With idyllic views at every turn, it really is possible to overdose on beauty in the Seychelles. Lush vegetation slopes gently down to shimmering white powder sands and frothy turquoise seas whilst secret coves lie in wait without a footprint in the sand and Robinson Crusoe hideaways that have only birds and giant tortoises for company are ten-a-penny.
Clichéd or not, the Seychelles are as close to paradise as you are likely to come. Life takes place at a snail’s pace – or even at an oxen’s plod in La Digue. Trundle around the pretty town, a 15-minute ferry ride from Praslin, in an ox cart listening to the driver’s fascinating tales. Or perhaps speed things up a little and cycle through the L’Union Estate’s plantations and grow giddy on the delicious scents of vanilla, coconut and cinnamon.
Mahé may be the biggest – and the busiest - of the archipelago’s 115 inhabited islands but it has its fair share of secluded bays only accessible by yacht, motor boat or on foot. Together with its sisters Praslin and La Digue, it attracts the lion’s share of tourists, many enjoying a two-island stay. All three islands are within easy reach of each other by sea or air. They offer a wide selection of accommodation in many guises, from family-owned guest houses to luxury butler-serviced resorts. Hilton, Banyan Tree and Kempinski are just some of the top luxury chains there.
Escapists and the more adventurous, on the other hand, may prefer to fly off to remote islands such as Fregate or Bird Island and enjoy a secluded beach to themselves. Fregate and Bird are especially popular with bird watchers and nature lovers. Up to two million sooty terns nest on Bird Island while the largest colonies of roseate terns and other tropical birds can be found on Aride.
The absence of footprints on many of the islands means that rare plant life – 81 species in all - has thrived on this Indian Ocean archipelago. Most famous of the survivors is the huge, curiously-shaped Coco-de-mer (sea coconut), which only grows in the Vallée de Mai on Praslin, and Curieuse.
Colourful tropical life abounds below the turquoise waters too. Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular thanks to clear seas and an abundance of tropical fish, whilst big game fishing is another draw. Watersports, kayaking and sailing are available at the major holiday resorts especially Beau Vallon Bay where several tourist hotels are located.
For many people, a holiday in the Seychelles is an opportunity is kick back, relax and enjoy the fantastic food, traditions and culture, which are peppered with influences from France, Britain, Asia and Africa. You’ll hear it in the lilting French-based patois spoken by the locals and taste it in the delicious Creole cuisine and curries spiced with the piquant flavours of France, the Orient and India.
It’s a seductive, heady mix that is guaranteed to whet your appetite in more ways than one, and have you wanting to come back again and again.