by far the most populated island, looks virtually uninhabited from the air so you are left with the impression of an almost undeveloped paradise below you. An internal flight – by plane or helicopter – is really something special and even if you only go to Praslin it is worth while, and not much more expensive, to fly one way and take the excellent Cat Cocos ferry the other. Helicopter Seychelles operates from the three main islands and from Silhouette.

Between August and December it is sometimes possible to arrange a flight in the microlight used by the observer on the whale shark monitoring programme.

 

           

Boat excursions
Créole Holidays, Mason’s or Travel Services Seychelles (TSS) run numerous boat excursions. The St Anne Marine Park and Sihouette are easily reached from Mahé, whilst the ‘Three Islands’ trip and tours to Aride are popular from Praslin.

St Anne Marine Park
You’ll read in many of the guidebooks that St Anne’s has been impacted by the East Coast reclamation and the coral bleaching event of 1998/99. But it has always been in the sedimentation path from the Victoria area in any case and the snorkelling is still really superb so don’t let the bad publicity put you off. A tour is a great day out and the infrastructure is so well developed that there are now two semi-submersibles so even non-snorkellers can enjoy the exquisite reef and colourful tropical fish. There are popular restaurants on Round, Cerf and Moyenne islands.

Round Island
A day trip to Round Island, in the St Anne Marine Park is an absolute must – particularly for the wonderful snorkelling. The trip, usually in a glass-bottomed or semi-submerged boat, gives you a wonderful vista into the colourful marine life that Seychelles has to offer. The food at the traditional restaurant is fabulous and they are renowned for their tuna steaks grilled on an open barbecue.

Moyenne Island
If you are into the flora and fauna then nearby Moyenne Island is the best bet in the Marine Park. Giant Aldabran tortoises, coco de mer palms and Wrights gardenia are among the attractions and the trees and plants are conveniently labelled on the circular trail from the Jolly Roger Bar and Restaurant, near the jetty. You may be fortunate enough to encounter the owner of Moyenne on your trip. The famous Brendon Grimshaw, a great raconteur and former editor of Reuters and the Tanzanian national newspaper agency , is quite a character, You’ll generally hear his loud classical music playing and he will happily expound on the pirate treasure that is supposedly buried on the island.

Ile au Cerf
Ile au Cerf has a small resident population including the South African author, Wilbur Smith and a number who commute to Mahé by speedboat! It’s a peaceful place to stroll, the snorkelling is excellent and a very good lunch at the Kapok Tree restaurant is usually included.

Silhouette Island
Amongst the best of the day tours is Silhouette Island, a marine park only 20km from Mahé – the big island that you see from Beau Vallon beach. You can take a short flip with Helicopter Seychelles, take an organised tour or charter a boat from Beau Vallon. After setting anchor at Anse La Passe you can hop ashore and explore the small village of Grand Barbe, the centre of Copra production in the early days, or go snorkeling at Anse Mondon. The island is actually the third largest of the granitic inner isles but there are only 130 inhabitants and no roads so it’s really pristine. The only accommodation available is at the upmarket Sihouette Island Lodge. However, if you want to spend time in the area but don’t want to stay on the island you can come on a yacht charter and enjoy some spectacular hikes and walking trails in addition to the stunning beaches.
You’ll see the exposed granite peaks rising from the thick virgin forest as you approach. The highest, Mont Dauban, is inaccessible but you can climb up the steep and often slippery trail through the wonderfully evocative forest to Mont Pot à Eau (621m). It’s hard work but well worth the effort both for the view and the interesting flora on route. Amongst the more interesting is the insectivorous pitcher plant – the Pot à Eau from which the island takes its name. Take a guide as the route is not well marked.

Bay Ternay and Port Luanay Marine Parks
Bay Ternay is very different to St Anne: there is substantially more live coral but this reef was also severely impacted by the warming event of 1998/99. The shallow reef is a great place for snorkelling with a good variety of reef fish, a resident group of immature Hawksbill turtles and periodic visits (usually from August to December) from whale sharks. There are numerous glass-bottom boats, fishing boats and of course dive centres offering trips – mostly from Beau Vallon, or you can drive up from the south. The beautiful drive takes you through mangrove swamps and past the Port Launay Marine Park – also a lovely place to stop to snorkel and enjoy the secluded beaches – and the views on the last section of the road over the marine park are stunning. There is no tourism infrastructure developed in this area but a number of the operators organise beach barbecues on picturesque Anse du Riz (also known as Play-boy beach).

Day trips from Praslin
Three Islands
The Three Islands tour to Cousin, Curieuse and St Pierre is a great day out. First stop is Cousin Island Nature Reserve for a two hour guided tour of the island and its bird colony. A barbecue lunch is prepared on Curieuse (a marine park) and you have time to swim, visit the old leper colony or take a longer walk to the other side of the island. The old turtle breeding area is now redundant but it’s worth visiting and you still see the occasional turtle in the pond. Then it’s on to St Pierre for great snorkeling. Bird lovers will enjoy a full day tour to Cousin.

Aride
The trip to Aride Island, a nature reserve and the most northerly of the granite islands, is fun, particularly if you are a birder. Like Cousin, the island is rat-free so it’s a seabird’s paradise home to large colonies of lesser and brown noddies, frigate birds and fairy terns (the graceful bird that is the symbol of Air Seychelles). If you take the guided nature trail to the viewpoint you may also see rare red-tailed tropic birds. It’s quite a climb to the top but it s worth it for the stunning view. Lunch is served on the island, and there’s great snorkelling on the reef.

Day trips from La Digue
Marianne, Grand Soeur and Île Cocos are popular with day-trippers from La Digue. The tiny islands are really just jumbles of rocks with palm trees sticking out - incredible to photograph. You can laze on the beach or wander around and snorkelling is a big attraction particularly on Cocos. Île Zavé, with its colonies of terns, noddies and shearwaters, is a good trip for birders.

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