Paradise found! The Seychelles Islands are an archipelago of 115 granite and coral islands dotting the western Indian Ocean. These exquisite islands, many untouched by man, lie just south of the equator and off the east coast of Africa. Most tourists come by way of Victoria, the capitol on the main island of Mahe. Here, local Seychellese share their city of 86,000 people with thousands of tourists annually. But don’t let that deceive you; because these islands are harder for some to reach, they haven’t been overrun by tourists.
Victoria boasts a beautiful Jardin Botanique (Botanical Gardens). The cost is minimal and the grounds are small, but well worth a couple hours wandering through the lush growth to gaze upon a host of native plants including the CoCo De Mer, which is actually not native to Mahe rather to Praslin and Curieuse Islands. However, if you’re unable to island hop this is the place to catch a glimpse of the world’s largest nut.
Victoria has everything you need including tourist shops to pick up those oh-so-important trinkets and t-shirts. An open air market sits off a side street. It’s small and fishy, but boasts local catch and fresh produce.
A short, curvy drive up and over the peaks of the island reveals the shorelines on which most resorts lie. There are some exquisite luxury bed and breakfast inns and more quaint beachside hotels if you’re looking for authenticity with a smaller pricetag. Don’t let the high cost of the mega resorts scare you off! About 20 minutes from the heart of Mahe, was our beautiful hotel: The Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa. For more, check our our review.
Seychelles was set aside for our “relaxing” week of a long stretch of travel, but that doesn’t mean we did nothing but lie on the beach (although we did our fair share). We did find ourselves lying beachside with a good book, putting it down only to deep into the cool, clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Snorkling right from the beach is simple in most sandy stretches of Mahe. You’ll see an array of smaller fish, some vibrantly colored others seemingly blending in to the crystal waters, white sand and black rock that juts out into the blue. Sea kayaks were provided by our hotel, but can be easily rented on the island. If you’re willing to put in a little work, it’s a great way to explore the shoreline. We were even able to kayak down to a little beachside pizza hut, Boaboa, (sandy floors included) for a great lunch. I’ve read numerous complaints on the services – and yes, you can spend the better part of 2 or 2.5 hours there just grabbing some pizza, but if you know that going in it won’t frustrate you. Plus, you’ll be on island time – so ditch the supercharged American attitude at the door and relax.