Holidays in the Seychelles
In 1881, General Charles Gordon was said to have been so awestruck by the emerald beauty of Vallée de Mai nature reserve while exploring Praslin island, he declared it the original Garden of Eden. You can see the scenic splendour he witnessed for yourself on an unforgettable holiday in the Seychelles.
Made up of 115 granite and coral islands, they’re like dreamy drops of green jungle ringed by ribbons of white and gold sand. The Seychelles wasn’t properly ‘discovered’ until the middle of the 18th century and it still feels that way if you go on a luxury holiday today.
Even its biggest isles have a rich sense of isolation. Mahé’s beaches are peppered with sculpted granite boulders, while the capital, Victoria, charms you with infectious local life. Praslin has splendid sands, as well as the primal allure of bird-rich Vallée de Mai, which drew General Gordon under its spell. La Digue is like a land frozen in time, with ox-carts the transport of choice and the thud of a coconut or a crab’s scuttle the only sounds around.
Cast your net further and its far-flung outer islands like Denis, Desroches and Silhouette offer a remote retreat where you can have your own Robinson Crusoe experience. Whether the Seychelles was God’s idea of Eden or not, it can certainly be yours.
The magnetism of the Seychelles stretches across all of its islands. We suggest island-hopping across two or three islands to get an all-encompassing glimpse of the archipelago and each has its own individual charm. Stay in Mahé to soak up incredible views of its lush interior, a series of jagged peaks running right through its heart like an emerald spine, and the Seychellois capital of Victoria, reputedly one of the smallest capitals in the world, where you can wander its superb colourful markets. Hop over to Praslin for dreamy velvety sands fringed by gin-clear waters or head inland for the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai nature reserve. It was mistaken for paradise, so of course it’s going to look incredible. If you really want to slow things down then make a beeline for La Digue, an untouched island where locals lead a languid pace of life and ox-carts and old-fashioned bicycles are how you get around. Deserted beaches are easy to find both here and on any of the Outer Islands, where you can feel like a true castaway – it’s just you and a fiery sunset.
Quite simply, each island in the Seychelles boasts brilliant beaches. Strips of pristine white sand adorn the edges of La Digue and Praslin, often flanked by secluded coves you can escape to in only the company of turtles and brightly coloured birds. Smaller islands like North, Desroches and Félicité promise more pristine sands, while giant boulders lie half-submerged in the sand on the beaches of Mahé, adding to the castaway feel. Go snorkelling straight off the beach on any of the islands and you’ll open up a magical marine world of coral cities and kaleidoscopic fish.
Looking around at the islands of the Seychelles with their tall craggy peaks carpeted in green, they resemble lands you’d more likely find in a Jurassic Park movie. It’s an archipelago awash with natural drama. On Praslin, you have Vallée de Mai nature reserve, one of two places where the unusually shaped coco de mer palm naturally grows. Birds thrive here and you can see plenty of species like the endemic Seychelles bulbul, blue pigeon and black parrot, which flit among the thick jungle and vibrant tropical flowers. On Mahé, you can hike through Morne Seychelles National Park, tracing a palm-flecked path that winds along rocky coastline between huge boulders of granite and clusters of forest. Walkers will love the raw jungle that carpets Silhouette Island, covered in incense trees, orchids and patrolled by giant tortoises.
While you can island-hop and base yourself on some of the Seychelles’ larger islands, taking day trips to some of the smaller and more remote isles is also very worthwhile. Explore the mangroves and wetlands of Cousin Island where you can spy caecilians and Seychelles terrapins, see Aldabra giant tortoises on Curieuse Island and snorkel among the clown and powder blue tangs off the shores of St. Pierre.
Head to the Seychelles between October and February for the main turtle nesting season, when endangered hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs – Denis Island is a real hotspot for these, as well as green turtles, which lay their eggs year-round but between May and September in particular. A visit to the shell-rich beaches of North Island is a hotspot, while the beaches of Constance Lemuria on Praslin and Banyan Tree Seychelles on Mahé are also great bases for witnessing this spectacular wildlife phenomenon.
Where to stay in the Seychelles
The best time to visit the Seychelles
Lying just south of the equator, the Seychelles enjoys a tropical climate year-round, which keeps temperatures at around 30°C. While it has two distinct seasons of the year, the dry season from May to October and the wet season from November to April, the Seychelles is lovely to visit at any time of year.
Thanks to south-east trade winds, the dry season serves up slightly cooler temperatures and drier days, although short tropical showers can occur at any time. As well as acting as a natural air con, the trade winds means it’s a great time to visit the Seychelles if you’re planning to go sailing.
As November hits, the north-west trade winds kick in, although they are much calmer than during the dry season. This means the days feel hotter and the humidity is higher, with more chances of rainfall. However, the rain never stays for long and you can still expect plenty of sunshine hours. October to December sees hawksbill and green turtles come to lay their eggs and come January, you can witness the resulting hatchlings right up until April.
If you’re into snorkelling and diving, the shoulder months of April/May and October/November offer the best visibility underwater for lagoons’ pantone-tinged marine life. It’s also the best time to go to the Seychelles for a chance to spot wildlife inland, when the direction of the trade winds change.
Seychelles travel essentials
No vaccinations are currently recommended for the Seychelles. If you’re entering the Seychelles from a Yellow Fever zone, possession of a valid Yellow Fever inoculation certificate is required. For any current travel health advice, you should seek guidance from your GP at least four to six weeks prior to travel.
The time difference is GMT +4 hours.
The direct flight time from London to Mahé island in the Seychelles is 10 hours.
The currency is the Seychellois rupee, however visitors, by law, must pay for all their excursions and all other services provided by their hotels with a major international currency such as Euros or US dollars.
British passport holders don’t need a visa to visit the Seychelles.
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