With a year-round tropical climate and a natural playground made up of 115 islands, including lush forests, dozens of beaches and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s easy to see why Seychelles (pronounced “say-shells”) is quickly soaring to the top of travelers’ must-visit lists and showing up on more cruise itineraries.Karen Asp shares more of why we’re enamored with this once off the beaten path location. Its remote location east of Africa in the Indian Ocean guarantees an unspoiled escape, while its mix of cultural heritages adds a unique angle (there are three official languages of this paradise—Creole, English and French—although many locals speak Italian and German as well). Those reasons alone make it worth the trip, not to mention that you’ll find a range of accommodations from name-brand luxury resorts to small boutique hotels, including Raffles Resort Praslin and Six Senses Zil Pasyon.
Although Seychelles is made up of dozens of islands, three attract the most attention: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Mahé is the main island where the international airport and capital city of Victoria are located.
Here, you’ll want to spend time at Anse Intendance, arguably the island’s most beautiful beach. You can also hike through the Morne Seychellois National Park to the top of Morne Blanc for panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.
Then take your taste buds on a culinary experience at Le Jardin Du Roi Spice Garden, where you’ll find spices and other rare plants. Take a walk through the nature trails and enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Another not-to-miss attraction is the colorful Hindu temple, Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar, in Victoria.
Should you prefer to visit what many called the Garden of Eden, venture to Praslin, nicknamed because of its vegetation. It’s the home of Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you’ll find about 6,000 coco de mer trees and the endangered Seychelles black parrot. For even more beauty, step foot onto the sands of Anse Lazio, often ranked among the world’s best beaches and a perfect place to swim and snorkel. From here, you can take a day trip to Curieuse Island, where you’ll find green sea turtle breeding grounds, giant tortoises that you can feed and mangrove forests.
Meanwhile, La Digue lies just 30 minutes away, via ferry, from Praslin, and it’s here where you’ll truly step back in time, as the main modes of transportation on this small island are bike and surprisingly, oxcart. Make your way to Anse Source d’Argent, one of the world’s most photographed beaches.
There’s no bad time to visit Seychelles. If hiking, surfing and windsurfing are calling you, May through September bodes the best conditions for those sports. Meanwhile, anglers may want to book their trip between October and April. Got an itch to go diving? Consider going sometime between March and May or September and November. No matter when you arrive, though, Seychelles will reward you with a vacation experience unlike any other.