The Seychellois routinely refer to their home as ‘paradise’ and, frankly, it’s difficult to disagree. Among the many beauty queens of the Indian Ocean, this collection of 115 islands off the shores of East Africa has strong claims to the overall crown. Merging the fabled beaches and turquoise hues of the castaway Maldives with the rugged, jungled peaks of volcanic Mauritius, the archipelago blends sybaritic excess with tropical adventure. Add to the mix local Creole culture and endemic flora and fauna — including the world’s largest palm tree and free-roaming giant tortoises — and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Mornings might be spent hiking the hills. followed by afternoons swimming in the aquamarine sea. And while you could happily spend a week or two on a single island, that means missing out on the diversity the Seychelles has to offer. Island-hopping is an easy way to get around thanks to an efficient ferry system, and on the popular isles of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, guesthouses and resorts cater to every pocket. With over 50% of the country protected by reserves, there’s plenty to explore — all that’s needed is a plan. Here’s how to spend a perfect fortnight island-hopping the Seychelles.
Seaside & scenery
International flights land on Mahé, but for the full paradisal introduction, escape to Praslin, a 15- to 20-minute flight away. The scenery on the Seychelles’ second-largest island turns Jurassic Park-esque in Vallée de Mai. Keep an eye out for coco de mer: the world’s largest seed grows high up in the towering palms. After the jungle, kick back on Praslin’s beaches. Try Anse Lazio in the north west, framed by granite boulders, or powdery Anse Georgette. In the east, gently shelving Anse Volbert is great for families and is walking distance to supermarkets. Stock up on SeyBrew beers for sunset hour, or groceries, should you opt to self-cater at beachside properties like Les Villas d’Or.
Ask your accommodation to book the brief boat ride to Curieuse, a nature reserve known for its giant tortoises. There are hundreds on the small island and, on a half-day trip, you’ll be able to spot them roaming freely. Nature trails snake their way around this wild isle, and you can hike through gnarled mangroves — where crabs scuttle and endemic birds call — all the way to the opposite shore. Curieuse was used as a leper colony for part of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the doctor’s house serves as a small museum and visitor centre. If conditions are good, ask your skipper to take you to nearby St Pierre. This tiny uninhabited island is surrounded by a reef, and shoals of stripy sergeants and rainbow parrotfish dart past as you snorkel.
La Digue is a 15-minute ferry ride from Praslin and could be seen in a few hours, but spend two nights here at Le Repaire, a boutique hotel on the northwest coast, to discover it at a laid-back pace. Cycling is the transport mode of choice — no cars are allowed unless they provide a public service; bikes are available near the ferry port. Spin up to Anse Patates beach on the north coast or over to Belle Vue, a hilltop viewpoint, before making for sandy Grand Anse. Rough waters mean swimming isn’t allowed here; for that, head south to Anse Source d’Argent, a calm stretch with a seagrass garden. Access it through L’Union Estate Park, home to an old coconut mill.
1. Beach Shak, Mahé
When the end of the day draws near on Beau Vallon beach, crowds descend on this al fresco bar with a picture-perfect, west-facing view. Try a Creole Rhum Swizzle, featuring extra dark rum, Creole bitters, cinnamon syrup and pineapple and lime juice.
2. Anse Georgette, Praslin
Sunsets at this unadulterated strip of golden bay, fringed by forest and Praslin’s signature smooth boulders, are all the sweeter for its remote location. Reach it by taking a leisurely half-hour walk through the grounds of the Constance Lemuria resort.
3. Anse Severe, La Digue
Order a freshly pressed juice from a beach bar and settle in for the show. This easy-to-access stretch faces Praslin Island and the view is especially beautiful in the evening, when the sun slips behind Praslin’s undulating outline on the horizon.
City life & culture
Take the ferry back to Mahé: after the tranquil pace of La Digue, you’ll be energised to explore Victoria, one of the world’s smallest capitals. Situated below a mountainous landscape of banana plants, bougainvillea and palms, it has a market and a silver-painted clock tower inspired by Big Ben. Spend a morning here, then head north west towards the beachfront resort of Beau Vallon for sunset. Book in advance at Beach Shak bar, right on the sand, to catch the best views. Alternatively, Morne Seychellois National Park encompasses 7,525 acres of mountainous jungle and mangroves — an impressive 20% of Mahé’s total land surface. A network of hiking trails snakes for over nine miles, including to the top of Morne Seychellois, the Seychelles’ highest point.
Away from the capital, the secluded south of Mahé is lush and quiet, with roads leading up hills and to small coves. Stylish Mango House hotel overlooks a lick of golden beach on the western coast, but before you settle into the lounger, there are various historic estates to tour. Domaine de Val des Près has artisanal craft boutiques set around a plantation house dating to around 1870. And, at the restaurant of the Jardin du Roi spice garden, high above the coastline, you can try curries featuring fresh herbs from the surrounding grounds. If you prefer your heritage tour with a knee-wobbling cocktail in hand, make for the Takamaka Rum distillery at La Plaine St André. See sugarcane growing, view the stills and enjoy a tasting.
Head on to mountainous Silhouette, a nature reserve dotted with endemic palms and cinnamon trees, where even the surrounding waters are a protected conservation area. The archipelago’s third-largest island was once owned by the Dauban family, but aside from their 1860s house, the only sign of settlement is the Hilton Labriz resort, which stretches out alongside easterly Anse La Passe beach. Hiking guides take hotel guests and day visitors on treks: opt for the moderate Jardin Marron route, which follows trails carved by escaped slaves. On the way you’ll scramble over mossy rocks, traverse tree branches and scale slopes. The island’s trump card is snorkelling. Look out for pufferfish and octopus — a final encounter with the Seychelles’ colourful wildlife.
There are rarely direct flights to the Seychelles from the UK, but Qatar and Emirates have one-stop services from London to Mahé.
What about getting around?
Onward direct flights to the island of Praslin operate with Air Seychelles, but Cat Cocos ferries are affordable and punctual. Distances between the main islands are rarely more than 90 minutes. Transfers to Silhouette can be arranged via Hilton Labriz.
On Mahé and Praslin, you can hire a car to explore; expect some hilly, winding ascents and descents. Buses operate on both islands, taxis are readily available and hotels or tour operators can arrange transfers.
What are the entry requirements?
Apply for a Seychelles Travel Authorisation online up to 10 days before arrival, uploading a head shot, passport page image and travel information. You can also purchase local SIM and eSIM cards for activation on arrival at the same time.
Where should I stay?
Constance Lemuria, Praslin. From 13,075 SCR (£800), B&B.
Les Villas d’Or, Praslin. From 3,290 SCR (£190), B&B.
Le Repaire Boutique Hotel, La Digue. From 4,330 SCR (£243), B&B.
Georgina’s Cottage, Mahé. From 1,210 SCR (£70), B&B.
Mango House, Mahé. From 12,210 SCR (£690), B&B.
Hilton Labriz, Silhouette. From 8,580 SCR (£500), B&B.
When should I go?
The Seychelles is sunny and hot year-round, with average temperatures of around 30C. Short tropical showers are a regular occurrence. Trade winds blow at different times of year, causing seaweed to accumulate on some beaches and currents to alter; check with your tour operator when is the best time to visit depending on your hotel location.
What should I pack?
Despite its world-class beaches, the Seychelles is an active destination. As well as your usual beach gear, bring airy and mosquito-proof clothing suitable for hiking, plus reef-safe sunscreen for snorkelling. There are no venomous animal species on the Seychelles and the main islands have access to medical facilities. seychelles.com
How can I do it?
Audley Travel offers a collection of hotels in the Seychelles, including Constance Lemuria and Hilton Labriz, and can tailor-make a trip to suit needs and budget. A 14-day Seychelles Island-hopping La Digue & Praslin tour costs from £2,285 per person, including flights and accommodation, plus some activities and excursions.
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