Seychelles is a cluster of charming islands found in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. While it’s true that the archipelago serves as a tropical, luxury honeymoon hotspot, this island nation also proves that it’s much more than that with its gorgeous landscapes, abundant nature, and rich culture. The waters here show off a sensational spectrum of blues, greens and everything in between. You’ll often find yourself reluctant to get out of the water and leave the beach.
Although it isn’t easy or cheap to make your way to Seychelles, the trip is certainly worth it, and you’ll leave with no regrets. Below are some of the best and most popular things to do around its islands.
Spend the morning at a local market
Get a whiff of local life on the islands – Seychelles’ most famous market is in its capital, Victoria, known as the Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke Market, and more commonly as the Victoria Market. The market’s liveliness marks it as the true heart of the capital and shows a harmonious blend of the old and new Seychellois way of life. Seychellois love to share their enthusiasm for local Creole food and culture – don’t be afraid to ask questions as you dip in and out of stalls. Souvenir stalls are also scattered throughout the market with sarongs, flavoured oils and art. The market is open Monday to Saturday from 4am to 5pm. Other markets worth mentioning are Victoria Bazaar every Friday on Market Street, and Bazar Labrin on Beau Vallon beach every Wednesday and on the last Saturday of the month.
Explore the Vallée de Mai on Praslin
An ancient forest filled with Coco de Mer palms – Vallée de Mai is a stunning nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the island of Praslin. As home to the remnants of Seychelles’ original palm jungles and with over 4,000 trees of the legendary Coco de Mer, this historic reserve has often been described as the ‘Garden of Eden’. An afternoon in this magical forest sees you basking in the green glow of the palm trees, which are endemic to Seychelles. With the largest and heaviest seeds in the world, the female tree produces a heart-shaped fruit similar to the shape of a woman’s pelvic region – make sure to ask locals about the conspiracy around the trees. Look out for some unique birds such as the Seychellois bulbul and the rare black parrot. Location: Vallée de Mai, Praslin, Seychelles, Seychelles Open: Daily from 8.30am to 4.30pm Phone: +248 4 236 220
Visit the tiny town of Victoria
One of the world’s smallest capitals is on Mahé island – Victoria may not fulfil your typical fantasies of a tropical paradise, but the town does well as the vibrant, bustling hub of Seychelles, especially when you scratch beneath its surface. With about a third of the population residing in this town, this would be the place to observe local Seychellois life. See the clock tower, a silver-painted copy of that on London’s Vauxhall Bridge Road, which came to Mahé in 1903. Wander around rows of attractive and colourful Creole-style buildings, through markets and manicured gardens. For a little history, visit the excellent National Museum of History. Look out for the town’s impressive backdrop of towering granite mountains as you stroll around.
Go to La Digue’s coconut plantation
Home to the stunning Anse Source d’Argent beach – On La Digue island, you’ll find L’Union Estate farm, which acts a sort of ‘theme park’ for Seychellois’ history. In this part of Seychelles, coconut production is sustainable and managed, and visitors get to see an ox-powered oil extraction machine, the historic Old Plantation House, vanilla plantations, a colonial-era graveyard, a boatyard and a tortoise pen. Rent a bicycle and explore the farm and then head to the famous Anse Source d’Argent beach, which is just as stunning as people say. Order a piña colada and find a spot on one of the three beaches, where ash-grey boulders line and dot the teal-coloured waters making for breathtaking scenery. Entry is SCR115 (roughly £6.50). Location: Allée Kersley, La Digue, Seychelles Open: Daily 6am to 6.30pm Phone: +248 4 234 240
Boat trip around the islands
Pop into Cousin Island, Curieuse Island and St Pierre – You can’t really go wrong with an island-hopping boat trip, so it’s without saying that this a must-do if you have enough time (and the money). For those with limited time, multiple boat companies offer full days with lunch where you can visit islands such as Cousin Island, Curieuse Island and St Pierre. Pricing usually starts at around £130 per person. For those with time on their hands, we recommend picking a few islands and spreading out a few days amongst them so that you can really explore and get a feel of each of them. For the main three to visit: Cousin Island is brimming with diverse wildlife, Curieuse Island follows close behind with magnificent mango forests and St Pierre is popular for its amazing snorkelling spots.
Hike along trails on Mahé Island
Choose between many gorgeous trails – As the largest island of Seychelles, Mahé Island holds some truly beautiful nature trails, which take you through idyllic scenes of vibrant wildlife and to stunning views across the island. Perhaps the easiest of the islands’ trails is the Copolia Trail, which is found in the Morne Seychellois National Park and takes you 500m above sea level. Expect a 2-hour hike with some steep sections. Morne Blanc Trail is another beautiful trail with views well worth its challenging nature; the trail takes roughly 45 minutes each way. To see some amazing rock formations, walk the Anse Major Trail, which is relatively easy and takes around an hour and a half. This trail is also the only way to get to Anse Major beach by foot.
Drive or hike to and from countless gorgeous beaches – The beaches in Seychelles are arguably some of the best in the world and each island is splattered with stunning coasts and little alcoves. Among the islands’ most attractive beaches are near resorts. There’s Anse Georgette beach on Praslin island near the Constance Lemuria resort and Anse Lazio beach (on the same island) near Raffles resort. If you’re looking to stay in one part of the island, this is your best bet. Anse Georgette has gorgeous characteristic granite boulders with sumptuous stretches of white sand. Anse Lazio has more powerful waves and terrific sunsets. On La Digue, visit Anse Source d’Argent and Anse Cocos, on Mahé visit Anse Intendance, Beau Vallon, Anse Louis, Petite Anse. A visit to any of these beaches will make you fall in love immediately.
Meet giant tortoises
Found on either Curieuse Island or Cousin Island – A trip to Seychelles without seeing the giant tortoises would be a sore mistake. These gentle giants are a delight to meet and can be found on either Curieuse Island or Cousin Island. The only other place these tortoises exist is in the Galapagos Islands. From Praslin, you can take a quick boat ride to Curieuse Island and from their hike your way to a conservation and rehabilitation centre where you’ll find tortoises with shells the size of bathtubs. You can see more tortoises on Cousin Island, as well as on the coral atoll called Aldabra. The atoll is more remote and requires booking in advance.
Watch baby Hawksbill sea turtles venture into the sea
It’s where they lay eggs in broad daylight! – Seeing this phenomenon is truly a sight to behold. Found on either Cousin, North Island or Bird Island, Hawksbill sea turtles lay their eggs every year out on these sunlit beaches. Nesting season is from September onwards, hatchling season is from January to March and monitoring volunteering is held between November to March. Each female turtle lays up to 1000 eggs a season and returns to the beaches as many as five times. There’s also a good chance of seeing them – and their tiny offspring – on beaches around La Digue as well as Praslin. Hotels with nesting beaches include Banyan Tree and Constance Lemuris.
Munch on some seafood
Order fresh grilled fish and curries from street food stalls – The abundance of Creole takeaway stands on any of the Seychellois islands never fails to disappoint and is one of the best ways to try the local cuisine. The most famous and common dishes is a box stuffed with rice, seafood (which is guaranteed fresh), and green papaya. Due to the islands’ colonial history, a large part of the country’s population is of Indian descent, meaning the local cuisine is a delightful mixture of diverse cultures. The Indian seafood throughout the island is delicious – look out for the octopus chapati which is worth searching for. The rule of thumb here is to stick to seafood rather than meat, as it’s almost always guaranteed to be fresh. However, if you are a vegetarian you may find it hard to find food as the local cuisine is largely limited to seafood. But you can find vegetarian options at restaurants and hotels.