The ferry and schooners
to Mahé and La Digue arrive and depart from the port at Baie Ste
Anne, which is also a popular yachting harbour. The best beaches are along
the east coast – the Cote d’Or - and at Anse Lazio in the
north. Anse Volbert, on the Cote d’Or is the island’s major
resort. Here you’ll find boat operators, dive shops, water sports
centres and of course hotels, restaurants, bar and souvenir shops.
Grand Anse, the largest settlement on the island, is close to the airport
and is the commercial centre of the island. It too has the full range
of tourist facilities but the beaches are not as good on this side so
the beach infrastructure less developed than on the east.
The most famous of Praslin’s beaches is the much-photographed Anse
Lazio in the north. It deserves its reputation; the setting is idyllic
with palm trees providing shade, dramatic granite boulders, unbelievably
blue water and great swimming and snorkelling. Not surprisingly the crescent
of fine, white sand is very popular with day trippers – on land
and boat excursions - so go early or late if you want some peace.
You can’t go really go wrong whatever beach you choose on the Cote
d’Or. Anse Volbert is sheltered and gently shelving so is very popular
with families. You can stroll for hours and there is great snorkelling
on the boulders at the northern end and around Chauve Souris Island and
St Pierre Islet. Anse Possession is very pretty with good snorkelling
to the east, and good swimming towards the picturesque bay of Anse Takamaka.
Anse La Blague, in the far east near the port, is secluded and great
for snorkelling and you can walk along the shore, past Petite Anse and
up the hill towards Anse la Farine (on the other side of the headland)
for stunning views over Îe Ronde and to La Digue.
Vallée de Mai
One of the biggest attractions of the inner isles is Praslin’s exotic
Vallée de Mai, a World heritage Site. The primeval forest is home
to numerous beautiful and rare palms including the coco de mer, the erotically
shaped nut of which is the national emblem of Seychelles. Much controversy
surrounds the interpretation of the shapely fruit – the outline
is indisputably of the female pelvis – but is it viewed from the
back or the front? You’ll be able to judge for yourself by studying
the conveniently located exhibit in the reserve, or the immigration stamp
in your passport! Either way history records the excitement that the early
sailors experienced when stumbling on the coco de mer nut after enduring
months at sea.
The reserve is cool and peaceful with various nature trails leading to
viewpoints and significant plants. To get the most out of a trail pick
up a brochure listing the plants, birds and animals that you are likely
to encounter from the shop at the entrance. Star attractions, in addition
to the coco de mer, include the palmiste (the central shoot of which was
originally the main ingredient of ‘millionaires salad’ - so
called because the tree died after its removal), the millipede, Cinderella
and thief palms.
Praslin Ocean Farm Aquarium
You can learn all about how pearls are cultivated at this small commercial
farm near the airport and then buy specimens and other jewellery as souvenirs.
There are also display tanks full of reef fish and other marine creatures.
Wining and dining
Bonbon Plumes, at Anse Lazio, is an excellent lunchspot. This is a real
barefoot elegance, feet in the sand restaurant, which serves excellent
Creole food. Plan a full day out to visit the beach and restaurant. The
Paradise Sun Hotel, at Anse Volbert, has good food and various theme evenings
including a soirée on the beach with traditional local dancing
around the bonfire. The nearby Berjaya Hotel has a great pizzeria right
on the beach which serves a range of other dishes as well as its speciality