Explore The Seychelles Islands Jewels in An Azure Sea
The 115 islands of the Seychelles Archipelago lie scattered across their secret corner of the western Indian Ocean like precious gemstones set in a universe of azure water – stepping stones to the east coast of Africa, some thousand miles away, and natural gateway to the many treasures of the continent.
Seychelles, straddling the western Indian Ocean between 6 and 10 degrees south of the equator, is divided into 6 island groups with the Inner Islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue together with their neighbouring isles forming the hub of the islands’ tourism industry,
Mahé, the principal island is a mountainous, granitic island that boasts no less than 65 beaches. Commanding spectacular views of the surrounding ocean, Mahé contains the lion’s share of the archipelago’s hotels, tourism amenities and retail outlets. Mahé also showcases a surprising variety of flora & fauna including many indigenous species, discoverable at the Botanical Gardens or on organised excursions along popular walks and trails. The fascinating underwater treasure houses of the Ste. Anne and Cap Ternay Marine National Parks, meanwhile, can be visited on snorkelling expeditions and a variety of excursions.
Seychelles’ second largest island, Praslin, lies 45 kilometers (24 miles) north-east of Mahé and is accessible by Air or by fast ferry. It is home to the legendary Vallée de Mai in which grows the fabulous Coco-de-mer and possesses some of the most striking beaches of the archipelago such as Anse Lazio, widely acclaimed to be the most beautiful beach on earth.
Praslin stands at the forefront of the country’s tourism industry with a rich assortment of hotels and guesthouses whose strong tradition of Seychelles’ hospitality over a period of many years has proved a favourite with visitors.
The island is ideally situated for holidaymakers wishing to island hop to a handful of nearby exotic destinations such as Chauve Souris, Cousin, Curieuse, St. Pierre, La Digue and the Aride bird reserve. It is also a haven for nature lovers seeking rare endemic species such as the black parrot for which Praslin is the last habitat or wishing to explore the island’s network of footpaths.
La Digue, known as ‘the island where Time stands still’, is situated forty kilometres (25 miles) from Mahé and 7 km (3.5 miles) from Praslin and is the fourth largest island in the Seychelles after Silhouette. This granite island, with its unique, languid pace of life, receives its visitors mainly by boat at the quaint jetty at La Passe and is a popular destination for holidaymakers wishing for a taste of the traditional.Here is a place where the bicycle and ox cart still hold sway on shady island pathways and where a distinct sense of antiquity pervades the island’s customs, architecture and general way of life.
Anse Source d’Argent is among the island’s most famous beaches, celebrated for its granite boulders that seem to have been sculpted by a divine hand to adorn a beach of breath-taking beauty while at the Union Estate, visitors will have the chance to view some of the traditional local industries of times past. Nature lovers will have the opportunity to seek out the rare Black Paradise Flycatcher, once thought to be extinct but now protected in the La Digue Vev Special Reserve which is also home to two extremely rare species of terrapin. The woodlands of La Digue are especially attractive and nurture several species of delicate orchids. The island is also an ideal stepping-stone for the nearby island attractions of Grande and Petit Soeur, Félicité, Coco and Marianne.
The remaining five groups of Outer Islands represent the far frontier of the Seychelles holiday experience. Here, shimmering atolls and reef islands, thread like pearls on strings of surf and unaltered since the days of their origin, offer the summit of island-style living. Currently, only four such islands offer accommodation: the islands of Denis and Bird located 100 miles to the north of Mahé and Desroches Island in the Amirantes, 140 miles to the south-east. Here the fishing, diving and sailing are superb in places where the only sail on the ocean and the only tracks on any beach will be your own. And finally 248 miles southwest of Mahe is Alphonse Island. Part of the Alphonse Group of Islands, which also comprise St Francois and Bijoutier, this pristine, natural paradise is considered one of the purest natural idylls in the world, so when it comes to the Seychelles you have a vast and diverse world within a world to discover.