Mahe Island
An island tour in an open top jeep.
Mahé is small enough to drive around in a day so hire car, or even better a Mini Moke (an open top jeep), and go cruising. The tour companies organise tours to most of the places below but quite frankly it is easy, and more fun, to go exploring on your own.

 

             

Explore Victoria
Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, is small and compact with interesting architecture and an easy to follow street plan. The Clock Tower, at the main intersection in the town centre is an good landmark from which to start a walking tour. It is a copy of the ‘Little Ben’ tower outside London’s Victoria Station built in 1903 as both a memorial to Queen Victoria and to commemorate the establishment of Seychelles as a Crown Colony, If you are into architecture the sleeply, colonial-style Court House opposite, the Anglican St Paul’s Cathedral (the oldest church in the archipelago) the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate and the Capuchin House are impressive. The Natural History Museum, with its dugong and crocodile statues marking the entrance, is somewhat eclectic but gives some interesting insights into the history and the current, and now extinct, flora and fauna of Seychelles, The old town, heading up towards the mountain, is full of narrow streets and elegant French colonial buildings so is fun to stroll in.

The Sir Selwyn Clarke Market
The well-laid out, undercover market, just south of the town centre, cant compete with its counterparts in Madagascar and Mauritius for soul, colour and variety but its central attraction, the fish market is well worth coming for. Saturday morning is the best time to visit, but on most mornings there are large game fish and some unusual species on display – including parrot fish and some colourful creatures which I, a sentimental type, feel would be better left in the ocean. Otherwise there is the usual array of fresh produce, herbs and spices and jars of evil-looking chillis. The surrounding streets are full of crafts and small shops so are good for souvenir shopping.

Botanical Gardens
If you have a bit of time to spare, or need a bit of time out in the capital, check out the Botanical Gardens. The beautiful boulders and tranquil setting are perfect for picnicking or strolling around and you’ll see most of the main species that still exist on the islands, including the famous coco de mer.

Beau Vallon
This glorious crescent of golden sand is actually Mahé’s main tourist beach, with numerous hotels and guesthouses and a regular bus service from Victoria. But you’d hardly guess it; the extensive beach is so laid back and uncrowded that it is still really attractive. The setting is perfect. Crystal clear, warm water, gently rolling waves, palm trees, beachfront bars and restaurants – what more could you ask for? And, of course, it faces west so is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. A range of excursions start from here (see boat excursions) and you can charter fishing boats, yachts, canoes, sailboards and all manner of watersports equipment. Underwater Centre Seychelles’ dive shop (also the place to sign up for outings with the whale shark monitoring programme) is right on the beach at the Coral Strand Hotel.

Best beaches
All the beaches on Seychelles are so pristine and stunning that it is difficult to recommend one over another. Wherever you go you can expect the paradise image of white sand, palm trees and azure ocean. There is no encircling barrier reef and shallow lagoon around Mahé (apart from a bit in the south) so the waves roll in onto most of the beaches and you can swim and play in the waves. Watch out for the current in some areas though.

Anse Soleil, one of three little bays on the promontory in the south west of the island has received many accolades, the bays of the Port Launay Marine Park are absolutely beautiful and the picturesque Anse Major is the reward on the coastal walk from Danzilles (see hiking). Anse Royal, with its dramatic granite boulders and little coves, is perhaps the prettiest of the east coast beaches whilst if you want to watch crashing waves head for Anse Intendance in the south west. Watch out though, the big breakers and strong currents make it dangerous for swimmers.

Morne Seychellois National Park
One of the most enjoyable drives on Mahé is the road between Victoria and Glaud. The road climbs steeply out of the capital city towards Sans Souci and you are soon in the Morne Seychellois National Park, a wonderland of mighty trees and granite peaks. The views are get better and better as you climb so leave time for photo stops. The trailheads of several nature walks and longer trails are on the road (see hiking) and there are several places of interest, like the Mission Ruins that you can get to by car.

Mission Lodge
Mission Lodge was originally an ‘Industrial School and Mission’ built by Anglican missionaries during the 1870s to educate the children of the former slaves of the (then) British colony. The site consists of the ruins, a remarkable avenue of Sandragon trees and a viewing platform opened in 1972 by Queen Elizabeth II. Numerous endemic species have been introduced and if you’re lucky you might spot tropic birds and kestrels.

Wining and dining
The cuisine of the Seychelles is varied, creative and imaginative so whether you eat in your hotel or at one of the many restaurants you won’t be disappointed.

Victoria
In Victoria the main watering hole is the vibey Pirates Arms, which is central and casual with outside tables and good, simple meals. The News Café is good for quick light meals, fruit juices, smoothies and coffee. If you crave a latte or cappuccino this is the place to go. Restaurant Marie Antoinette is an absolute must, particularly in a group. The restaurant, which offers a set menu including delicious specialities such as parrot fish and Creole curry, is in an old Creole house, and has had the same owners for the past 20 years. Sam’s Pizzeria serves not only pizzas but also great steaks and other grilled meat. The portions are large so it’s a good place to go if you are missing a good old South African braai. Kaz Zanama, a café bar and gallery, also dishes up excellent Creole food.

Beau Vallon
You’re spoilt for choice at Beau Vallon so here are just a few of my favourites.
Starting at the southern end, the Baobab Pizzeria would be my choice for a casual night out. It’s simple, relatively inexpensive and serves great pizzas. The nearby Boathouse, just back from the beach (but with a daytime sea view) is really good and popular. You can eat as much as you like from the authentic Creole buffet which boasts a wide selection of dishes such as barbequed tuna steaks, chicken curry in coconut milk, breadfruit chips, octopus curry, local salads and chutneys. The very grand looking Al Mare has a lovely terrace with great views. It’s perfect for lunch or sundowners and the food is good, if a little pricey. Mahék, at the Coral Strand Hotel is the only Indian restaurant in Seychelles and is well worth a visit. For a splurge, try La Perle Noir opposite the Coral Strand Hotel entrance. Their seafood platter is to die for. La Scala, at Bel Ombre, a short drive from the main beach, is up-market Italian restaurant with wonderful ambience that serves fabulous steaks as well as yummy Italian food. Le Corsair, nearby, is also excellent.

West coast
Chez Batista’s serves good Creole food and excellent fish, and has a beautiful setting on the beach on near Takamaka, Slightly further north, the Plantation Club Resort in Baie Lazare, does a great, reasonably priced Asian buffet every Saturday. They have different individual stations such as the Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Mongolian and some interesting diversions such as fruit carving demonstrations during the evening. The small, simple Anse Soleil Restaurant is known for its excellent seafood and is very popular with the locals for lunch or early dinner.

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