Seychelles: It’s good to know what to see
Seychelles is an island nation in the Western Indian Ocean. They are located 1600 km east of the coasts of Kenya and Tanzania. The islands were discovered by the Arabs, then in 1505 by the Portuguese, then the French and the English. They were no indigenous inhabitants. In 1756 the islands were colonized by the French and named the Seychelles after the then French Minister of Finance Jean Moreau de Séchelles. They gained their independence from the English 1976.
Facts about an island nation in the middle of the ocean
They consist of 115 islands of which 33 are inhabited. The furthest archipelago from the capital Victoria is Aldabra. It is more than 1,000 km away. About 70% of income is made up of tourism in which 30% of the population works. The rest is fishing and agriculture. Since there are no indigenous people in the Seychelles, the local population consists of immigrants. Most of them are French, Africans, Indians and Chinese. French and English are the official languages of the country along with Seychelles Creole, which originated from French. The majority of the population are Christians, most of whom are Catholics. It has close to 100,000 inhabitants.
Regardless of their final destination, all visitors to the Seychelles will begin their journey on Mahé, the largest and most diverse island in the archipelago. The name of the island comes from the former French governor Mahé de La Bourdonnais. The original name for the island was “Ile d’Abondance”, or “Island of Abundance”. Indeed, the island has an abundance of natural beauty, and many have been captivated by the attractive images of sandy beaches lined with palm trees under a clear blue sky. The island is also the highest peak of the Seychelles, Morne Seychellois being 905 meters high.
Mahé is wonderful
Drive along winding roads along the coast or through the mountains, discovering views and vistas – colorful wooden Creole houses, small shops, isolated coves and rich vegetation in the heart of it all. The center of the island provides imposing peaks and cloudy forests with diverse flora and fauna, creating a stunning backdrop for the island’s many hiking trails. Countless sources of fresh water characterize the rich nature of the island. Tropical palms and other plants grow throughout the region, including mangoes, papayas, bananas, tea and many other fruits and vegetables.
Although barely visible on most world maps, Mahé has an area of 154 km². It is 28 km long and 8 km wide. It is home to the smallest capital city in the world – Victoria. 90% of the Seychelles population lives on the island – about 78,000.
The capital is located in the northeast of the island, bordered on one side by steep mountain slopes and on the other by the ocean. The capital of the Republic of Seychelles does not seem at first glance how important the city is as the cultural and administrative center of the country; there are only some twenty streets, which not only characterizes the pleasant feeling of the city, but also the way of life in the Seychelles. The spirit of ‘Beauty Acts Silently’ flows through the city veins. The main attraction is the local market where you can buy fresh fish of various kinds, fruits, vegetables and local spices.
In the vicinity there are numerous shops, banks, churches and everything else needed for city life. Of particular interest are the Seychelles Museum and the Botanical Garden. The entire city center can be reached on foot in fifteen minutes. There are cargo and passenger ports and tuna processing companies on the coast.
In the center is a Clock Tower replica of the same from the Vauxhall Bridge in London. On the corner is the National History Museum building. On the porch there is a cafe that offers French pastries and various juices. Coconut is always my first choice. Next to the Cable & Wireless building is the Kenwyn House, renovated to stay in its original style, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings with French colonial architecture.
Since the opening of Mahé International Airport in 1972, with independence from Great Britain, Mahé is today a hub for tourists from all over the world, and is the economic and cultural heart of the Seychelles.
There are several exceptional beaches on the island
The most famous tourist center is Beau Vallon, located in the northwest. It is almost as busy as the capital itself. Numerous accommodation options, restaurants, shops and diving centers are located in this spacious bay. Anyone looking for peace and quiet should probably look to the south of the island instead, as the atmosphere there is much more relaxed. Along the beach there are several beach bars, probably the only ones on the islands.
Just off Victoria, only 5 km from the coast of Mahé, is the oldest marine reserve in the Seychelles, named after its largest island, Sainte Anne. In addition to this island and the surrounding lagoon, the park includes the islands of Moyenne, Round Island, Long Island, Cerf and Ile Cachée. In total, the park covers 14.43 km² and consists mainly of a coral reef with a rich marine life. ideal place for scuba diving or submarine rides with windows.
Seychelles’ most famous drink is Takamaka rum. The distillery offers visitors the opportunity to see the production of this delicious drink from start to finish, from the delivery of sugar cane to the filling of old wooden barrels. In the small shop you can try rum and buy various types, as well as some other souvenirs. In the restaurant of the distillery, La Plaine St. André, visitors can enjoy a variety of Creole dishes in a traditional atmosphere. The island produces quite decent SeyBrew beer.
Eden Island is a 50-hectare man-made island off the coast of Mahé. It was built on the initiative of the Seychelles government and is considered one of the most successful projects of its kind in the world. The project includes the construction of a marina, business center, office, hotel and 450 housing units. Apartments and villas can be bought or rented there. Paradise Island for a paradise vacation!
From the city of Victoria on the island of Mahé, it takes an hour by catamaran to reach Praslin, the second biggest island of Seychelles. Praslin has an airport and is connected to the main international airport. The flight takes about fifteen minutes. About eight thousand people live on the island.
Lazare Picault discovered the island in 1744, Praslin immediately named it “Ile des Palmes”, not knowing then that he had just encountered the Coco de Mer Palm, one of the rarest and most unusual plants in the world. The island, fortunately, is not full of tourists, so it has managed to retain its charm. Anyone who loves peace and nature will surely want to come to the island during their stay. There are many ways to enjoy it. Hiking through lush vegetation and hills or beach tours that will take your breath away or lying on the white sand. The island offers beaches with fine, powdery white sand and crystal-clear ocean water, dense jungle, palm trees, Takamaka trees, waterfalls and more. Who could wish for anything more?
In St. Anne’s Bay there is a small port that serves ferry services from Mahé and La Digue. In the same town, two kilometers north of the place there are a church, hospital, banks, post office, gas station, school, mini markets and car rental. Most accommodation on Praslin consists of large hotels, many of the highest category.
The main attraction of the island is the Vallée de Mai – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a palm forest where the Coco de Mer grows. This palm is an endemic species on this island. It was named after the fruit that sailed to the remote islands of India. At first it was thought that it was the fruit of a palm tree growing under the sea, hence its name. A walk through the jungle-style park gives you the impression of how the first visitors to the island might have felt. In addition to plants, rare birds such as the black parrot call this reserve their home. If one is careful and patient, they can be seen while feeding on palm fruits.
The Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve was opened only in 2013. The starting point can be found thanks to a small, red and white sign in the car park in Anse Marie-Louise, which can be reached by bus or by rented car.
With an area of 122 hectares, the Fond Ferdinand is more than six times larger than the Vallée de Mai, and is even richer in endemic plants and animal species, including about as many Coco de Mer palms as the Vallée de Mai.
The northeast and west coasts of the island are protected by large coral reefs. They are known for their long, sandy beaches. Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette are often ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the world, sometimes even in the Top Ten on various lists. Anse Volbert is a beautiful beach, pleasant for swimming, known for its “lying palm trees”.
The area of Praslin is 12 x 5 km. It is surrounded by the islands of Cousin, Curieuse and St. Pierre, which you can visit as part of many excellent day trips. Upon arrival it is good to rent a car for about 50 € a day. It is impossible to get lost because there is one main road all over the island!
An island that takes your breath away, literally speaking! It is the smallest, and you can easily visit interesting places and beaches by bicycle. It is mostly a flat ride unless you are going to the other side of the island towards Grand Anse. There is also a taxi service on the island with electric golf-cart vehicles and a few cars. Many choose to come to La Digue on a day trip from Mahé or Praslin, and that’s a shame because it’s so beautiful.
In the eastern half of La Digue is the 333-meter-high peak, Nid d’Aigle (Eagle’s Nest), while the north-western part consists of flat plains. The island is almost entirely surrounded by a coral reef, so it is possible to swim or dive in many of the island’s bays. Most accommodation on the island is simple: smaller hotels, guesthouses and houses for rent. They can be found mainly on the west coast, in and around La Passe. The only ‘bigger’ city on the island is Anse Réunion, which has banks, shops, restaurants and bicycle rentals.
Anse Source d’Argent
This island has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the most famous in the Seychelles: Anse Source D’Argent. The photos of the beach are beautiful. In real life, it is even more beautiful! The beach can be reached through a protected area, so at the entrance to the Union Estate you pay 100 Seychelles rupees (approx. 50 HRK). The property used to be a vanilla and coconut plantation. Giant tortoises, vanilla vines, coconuts and various palm trees and outbuildings can be seen. The beach can be reached by bicycle or organized transport. The beach is bordered by large granite rocks around which the best places for photography can be reached on foot in the sand. Along the beach are two wooden bars selling fresh juices and simple food.
There are many other beaches on the island where there are almost deserted. There are no catering facilities either, so you need to bring plenty of fluids and food with you. Grand Anse is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Seychelles. There may be strong currents, so care should be taken. It is recommended not to swim too far from the shore. The beach is just a short walk from her other “sister” – Petite Anse – and offers similar scenery and features. Some, though, suggest that Petite Anse is more beautiful than Grand Anse, thanks in part to the presence of only a few visitors and to the amazing scenery.
Anse La Réunion is a beach next to the main settlement. Thanks to its location, it provides a variety of activities. It is close to many hotels and guesthouses. Anse Sévère is a beautiful beach known for snorkeling. It is ideal for swimming. Apart from these two, there are many other beaches on the island, with few visitors. This is understandable, as they are not easily accessible requiring hiking and climbing.
In the center of the island there is a small nature reserve: the Veuve Reserve. This is the breeding ground for the Seychelles paradise flycatcher, an endemic species, which immediately catches the eye with its dark blue color. The striking long black tail of the male also gave the name “vèv” (widower) for this species. At the information center at the main entrance (the only environmental agency in La Digue) you can find literature on the nature of the Seychelles and ask an expert guide to guide you around the reserve (with prior registration). The reserve can be easily explored, though, without a guide. It is well organized and impossible to get lost.
Seychelles: good to know which are the most beautiful beaches
- Anse Source d’Argent · La Digue
- Anse Lazio · Praslin
- Anse Georgette · Praslin
- Grand Anse · La Digue
- Anse Intendance · Mahé
It should be borne in mind that for entering the Republic of Seychelles, you need health insurance that covers treatment against possible infections and illnesses caused by the Covid 19 virus. Having considered several options, we found that the Nomago agency offered one of the best ones. However, the German CareMed offered exactly what we needed, and we took their insurance.