The vast archipelago of Seychelles, with its lush tropical vegetation, white sand beaches and turquoise ocean certainly lives up to the marketing slogan ‘as pure as it gets’. The inner islands of Mahé, Pralin and La Digue are beautiful and varied with plenty of activities other than the classic beach experience. And whilst the image of a sophisticated paradise is one that the tourism bodies are keen to promote, behind the clichéd views of the Seychelles there is a dark and interesting history.

 

 

   
   

Banyan Tree (Mahe)

Lemuria Resort of Praslin

St. Anne Resort (Mahe)

Le Meridien Fisherman's Cove (Mahe)

Denis Island

   

Coco de Mer (Praslin)

La Reserve (Praslin)

Plantation Club (Mahe)

 

 

Coral Strand (Mahe)

 
 
           

The Seychelles archipelago lies just south of the equator, approximately 1 600 kilometres off the Tanzanian coast. The only granitic archipelago in the world, it consists of 115 granite and coral islands spread over 1 340 000 square kilometres. Mahé, the main island, is the largest at 27km (17 miles) long and 8km (5 miles wide) and by far the most populated and diverse. The colonial influence is still evident in the architecture of Victoria, the capital town, and English is widely spoken. Whilst Mahé undoubtedly has a relaxed, tropical island feel, wonderful beaches, hotels, restaurants and everything else you could desire for a perfect island break it seems big, and busy once you return after visiting the other isles. Praslin, the second largest island in the northern group, is even more relaxed, and by the time you arrive in La Digue you are seriously chilled. The smaller, outlying islands are popular with day visitors and a few have overnight accommodation. Others are private islands or protected sanctuaries where access is strictly controlled. The outer islands of the archipelago consist primarily of uninhabited coral islands and atolls. You can fly to the exclusive resorts of Desroches or Alphonse and then access the southern coral atolls by yacht.

If you’ve never been there, the first thing that you need to know about Seychelles is that it is very different to Mauritius. Seychelles is aiming at the sophisticated and independent traveller, not the mass package tourism market. There are few big resorts; most Seychellois accommodation is much smaller and more intimate than the large, self-contained resorts that predominate in Mauritius. Many of the guide books will tell you that Seychelles resorts tend to be worthy of a three star rating in a five star setting, whilst those in Mauritius are five star resorts in a three star setting and there is a lot in that. But standards are strictly regulated and as such you can always expect a good level of service and accommodation – thought not usually the spa, gym, free watersports, choice of restaurants etc that you might get in Mauritius. That said, that type of resort based holiday is available if you want it and are there are some ultra luxurious, private island resorts such as North Island off Mahé and Frégate, an isolate island 55km from the capital, that compete with anywhere in the world for service, facilities and setting if you seek the ‘all in’ package.

The best way to enjoy Seychelles is to go exploring. If you are staying on Mahé or Praslin, hire a car for at least a day and visit some of the reserves and of course the famous beaches, which are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful in the world. There is a good public bus service on these islands whilst La Digue and the smaller islands are small enough to explore on foot or by bike.

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