A thousand miles from civilisation, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles is one of the world’s most romantic destinations. Dorothy Veitch finds eight reasons to fall in love with Mahe, the main island.
1 Island life
Known for private-island resorts like 11-villa North Island, where William and Kate honeymooned, the Seychelles is usually a big-ticket destination. But it doesn’t have to be. Base yourself on Mahe, the main island of the archipelago of 115, and you’ll find places to stay which suit pretty much every budget. Swinging in a hammock, gazing at the brilliant blue Indian Ocean, you’ll certainly feel like an A-lister.
2 Blissed-out beaches
A tiny island (28 kilometres long and 8 kilometres wide), Mahe boasts an incredible 6o+ beaches. You’re guaranteed that Robinson Crusoe moment on a deserted stretch of white sand but for a little more action, head to 1-kilometre Anse Royale beach. Crystal-clear shallows near the shore give way to deeper waters that are perfect for snorkelling.
3 Capital gains
The charming capital, Victoria, is made up of colourful homes, stalls and shops set higgledy-piggledy along the streets. Stroll the botanical gardens, or buy spices – the Seychelles is known for cinnamon and vanilla – at the bustling fish, vegetable and fruit market. The Victorian clock tower, a mini replica of the Vauxhall Clock Tower in London, harks back to the days of British colonial rule.
4 The big blue
In the Seychelles, water temperatures seldom drop below 27ºC, which makes it the ideal environment for water sports of all varieties. You can try your hand at sailing, kite-boarding, kite-surfing, windsurfing, jet-skiing and paragliding. Big game fishing is also very popular. Scuba divers are looking at an underwater visibility of 30 metres, and over 300 species of marine life to enjoy.
5 Creole food
The Seychellois look like they represent every culture in the world and their cuisine does too: tuna and king fish are staples, grilled or steamed with ginger and chillies. You will enjoy Indian-influenced curries, plenty of coconut milk and lemongrass-based recipes, and rice with every meal. And, of course, you can enjoy your seafood fresh, and coconuts cut straight from the trees.
6 Jungle treks
Should you tire of your hammock, you can book a nature tour, or join a hike into the interior rainforest to delight in the island’s exotic flora and fauna. Mahe’s highest peak is 95-metre Morne Seychellois, which forms part of a national park of the same name. There are 12 trails in the 10 kilometre-longpark, with rocky outcrops providing glorious panoramic views.
7 Gentle wildlife
In the Seychelles, the indigenous wildlife is well protected, and visitors are given the opportunity to participate in various conservation projects, from observing free-roaming giant tortoises and exotic birds, to assisting turtle hatchlings and cultivating sea coral. As in the Galapagos, the wildlife shares the environment with you, rather than the other way around.
8 Island hopping
To most of us Mahe is laid-back, but to the Seychellois on neighbouring islands, it’s stressful. Hop on a boat to La Digue, and make your way through the tiny town, to reach deserted granite boulder-strewn beaches. Or visit sleepy Praslin, where the coco de mer (giant nuts shaped like a woman’s derrière) grow. You can walk within the UNESCO-protected Vallee de Mai to get a glimpse of them in their natural habitat.